Day 5: No Cross-Country for Old Men

19 March 2022
AZT Mile 71.4 to 92.8
(21.4 miles).

Butterfingers and I coordinated a 6:30 departure this morning and everything went great.

Until we got separated!

Good morning!
Lovely moon

After a couple of miles we met Aaron, the hiker the biker told us about yesterday.

You’re Aaron!

He’s a fast hiker, and I kept pace with him a while to chat but then let him move ahead. Butterfingers was a bit behind me so I put my ear buds in to listen to some music.

Funnelweb wolf spider home

On a ridge I got cell service and started fiddling with my phone while hiking.

What a mistake!

Nearly half an hour passed before I realized I was walking towards the sun instead of north. I had missed a turn and I was now a mile off the AZT!

Wait, why am I walking towards the sun?

I looked at my map and it seemed like there was an easy way to reconnect to the trail with some cross-country trail, saving me half a mile.

And it started well enough.

But then I started encountering ravines full of an extremely aggressive thorn bush called cat claw. My legs soon looked like The Passion of the Christ.

Cat claw
No more cross-country JimmyJam!

Once I finally got back to the trail I hustled to Kentucky Camp, a historic site where AZT hikers and bikers were congregating.

My legs were the talk of the town!

Historic site
Too bad it’s not working!

I reconnected with Butterfingers and we got our first trail magic – some strawberries from a person camped nearby.

Trail magic #1

We caught up with a hiker from New Zealand and chatted with her for a while. I shared that Half Cookie was a huge fan of Flight of the Conchords, and she said they walk around town like normal people!

Butterfingers and a section hiker from New Zealand
Mount Wrightson
Freckled milkvetch

We stopped for a gormet lunch under a tree and then pressed on.

Twix peanut butter tortilla
Strigose bird’s-foot trefoil
Fluffgrass

About a mile later we hit some huge trail magic. Coolers full of snacks soda and beer and chairs in the shade. Butterfingers and I hung out there for a bit and as we did all the thru-hikers in our bubble started arriving. It seems like there are about 10 of us right now.

Trail magic #2

The coolers were labeled “Cooper’s Trail Magic” and when a truck pulled up we got to meet Cooper.

Cooper the trail angel

Reluctantly, Butterfingers and I moved on. The afternoon was hot!

Getting lower
Palmer’s agave
Continuing north
Oncerometopus nigriclavus (insect) on blue dicks (flower)

A little before dinner time we found a gate that was off its hinge lying on the ground. I said “we can fix this!” So we spent a couple of minutes and Voila!

Gate fixed!

We descended switchbacks down a ravine where we had to find water. From where the trail crossed a wash we walked upstream to find small pools in the rocks. We picked the one with the least larvae!

We found water!
Seep monkeyflower
Mouse-ear chickweed

We ate dinner in the ravine and soon the bubble caught up with us. Most of them pressed on before we were done. That meant we were behind a crowd who were all looking for the same limited established campsites that we were.

So we kept looking and looking. But to no avail!

Finally, we decided to put down in the next wash we found. And Bam is nearby here too.

This will do

Cat Claw
Your thorns are much worse
Than whitethorn ceanothus
Fishhooks dig flesh deep

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