Endless P Summer

Day 20…..9.6 miles…..AZT mile 470.2

Today was a really nice relaxing day in town. The cabin we rented behind THAT Brewery was super comfortable and after sleeping in a couple extra hours, QB and I split a box of Lucky Charms and explored the town of Pine. I guess this place is becoming a vacation spot for people from Phoenix and it was a perfect little pit stop for a thru hike. We got a pizza for lunch, did our laundry, resupplied at the market, got a couple Reuben sandwiches at the deli and headed back to the trail around 3:30. Once back on trail the miles were smooth and easy as we walked through a pine forest, a nice way to get back at it after pigging out all day. Just as we started to look for a campsite we saw a couple of elk browsing for leaves in the woods. The first elk jam of the trip!looking up at the Mogollon Rim

Day 21…..26.7 miles…..AZT mile 496.9

This morning the trail rolled through a forest for about a dozen miles until we got up close to the edge of the Mogollon Rim(Mogollon sounds nothing like the way it looks). We then climbed steeply for about a mile until we were up onto the rim. The Mogollon Rim is something of a geological feature that I can only describe as a plateau that goes on for miles and miles until we reach the south rim of the Grand Canyon(I think). You’ll have to check Wikipedia for a better explanation of what the Mogollon Rim actually is and you might even learn how to pronounce it. Anyway, now we’re up around 7000 feet, the trail has been relatively flat and we’ve been walking through a legit forest with big pine trees overhead all day. It has been very enjoyable. It’s a little colder up here though, I anticipate a 3 dog night but I don’t have any dogs. I did have a big hot bowl of macaroni and cheese for supper and that was a first for me. Instant mac and cheese is a supper time staple in the thru hiking community but since this is my first season using a stove I’ve never had it on trail before. It was pretty good, at least the first two thirds of it were good and it definitely warmed me up. Hopefully warm enough to sleep through the night on this pine needle tent site we found.

Day 22…..30.5 miles…..AZT mile 527.4

I was right about it being cold last night, even some of our water froze. This morning it was cold for about an hour of walking then all of a sudden it warmed way up and was an absolutely beautiful day. The trail has been flat and easy since we got above the rim and we clicked off miles a little quicker than usual finally having our first 30 mile day.

At the beginning of this trail we met a fair amount of thru hikers, I think something like 20 in the first 200 miles but until tonight we hadn’t met another thru hiker since Superior, 230 miles ago. It’s weird, I guess we started at a popular time to start this trail then got ahead of the bubble and remained in a little pocket without crossing paths with any other thru hikers. Tonight at camp though we caught up to Roadrunner and Pumpkin, 2 women who’ve been just ahead of us for awhile now. It was refreshing and fun to eat supper and camp with other hikers. These 2 are both former PCT hikers and Pumpkin actually started the same exact day as both me and QB in 2015. Crazy! We’ve got different schedules for the next few days so we might not see them again but it was fun to meet them.

Day 23…..27.7 miles…..AZT mile 558.1

Last night Roadrunner and Pumpkin were talking about their plans to go into the little town of Mormon Lake today to get a meal. QB and I hadn’t planned on stopping but this put the bug in our ear and some town food seemed like a really good idea, plus Mormon Lake was on a road that ran parallel to the trail so it wasn’t all that far out of the way. What a good decision. Mormon Lake is more like a village, it’s actually just a road that has mix of little cabins and semi permanent trailers along the side of what once was, or maybe sometimes is when it rains a lot, a lake. It was a pretty cool place and the best part was the pizzeria was open and serving breakfast. QB and I stuffed our faces real quick and got back to walking. We had both been low on food and without going into Mormon Lake we probably would have lived but we would have had to ration our snacks until we got to Flagstaff. After breakfast we walked the road north for awhile until it met back up with the trail. Even though it was parallel the road was probably a few miles shorter than the trail(notice the discrepancy in my numbers at the top of this post). Once back on trail we walked on top of a mesa following a series of forest roads and then a comfortable dirt path through juniper trees. In the distance we had a good view of Humphrey’s Peak, Arizona’s tallest mountain. Another time HP. Tonight we walked past Lowell Observatory, I guess some famous research place, then found a spot to camp and called it a day.Lake? this is supposed to be a lake Hawk!Lowell Observatory

Day 24…..19 miles…..Flagstaff alt mile 11.6

I’m in Flagstaff today in what will probably be our last major town stop of the trail. This morning we walked about 7 miles to where the trail meets the Flagstaff Urban Trail. We took the Flagstaff Urban Trail north for about 5 miles to where it crosses old scenic rt 66 and got a room there at the Travelodge. There was an awesome Mexican restaurant next door, Agave, and we had ourselves a nice Easter Dinner. They had my favorite food, sopapillas, that I’ve only had one other time in my life but it happened to be just down the street on rt 66 in Grants, NM last year. Still my favorite food though, if I’m ever to be executed that’s what I’ll be requesting for my last meal, a never ending plate of sopapillas. After lunch we dropped off most of our gear at our hotel room and with lighter packs walked about 7 more miles on the Urban Trail. Flagstaff has a really nice trail system right in the middle of the city, ideal for hiking, running and mountain biking. We even saw a couple mountain bikers get into a fight with each other(most likely a domestic situation). Once we got to a trailhead that seemed like an appropriate distance for the day we put our thumbs out and the first truck that came by scooped us up and a mountain biker Todd drove us into downtown. This place has got a lot going on, downtown Flagstaff’s got a bunch of restaurants, shops and because of such a big outdoor community they had something like 5 outdoor stores in a square mile. Plus there’s murals on a bunch of the buildings just like Lynn, MA. We walked around for awhile running a couple errands like getting our food squared away for the next section then had some delicious Korean BBQ downtown for supper. Flagstaff is a great town, I’ll be back through here again for sure.

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Day 14…..26.2 miles…..AZT mile 327.3

Fueled up with a fresh grapefruit and some jerky that Ron and Diane gave us, QB and I walked about a mile from the motel in Superior to a gas station where I got the rest of my breakfast; a coke and a microwaveable beef and bean burrito. From the gas station we put our thumbs out and got picked up in a couple of minutes by another guy named John in another pickup. John drove us the 5 or 6 miles back to the AZT and said he wrote a novel about the next section of trail called ‘The Search’ by John Henderson(his full name). I’ll look it up and maybe read it, unless it’s a horror story involving hitchhikers.

Back on trail we cruised through about 10 miles of open range desert with a lot of cows under a hot sun. We had a beefy climb for a few miles and the clouds came out to block out the sun which was nice. Once we were up a few thousand feet higher we were out of the saguaros and getting ourselves into a pine forest. We crossed into the Superstition Wilderness, had another serious climb, then had some really nice miles through the forest along Reavis Creek. It was an uneventful day but definitely not unenjoyable, the weather was nice and the trail was pleasant.

Day 15…..23.7 miles…..AZT mile 351

Today was tough. From our campsite the trail descended steeply for awhile and then rose steeply after that. It seemed to do this repeatedly all morning. The trail was narrow, steep, and full of loose rock with cholla, yucca, and prickly pear cactus attacking my legs from both sides. We each took a little spill and I had countless close calls. For the first time of the hike I was thinking that this trail kind of sucks right now. Later on in the day it didn’t get much better, we walked down a steep rocky wash and then descended steep dirt roads full of slippery loose rock. With a slow pace we were making minimal progress but eventually we got to Roosevelt Lake where we had mailed ourselves resupply boxes. We picked up our boxes at the marina and they had a little bar there where we could grill our own burgers so that was nice. While grilling burgers I saw the biggest carp ever looking over the side of the dock(check below for a picture). Leaving the marina we had 4 days of food and as much water as we could carry so our packs were about as heavy as they get. We walked along the road for a little while going over a suspension bridge with a view of the Roosevelt dam before rejoining the trail. The trail rose steeply from the road but the weather was nice and we had incredible views of the lake and enjoyed a nice climb. We met a section hiker, Ross, and walked with him for a couple miles then found a pretty sweet spot to camp for the night. Today was tough, for the most part the trail has been really awesome and I imagine it will be again tomorrow.

Day 16…..29.5 miles…..AZT mile 380.5

I felt powerful today. We started the day with a series of big climbs into the Four Peaks Wilderness. Once we were up a few thousand feet we contoured around the big beefy Four Peaks while walking into a serious headwind. I saw a few bighorn sheep up in a ravine jumping from rock to rock, it was pretty amazing, they were jumping like 10-15 feet from one rock to another, landing gracefully, changing direction and jumping to another rock. One misstep meant sudden death. There were no missteps(check out the video below). Halfway through our day we got to a little spring and realized we had about 15 miles to our next water source and 5 hours until the sun goes down. It’s not that I can’t walk in the dark, I just like to end my day at sunset. The trail turned into a dirt forest road up on a ridge for awhile so the miles were easy but every so often some four wheeling enthusiast in a Jeep or a side by side would come bombing by. At a crisp 3 miles per hour all afternoon and evening we got to this little spring right at sunset and set up for the night.

Day 17…..26.8 miles…..AZT mile 407.3

An owl hooting woke me up this morning, I didn’t see that loudmouth anywhere but I know he was close by. About twelve minutes later I was packed up and walking down the trail. The first dozen or so miles were up and down over rolling hills through open range desert(when I say ‘open range’ I usually mean just a big wide open area with cows around). We then passed under a highway, rt 287 I think, and a few miles later walked through a big canyon where I saw two ring tailed cats chasing each other. I would describe a ring tailed cat as a cross between a raccoon and a squirrel and it happens to be the official state mammal of Arizona. The trail climbed for much of the second half of the day and eventually we were back up high contouring along the mountains. This evening we crossed into Mazatzal Wilderness. If you’re reading this at home all these different Wilderness names must get confusing. It’s confusing for me too, I usually don’t know where I am until I see a sign but other people always seem to know the names of these different Wilderness areas. People will say things to us like, “are you excited about the Mazatzals?” or “the Catalinas sure are nice this time of year” or “when do you think you’ll be in the Superstitions?” Since I never really know what they’re talking about I usually just say something like, “Oh yeah that will be cool!” or “yeah I’m really looking forward to getting up there.” The truth is I didn’t do too much research on this trail and neither did Queen B. Finding ourselves in all these different mountains and wilderness areas has been a mostly unexpected treat. I know that up ahead is Flagstaff, The Grand Canyon, and Utah and that’s pretty much all I knew going into this trail. That being said ‘the Mazatzals’ are awesome. We climbed up onto Mazatzal Ridge and found an excellent little tent site tucked into some pines with an incredible vantage point to watch the sunset. If you ever hike the AZT, try to camp at mile 407.3 and watch the sunset. Oh yeah we passed the halfway point today so that was cool.

Day 18…..27.2 miles…..AZT mile 434.5

Besides each other, QB and I didn’t see another human being all day. I know the world didn’t end because I saw airplanes but I still think it’s pretty crazy. We’re relatively close to Phoenix, a major metropolitan area with millions of people, yet we walked for 27+ miles in the desert and the forest and didn’t see one other person. Anyway today was tough. This morning we walked along the Mazatzal Divide Trail and half the time it was around 70 degrees and then the mountains would block out the sun and the temperature would drop to something like 40 degrees(all estimates of course). No big deal, it was neither too hot or too cold I just couldn’t find a happy medium. And the trail was rocky too. Loose grapefruit size rocks all day that I kept tripping over. Maybe that’s why nobody else was walking out here. It was very scenic though, whenever I looked up from the rocks I was tripping over I could see forever and there were rocky mountains all over the place. This evening as we were walking out the last few minutes of sunlight the campsite selections were getting slim. We found a spot that’s flat and soft but it might be just a little bit in the middle of the trail. Nobody will mind though.

Day 19…..26.1 miles…..AZT mile 460.6

Town day! Although hiking today was a bit of a slog, knowing that a cheeseburger and a hot shower wait for me at the end of the day will always make me hustle. This last section, 160 miles from Superior to Pine, was particularly difficult and getting into town tonight felt very well deserved. I’ve heard a handful of times about hiking the Arizona Trail that the first half, Mexico to Pine, is super difficult and then the trail gets pretty easy once it gets up onto the Mogollon Rim all the way until Utah. We’ll see if this proves to be true but I will attest to the fact that the first 460 miles were relatively difficult hiking. Not all the time, but some of the days were rather tough.

This evening we got to the cozy little vacation town of Pine and I love it already. We stopped at THAT Brewery and Pub(THAT’s how they spell it) on the edge of town to quickly stuff our faces. A few days ago, actually 75 trail miles ago, we ran into a trail runner, Ed, who gave us his info and told us to get in touch if we need anything in Pine. The very first people we see in the brewery are his wife, daughter, and son in law who recognized QB’s pink braids and told us who they were. Ed’s daughter ‘No Bad Days’ and son in law ‘Waldo’ are thru hikers themselves and although we never met them, they were also on the Colorado Trail in ‘16, the same year as us. Small world I guess. Ed’s family was super nice and offered to help us with anything we need while in town.

After eating burgers and a bunch of elk meat covered nachos we got set up in the 1 room cabin behind the restaurant that the Brewery rents out. Absolutely perfect! I just took one of the best showers of my life, at least top ten, and am about to crash out in a bed for the first time in a week. for more pictures follow me on insta @endlesspsummer and for more stories subscribe to this blog

Day 9…..16 miles…..AZT mile 214.2

It was so nice to have slept in a bed last night at the Village Chalet in Oracle. Don’t get me wrong, I love sleeping in a tent miles from anywhere, but after doing that for a week it felt really good to be inside an A-Frame hotel room on a soft bed. One day I’ll live in an A-Frame, miles from anywhere, and that’s a G.D. promise. Marnie and Jim, the owners of the Village Chalet, are the epitome of ‘hiker friendly.’ You see that phrase used to describe a lot of places along the trails but these two are doing it right. This morning before driving us back to the trailhead, Jim drove me and QB to the Patio Cafe in town for breakfast. Patio Cafe had it going on. B had a Monte Christo sandwich and I had pork belly and eggs; a few items you don’t normally see on a breakfast menu. I definitely don’t eat enough pork belly. Then of course we both ate peach pie and ice cream.

We got back on trail around 12 and the rest of the day was nice and relaxing. Near a trailhead we passed 4 older women and one of them loved QB’s pink hair so much she said so and reached out and grabbed one of her braids. It was funny and sweet and stuff but I thought it was a little weird, like most people ask before they pet someone’s golden retriever nevermind grab a strangers braid to see if it’s real. Whatever, QB didn’t seem to mind and this woman obviously didn’t give a shit. Later on we ran into an Arizona Trail crew with the AZTA and they were running a training program with high school kids. It was cool, they hooked us up with some sodas and told us a little about what they were up to. The rest of the afternoon we walked up and down gentle hills on nicely kept trail through the desert. We walked along lots of saguaro cacti and had views of big mountains in the distance. Right before sunset we called it a day, set up camp, watched the sun drop and the stars come out.

Day 10…..28.4 miles…..AZT mile 242.6

I thought today was going to be miserable. When I got out of the tent this morning it was cold with dark gray skies in every direction. All I could do was start walking. It did rain here and there and it was windy and cold but the sky produced a rainbow so that was cool, and by 11 the sun came out and warmed us up. The rest of the day was cool but sunny, ideal for walking through the desert. We crossed paths with Big Sky who was going east on the Grand Enchantment Trail or GET and talked with him for a little bit. The GET goes from somewhere near Phoenix to somewhere near Albuquerque(I think). It’s on my things to do list but not yet. Later on this afternoon we came to a trailhead and ran into Sequoia who was camping there and providing hikers with trail magic. He hooked us up! Grill cheese sandwiches, fresh oranges, sodas, packets of salsa and hot sauce and was a wealth of info on what we would find ahead on trail. After hanging out with Sequoia and his sweet dog for awhile we got back at it and walked another 8 or so miles. Around sunset we found a flat spot to camp and called it a day.

Day 11…..24.7 miles…..AZT mile 267.3

This morning was crisp and cool but sunny as we cruised through open range desert. My mind was wandering and a few times I got off trail by following cow paths that wound up going nowhere but looked eerily similar to the AZT. We saw a couple of weird things today; first was this big huge Crocodile Dundee knife sitting on a cairn on the side of the trail, then a few miles later was a stray or wild dog walking with a limp in the middle of nowhere. Neither of those things were all that remarkable but strange enough that they were worth noting. Around noon time we climbed a big hill appropriately named ‘Big Hill’ and then walked along a ridge on top of it with big time views of a huge copper mine. We met a handful of GET’ers today; Iron Mike, the Punisher, Trail Dale, and Ledge. It seems like many of the hikers on the Grand Enchantment Trail are seasoned thru hikers and it’s been fun to talk to them about some of the other trails they’ve hiked and trails they recommend. Maybe it’s because the GET is lesser known and people who are new to thru hiking opt for one of the more popular trails.

Yesterday while talking to Sequoia he told us there’s this place ‘Old Time Pizza’ in Kearney, AZ that will deliver pizza to the trail. Once we got close to the town we called Lorraine at Old Time from one trailhead and she delivered a gigantic delicious pepperoni pizza and a couple of sodas to us a few miles later at another trailhead. I’ve heard of stuff like this happening before but this was the first time I’ve had pizza delivered to me on trail and it was a real treat. After we ate we laid around in a food coma for a little while then walked a few more miles. We crossed the Gila River(the same river the CDT crosses something like 200 times in New Mexico) then walked alongside the river through a bunch of Saguaro Cactuses before finding a spot to camp. I got myself pricked pretty good by a cactus looking for a spot and it’s not quite as funny as the cartoons make it out to be.

Day 12…..25.8 miles…..AZT mile 293.1

Today started off easy enough. We contoured along the side of a valley in and out of drainage ditches loosely following the Gila River for about a dozen miles. Around noon time we stopped to eat and fill up our bottles with river water before cutting into some mountains for a long dry stretch. We cut away from the Gila for a 14 mile stretch to a water cache that didn’t seem too promising. Those 14 miles were hot and sunny and we were climbing and conserving water but they were definitely the best miles of the trail so far. I could try to describe what I saw or you could just look at the pictures below. The highlight of the day was while we were up on a ridge I was just walking along minding my own business and a Gila Monster walked right out in front of me. A Gila Monster!! I couldn’t believe my eyes, I’ve heard of these mythical creatures but never dreamed I’d actually be able to see one up close and personal. I’m terrified of snakes but for some reason giant lizards don’t scare me. Now if I could only see a desert tortoise all of my wildest dreams would come true. When we got to the water cache there was very little left but luckily QB and I both carried an extra liter and have enough water to survive. We walked another quarter mile before finding a campsite and for whatever reason I was legit beat by the end of the day. Resting these weary feet right now.

Day 13…..8 miles…..AZT mile 301.1

Town day is always exciting. This mornings miles breezed right by and soon after we walked around scenic Picketpost mountain we had our thumbs out on rt 60 hitching a ride to the town of Superior. 10-15 minutes later John, a local rancher, picked us up and drove us to the Copper Mountain Motel in this old mining town. Queen B and I got our room all squared away and then made a beeline for Porter’s Cafe where we inhaled bacon burgers, macaroni salad and French fries.

Back at the hotel I met a couple of other hikers; Socrosse and Tortuga. I didn’t know it right away but I actually met Tortuga a couple years ago while staying in a hut in the NH’s White Mountains while hiking the AT. I remember I got to the hut late and tried to trade chores with him so I could get out early but he wouldn’t budge. No big deal, I wouldn’t have traded chores if I was him either. He ended up being a pretty cool guy and I’m glad I ran into him again.

Tonight Diane and Ron, friends of my folks and Massachusetts transplants, drove out to Superior from their home in Chandler and took us to dinner. It was great to see them and always fun to share stories about the trail, especially while stuffing my face with Mexican food.

So 300 miles in and things are going well. I’m digging the trail, feeling good, QB and I are having fun, and enjoying the state of Arizona. If you like what you’ve been reading you can subscribe to this blog and or follow me on Instagram @endlesspsummer

Day 3…..22.6 miles…..AZT mile 73.1

After a cozy first night in my new tent I woke up and walked the half a mile or so into Patagonia to get breakfast at the Gathering Grounds. They had this thing there called the breakfast bowl where they just threw a bunch of breakfast food in a bowl and covered it with a few eggs. It was revolutionary, I’ll be doing this at home. QB and I ate breakfast with a couple other hikers who camped at the RV Park, Garth and Mamba and as we were leaving Cruise and Autumn Leaves came in. After breakfast we hit up the market and resupplied with 3 days of food. I was pigging out on the airplane on the way here and I ended up being a little light on food yesterday. This isn’t a good thing to do so early in the trail because now I’ll be buying extra food just in case. I hate being hungry, but carrying tons of food is stupid too. One of these days I’ll get it right. The hike out of town was pleasant, mostly on dirt roads and eventually climbing way up into a sky island, the Mt Wrightson Wilderness. We walked up a steep pass that must be popular for migrants because there was a border patrol truck and a few helicopters hovering around.

The rest of the day was great; sunny but cool temperatures, lots of water, and good views. We found our friend Garth camping right at a trailhead around sunset so we stopped, ate supper, and set up for the night nearby.

Day 4…..27.1 miles…..AZT mile 100.2

There must have been something like forty coyotes within a hundred feet of my tent last night. I didn’t see any but I woke up 3 times to them howling and yipping very loudly and they seemed so close, other than that I slept great.

Hiking today was pretty awesome. About 3 miles in we got to Kentucky Camp, a historical mining camp set up for tours with a caretaker and everything. The caretaker let us use the water there and hooked me up with a cup of hot coffee. At Kentucky Camp we met Stank and JB and also saw Quiet Earp again. We hiked off and on with those 3 plus Garth the rest of the day. Besides a long 14 mile dry stretch that we had to carry a little extra water for, today was pretty relaxing. The trail rolled gently up and down hills and weaved in and out of canyons all day. In the evening we met JV who recognized my name from reading this blog and is on the eve of her 61st birthday(Happy BDay JV!!). We walked the last couple miles with her through a prickly pear palace to a cow pond where a total of 9 hikers are camped for the night. It’s been fun being around so many other hiking enthusiasts.

Day 5…..26.1 miles…..AZT mile 126.3

Got up with the sun and had some nice easy miles right away this morning. Cruise caught up to us early and we walked with him for awhile. He was also on the CDT last year and although we never met him we knew a lot of the same people and he told us a little about his hike.

I got news that they’re in the middle of a blizzard and getting multiple feet of snow today in Massachusetts. Knowing what’s going on back home I felt a little guilty lathering up with sunscreen and enjoying a nice sunny 80 degree day. Overall today was probably the nicest day it’s been so far.

Before we started hiking we mailed ourselves resupply boxes at La Posta Quemada Ranch. They give people tours of their Colossal Caves and have a gift shop and since they’re right off trail they accept food packages for AZT hikers. It was in the heat of the day when we got there and after walking for hours I was super sweaty and slimy and gross. I haven’t showered in awhile and have a really good funk going, I probably smell like old soup. Anyway I was in the gift shop getting a coke and this guy bumped into me, like a lot of contact, half his body bumped into half of my gross body. I turned to apologize and watched as he instantly recoiled with disgust. This guy was absolutely mortified, it looked as if he was dry heaving and at the same time trying to wipe my sweat off his arm. I felt bad at first but it was kind of funny. Sorry dude. After ruining this guys day we hung out in the shade sorting out our boxes and drinking soda. I took a little bird bath in the bathroom there and did some laundry, in a sense. QB and I got back out on trail this afternoon and walked with fellow Bay Stater Garth for the last 7 miles to Rincon Creek. JB, Stank, and Quiet Earp are camped here too and the 6 of us ate dinner together and are crashing out in the desert just before the border of Saguaro National Park.

Day 6…..25.1 miles…..AZT mile 151.1

We entered Saguaro National Park right away this morning. Because of rules and regulations we couldn’t camp within the park without a permit so we just walked all the way through instead. The park is named after the saguaro cactus, an icon of the southwest that grows up to 50 feet tall and some are estimated to be 250 years old (I just read that on the back of a postcard). From the entrance of the park the trail climbed steadily for 6000 feet over the next 15 miles to a saddle next to Mica Mountain. There was a .2 out and back to the top so I dropped my pack and jogged up to find a wooded summit with no views. No big deal, there were incredible views all the way down. The climb was awesome, we walked through saguaro cacti, small manzanita bushes and juniper trees, and then into a ponderosa pine forest. There was good cold creeks for drinking and 1 spot that was good enough to take a little dip; my first swim of the trail. Descending was cool too but it was steep and slow and I’d much rather be going up mountains then down. Once we got to the bottom the trail flattened out and we crushed the last few miles until we found a spot to camp by Reddington Rd trailhead. Since we got out a little early today it doesn’t look like the crew we’ve been camping with lately will catch up tonight. We did meet a bunch of other hikers today; Bernie, Tim, Joseph, Linda and Karts. Besides thru hikers we didn’t see anybody else in the park, not even a ranger, I’m really wondering if other people know about this place.

Day 7…..27.6 miles…..AZT mile 178.7

Today was the day! It was windy and cool this morning so I kept my jacket on as we started walking towards the Santa Catalina Mountains. After just a couple miles I finally saw a coati(Ko-ah-ti) or coatimundi. These little rascals are in the raccoon family and look like a cross between a fox and a monkey with a striped tail. We had a nice climb this morning then dropped into a canyon that had some campgrounds and is a popular place for people from Tucson to come spend a weekend. From the campground canyon(not the real name) we climbed to a pass overlooking Sabino Canyon and it was awesome! We zig zagged down switchbacks to the bottom of the canyon and found Hutch’s pools, a primo swimming hole. It was hot and sunny enough so of course I went for a swim. On the beach at the swimming hole we met Larry who’s enjoying his first thru hike and chilled out with him for a little bit. I didn’t know it then but we had a massive climb ahead of us for the last 8 miles of the day. Somebody told me recently that listening to music can help during a climb(thanks for the pro tip buddy). With this new advice I turned up the Rocky soundtrack and crushed it all the way up to Romero Pass. From Romero Pass we could see way into a valley on one side and deep into Sabino Canyon behind us. The trail then started to climb steeply another couple thousand feet before we started to descend into a pine forest with huge buttermilk boulders all over the place. Temperatures seemed to drop steadily as we stopped climbing and the sun was setting. After we found a soft flat place to camp in the pines I put on all my clothes and ate some delicious noodles. It’s incredible that only a few hours before I was swimming in cold water at the bottom of a canyon and now I’m all bundled up in 30 something degree weather.

Day 8…..19.5 miles…..AZT mile 198.2

Brrrrrr!!! Last night was cold! Woke up to some frost on the tent and temperatures in the 20’s this morning(that’s just an estimate because I don’t carry a thermometer, too heavy). We walked about 4 or 5 miles until we got into the town of Summerhaven. This tiny little ski town sits at 8200 feet in the shadow of Mt. Lemmon. Mt. Lemmon is home to Ski Valley, the southernmost ski mountain in the U.S. We got into town before either of the restaurants were open but the visitor center had a nice warm public bathroom and friendly staff. From Summerhaven we walked along Oracle Ridge which had views for miles but the trail itself wasn’t all that great, just rocky and uneven. We then had a long steep downhill to the American Flag trailhead. It might sound weird to someone that doesn’t hike but I really don’t like long downhills, I’d much prefer to climb.

We’re staying in the Village Chalet in Oracle and when we called, Marnie the owner came out to the trailhead to pick us up. This place is sweet! Instead of regular rooms it’s got about a dozen A-Frames. Plus it’s inexpensive, has a good hiker box, and free laundry. Marnie lent us use a couple of bikes to ride into town to resupply at the Dollar General and pig out at the Mexican Restaurant, La Casa Rivera. It’s nice getting a shower and a bed and eating some town food after a fun but grueling first week on trail.

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Day 1 25 miles AZT mile 23.1

Back in the proverbial saddle again! The first day on trail went pretty well. Traveling last night went smoothly, after flying from NY to Tucson with a quick layover in Chicago we got to our hotel around 11:30 and to sleep shortly after that. I made arrangements with a local trail angel for a ride to the border and he was at the hotel promptly at 6am. The ride didn’t go that well though. This guy was having some sort of meltdown and was venting all his frustrations at us. He seemed to be pretty upset that I didn’t return a text and email that he thought he sent to me but I never received. After his 5-10 minute tirade we sat mostly in silence for the next couple hours until we got to the border. The ride wasn’t all bad though, there was very little traffic and we made good time. Plus I pointed out a few beautiful red tailed hawks perched along the roadside.

We got dropped off at the parking lot for the Coronado National Memorial and from there had to walk a couple miles south to the Mexican border and the beginning of the Arizona Trail. After a couple high fives and the obligatory border pictures we were on our way, hiking north 800 miles to Utah. This was the prettiest US/Mexican border I’ve seen and it was also a bit challenging right away. Over the first 6 miles we climbed 3000 feet to put us up over 9000 and then walked a long a ridge for awhile. We even walked through a little snow for a bit. There were a few others starting out today and we walked with Quiet Earp off and on. Unlike his name implies, he was talkative, sharing stories of his hikes and adventures. Queen B and I put in a full day and this evening found ourselves walking into a beautiful Arizona sunset before picking out a flat spot to cowboy camp in Parker Canyon. A great first day!

Day 2 27.4 miles AZT mile 50.5

I slept like a rock for most of the night even though it was somewhat chilly this morning. For the first couple miles I was too lazy to get my gloves out of my pack so I just walked with my hands in my armpits. As the trail started to climb and the sun came up over the mountains I warmed up quickly. For most of the morning we were climbing and dropping and it was a beautiful day. It was nice to see that this trail gets some use as we met up with a handful of other hikers at a little creek this morning; Tally-Ho and Rose, and Porchlight and Wild Feather. It started to get cloudy and for most of the day the skies were overcast and the temperature was cool, ideal for walking, until it started to rain anyway. More like a light drizzle this afternoon that really wasn’t too bad. The trail leaves Coronado National Forest and pops out onto a road for a few miles and then through the town of Patagonia. Our plan was to stealth camp somewhere along the side of the road but as we walked we noticed it was all fenced off and private property. There was an RV Park that had tent sites for short money and since I didn’t want to get shot by a rancher with the ‘shoot first, ask questions second’ mentality we ponied up the few bucks to tent at the RV Park. Plus it had a shower which was nice, even though a it seemed like overkill after only 2 days.

I’m on the brink of a bit of an adventure. Starting in a couple days I plan on hiking north on the Arizona Trail for the next month or so. The Arizona Trail or the AZT is a national scenic trail that stretches 800 miles from the Mexican border to the Utah border. Right now I’m on a train from Boston to NY where I’ll stay with Queen B and then tomorrow the 2 of us will fly to Tucson. We’ll spend a night in Tucson before a trail angel gives us a ride to the border on Friday.IMG_4688.jpgGrand Canyon, Arizona 11/17

Our plan is to get as much(hopefully all) of the trail done as possible by mid April. We have a flight from NY to Kathmandu on April 16th so we’d like to somehow get to Vegas by the 13th or 14th and then secure a flight back to NY from there. Originally I was supposed to take a bus today but because of a nor’easter in the Northeast of all places, all of the buses were cancelled and I had to get a last minute train. Hopefully nobody gets murdered on this thing because they’d probably ask me to solve it since I watched half of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ last night and obviously am the most qualified.

Anyway I’m a fan of the state of Arizona and what better way to see it than walking through it? I put together a gear list because people always ask me about gear. I’m by no means an expert on this stuff but I’ve got a pretty firm grasp on it, just don’t expect exact weights and prices and stuff like that. Or even the correct names.IMG_4540.jpgQB and me in the Grand Canyon 11/17

I’ll start with clothing, from my head to my feet.

Baseball hat: a couple years ago I picked up a yellow mesh and foam SnapBack at a Durango thrift store for a buck. It says ‘Harriman Masonry’ on it and often times people ask me if I’m a mason, which I’m not.

Buff: I carry a “Virginia is for Outdoor Lovers” buff with me that I got for giving an interview to a Virginia tourism company while hiking the AT. I use it to cover my face in cold weather or to cover my neck from the sun or in addition to my baseball hat to cover my ears if it’s cold and sunny. It’s versatile and light.

Winter hat: I always bring a lightweight thin winter hat. If it’s real cold I add my buff to it.

Gloves: high visibility fleece lined waterproof bright green gloves.

Sunglasses: Suncloud glasses with the wicked important Croakiesmy nephew Will doing his best Uncle Endless impersonation

Hiking shirt: I picked up a super fancy short sleeve button down rayon shirt from Salvation Army for a couple dollars. The Aztec design is really cool, these will surely be all the rage soon.

Long sleeve hiking shirt: I carry a long sleeve nylon/spandex base layer shirt to keep me warm on cold days or to keep the sun off me in blazing heat. Color white, plus lots of stains. I got it at Marshall’s about 10 years ago probably in the $5-10 range. I don’t know what brand it is but it used to have the number ‘8’ on it.

Down jacket: Marmot Down Jacket, bright green highly visible down jacket. I think I linked the right one. Roughly 10 oz.

Rain jacket: Outdoor Research Helium II. On my short list for favorite piece of gear.

Shorts: I picked up a pretty skimpy pair of running shorts at a Wal-Mart in Steamboat last year. I think they’re unisex but for some reason they were in the ladies section. Short shorts are better for a longer stride and showing a little more leg never hurts while hitchhiking.

Rain pants: Patagonia Houdini pants. QB talked me into buying these last year. I’m not too crazy about them, they’re wicked light but feel like they’re made out of tissue paper. I got a decent sized tear in them last year and now have a nice silver duct tape stripe on my butt. These are wind pants, not rain pants so they won’t keep you dry in anything heavier than light rain, but they’ll keep me a little warmer.

Underwear: Under Armour, one pair.

Socks: Darn Tough Socks. Comfortable and cozy. One time I got away with one pair for a few weeks on the AT but 1 pair of socks is a little reckless.

Gaiters: Dirty Girl gaiters. I went with the giraffe print last year to make me look taller and I’ll be reusing these after QB does a quick sewing repair.

Sneakers: Altra Lone Peak 3.5’s. I love these shoes. I wore the 2.5’s in ’16 and the 3.0’s in ’17. I think the 3.5’s are the best ones yet. Hoping to hike the whole AZT in one pair.

Backpack: Hyperlite Windrider 2400. I’m a big fan of this pack. I loved it on the CDT and the company was very easy to deal with; repairing small tears in the mesh and getting it back to me in a timely fashion. I believe in products made in Maine.

Sleeping bag: Enlightened Equipment 20 degree down quilt. I’m not in love with this thing, but I also didn’t upgrade it in the off season after using it last year. I don’t think it’s anything to do with the product I just don’t like the quilt style, I prefer a cocoon style sleeping bag. Kind of kicking myself for not getting a new fart sack.

Sleeping bag liner: Sea to Summit fleece liner. I hiked over a thousand miles with just this liner on the AT but in colder weather I use it to supplement the quilt. I realize the extra weight of carrying a liner cancels out getting a lightweight quilt.

Sleeping pad: Therm-A-Rest Z Lite silver and gray sleeping pad. I’ve had one in the past and liked it although last year I tried a ridiculously thin 5 oz Mammut pad that just didn’t cut it.

Tent: After 3 seasons with the Tarp Tent ProTrail and a piece of Tyvek for a groundsheet, I’m going with a Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 Platinum. This is a major change. QB and I will be splitting the weight of the tent, poles, and groundsheet so it will not only save weight but will be free standing and luxurious. This tent was highly recommended by my friend Mac, check out his blog and gear reviews here.

Cooking: Except for the first 3 days on the PCT in ’15, I’ve spent my entire thru-hiking career stoveless. This is about to change. QB and I are sharing a stove for the AZT. One of us will be carrying a MSR Pocket Rocket and the other one will be carrying a small fuel canister. We’ll each be carrying our own titanium pots. How I came to have my spoon is a long story but I’ll give you the abridged version: I’ve been carrying the same copper  lightweight table spoon since Julian, CA on the PCT. Because of its shape it’s not the most practical but it’s got sentimental value and I’ve been carrying it for almost 9,000 miles, more than any other piece of gear.

Food bag: Granite Gear ultra light zip sack 16L.

Water: I use a Sawyer Squeeze filter, heavier than the Sawyer Mini but much more efficient, I’ll also carry a couple of Smart Water liter bottles and probably a 20 oz Gatorade bottle to make my instant coffee in. My niece Sawyer helping me navigate

Electronics: iPhone 6 with Lifeproof case. Anker portable charger, iPod Nano, charging cord for the phone and iPod and a micro USB cord for the charger plus a dual port to plug into the wall. And regular apple headphones.

Shit kit: Deuce of Spades trowel, little bit of toilet paper, smallest refillable bottle of hand sanitizer I could find, and a series of zip lock bags to keep clean stuff clean and dirty stuff dirty.

Toiletries: Tiny toothbrush, just the end of a regular toothbrush that I sawed off to a one inch handle. Miniature toothpaste.

Medicine: Ibuprofen to take as needed, Benadryl, immodium(after a wild day in Montana last year, I will always carry this wonder drug), multivitamins, and eye drops. I also have been carrying an Epipen after I had a pretty severe allergic reaction to something in Pennsylvania on the AT.

Trekking poles: Black Diamond brand that I’ve used for a couple thru hikes and have tapped on the ground with millions of times

Miscellaneous: Small container of Vaseline to prevent chafing, superglue, sunscreen in a pill container for easy refill, my passport and a small notebook for a journal plus a pen (I know I could keep a journal on my phone but call me old fashioned I guess). I keep my ID, credit card, ATM card and a little bit of cash in a hair elastic wallet that I now use full time.

I sure hope I didn’t forget anything. Last year my base weight was right around 10 lbs. this year I think it will be slightly higher but I’m not too worried, I don’t think I’ll weigh it but if I do I just might have to revise this. Make sure you subscribe to this blog or at least stay tuned for updates and follow me @endlesspsummer on Instagram for more pictures.

-Endless

Day 130     9/6/17   16 miles

So last night, before going back to the trail, a bunch of us went out to eat at the Mexican place in town and I have to say it wasn’t the best burrito I’ve ever had. The portions were good but then they covered it in like velveeta cheese or something, it was weird. I was talking to a couple there and the guy was a retired firefighter from Ohio. When I explained to them what we were up to he left the tip on our meal so that was cool. Thanks Tom! After supper QB and I hitched back to Marias Pass, where we got off trail earlier in the day, and found a spot in the woods to camp.

This morning we got up and started cruising right into town. We crossed rt 2 and some railroad tracks and got into Glacier NP but since our permits don’t start until tomorrow night we’ll be walking back into East Glacier Village and spending the night there. From Marias Pass the trail kind of parallels the road and the tracks all the way to town. There wasn’t anything too spectacular to see from trail, or maybe there was, it was just too smoky to see  much of anything. About a mile from town I saw and heard a small dark brown bear crashing through the woods 15-20 feet to my right. It scared the bejesuses out of me but I recovered quickly. Once again QB didn’t see it but she did hear it. Current bear score 12-2 in my favor. We got to town and ate a couple times at the Two Medicine Grill, which I recommend.  I did laundry and showered for the first time in a week and got a room half off at the Circle R motel because it didn’t have a TV. Fine with me, I feel like hotel TV’s only play Forensic Files anyway. Smoky!Ran into Recalculating in town and he’s become quite feral since I first met him in New Mexico, his shoes look like they got struck by lightning This license plate has my name on itMe and QB and some tall guy

Day 131     9/7     25 miles

Right away this morning QB and I devoured a huge breakfast at the Two Medicine Grill; omelettes, pancakes, hash browns, even a slice of pie. After breakfast we got back on trail and into Glacier NP starting with a nice stiff climb up to Scenic Point. For a while we walked with Recalculating, who unlike most thru hikers has a wife and 4 young kids at home, pretty awesome situation but not the norm out here. Glacier has been incredible so far, even with a blanket of smoke from the wildfires hanging in the air. I’d love to see this place on clear bluebird days so that’s why I’ll definitely have to come back. The smoke however, puts a whole new paint job on things and makes the mountains and the lakes look really cool. I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves. Plus I saw a bunch of animals, a moose laying around in the grass and probably about 25 bighorn sheep including a little baby. We’re camping at the Atlantic Creek site and also camping here tonight are Garbelly and Critter who we’ve been keeping in touch with but haven’t seen since Winter Park.A couple of bros just chilling out

Day 132     9/8     25 miles

Today was the day! We hiked with Critter and Garbelly for most of the day and started off with a steep climb up to Triple Divide Pass. Although smoky, this was one of the most incredible passes I’ve ever been up and over. There’s three sides to Triple Divide Peak (just to the West of where we crossed); any water that lands on the west flows to the Pacific, water landing on the east flows to the Atlantic and water landing on the north flows to the Arctic Ocean. So cool! While climbing up the Pass, Critter spotted a moose down in the valley from at least a half mile away, then we had a bighorn sheep directly in front of us on trail and on our way down we saw 4 mountain goats way up on the side of a steep wall. The rest of the day the trail was pretty relaxed but there was lots of water. We stopped to jump off rocks into an awesome swimming hole at Red Eagle Creek. In the afternoon we walked along Lake St Mary which was tough to get a good view of because it was super smoky but it’s obviously a spectacular sight. I got another chance to swim at the bottom of Virginia Falls then we stopped again at St Mary Falls. Because of the wildfire situation, QB and I weren’t able to get our backcountry permits so tonight we had to hitch to Rising Sun CG where we’re camping at the hiker walk-in site. Ideally we wanted to camp in the backcountry for our last couple nights on trail but it’s no big deal, I’m just glad the park is still open and I really hope it stays that way. This campground has a restaurant and we were able to get some good food, plus a couple guys that were eating there recognized that we were thru hiking and bought us dessert. Garbelly and Critter walking through the smokeTriple Divide Pass Cannonball!!!posing so hard Triple Divide Pass Swam where the mountain dolphins live St Mary Falls

Day 133     9/9     14 miles

Before leaving Rising Sun we grabbed some sweet potato pancakes at the restaurant. It’s so tough to pass up a good meal when it’s close by. We had a short 14 mile day until the next campground so we weren’t in a hurry. Once on trail we climbed way up to Piegan Pass and the views were just awesome. I know I said yesterday that Triple Divide Pass might have been the most impressive pass I ever climbed but that title only stood for a day. Today the smoke had cleared some and we had some better views. It really was amazing. It was super windy on the way down but that probably helped get some of the smoke out of the area. We could see cascading waterfalls, aquamarine lakes, and jagged peaks all over. After we got down to the valley it was a relaxing 5 or 6 miles into Many Glacier, another front country campground with a store and restaurant. There’s lots of other thru hikers here tonight also. Garbelly and Critter, Maine Man, Flip Flop, Liam and Kate, Spindrift and James all are camping here and planning to finish tomorrow. A bunch of us went to supper tonight and it was a lot of fun. It’s weird, I felt like there weren’t many hikers around for most of the trail but I’ve seen lots throughout Montana and especially the last couple hundred miles. They say nothing brings people together like a common enemy, like the school kids rallying together against the lunch lady. In this case it’s the wildfires causing the thru hikers to bunch up right at the end. Queen B. MacklemorePiegan PassSwiftcurrent Lake

Day 134     9/10/17     20 miles

What a day! First of all last night was crazy windy, all night long blowing wicked loud. Even with my earplugs in I hardly slept and it seemed like everybody had the same problem. Even with minimal sleep everybody was still pretty jacked up for our last day. We set off with a big crew of hikers; Garbelly, Critter, Flip Flop, Liam and Kate. From Many Glacier we climbed up to Ptarmigan Pass that has a tunnel going 150 feet blasted through the Pass. It was awesome! We all chilled out up there for awhile enjoying the view, then went through to the other side and the trail down was absolutely spectacular! I can’t believe somebody decided to build a trail and this tunnel up here. We walked half a dozen more miles before coming across Dawn Mist Falls and took the little side trail to it. This was the last highlight of the trail and my last opportunity to jump into freezing cold water so of course I did. After the falls it was only 6 or 7 miles until the road and the border crossing at Chief Mountain. We crossed the border, did the damn thing, got our passports stamped, and took a bunch of pictures by the monument. From the border our friend had rides up to Calgary and QB and I hitched south. We got a fun ride from Ina, Karen, and Jules (an AT long distance hiker herself) back to East Glacier. There are lots of hikers in town and after pigging out at the restaurant we hung out with all them out front.  Breaking camp on our last morning Pride Rock?Ptarmigan PtunnelWalking out of the tunnelQB, Garbelly and Critter at Dawn Mist Falls Dawn Mist Falls A bunch of kids walking to CanadaThis trail was overwhelmingly dudes, it’s cool that we finished with 3 women; QB, Critter and Kate

Over the course of 134 days I walked roughly 2800 miles from one imaginary line to another (QB had her total mileage at 2795, I’ll go through my journals later but that seems acurate). The trail was significantly harder than I thought it would be, but also more incredible than I could have ever imagined. Finishing the trail hasn’t exactly sunk in yet and I’m sure it will take a while to digest. I’ll have it forever and I will look back fondly at this summer on the CDT. The fact that there are so few hikers on the trail makes for a  tighter knit community. Probably like going to a small high school or something. I met some great people out here that I look forward to seeing again. Oh yeah, I will definitely be back here too. The CDT introduced me to so many great places that I definitely plan to explore more.

I have so much gratitude for everybody who helped me get through this trail; trail angels, folks who gave me rides, people who took me in and fed me or gave me a place to crash for a night, friends who came out to hike with me, all the support I’ve got from this blog and encouragement from friends following my hike online (it holds me accountable in a way, a good way, and provides motivation to finish this grueling hike). Thank you to my parents and family for their continued love and support and especially to my hiking partner Queen B who made this summer so much fun and without her, I would not have made it.

-Endless

PS All My Love!!! And thanks for reading

PPS from East Glacier we are catching a train to Seattle and hiking for a few more weeks. The train should be fun, I don’t think I’ve ever taken anything longer than the commuter rail from Lynn to Boston. Originally we planned on hiking the last 350 miles of the PCT so QB could finish her triple crown but due to fires might have to come up with an alternative plan. Stay tuned there should be more posts in the next few weeks. And seriously thanks for reading, it has been a pleasure writing this blog and I appreciate the feedback I’ve got. If you want to see different pictures feel free to follow me on instagram @endlesspsummer

Day 117     8/24     25 miles 

First thing this morning I put a nice beating on the continental breakfast at the Trade Wind Motel. It was a good one too, they had like 20 different boxes of cereal to choose from. I felt like I was in Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment. So many options but I gotta have my Pops, like 4 bowls of them. After breakfast we hit the trail, actually a road. For miles we walked along pavement and it was not ideal. We crossed under I-90 and it turned to dirt road which was better. This section of trail, about 52 miles today and yesterday, is actually an alternate of the official trail. The regular route is east of here near the city of Butte and a good deal longer. I originally planned on going that way but I heard that was also a lot of road walking and I don’t think I missed too much. Another time. Besides the city of Anaconda though, which was cool, the last two days have been a bit of a slog. I definitely was excited to be back on trail when we got there this evening. Road walking on dirt road is one thing but pavement walking is for the birds, especially highways with lots of cars. What’s cool about taking the Anaconda route is that all of a sudden we’re around a bunch of other hikers. The CDT is weird. Sometimes it seemed as if we would get into these vacuums where we would barely see other hikers for hundreds of miles but lately lots of hikers have been taking different alternates and all seem to be converging at the same time and place. We’re seeing lots of people. Pei Mei and his crew caught up and we walked with some of them today after not seeing them for a couple of states. Shortly after getting back on the official trail QB and I found a good spot to camp and called it a  night. Anaconda Stack, this is one of the biggest smokestacks in the world and is now a state park. Google it for some interesting infoI did this for milesand then some of thissweet coyote fence!this guy George gives water to hikers at his hunting camp 

Day 118     8/25     31 miles

Today was relaxing. Just crushed miles all day and the trail didn’t have anything too spectacular for us but at the same time was pretty easy. While QB and I were taking a little break this morning Spirit came bombing by. We hadn’t seen him since near Breckinridge so we talked for a few minutes and then leap frogged with him a couple times today. At some point this afternoon we caught up to Griggs and walked with him for a few hours. We hadn’t seen him since he passed us climbing up the Argentine Spine. He’s been staying on the official route and absolutely crushing this trail, the only reason we caught him was because we took the shorter Anaconda route and he took the Red(official) route going to Butte. We moved right along while hiking with him but the 3 of us missed a turn and went a half mile the wrong way before realizing our mistake and doubling back. In everybody’s defense the turn really wasn’t marked all that well. Queen B and I walked a couple more hours before finding a campsite. While we were eating gummy bears or whatever, Bones, who we last saw near Breckinridge, walked up with a headlamp on. He was trying to catch Spirit but decided to camp here also. 

Day 119     8/26     23 miles

The trail was a bit bland today. Easy but bland. Although it’s been enjoyable, this whole section since Anaconda has been somewhat dull as far as the CDT goes. We walked a soft dirt path for awhile through a lodge pole pine forest and then joined a dirt road for miles. We walked in and out of the forest and over a few open meadows until we got to MacDonald Pass. Everything was all good today except for one mile that had tons of blowdowns that we had to walk over, under or around. A total nuisance. At the pass we put our thumbs out and the first truck that went by turned around and picked us up and took us into Helena. Hitchhiking with QB is pretty easy. Ted, a retiree and avid hiker, along with his dog Trip, took us all the way to our hotel and even offered us a ride back to the trail on Monday. We’re planning to take a day off here tomorrow and enjoy the capital so we took care of our resupply tonight then went to dinner downtown before crashing out for the night. a view of the valley from MacDonald pass 

Day 120     8/27     0 miles 

Took the day off today to enjoy Montana’s capital city, Helena, and possibly our last zero on this trail. Helena is a nice little city rich in gold mining history. At one time it had the highest concentration of millionaires in the world living in it, or something like that. Queen B and I took a nice little walking tour of the city this morning and it was cool. First of all we switched hotels to one closer to downtown so while we walked there we explored the State House and ran a few other little errands. The other day one of my trekking poles got stuck closed to the point that it was rendered useless. So we had to go to a gear shop and instead of selling me new sticks, they let me borrow some pliers and with a little bit of effort I fixed the stuck one. We also checked out the St. Helena Cathedral, the original governor’s mansion, and a really cool art museum but the name is escaping me right now. It was a regular good old fashioned walking tour of a state capital on a nice 95 degree day. Today also included McDonald’s for breakfast, pizza, gigantic burritos, and ice cream. It was a very enjoyable day off.the State House Red Sox nation is everywhereis this creepy?the original governor’s mansionSt. Helena’s Cathedral, I’m not against incredible architecture. This building is impressive.QB beautifying the sidewalk with a chalk mural

Day 121     8/28     20 miles

This morning we got breakfast down the street and looked over the upcoming section that includes a potential fire closure and reroute situation up ahead. After breakfast we went back to the hotel and noticed some of the other hikers had fresh haircuts. These guys bought clippers in town so we borrowed them and I gave QB a haircut. Not really, I just shaved the lower half of her head, I guess that’s all the rage these days. We then started back to the trail and got two relatively quick hitches back up to MacDonald Pass around 11. Back on trail we met up with Mac, Appa, and JPEG and hiked with those guys for most of the day. At some point we were in Ted Kaczynski’s old neighborhood(the Unabomber). The FBI seized his whole cabin though so there was no sign of the weirdo. This section is pretty dry and very smoky due to the wildfire up ahead. We took an alternate to the west of the trail that had a better water situation. Once back on the official trail we made it to a water source and shortly after that found a place in the pines to camp. This is an old train tresses and looked extremely apocalyptic possibly what the unabomber’s cabin would have looked like, as this was in the area where the lunatic livedJPeg, QB and Mac

Day 122     8/29     31 miles

Today was a hot, humid, hazy, and smoky day to walk to Canada. The water sources were very limited but luckily we came across caches twice. There’s some awesome person in the area that stocks caches at both Stemple Pass and Flesher Pass and because of them I didn’t dry up today. Due to the weather and a bunch of short steep climbs it was a tough day to conserve water. We hiked with Mac and Appa this morning until those guys took a different route towards town. As of right now there’s a big wildfire up ahead causing a trail closure and a reroute so hikers are taking a few different routes to get down into Lincoln. Queen B and I got to Flesher Pass tonight and instead of going to Rodgers Pass(where the trail is closed), our plan is to walk the road from here to connect with the reroute a little earlier. This plan will eliminate some of the highway walking around the closure that will be inevitable. Wildfires and trail closures are a pain in the ass but also part of the hike and not really all that big of a deal for us compared to the people who are living up here and who are actually affected by the fires. Anyway after a long hot day we found a spot to camp about a quarter mile from the road and we’ll be walking that for awhile tomorrow before getting into Lincoln.lots of hikers along this ridge, I felt like I was in the desert in on the PCTa large group of hiking enthusiastscool house!moo!!! I drank a bunch of this gigantic cow’s water

Day 123      8/30      13 miles

Holy smokes!! It’s been a super smoky morning as we walked down from Flesher Pass and even smokier here in Lincoln. We started walking down a trail that Queen B invented, following power lines steeply down to a road after a mile or two. Once we got to the road we walked along it for about 6 miles, took a left and walked another 6 miles to the point where the reroute cuts north. At this point we hitched into Lincoln and we’ll start back here tomorrow morning. We’ve got a big section coming up going through the Bob Marshal Wilderness so we’ll take care of a few chores in town this afternoon and hit the trail hard tomorrow. The sun looks crazy in the smoke, don’t even need eclipse glasses