A day of days



Oh man oh man, where do I even begin?

Last night was one of the best sleeps on trail I've had yet. I didn't wake up once, with a single exception.

I was sound asleep, comfortable, warm, with a soothing trickle of the river nearby. Every now and again a slight foreshadow of the day to come would sprinkle down on our tent, which was actually quite pleasant sounding.

All of a sudden, I'm abruptly woken up to a thud nearby. I think nothing of it, but my ears are perked up. A moment after, I hear a loud breath. I wait for a final confirmation that there is in fact something in our camp before waking Andy.

He confirms, there is some large creature way closer than either of us are comfortable with. We start shouting, shaking the tent, and reassess. Nothing. No darting into the trees, or bumbling away.

I take my headlamp, which we shine through the tent towards the animal, and all of a sudden we hear a loud splash. There is only one entry point to our camp, directly next to our tent. Otherwise, the sandy beach is lined with thick brambles on one side, and the river on the other.

As soon as we heard the splash, we knew it was safe to investigate further, and opened the tent to see what had been near us.

In the river, swimming across, we see a large, black sphere of an animal. Immediately, the first though is a massive black bear that had been sniffing around us. However, upon second glance, we saw it was, in actuality, just a large bull.

The foolish bull must not have noticed our camp as he went to get a drink of water. When we started hootin and hollerin, he had no where to go. Finally, we startled him enough with the light that he was forced to jump into the water and swim across.

We felt bad, but we're happy he didn't charge us..

And that, my friends, is the story of BearCow.


Waking up refreshed was a wonderful feeling. The skies were gloomy, but this was to be expected. It was warm, and we had made a fire to boil our water for coffee and breakfast.

The day had in store for us, a beautiful visual experience as we hiked up the Alamo Canyon, with spires and rock faces abundant with colors a striations cutting miles across. Even with the gloomy weather, we very much enjoyed the first 10 miles as we crisscrossed the canyon lands.

The rain coming in from the south-west was visible, but it had yet to hit us. A light sprinkle here and there, but otherwise nothing crazy.

The AZTA (Arizona Trail Association) had a water cache about nine miles into the day, in a remote section of trail towards the end of Alamo Canyon. It was very much needed, and even more appreciated. Their hard work and efforts are seen by all thru-hikers (and day hikers, alike).

Though it was cold and spitting rain, and we hadn't even drank all of our water yet, we knew the next source wasn't for another 12 miles, so took a liter a piece to get us through the day.

This is where it took a turn for the worse, and the expecting rain came in full force.

A deluge of water dropped on us, seeping into our bones. No part of our bodies were dry, even with the appropriate gear. With over six miles left in the day, we had no option but to push through, and keep as warm as possible.

Fortunately, we had finished nearly all the ascent for the day, so minus a couple bumps here and there, we were going downhill.

As we planned to end our day near the highway that lead to Superior, AZ, we were driven by the prospect that we would order pizza to the trailhead where we were going to camp, a mere six miles from town. On any other day, we would find a ride in town and enjoy the comfort of a warm bed... buuuut we just did that. We aren't motel hopping, we're thru-hiking. Comforts can only be enjoyed when really necessary. And plus, we didn't want to spend another boat load of cash on lodging, and the inevitable six meals we'd consume for dinner alone.

The day began to grow long as the rain got harder, and somehow we managed to get even more wet. The thought of hot, gooey, cheesy pizza with heaping helpings of meat and veggies fueled our final miles as our feet grew sore and the shivering went down into our core. We had no option but to push through, and we knew this, but ending with pizza made it slightly more bearable. Maybe they would even deliver us a can or two of beer, was that possible in Arizona? Who cares. Soda would be a dream even if we could sip on some suds.

Soon, the end was in sight. Highway 60 was just on the horizon darting between two mountain tops in the distance. We made it! Cold, wet, hungry; we made it.

We weren't exactly sure where we were going to camp, but it didn't matter, because, well, pizza.

There was a marked water source near a Forest Service run windmill, so we hoped for some type of structure or building we could catch a little protection from the rain under. But again, didn't matter. Pizza.

As we got closer, we saw the rickety old windmill, right next to a trailer park. No Forest Service building in sight. So we nixed the idea to camp there.

The trail crosses under highway 60, so we decided to make our way there so we could get a slight reprieve the the precipitation chilling our soul.

We made it. Found a dry patch in the concrete tunnel, dropped our gear, and took a deep breath. We made it.

We needed a good ten minutes just to decompress from the wetness that had compacted our spirits into small, cold, wet cubes of unhappiness.

We fired up the phones, and no service.

Wait! We are in a concrete tunnel, that must be it.

We jump outside, in the rain of course, and Andy has a single bar of 1x (the bare minimum of service, only good for a phone use, no internet).

Brilliant. GutHook had the phone number for I dial the number; call failed.

I dial it once more, and voila! It connects.

A woman answers the phone, and a excitedly explain to her we are thru-hikers in desperate need of some warm pizza just six miles away. With all the rain that's come down today, I'm sure she could have understood the importance of this mission.

"I'm so sorry, we don't deliver."

The most heart wrenching words I could hear.

And with that, our hopes of pizza vanished. Our hopes of joy and happiness after that tough day, with it.

As we contemplated what to do next, we realized there would be no dry alternative to where way currently sat. In a concrete underpass of a highway with cars rushing by that would reach pizza in no more than six minutes.

Demoralized, defeated, and still cold to the core, we decided to set up the tent, and boil the little water we had remaining. On the upside, as it was cold and wet, we drank almost no water. Giving us just enough to use for dinner, and a half liter to sip in the morning.

"Hey bud...."

I look over at Andy who had fired up the stove to boil our water, and notice a distinct lack of jet propulsion sound akin to that of a isobutane stove. 


Our little backup can of fuel, only used once, was empty.

He lifts the lid, and it's steaming. So we quickly grab our food to add the not even simmering water in hopes of a hot meal. In my depressed state, I double up on my beef add-in to make the meal more filling (yeah right, I had intended to eat an entire pizza plus a lot more not long ago).

We were able to make our dinner happen, but then the realization that coffee, and a hot breakfast, was out of the question.

Soaking wet wood around us, an empty fuel can, and a pizza place that doesn't deliver.

We now lay in the breezy, cold, concrete tunnel listening to cars whiz by. We are most thankful for the fact that we have a dry spot for the night, but that's about it. We'll have to hike half an hour to get to a water source, and we heard it's supposed to rain most of tomorrow as well.

Today was rough, tonight demoralizing.

But, that said, it's not an adventure until something goes wrong.

Two more days until we get to our next resupply spot at Roosevelt Lake. Hopefully, wood will be dry enough for tomorrow nights dinner...