Our adventure continues in the Santa Ritas!
BRRRRR!!!! Friday night was a cold one! One of the coldest I've had camping in a while. Considering we were expecting 60's at night, I', glad I brought my sleeping bag that I almost left at home. I spent most of the night having convulsions from the sore muscles reacting to the chill. I think in total I got about 4-5 hours of sleep and maybe 2 hours of actual REM. I was positive Mike was sleeping soundly but I was relieved to find out he too suffered as much as I did!
After a 7am wake-up call thanks to some howling coyotes I crawled out of the tent and was happy to find that even with lack of sleep my body had managed to rest and I wasn't as sore as I expected to be. After a quick breakfast we packed up camp and headed to the summit of our trip. On the way up the hill we looked down and found a pond which probably would have made a better camping spot but there was no way we would have found it in the dark.
Mike and I trucked along the trail as the day got warmer and warmer. I noticed I was drinking a lot more water than I had the day before. Finally I spotted my first wildlife of the trip in the middle of the trail - a horny toad. We pressed on with the plan for lunch at the next highway crossing we came to. The trail was beautiful but the sun was getting more intense and I just couldn't seem to get enough water, and I ran out just short of our lunch stop. Mike wasn't far behind me with just about half left in his bottle. Just as we were coming down the hill to the highway we ran into our second human encounter - a solo backpacker coming up the trail. I was excited to stop and chat with him about where he was going and what his journey was all about but he just commented about the weather and kept on going.
We found a shady spot for lunch and relaxed for a while. Every car that passed on the road we wondered if they had any water! As we loaded up the packs a group with two dogs pulled up and parked on the road. Mike commented on them having water and I said the chances were probably good since they had dogs. He wandered over ahead of me, and lucky us! They donated two bottles of water to our cause. They bounded up the trail ahead of us with the dogs and we regained a decent pace on the trail. Soon we caught up with them again in a shady spot and they wanted to make sure we had enough food and asked about the Spot devices we were both wearing. We said our goodbyes and carried on to finish the trail.
The sun seemed to get more and more intense with every step I took. Soon I was down to the last half of my donated water and wondering how I would make it to the end. We estimated we had about 2 more miles to go, but Mike spotted a water tank on the map ahead of us so we pressed on to find it. It seemed to take forever but we finally came to the tank at the bottom of the hill. I ran all around it looking for someway to access the water but there was no spout! Then out of the corver of my eye I spotted a small water trough off to the side filled with not only water, but rocks, slime, creatures and dead bugs...perfect! I could finally test out the new Katadyn water filter we got for christmas! I set it up and it could not have worked better - the water was crystal clear and tasted great. We both sat there on the tub for a while filling, drinking and re-filling our bottles again along with having a snack until we were satisfied.
From there the trail was pretty much a straight shot out on a closed forest road to the highway and our meeting point. I felt rejuvenated and picked up my pace a bit. Mike spotted some deer bounding across the road in front of us - our second wildlife encounter! We made a left turn which was the wrong was to go and ended up hiking about half a mile of the next trail section. After seeing our mistake we turned around and finally we could see the road. We made our way over the barbed wire fence and collapsed next to the road to wait for Susan. We were tired, dirty and sunburned - but happy we survived our first section of the AZT!!!