Rock Pocket Guest Post

Have you ever been hiking and gotten a blister on your foot? We’ve all been there. 

Now when you pop that blister, it is commonly accepted that you leave the “cover” on to protect the raw skin while it heals. 

However, if you now go for a float in the Gila River, you might end up with a blister chock full of river pebbles. That’s a Rock Pocket, my trail-namesake.

My current AZT rock pocket count is three. My hiking partner Giggles is only at one. I don’t think Junco has any.

Despite the occasional rock pocket, the sights and sounds of the AZT have drawn me in, and I’m almost halfway done. From snow at the top of Mt. Lemmon to boiling water out of cow tanks near Kearney, I’ve gotten a good fill of what Arizona has to offer, and I’m looking forward to the Mogollon Rim and the Northern sections!

This is a photo of a ??? snake, seen on top of the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix.

This scene was my favorite lunch spot yet, with a few cactuses and mountains to make for a beautiful midday rest.

The last photo is from when we got up at 5 to hike the sunrise and beat the heat near the Gila River.

Looking forward to more adventures,

Rock Pocket

The plan

I’ve been hanging out in Tucson and Flagstaff since leaving the AZT in late March. Saw Pete and Hannah in Oracle and then today at Roosevelt lake. They are at mile 348 – almost half way there.

Engleman’s Hedgehog cactus

I hope to resume hiking for the last 200 miles with my friends El Tejano and Señor Bean when they reach Flagstaff in a couple weeks.

Can’t keep up with the youngsters

Junco

Shuttling folks around

So I’m off the trail after 160 miles.

While I’m in Tucson, I picked up my amigos from our Covid-shortened 2020 AZT trip and returned them, headed northbound, to their stooping point last year – Molino Basin Campground

Me, El Tejano, and Mr. Bean

Then,yesterday, I returned Pete and Hannah to American Flag Ranch Road trailhead to resume their journey to the next trail town, Kearny, AZ

They were both looking strong after a day of rest in Tucson and Paula cooked a big breakfast to power them up!!

Took a few photos while hiking with them for a few miles.

Hot today! Over 90…

Junco

A special guest

Today we met Nancy “Solo” Grayson

Nancy and Pete

She was at the trailhead in Oracle where I picked up Pete ( who has now completed 200 miles – one quarter of the trail).

Nancy is a full time trail Angel. She has done most of her angel work on the Continental Divide Trail, but is kindly helping out hikers on the AZT this spring

Notice the CDT sticker on the bumper
And the mirror

The van is Nancy’s retirement home and her retirement time is spent hiking and helping hikers.

She’s the first full time trail angel I have ever met and she is inspirational to Pete and me.

At the American Flag 🇺🇸 Trailhead in Oracle

The hiking community (hikers, trail overseers, trail maintenance workers, and angels like Nancy) make this a very special place. So lucky to be out here!!

Junco

Bird Sightings

Very limited cell phone service after leaving colossal cave kept me from uploading images, but I’ll get some stuff up now

Canyon Towhee

Got this lightweight camera with a telephoto lens and video capability which I’m learning how to use. Here’s a few southwest birds to identify

Phainopepla
? A western screech owl

The owl was living in a tree right above our tents and was vocalizing during the night.

100 miles

Hit the 100 mile mark this morning with a group of 5 of us.

Storm clouds in the distance
We missed the big storm ahead but got rained on off and on
Hiked under Interstate 10
Pete got cold so our friend Aaron taught him the “hypothermia dance”

A few more photos from today

Snakeskin
Pincushion cacti
A creature
A jackrabbit

Heading to colossal cave tomorrow

10%

Just past the 80 mile mark on the 800 mile AZT.

Got up and over the Santa Rita mountain ski island

Santa Rita’s

Colder than we expected but clear.

All good

Junco

Patagonia – Mile 51

Paula came down from Tucson and met us in Patagonia. We cleaned up and did some laundry at our Hotel – the famous (sort of) Stage Stop Inn.

Issues now include foot blisters for me and Pete – so we loaded up on Bandaids. The water sources have been pretty shakey, and our water filter clogged, so we had to get an industrial strength filter for the next stretch. Envision a muddy puddle shared with the local cows 😱

All good though. Heading north shortly. Next trail town is Vail, Az near a park called Colossal Cave. We’ll be there in 5 days.

Will post whenever we have a signal.