We planned to wait for Scratch to show up this morning, but when it got close to 9AM, I knew I wasn’t going to make Oracle if I didn’t leave. Tikimon decided to stay and wait for her, and I continued hiking. I had a reservation at the 2nd most iconic place to sleep on the entire Arizona Trail: The Chalet. (The #1 most iconic place being the post office, of course.)
800 Smiles and I took off, for he too was staying in Oracle and needed to get there before dark. Our entire day was to be spent along Oracle Ridge.
The views today were stunning: rock and scrubby tree and sky.
It was fun to see the snow up on the mountain, though that snow is what caused all the trouble yesterday.
The day was not as easy as anticipated. There was a steep climb that went on and on. I can only imagine what a slap in the face that would be to someone who had scrambled up the mountain a day earlier. Switchbacks on the AZT are often so steep as to be hardly worth it, and that was the case with these. But at least we had great views.
The trail was exceptionally rocky. It joined some rugged roads that were far too steep, with ankle-breaking rocks cluttering the road. I had to walk down some of the roads sideways because they were so steep I thought I’d just fall down if I tried to walk normally down them. It was such a relief to get back on singletrack.
Signage completely disappeared in the middle of the day. Without Guthook, I would have had some stressful hours. I imagine there are many “bonus miles” done on this section every year. I later learned Tikimon did some bonus miles here.
The trail was also very dry. Man, this trail does nothing subtly. It’s either way too much water or none at all! 800 Smiles and I hiked together for awhile. When we got to a water tank he climbed up and filled up our bottles!
The ladder kept us from having to drink green water out of a trough. I was happy about that. Green water is no one’s favorite. Way to go, 800 Smiles!
Shortly after the tank, we reached a stunning bit of trail through a rock garden and the soft tread was joy to our feet. It was a great descent to American Flag Trailhead!
Along the way, we passed the 200 mile mark. This was a cool moment. I was happy to share it with 800 Smiles.