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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
Mogollon Rim

On our way to higher elevations this am. Stopped for lunch right by BSA Camp Geronimo.
This is the Mogollon Rim which rises a couple thousand feet to a high mesa. We'll be climbing this afternoon to the top where we'll have colder temps and probably snow tonight. Fortunately, there's supposed to be a roofed shelter on top where we hope to stay the night (and tomorrow if the weather sours).
The stay in Pine was fabulous - just like being on vacation at a mountain resort in a pine forest. I'll never stop being amazed at the generosity and hospitality of Scout families and others I meet.

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Posted: 15:05 04-13-2012 819
Day 27 - Zero in Pine

Wonderful, relaxing, belly-filling day in Pine with no miles on the trail.
Picked up bounce box at the post office. Ate breakfast at HB's (a small restaurant). Used the public internet at the library.
Then Kyle arrived and drove us to Payson to shop where we had lunch at Subway. Back at Pine, we had hamburgers for dinner and watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Kyle took our bounce box down the trail to Flagstaff so all we need to do is hike 126 miles to pick it up again.
I'm looking forward to a good long hike tomorrow, hopefully reaching the top of the Mogollon Rim. The feet and legs are pretty good - just some stubborn blisters on top of big left toe, sore spot under right foot, and tight right knee.
Oh, Kyle had thru-hiked the AZ Trail in 2008 and is the youngest to have done that. He's a great young man, Eagle Scout, and on staff at Philmont Scout Ranch for a few years. Yet another wonderful person I've gotten to meet on the trail.
The pic is of the Bear Spring water source which was very good - there are a lot of 'bear springs' along this trail.

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Posted: 0:24 04-13-2012 818
Day 26 - Pine

I walked 50684 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 23 miles today.
After a delicious ranch breakfast, we got a slightly late start on our long hike to Pine. It started with a long, steep climb and continued with many miles of very rocky trail. I learned why they call the area Hardscrabble Mesa. Fortunately, the weather was cool today so the only water stop we needed was at this cool box spring called White Rock Spring.
A wonderful Boy Scout volunteer is allowing us to use his cabin - yet another example of the amazingly generous people I've met on this trek.
Tomorrow brings me a day of rest which my sore feet and legs will appreciate. There's only about 360 miles left of the trail so I think I'll make it - especially with all the support folks along the trail are willing to share.

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Posted: 21:51 04-11-2012 817
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