Mile 396, last camp

I’m at the last ridge, the last lookout over the desert mountains and valleys of Arizona.

last camp

The rough ranges receding are beautiful in their way, but also appalling. Any traveler would be dismayed to see how hard a road lies ahead.

Wait — I’m a traveler.

And I would be appalled if I were continuing on. Especially as I know how hard the next 100 miles of trail are, having hiked them last April.

I’m lucky I cut the trail in two where I did. If I had known that the 80 terrible rough miles of the Superstitions and Four Peaks were to be followed by 80 miles of even more rough and more terrible trail in the Mazatzals I don’t think I could have continued.

But here I am. And when I ground up this last ridge and looked down at trail’s end, my first feelings were of loss. I’m losing my trail life now, the life where everything is on my back, where I have everything I need and nothing I don’t, where I’m free to go where my feet will take me. I like that life a lot.

But though I have everything I need I don’t have everyone. I need to be back with my wife, my dog, my daughters, my friends. The trail has held me long enough. Time to go home.