Waking to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof top while in a warm, comfy, dry bed is not a terrible feeling. Especially when you see the sun rising in the distance as dark gloomy rain clouds break up the horizon. Even more so when you fall back asleep for half an hour longer.
That was our morning. At first, we worried about the weather of the day, but soon after the coffee kicked in and the rain parted allowing the sun to shine down.
It was a slow morning, as we sipped our coffee overlooking the mountains. Andy called his wife to wish her a happy Valentine's Day, and his pop while I was busy writing the journal entry for yesterday and making more coffee to open my weary eyes more.
When all was said and done, we departed the ranch about 9:30. I haven't been to many places in Arizona, yet, but High Jinks Ranch is the first place I truly would love to return to. It gave us the rest we desperately needed, in a beautiful and calming way.
Once we said our goodbyes to one of the caretakers and her pup, we were off once again for another days journey.
We curled our way around and up rolling hills, through old washes, and across a few larger roads. The clouds still hung over, but in a protective way, rather than threatening rain. As the sun wasn't shining harshly on us, we sipped at our water gingerly as we knew how dry this stretch would be. When all was said and done, we actually crossed not a single natural water source.
Our first break after nine miles was at Arizona highway 77 -- a main road into Tucson, and only a few short miles from Oracle. Before we crossed under the pass (really, we played limbo as our packs scraped the top of the increasingly short walkway) we passed a water cache, our first of the trail.
On long distance trails, a community forms building camaraderie and companionship through the love of the outdoors. On long dry stretches, which can be brutally dangerous, kind souls bring and replace jugs of water which are stored in key locations for weary travelers to resupply as they pass by, ensuring a hydrated trek ahead. Thank you, whomever you are!
As we snacked on our meager rations, the hunger had really set in. While the last few days have been long and tough, the one small silver lining (possibly even bronze lining) is that your mind is so focused on the difficulties at hand, that the underlining issues are neglected.
For two weeks now, our bodies have been burning energy reserves which we've acquired over the years of city living. While lost and stuck in snow, we focus on those issues, and not the fact that we are slowly, but surely, starving ourselves.
When the weather is cooperative, and the terrain smooth, then our minds are then reminded. We did almost nothing today but talk about food. Pizza topping, sandwiches, grilled cheeses. You name it, we perfected the ideal item for our grumbling bellies.
As we sat by the highway, we were a quarter step away from a pizza restaurant. A mere 4 miles down the road. The temptation was strong, and the hunger stronger.
Somehow, we managed to resist the urge to stick out our thumbs and find our way into some cheesy goodness. We had many more miles to go, and with our already late start, another detour would surely slow us down.
So, much to our dismay, we continued forth.
The terrain was kind to us all day, but the dreams of food only increased in drool worthiness as we concocted dishes out loud to one another.
Finally, the sun began to set, and our final miles came quickly. There's a tank of water used by local ranchers which is our water source for the night.
About 12 feet tall, and 20 feet across, this circular steel tank is our refuge in the desert. Even with minnows swimming around and algae growing in the center, the water was clear and we were ever grateful.
As we began to prepare the water to purify, I quickly noticed one of our two part Aquamira drops was empty. A pin-prick hole had developed in one of the bottles, rendering the other useless. We've had this problem before, twice. Aquamira is officially on our no-fly list moving forward. They have yet to address the issue in their design flaw, so no more.
We sat for hours, as we boiled a liter and a half of water at a time with the limited amount of firewood we could find. We had been excited for an early bed, but at the current time of 11:06pm, that clearly could not happen. It would take 5-10 minutes to boil the small amount of water, where the purification drops would have taken 20, period.
One small mishap after another kept beating us down. Nothing as severe as the lack of water purification, but enough to break our spirits a bit.
Now, we must trek two more days, and 45 miles, to a railroad crossing which we will follow to a highway and into a town a few miles down. Here, we will get our tried and true purification method of good ol' bleach.
Cents on the dollar compared to the overpriced and poorly designed Aquamira, you can put 3 drops per liter of water, wait half hour, and have perfectly safe and drinkable water (with no after taste!).
On a positive note, this morning we broke the 200 mile marker! Now we are over a quarter done with the Arizona Trail. The feeling of walking over two hundred miles isn't quite as grand as breaking the first hundred, oddly enough, but we are happy to be pushing the miles and making headway.
Now we go to sleep, as our hot water cools for tomorrow. Hopefully, we will have enough, as stopping midday to boil and the cool water to carry on our backs, will not allows us to make the miles we need.
Obviously, the day this goes live is not Valentines Day. In order to keep the posts going up daily, I have to schedule them as I rarely have service while on the trail. So yes, I know the 19th is not Valentine's Day, but while I'm writing this, it is!
Also, a big shout out to our young fans Jason and Jack, who have been following along our journey, and all those who comment on posts! We receive them, and they give us the boost needed to push forward. It's our goal to share our stories to inspire journeys of your own. Always remember, a dream becomes reality with the start of a single decision.