The journey from AZ to the PCT

We’re not in Washington anymore!

For five days we stayed with Amos’ brother Sam and his wife Lynné in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. During our stay we prepped gear and food for our first stretch of the PCT and hiked in Saguaro National Park, thanks to a stellar recommendation from a Triple Crown thru-hiker and employee at the local gear shop.

Below are photos from the 8-mile trek to Wasson Peak (elevation 4,687 feet), on the ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people.

We were very lucky to see the desert in bloom after an abundance of winter rain and snow.

Here’s one of my favorites, the desert Mariposa lily.

pink hedgehog cactus

Prickly pears cactus

buckhorn cholla

Staghorn cholla

The day before the trail we experienced a bit of an unexpected adventure… Sam’s initial plan was for us to have a chill first half of the day in Tucson, and then at noon we’d drive from Arizona to California to camp 20 minutes from the trailhead. That would set us up for an early start the next day, our first day on the PCT(!), and Sam would get to see Scout – a trail angel he knows from thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail last year.

However, life happens when you least expect it. While Amos was essentially learning how to drive a stick shift on the interstate, the front tire of Sam’s car blew… I mean it was fully shredded! Right before it happened, funny enough, Amos asked “How do I stop? Do I just break or do I have to hold down the clutch?”

Maybe his words alone caused the tire to burst, or maybe not? But right then a loud thud thud thud occurred, and Sam started to yell “Don’t slam on the break! Don’t slam on the break!”

Thankfully, we pulled safely onto the shoulder of the road just outside of Yuma, AZ. The brothers proceeded to change the tire in no time, putting on the spare with cool heads and steady hands. I observed in silence as the back of my legs baked in the sun.

Once the spare was on, the car very obviously leaned to the right. We slowly made our way into Yuma for a quick stop to Target – to pick up much needed sunscreen – and then parked outside of a small Mexican restaurant. We went inside and ordered dinner while Sam called people, trying to figure out how to fix his car. In-between bites of taco, he called tire shops, dejected. Come to find out, the nearest shop, Wal-Mart, was going to close in five minutes- daaaaang.

Well. Okay, then.

Guess we’re spending the night in Yuma.

Long story short, after being rejected by a few places, we found a spot to camp at a nearby RV park. Yes, it was slightly sketchy – an older man did encourage us to visit “the pyramid tent” for some “good vibes.” But as you can see in the pictures, it was a pretty spot along the Colorado River. We were also quite literally a stones throw from California, too.

While a peaceful place to chill in the evening, we got to experience a mockingbird sing all hours of the night from his perch… a bonafide bachelor pad… in the tree above our heads. From car alarms to squirrels to other birds, that kid could sing! What a boisterous and to be frank – annoying as hell! – little dude.

I woke up at 1am thinking it was 5am because of the bright desert moon and this incessant song! Which means we all experienced horrible sleep the night before Trail.

Though it all worked out well enough in the end. We arrived at Wal-Mart at 6:30am, got two new wheels for Sam’s car, drove the two more hours to Campo, California, and hit the trail by 11am! Woohoo!

What a hot and sweaty first day, but boy do we look excited in our southern terminus pic! I’ll post more soon, but this will have to do for now. I’m currently typing on my cellular device, using one bar of LTE to update y’all. Tomorrow we’ll hike into town!

Happy trails to you,

Montana

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