Thursday, March 23, 2023
Elevation gain/loss: 5842′ gain, 6519′ loss (corrected)
I was awake by 5:30am and on trail by 6:10am. The inside of my tent and my sleeping bag were both saturated with condensation, and it was a chilly start to the day; and I knew I’d need to take time in the afternoon to dry out my gear. The first half of the day was steep rolling hills, and I had a hard time getting into the hiking mindset. I chatted with Stargate for a few minutes at a stream in the late morning as I filtered water and he ate a snack. He set out before me, but I overtook and passed him, arriving at the road crossing perhaps 30 minutes before him.
At the road crossing, there was a lot of activity, with a day parking area and a campground area. I met Sunshine, who was drying out his gear. I dried out my tent and ground sheet in the warm and breezy afternoon, and a woman at the day use area approached me to offer me fresh fruit! I gratefully took a clementine and apple; she was vacationing and had a seatmate on the plane ride here that was heading out to hike the AZT. I headed out from the campground and stopped to filter at the stream nearby. Sunshine and Stargate passed me, and I evenutally caught up and passed them later on.
I saw a lot of day mountain bikers coming towards me from Mt Lemmon; it made me wonder if there was a trailhead nearby where they could get dropped off. None of them were bikepacking, so it was unusual. I made my way up the canyon, needing to wayfind in some spots; there were many sections without a clear path. Nearby my intended campsite, I came to a large flooded creek. I had to wade across; the water was thigh-deep and extremely cold. I stopped twice on rocks above the water to yell and let my painfully numb feet regain feeling before continuing on.
Since I was so close to stopping, I left my ankle braces off, rather than put them back on after the water crossing. Things were going okay until I decided to push on a mile or two more to find a better campsite that wasn’t just a sandbar. I ended up falling 0.3mi from camp in the fading light. My pack crushed me and I bloodied my knee. Then as I was setting up camp at 6:30pm, I lightly bumped into a prickly grass plant, drawing blood from my leg again. This made me a bit cranky, but I was glad to be stopping before having to hike by headlamp. I was hopeful that my tent was far enough away from the water sources on both sides of me that I’d avoid condensation. I’d made the mistake of not taking another 15-20 minutes to dry out my sleeping bag during my short stop, and I found myself chilly overnight with my sleeping bag’s down still wet from the night before.