Just a few days left until I leave the trail and I am already starting to miss it.
Much more hiking like today and I may start feeling less nostalgic for the delights of the AZT. It wasn’t just the 4K or so of elevation gain, it was the steepness and roughness (bordering on absence) of the trail. The downhills were so steep and so covered with fist-sized loose rocks, perfectly shaped to roll under foot, that they were just as slow and almost as much work as the steep uphills. I struggled to maintain a pace much better than 1 mph for long stretches.
Definitely one of the hardest 18 mile hikes I’ve ever done. Hard days make for short journal entries, and so it will be today.
But I’m camped now on a grassy saddle overlooking the Salt River basin with views to the White Mountains 50 miles beyond. Jupiter has risen, the stars are coming out, the moon soon will follow. It’s nice here and I don’t want to be anywhere else.