Tonight is the seventh day on the trail! Woo! And man oh man, what a celebratory night we've had...
The morning started off as most mornings do, a fire, some coffee, drying out gear from condensation in the tent, and lazily getting our equipment ready to go.
We have decided, however, that we will now forgo the morning fires in interest of making the most miles with the daylight we have.
Shortly after nature called, a random ATV rolled by (thankfully, after). We waved as our perplexed minds tried to figure out exactly what they were up to in this random, unused part of the mountains we currently resided. Fortunately, we heard no gun shots.
The first part of the day was quite the trek; a couple thousand feet of incline in a short amount of miles made us work hard for our first break.
The payoff of the hard work was smooth sailing and terrain for the rest of the day, as we got closer to our 20 mile mark.
The rolling hills and winding valleys made for refuge from the sun for a majority of the day. And a few Air Force jets darted above as the thundering engines echoed in the mountains.
Our pace has drastically increased since I've dropped the weight. We were pushing nearly four miles per hour today! Seems like hogwash, but on trails with packs, that's fairly decent as most hikers average between two and three.
Our bellies reminded us of this increased pace and mileage by rumbling and grumbling as we fed them meager portions of the sustenance we carried on our backs.
The trail is littered with cows (Arizona is an open range state, which means if you don't want cows on your property you're required to fence it off, otherwise they freely roam -- as they should, they're beautiful!). While most the time the only thought is of all their droppings and making sure our water source isn't tainted, today, they looked mighty tasty. We asked one cow if we could possibly just have part of her leg, but she stared blankly at us and we continued onwards.
We approached our final break spot, about 17 miles into the day, and the smell of charcoal filled my lungs. Where there's charcoal, there's people; where there's people, there's food.
We eagerly approached Kentucky Camp, a historic location with Adobe's built over a century ago available for people to rent. While we were fully aware we would be unable to camp in the area, and didn't reserve a bunk at $75/night, our hopes of a candy bar or soda ran high.
Once we entered the property, we were met with beautiful AZT signs, and a smoldering grill, but no one in sight.
As we made our way through (the trail cuts through the center of this property) we were greeted by the February caretaker, Doug.
We briefly chatted as he pointed out the spigot for water, and we explained we would be there for a few minutes as we rested and filled up water and pushed one for one more hour to hit our 20 mile marker.
Shortly after, Doug reappeared, asking if we had any interest in a couple leftover steaks from the the last occupants of the cabins, some beers, wine, granola bars, and fresh apples.
A thruhiker never says no...
While he explained to us that the Forest Service (which manages the property) doesn't allow camping directly on the property, he would allow us to use the grill to cook up some beautifully marbled, inch thick steaks. These were leftover from a giant gathering of the culinary gurus that were celebrating their win for the USA in a competition in Paris. The host even butchered the steaks himself!
Man oh man, did we grill up those bad boys and eat them in a flash.
Just hours ago, we were famished, alone on the trail, with six more days to go before our resupply. Our karma must be high, as Doug was most accommodating to a couple of smelly hikers coming in from the opposite direction of the driveway.
This is what a thru-hike is. Experiencing the land and culture, with kind souls to help inspire our journey further. It's people like Doug that reminds us this world is a wonderful place, regardless of what is shown on the news or talked about on social media. This country is littered with wonderful people, wonderful places. Perspective.