Updated: Mar 22
Getting out on the first day is always a bit hectic. We all woke up pretty easily and then hit the grill at the gas station for breakfast. Surprising good! Then the 1.25 hr drive to the trailhead and the mass disorganization of packing in the lot.
We made quick work of it and by 10 am I was ready to set the shuttle. Just as I was getting ready another bike packer came up the trail and looked at me funny. Then; Hi Tom! It was a friend from Ball, Scott Stucky and his girlfriend! We chatted a bit and then I drove off while Sara and Crys started down the trail at 10.30.
A ½ hr drive down the interstate and I was at the Emery Henderson trailhead pulling up Uber. I had tried in vain to set up a shuttle ahead of time as no one seems to do what every river shuttle company does - move your car from one end to the other while you are out. So this was my best option. I was nervous no one would take my request but after 5 mins I had a ride secured and was up at the Big Bug trailhead about 2 hrs after I left.
I started the mad race to catch sara and Crys. I pushed hard and with no lunch I felt the lack of energy on the climbs. They had a 2hr head start but surely they needed a long lunch and I would catch them at it. Up, down, sharp corners on some pretty nice but challenging single track. The saguaro grew, my reserves dwindles. After 2 hours I was forced to stop to eat a probar and drink to keep me moving.
And then the hail came. (if you haven’t read the AT journal published online I highly suggest it. From the 90s it was one of the first blogs and inspired me greatly in my pursuits of long excursions). And then the thunder came. And then the rain. Up, around, down, corner. Watch out for the cactus in the corner! Do not fall off that cliff!
Finally after 3 hrs I caught them 19 miles from our start and only 1 mile from our destination - Bumblebee Ranch! An oasis in the desert with hot showers and flat campsites devoid of prickers. And here we are in our tents as another shower passes before we head out to cook. Tomorrow we will get to Black Canyon city but more importantly we will have our first crossing of the aqua fria. If there is water in it, we will be set for the next two nights. If not - replan as the river is the only source of water for the 30 miles after black canyon.
Sara is in love with this place - the cat, the Giant pig, horses, cows, dogs. She was like not in love with the silver dollar sized spider hiding in the shower curtain though!
Ramen with freeze dried pork tonight! Time to get to it!