Day 57: the surprisingly beautiful Arizona Strip

I slept terribly last night. I haven’t had a night like that for a while now, a night of lying in darkness knowing time is passing but not how quickly, just waiting. At some point I did fall sleep but it was probably around midnight. I know this much because I got up to pee around 11:30. When my alarm went off at 4 I almost rolled over on top of it to muffle the beeps and go back to sleep, but I didn’t. I got up. I was prepared for a long, hot, hard day crossing the Arizona Strip, a flat land of knee-high grasses, no shade, and wide expanse stretching forever in every direction. What I got was most of that. 

I climbed the rest of the way out of Hack Canyon, leaving the clearly striated rock of Grand Canyon country behind. Then it was roads roads roads, good walking roads that were softish dirt, but firm enough underfoot to not squander energy. It was cool when I started walking in the almost dark morning, and I noticed it stayed cool. Surprisingly cool. After 18 miles; around 10am, I stopped at the only water source for the day, a lined and fenced dirt impoundment fed by a piped spring. Still it stayed cool, so much so that I had to put warm clothes on. Inky dark clouds were building in towers to the north and west and the wind blew cold. Of all the days to receive such weather, there could not have been a more perfect day than this. Rather than scorching relentless sun the weather stayed overcast. I unpacked my bag at the water where I cooked my meal for the day and then lined my pack when I packed it back up, just in case the buising sky was going to actually burst. The rest of the day was beautiful, to my great delight and surprise. I’ve rarely enjoyed such a long road walk, but the grasses were mixed with flowers and subtle hues caught the eye: light greens, purple, oranges. The sky was full of complicated clouds, and I could see far away, even if there was nothing in particular to look at out there. More prairie, if that’s what to call this. 

Around 4pm the clouds built into massive thunderheads that covered the sun and then released such a rain, a wind-driven singing rain like the clouds were dropping angry bees. Big fat ones. Thunder and lightning shook my senses, and I wondered if I should get low on this endless flat prairie, if lightning would be striking the ground soon. I didn’t stop though. I kept walking fast out of the last stretch of private property to BLM land and set up my tent in the wind and rain. By the time I had wrestled it up against the fierce wind, the rain had stopped, but I’m in a good place to make it into town tomorrow. I’m camped here behind a hill with the highway on the other side and I can hear the cars passing. The storm clouds come and go, but I’m cozy in my tiny tent. I ate some crackers and gummy bears, and I’m planning out my route for the last handful of days on the trail. Tomorrow I walk through Colorado City to resupply, and then it’s onward to Zion!




One thought on “Day 57: the surprisingly beautiful Arizona Strip

  1. ewilliams966

    Back before lightweight equipment, I humped around a 55+ backpack through the Sierras off trail which was too much for my frame and my conditioning. So now reading about you doing those scrambles, climbs and descents is beyond my imagination. You are amazing.



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