***DISCLAIMER*** I type these entries into my phone each night in my tent. I understand there are issues with typos, grammar, punctuation, etc. I am normally half asleep when typing these so please bear with me!
Superior Zero Day 1 (0 miles)
I slept pretty good last night having my sleeping pad inflated with my quilt on the hotel floor and one of the hotel pillows. I woke once around midnight but was able to fall back to sleep until 06:30 this morning. It felt great being able to take a morning shower. When I got out of the shower Wayback came back to the room with coffee! The hotel room didn’t have a coffee pot, microwave or fridge so the coffee tasted amazing to me. I haven’t had a large cup like that since Tucson.
At 9am we walked the half mile to a local grocery store Save Money Market so I could get flour tortillas, some snack bars and coffee. Then on the way back we stopped at Family Dollar to get a couple gallons of water to refill our water bottles with fresh water. Once back at the hotel we took all our gear out, cleaned it up, shook out the bags, and put everything back. Then I worked on the blog for a few hours and watched tv while having a beer. At noon we walked down the street to try out a Mexican place Casa Dona Lola. Luckily we could sit down and eat it there. Guess what I had… a bean burrito with rice and guacamole! From there we walked down to the Circle K gas station as I was looking for a specific size bottle I can carry on my left shoulder strap and ended up finding one finally.
Along the way, we made a pit stop to the “Worlds Smallest Museum” so of course we just had to check out that little gem! I was able to walk into this small building maybe 10’ long and 3’ wide with miscellaneous items filling shelves behind plexiglass on both sides.
I ended up spending most of the day though relaxing in the hotel vegging out, relaxing the body, working on the blog and making some planning preparations for future trail sections. All in all it was a good day!
Superior Zero Day 2 (0 miles)
From my lack of doing anything yesterday I didn’t fall asleep until after midnight. I was wide awake and couldn’t get comfortable. This morning Wayback was again very kind and walked down to buy coffees around 07:00 and then we sat in the hotel and watched morning news and relaxed. Around noon we walked “downtown” Superior to a cafe for lunch. On the way we ran into Tweety and Joe Dirt whom we haven’t seen since the morning after climbing Saguaro National Park. They were there with a few other thru-hikers I haven’t met before. We caught up for a few minutes then continued to the cafe. This town is so surprising because at first glance it seems like a very poor and uncared for town but when walking around I can see the art displayed, the amazingly fresh foods they create and the friendly atmosphere. I hope they continue in their growth! I ate a veggie sandwich with iced tea, chips, and…shhhh… a freshly made delicious cinnamon roll!
After lunch we walked the street of their downtown looking at the art and murals painted on the buildings and the interesting architecture before heading back to the hotel when it started to lightly rain. Once back we again sat and watched tv (I can’t remember watching so much tv in my life right now!) until we were both nodding off. Suddenly Wayback asked if I wanted coffee-umm YES! So we fired up his small stove with my gas canister and tested out some coffee packets he bought at the Family Dollar. While Tasters Choice could be good in an outdoor pinch, Folgers beans is better but not as good as my Cafe Bustello!
For the rest of the afternoon I alternated between watching tv, reading a book, downloading some podcasts and internet browsing. I hand washed a few items of clothes for tomorrow’s hike and hung them to dry. What a print day right?! I felt like I was wasting time that could have been spent out on the trail but I also knew my body and joints needed the rest and stretching. I was also able to talk to family on the phone. Near 6pm we walked next door to an Italian restaurant and I had Angel hair spaghetti with olive oil, broccoli and garlic. It was delicious! Then when we came back I sat outside the room and watched the sun set while sipping cheap wine out of my cooking pot, listening to music while watching the sunset and feeling a sense of peace. Tomorrow Afterburner returns to pick us up and to start hiking towards Lake Roosevelt and Payson.
Superior to Mile 317.3 (17 miles)
This morning I woke up at 06:30 and took one last shower before having some coffee and breakfast. Wayback and I packed our things and sat around until Afterburner came to pick us up at the hotel. We arrived at the Picketpost trailhead and headed out on the trail at 10:30. It felt good to be back on the trail as I was getting bored and anxious sitting at the hotel for so long. The day was warm for a change and since we had a late start we planned on going about 10 miles to a campsite (the same one I camped at during my previous test trial).
We ended up going 7 miles in only 2.5 hours but I didn’t even feel it. We stopped at 1pm to eat some lunch in the shade of a giant rock wall along a dry riverbed then took off again. We leap frogged a few thru-hikers we haven’t met before during the day and most of them were friendly. At 3pm we arrived at the mile 310 water source, once a flowing river back in February, now just small pools of stagnant water. At least it didn’t look or taste gross! I filled up 1.5 liters to give me a total of 2.5 to last for another 10-ish miles. Since we arrived at our campsite so early we decided to push forward after much debate.
Originally we were going to wake at the campsite (elevation 2,927) tomorrow at 04:30 and head up Montana Mountain (elevation 5,400) but then decided to get ahead of the hiker rush behind us and push on and climb the mountain in the evening. I mean we climbed up and over Saugaro (Mica Mountain) in one day so why not this? So we hiked on and up and up and up over so many false summits it was getting ridiculous! The trail was so steep in places I couldn’t even use my hiking poles to dig in because they would just slide down past me and not catch. From bottom to top it was a 5.5 mile climb and I arrived on top at the saddle after 6pm. The entire time I was sweating in the heat even with a breeze and my stomach was growling from hunger. I kept debating on whether to stop and eat or to push on and get the climb over with. I chose the latter. My calves were screaming!! I felt like I just did the Grand Canyon north rim.
Once at the top I finally took the time to relieve myself, catch my breath and get some water before continuing on to find a campsite. The sun was already starting to set and at that elevation the temperature was dropping quickly. I found some comments in the Guthooks App that said there were a few nice campsites just north of mile 317.3 (elevation 5,263) another mile North of the saddle so we hurried along the bumpy forest road that led us to it. I could tell we were all exhausted and sore from the climb by the way we were all walking.
It didn’t take long and before I knew it we were setting up our tents under some foliage protecting us from the wind. We sat in a circle on the cold ground and made our dinners under headlamps. I decided to have my soy ramen noodles to replace all the sodium I had lost during the climb. What better food for that than ramen noodles!? I had that with a side of Oreos 😊. After my belly was warm and full I brushed my teeth, cleaned up with a baby wipe, changed into my sleeping gear and got comfy! It’s almost a full moon tonight so I’m curious as to what the night brings other than a spotlight on my tent! Tomorrow we wake at 05:30 and plan on hiking around 20 miles so we can get to Lake Roosevelt earlier the following day.
Mile 317.3 to Mile 335.5 (18 miles)
Last night I slept maybe three hours. Between the full moon, wind, people walking by or driving by in their ATV’s and cramping in my legs I fell asleep near 03:00 and the alarm went off at 05:30. At least it didn’t get cold or damp! However my shirt was still somehow damp from yesterday’s sweat. Yuck. With no other choice I pulled it on and started packing up inside the tent while making hot coffee. While I was sitting there eating my fig bar and drinking the coffee a hiker we ran into yesterday (Trooper) was walking by and said they camped on the first saddle we had to climb to yesterday (elevation 5,400’) but the wind was so bad it knocked over Ghost Hikers tent and so at midnight she packed up and hiked on to find a better spot. That explained the random person walking at night. And Trooper pulled the plug at 04:00 and packed up to get out of the wind. SOO glad we didn’t try to camp there with them!
At 06:40 we started our day. It was nice this morning, mostly downhill first along a forest road then a pretty path through the woods. I took lead and next time I turned around to check on people they were nowhere to be seen. I decided they stopped to filter some water so I did the same. I only took 1 liter since there were several opportunities along the trail today and we had another hefty climb coming up soon. By the time I finished and put my pack back on, Wayback and Afterburner came around the corner.
At 3.5 miles into the hike the trail began to climb up three miles and 1.000’ in elevation. I guess my coffee and light pack kicked into gear because I made it to the top in an hour and actually waited on the guys! The terrain was nice and not too steep so I could settle in. Once at the top I had a snack and the three of us sat there talking to a group of 6 women who were section hiking and then Trooper and Ghost Hiker arrived. After almost an hour we took off descending through beautiful pine trees and a small stream. This was about the time I hit my wall.
Everything was uncomfortable. Everything hurt. Everything seemed to take a massive amount of energy even though I was now walking on flat-ish ground. I’m not sure if the hike was so easy my mind focused on everything else to torment me or if I really did feel this way. Even my left trap was screaming in pain and I had to keep taking my pack off. I only had a quarter of a liter left so by mile 326 I found a cute little stream with cloves growing in it so I stopped and grabbed 2 liters but because I had taken so much time with all my stops I chose to wait until we stopped for lunch to filter it. What a dumb move.
By this time the sun was out and heating the trail up. We went from cool pine trees to open fields with the sun beating down on us and the trail climbed steeply for a mile and I was out of filtered water at this point. Luckily when I got to the top of the hill I saw Afterburner pulling off in a shady spot! I took the time to filter all the water, reorganize the things in my bag because the weight balance was off then eat some lunch. I ended up having a cup of cold mashed potato’s, a protein cookie and some nuts.
At 12:45 we took off again knowing we had two more climbs in the day and we were trying to get to 18 miles. At lunch we were only sitting at 10. We followed the trail down a very rocky trail until we hit a small water source 2.7 miles away. The water looked a rusted color and smelled funny but water is water and can easily be filtered water! I took a total of 2.5 liters out of there after chugging some beforehand and even having a small cold coffee while I was there. I needed the energy! From there we followed the trail across a lot of open fields and eventually we reached the top of the last big canyons to climb down then up. On the app it didn’t look TOO bad but as soon as I was looking down at the trail, my stomach dropped.
All I could think of was if the trail was covered in snow I’d be skiing a black diamond. The tread in my shoes is almost completely gone and so for the next mile descent, I would gently take a tiny step down and slide on the scree then catch myself with my hiking poles. I did this over and over and over. By the time I got to the bottom, the guys looked just as exhausted and in pain as I felt. We took a ten minute break to relax our muscles and hydrate then we loaded up for the exact same thing but going up. It took me about an hour to climb the 1.5 mile ascent with the sun beating down. I could feel my clothes and hair drenched with sweat. I had to keep stopping every couple of feet to catch my breath as the trail almost went straight up the mountain.
Finally near 4pm we all made it to the top and wow did it feel great to have that behind us. I could see Lake Roosevelt off in the distance and the Four Peaks in front of us. We took a quick break there before continuing on three more miles to get to our campsite. Those three miles took forever! Up and down, up and down. My legs felt like rubber. Finally at 6pm we made it! The damp site was pretty neat, it had several little levels to choose from with some privacy at each. I chose my site and just sat down not moving for several minutes. Wayback asked if I was okay and I said yes I’m just done I have no more today.
I got my tent set up as Ghost Hiker and Trooper arrived. They set their tents up and climbed inside and we didn’t see them again in the evening. We were able to sit on. I’ve rocks to heat up our dinners and chat about random things as the sun went down. I ended up having more random stuff including half a refried bean burrito, Cheetos, Oreos and a fig bar. I didn’t want to use all my water for the mashed potatoes because I need water for several miles tomorrow until we can get more. I think that’s my favorite part of the day is dinner time and being able to forget the hard parts of the day and to climb into my tent to finally relax surrounded by peace and quiet. Tomorrow we arrive at Lake Roosevelt where I will have to haul 5 days of food in my bag and then climb up the mountains.
Mile 335.5 to Mile 352.5 (17 miles)
I fell asleep as soon as my eyes closed last night and I slept great! I woke to the alarm at 05:30, packed up and started the trail by 06:20. After three minutes of walking the trail climbed 900’ in a mile and definitely gave my body a good warm up first thing in the morning.
We stopped three miles in by a spring and filtered some wonderful water that was clear and cool. I took 2.5 liters and had a snack. We descended into a nice canyon that cut back and forth over a river (some areas bone dry, others flowing nicely). Of course today as we are now less than 5 miles into Lake Roosevelt there are water sources everywhere! The last three miles were waking along a dirt forest road that seemed to snake down then up and around all while the sun was heating up. Finally we found the cutoff trail that led down into the Roosevelt Marina.
I took my pack off and went inside to purchase a V8 and to grab my resupply box I had mailed there. With box in hand I found a couple picnic tables underneath a large shady area by a small shack that held all the hiker box things that people either don’t want need or have room for. I opened my box and exploded everything onto the table to organize and pack away to include 5 days worth of food, some hygiene items and a brand new pair of shoes! I took my old shoes off and saw both of my socks had holes in them from the plastic in the heel rubbing on them. I ended up putting leukotape on both heels to protect my skin from rubbing.
As soon as I packed my food up Afterburner and Wayback came over and said they were going to eat at the restaurant out back and he ordered me some fries. So I gathered my things, threw out all my trash and went to meet them. There were a few other hikers there too but we sat at our own table to wait. I bought a beer to go with my fries and both seemed to fill me up.
After lunch we filled our water bottles (3 liters for me) and decided to walk the road 2.5 miles down to the trail instead of going back the way we came. We saved about and hour an half by doing this. The road was hot under our feet as we creeped along with our heavy bags. Mine was squeaking and I couldn’t get it to stop! Finally we made it to the trailhead alongside the road and took a few minutes to cool down in the small shade area we could find. Wayback reserved a ride for two days from now into the town of Payson and then we started up the climb out of Roosevelt.
While this was a hard climb because of the heat it definitely wasn’t my hardest one. I put my podcast on and listened to that until I reached the top over an hour later. The top was windy and sparse due to the wildfire. I finally had cell reception so I was able to call Jen for a few minutes. We still had a few miles left until we got to the campsite so we took off and hiked until we found said campsite.
It was located on a saddle between two larger mountains and had the BEST views all around! It was open with no trees. It had a few prickly pear cactus around. This would have been a perfect campsite if it wasn’t for the tiny black bugs. They. Were. Everywhere. I set my tent up then I shooed the bugs away and quickly threw my things inside and repeated for each item. I decided to eat dinner first and then to make my bed afterwards so I didn’t have to open the tent more than necessary. It was a beautiful sunset and so glad I did things backwards otherwise I would have missed it!
Mile 352 to Mile 372 (20 miles)
Today started dark and early at 04:30 by packing up camp, having coffee and two breakfasts since I knew we were climbing up to 6,000’ today and then we start out on the trail. And then my headlamp dies. Well it started flickering like a strobe light and started getting dimmer and dimmer so I just shut it off. Thanks to the full moon I was able to see the path pretty well and I actually enjoyed it and it felt easier to walk. It didn’t last too long though as we were hiking along a ridge and the sun came up earlier. I could see Lake Roosevelt behind me, the Four Peaks in front of me and Canyon Lake to my left.
At 2.5 miles in we came to Mills Ridge Trailhead and found a stash of water. I took 2.5 liters to last 9.4 miles and with over 2,000’ of elevation gain. I was mentally prepared to be hiking up all day so I just settled in to low gear and slowly went up the mountain. Surprisingly I lasted over a mile before running out of steam and I found Afterburner taking a break too so we waited for Wayback to catch up shortly after and all of us tore into some snacks. My stomach was growling halfway up so it was pleased to be fed again!
A few more miles up we came to the most amazing view of the Four Peaks! I couldn’t believe I was getting to see this and I couldn’t help but to smile for the next two miles. That is until we started the long creeping trail alongside of them that never seemed to end. Afterburner is terrified of heights and he was going very slowly as to not slip because it was straight down on our right. We had to plow through brushes and downed trees, over multiple sections of rock slides that moved every step we took, and even had to hoist ourselves up with our hands in some sections. It was the most beautifully scary part of the trail we’ve had yet. I just wish I could have seen it before the big wildfire this last year.
By the time we found ourselves off the side of the mountain we were all pretty tired and thirsty. There was a spring (Shake Spring) that flowed through the trail so we stopped and quickly filtered some water and continued on as it was already past noon and we only had 11 miles in. Two miles later we ran into our last opportunity to filter some water at a nice cold stream (Pigeon Spring) that had a tiny little waterfall so I ended up leaving there with a total of 3 liters. It seemed like my bag was just getting heavier and heavier rather than lighter without some food. After this I put my headphones on and listened to a podcast to turn my brain away from body pains and to finish off the evening with 20 miles.
Pretty soon I hiked out into a dirt road and the three of us walked this road for 4 miles! It was the nicest dirt forest road I’ve seen in Arizona. We did take a side road then and it became bumpy but still in great condition. Along the way we hit Mile 20 and almost right away we found a campsite just off to the side. It was not the best campsite as it had a lot of rocks and surrounded by some burned areas and it was on a saddle at 5,890’ elevation, but it was a campsite and my feet screamed YES! After 12 hours of hiking we took our time setting up camp then sat in our little triangle and cooked up some dinner. I selected the top of the line Soy Ramen as I needed the extra sodium and something warm in my belly before a cold night.
Tomorrow we descend 14 miles to get to highway 87 where a guy named Jerry will pick us up and drive us into Payson where Afterburner and Wayback have packages at the Post Office. I am super excited to have a shower after 5 days of sweat and dirt! I’m at that point now where I am highly offensive to myself. I also need to pick up new socks because mine have holes in them from my old shoes rubbing.
Mile 372 to Mile 386
The wind started at 03:00 this morning and Afterburner and I didn’t hear Waybacks alarm for once. We woke to him saying “it’s 04:45 are you guys gonna get up?” Well I suppose if I have to! The wind made it difficult to pack but I did and I wasn’t even I. The mood for food or coffee so we pushed on at 05:25. We continued along the forest road climbing higher to over 6,000’. By the time we reached the top we could see the sun barely starting to rise looking back at Lake Roosevelt. We followed the road twisting down the mountain for two miles as the cold air and wind ripped at us. After mile 3, we found a calm area alongside the forest road in a wildfire burned area.
We heated up some water for coffee and I had a fig bar for breakfast. While it wasn’t the most comfortable or scenic place I’ve stopped at, it got the job done. Afterwards we continued the road until it climbed up and over a small mountain and eventually after 7 miles of rod walking over the previous night and morning we reached the turnoff for the trail. Somehow I ended up as the lead and descended the trail down into a valley off in my own zen world. By the time I reached the bottom of the hill I looked back and saw two hikers but not the people I’d been hiking with! They caught up to me and introduced themselves as Erica and Tanner who looked about as calm and comfortable as if they were in a magazine. Super nice people out thru-hiking. After chit chatting for a few minutes they took off and I didn’t see them again after that.
We followed the trail through the canyon, plowing through thick bushes and through other burned areas. At times it felt like we were hiking though a cow valley area but inhabited only by birds and large ants everywhere. It was near noon when I started to slow my pace and vegan tripping and stumbling (normal for me around this time) so I pulled off to the side and sat on a rock. Wayback and Afterburner continued on but I didn’t feel bad about sitting for a few minutes. When I finally took off and caught them, they told me no sooner did I sit down and they rounded the corner they stumbled onto a large snake crossing the path! I felt so good about my choice to sit! I probably would have screamed so loud the snake would have jumped!
At 12:30 we made it to Sycamore Canyon where we found a nice stream to collect water. This was the first one of the day as the rest were dry. I took my shoes and socks off and noticed a bad patch on my right foot from rubbing against the insole- no wonder it’s been hurting so bad. I ended up filtering only 1 liter as Wayback had been trying to find a ride for us from the trail and into the town of Payson (a 30 mile drive) and the guy Jerry said he could be there in 30-40 minutes. Well great, we are still two miles out plus a climb in between so how will this work? We packed dip very fast and hiked the fastest hike we could hike and when we came out into a gravel road 2.5 miles later it felt great knowing we had a ride soon that would take us to a shower and clean clothes!
The driver, Jerry picked us up at 1:30 and talked the entire time into Payson and dropped us off at the hotel. What a nice hotel too! We checked into the Comfort Inn in a suite so we each had a bed to sleep on. I haven’t slept in a bed since Kearny so I was thrilled to have this! Afterburner and I walked a half mile to a runners store and I bought new insoles and a pair of socks to replace the old ones. Then I walked to Walgreens to refill some food supplies. When I got back to the hotel they had already showered and started to relax so I jumped in the shower. What a heavenly feeling! I just watched the dirt stream off my body and down the drain. By the time I got out of the shower the guys were gone so I took the time to call my mom and Jen and go through my bag to clean, trash, reorganize and restock. The guys came back two hours later with our clean laundry and their own food resupply. Once we all finished up loose ends we walked next door to El Rancho for some Mexican food for dinner. Yum! We plan on Jerry picking us up at 08:00 to head back to the trail and onward and WAY upwards towards Pine.