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Day 37 - Day of Blessings

I walked 80000 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 40 miles today.
I found out my pedometer stops counting at 65000 steps in a day so I have to estimate for today.
I started my day feeling great, but bummed that my phone wasn't working. With some water left from yesterday, I started at 6:30. By a bit after 9, I reached my cached water which was 10 miles away. Some people cache water and then leave the empty jug. Seems wrong to me, so I packed mine out.
There was no water available all day until I reached Russell Tank 40 miles from my start point! I can't believe I did 40 miles. I got a couple blisters and my legs are very worn out, but I should be good to go tomorrow. I went this far because I decided to reach the Grand Canyon in 3 days from Flagstaff last night when I saw how far along I was. Tomorrow will be a 31 mile day to make it happen.
While hiking, I was hoping for a small cloud to move under the sunbso I could get some shade - it was HOT today. Well, the cloud grew into a thunderstorm but I only got a little wet.
At Russel Tank, there's actually a trailhead with a very clean, large toilet. Guess where I'm sleeping tonight? It's warm, flat, dry, and no critters. Practically a free hotel.
The trail data said Russell Tank is muddy so I was concerned about getting water. But, it is just fine. The water jug I packed out came in handy to scoop water.
It was a long day of challenges that turned one by one into blessings. I even got to wash up in the pond.

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Posted: 11:18 04-23-2012 840
Day 36 - Unplanned Long Day

I walked 63784 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 30 miles today.
Taking the higher trail, I passed through some stands of aspen. Once I got to Alfa Fia tank for water, the trail was a gradual downhill for the rest of the day - so I just kept walking. I made it to mile 620 which is nowhere.
Whoever laid out this section of trail really felt it was important to experience the forest. About 4 miles meandered all over similar to switchbacks, but with virtually no elevation change. Weird!
I've left my stove behind and will eat only cold food for the rest of the hike, except when I hit a restaurant. Just trying to lighten my pack - lots of candy bars, poptarts, and peanut butter and honey on crackers.

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Posted: 11:17 04-23-2012 839

I was getting water from Alfa Fia tank at mile 603 north of Flagstaff. It's a beautiful pond with great water and possibly the only good water for about 50 miles.
As I reached out with my 1quart zip-loc to scoop up some h2o, PLUNK went my cellphone from my shirt pocket into the pond. It took me less than 3 seconds to get it out, but that was long enough. I dried it but could not power it off. I opened it and set it in the sun.
Still not able to turn it off and other buttons doing crazy things, I put it in a mesh pocket and kept hiking figuring all was lost. At night, the screen was a weird green color and nothing worked. But, this morning, it was black. I decided to wait until this afternoon to try it, plugged in my solar charger from Northern Star Council and gave it a shot. BAZINGA! It works. Whew! Now I can take pics and blog again.

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Posted: 11:13 04-23-2012 838
Day 34 - A Long Day

I walked 64735 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 33 miles today.
Mormon Lake to Flagstaff is too far for 1 day. I set a new record for myself - about 35 miles in 10 hours. The flat terrain and cool temps made it possible but I don't plan on doing days this long again. It's too hard on joints, muscles, and feet for a guy my age. I pushed to reach Flag tonite so I can start hiking again on Sat.
There were some great sights today, including a herd of about 50 elk which I'll post tomorrow. This cliff was just coming through a canyon east of Flag.
I never did see another bike rider so I think the guy I saw has it pretty much won as long as he completes.
I'm now at a nice Scouter's home resting after a shower and a terrific dinner at another Scouter's place. Tomorrow is a zero day to get groceries and rest me aching feet. I've got a replacement pair of shoes which I hope help me along.

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Posted: 0:14 04-20-2012 833
Trail Angel

Just as I found my way into Flagstaff I was walking up off the local trail system onto a city street. A jeep pulled up and I thought maybe it was the folks I'm to stay with tonight.
I was wrong. It was David L. who goes to NAU in Flag. He saw my blog and map and came to do trail magic. Out of the blue, for no reason than to make a hiker feel good, he met me with cold water and snacks (and his 2 dogs). How cool is that?! Someone that gives trail magic is often called a trail angel.
It doesn't take much to make a tired, thirsty hiker happy. That cold water was awesome since I just had a couple swallows left.
Thanks, David!

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Posted: 0:01 04-20-2012 832
AZ Trail Bike Race

Kurt S. just passed me on the trail riding north. Scared the beejeebers out of me! He is the lead rider in a race that started Friday at the southern end of the AZ Trail. He expects to finish in 2, maybe 3, days. 9 days to cover what is taking me 7 weeks. :-)
Ride On, Kurt!

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Posted: 12:12 04-19-2012 829
Rails to Trails

I'm following an old railroad grade toward Flagstaff for the next few miles. Logging of huge pine trees has been a key industry in these parts. Just a glorious day this morning with birds, breeze, and a good trail.

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Posted: 11:59 04-19-2012 828
Day 33 - 4/18 - Mormon Lake

I walked 57317 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 27 miles today.
This was the view for most of the day. The high pine forests continued and gradually thinned at times. I wore shorts the past two days for the first time on this trek since there were no prickly, poky, scratchy plants around.
I woke to a chorus of coyotes reminding me of a gang of teenagers running around getting into mischief. When I woke up, I realized the condensation of my breath in my shelter had frozen and I had my own personal indoor snow storm. My sleeping quilt and down jacket kept me plenty warm all night, but it was hard to get moving this morning. Once I was moving, I made good time but didn't reach Mormon Lake until 4:30 - that's important.
When I dropped onto the main road in town off a logging road I was walking, I could turn left or right with buildings each direction. I chose left and started walking. After a bit, a guy in a Mustang came toward me and I (somewhat frantically) flagged him down. Fortunately, he stopped. I asked where the Mormon Lake Lodge was and he said just ahead of me - whew, I had chosen the correct direction. Then he asked me why? Well, I'd like to get a room for the night, I replied.
The lodge closes at 4pm, he said.
Well, looks like I'll be camping. But, he got out his phone and made some calls and then I noticed his shirt had the lodge name on it. He arranged for me to get a small room and pay in the morning!
Since everything's closed, I made hot water in the coffee maker in my room and used that to rehydrate my dinner :-(. I was so looking forward to a big meal, but a comfortable bed and hot shower are good enough.
I saw some more elk as well as a strange squirrel-like critter that had a white tail and tufted white ears. Maybe it's a cortamundi? Anyone have another idea?
Oh, one other thing. I got to reply to a bunch of comments from the Payson library on Monday. I really appreciate all your comments and support, but I can't view them from the trail - only when I get to a town.

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Posted: 20:30 04-18-2012 825
Prayers for PapaBear

This pic is PapaBear having a fun outdoor meal at LF Ranch awhile back. Right now, he's back in Tempe and no longer on the trail due to a medical problem. So, if you would, your prayers for healing would be appreciated by me since I really miss having him along.
As we were leaving Pine last Friday, he developed a rash. When we got a ride back to Pine on Saturday, it was worse. On Monday, we found a clinic in Payson and they gave him a bunch of pills, lotions, and such to treat it. It hurts too much to carry his pack so he can't hike until it heals. We are hoping he heals enough, fast enough, that he can join me on Sunday in Flagstaff and complete the trail.

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Posted: 14:27 04-18-2012 824
Day 32 - Alone Again

I walked 53863 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 25 miles today.
I got a ride to General Springs from Pine and started hiking about 8:45
The high plateau is amazing! I walked for 9 hours on a carpet of pine needles under a vaulted cathedral of towering Ponderosa while the breeze freshened the day with a cool pine scent. This day reminded me completely of running through the Idaho woods as a boy and my legs didn't tire under the spell of the day. I finally made camp as the sun began to set so I had an abundance of time to eat, relax, and enjoy the evening.
The sun is now casting light until 7pm and the dusk light lasts nearly to 7:30. This means more time to hike and cover more miles as long as the legs and feet can handle it.
I was surprised by the scarcity of water today. There was no water good enough to filter in any of the dirt stock tanks I passed. Water in puddles in the trail was much better than the brown muck in the tanks. I got water from East Creek which was flowing nicely. I then hiked an extra 1.75 miles to get water from the Blue Ridge ranger station. Got to talk to a couple nice ladies there for a few minutes and dumped my small bit of trash.
PapaBear will be happy to hear that I kicked a lot of sticks off the trail and I reset 7 AZT signs that had been knocked down.
Well, it's now dark enough to head to bed. Hopefully, the dozen deer and 15 elk I saw today won't come to visit. There's a coyote yapping somewhere in the distance but the wind has calmed so I expect a sound night's sleep.

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Posted: 14:27 04-18-2012 823
Day 30 - Back to Pine

Here's a pic of warmer days and fresher legs. That's me on the very first day at the Mexico border. I've hiked about 478 miles of the AZ Trail since then and have about 339 left to go. It's been 30 days since I started this little adventure and I've learned a tremendous amount on the trail. The most important thing I've discovered is that things tend to work out. From finding a much needed water source to someone sharing their dinner, I've experienced many instances of unexpected 'goodness' for a loss of a more descriptive word.
Yesterday was spent hunkered down from snow but at the end of the day Chumley from Tempe gave us a ride from the top of the Mogollon Rim back to Pine where we're now waiting a couple days for the 8 inches of snow to melt. Chumley is yet another helpful soul in a long, growing list of people that have provided unexpected support.
The current plan is to rest one more day tomorrow and resume hiking from the rim top on Tuesday with high hopes that Monday is hot and dry and reduces the snow depth.
I did walk 4 miles today, taking my pack into town to buy groceries and look around but not much open in Pine on Sunday. I'm also working on gaining some weight back - I'm getting to be a pretty good eater!

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Posted: 20:18 04-15-2012 822
Day 28 - Up the Rim

I walked 48438 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 21 miles today.
Hiked east below the Mogollon Rim for about 19 miles going in and out of draws, through burned sections, brushy sections, and cool forested sections. There were many beautiful views like this one.
I've been looking forward to reaching the top of the Mogollon Rim for quite awhile. It's a distinct border between environments and the high mesas should be flatter, cooler, and easier hiking.
But, a snow storm is forcast for tonight so the first few days up high might be a challenge.
Met a couple backpackers and a guy preparing the Highline Trail for a 50-mile trail run next weekend. This guy just had his 75th birthday last week and has done the Western States 100 trail run 13 times. He'll be running race next weekend. I'm such a newbie.

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Posted: 22:02 04-14-2012 820
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