Mile 376, coming down from the mountain

Last camp, last full day of hiking.

Started out with another steep climb, but the trail eventually leveled out as I crossed the east face of the Four Peaks. Although not so steep, the trail became completely overgrown and smothered in a tangle of oaks, manzanitas and hackberries. Mercifully few thorny plants but still scratchy enough that I was forced to put on pant legs lest the loss of skin become too great.

The trails through the southern Mazatzals are a bit brushy

But it wasn’t as hard as I feared. The AZT has redefined my view of what a steep trail is.

Fine views over the Salt River Valley and up to the Mogollon Rim as the morning haze dissipated. Hard as this country is, I will miss it.

There were several springs on the north side of the Four Peaks that invited me to rest and linger. Tall pines, dappled shade and running water are great seducers. Took an especially long break below the ridge that marks the wilderness boundary. That side of the mountain faces Phoenix and the end of my time on the trail. Much as I miss my wife and dog and kids and friends, it would be easy to just keep walking, to keep living in the eternal moment and immediacy of the trail. To just be.

But I eventually got off my butt and started walking, because that is what hikers do.