Sunday, May 2
I’m in Forest Lakes Arizona. This is time to rest my leg because the post office was not open on Sunday. I am sitting at a café which is the only place to eat in town, the Smoking Gun Café. Yesterday I had a chorizo omelette with mushrooms, it was very good, and today I had the breakfast burrito which is also very good. I’m glad the only place to eat in town has tasty food. There’s only one hotel in town, which I don’t recommend because it is dirty, but in an effort to keep this blog positive I won’t say anymore. With this said, future hikers should use this town as a postal drop because it just makes sense to shorten the distance to Flagstaff, but do make an effort to not get stuck in this town on a weekend with your food re-supply trapped in the post office. If you do not send a resupply package here the café stop. The burritos will make your stomach quite happy.
My trip mileage total is 602 miles at this point, I walked 77 dry miles from Pinetop. My friend Forrest Fanara drove down from Flagstaff and joined me just outside of Pinetop for a day of hiking. He join me on a day it was snowing and cold. But we enjoyed our 10 mile hike together into the woods, we talked all day and into the night. Forrest surprised me by packing in four beers, two for him and two for me. Having a beer in the middle of the woods in Arizona was quite a treat. I’m very appreciative for his company along the trail.
Arizona is not always dry the first day out of Pinetop it snowed. I’ve quickly learned that when it snows in Arizona the earth turns to mud, this is not just your every day simple mud it is your classic sticky mud. Mud the clumps up and causes you to walk in high heels with five to ten pounds added to each foot. Combine this mud with Ponderosa Pine needles and what happens is you get an extra wide platform under each foot. And then the whole mud pine needle conglomeration decides to detach and live a life of its own behind you through an abrupt separation. This causes the lighter now shorter foot to drop lower than the other foot that still has a thick layer of sticky mud. Ample time is spent walking lop-cited looking for the next downed tree or rock just scrape your feet on, knowing you’ll have an equal amount of mud built back up in about 15 steps. I was quite surprised by my mud fest day mileage, I managed to hike 18 miles, an accomplishment. As the day wore on conditions dried, but then a thunder shower would come through or a new snow shower adding more moisture to the earth returning it back to its level of prior muddiness.
With all the moisture in the mud one would hope to find water but none existed all the water was occupied by clay particles. There was no free water for one to find. I was down to 2 L of water and I knew I didn’t have enough water for continuing on so I chose to go north to the town of Pinedale to obtain some water. Pinedale was quiet at 5:30 PM. I walked the streets nobody was out in front of their house. The fire department was closed down, I’m assuming it was I volunteer fire department otherwise I would’ve asked them. The Forrest Service compound looked close down for the day. So since I still had 2 L on me I thought I’d walk out to US 260 and find a general store. I did see one person pulling into his driveway he unlocked his gate pulled his truck through, got out of his truck to lock up his gate again when I approached him for some water. Honestly I think I surprised him and maybe he was having a bad day because he quickly said no. This did not disturb me because I still had water on me and he did inform me of a general store about 2 miles down the road. So I spent the night sleeping on forest service land. My plan for the morning was to walk down the road to the general store and buy water, but I found it closed. So I chose to go north on another road to an RV campground where I was greeted by two awesome people who said I could have all the water I could carry. At this time I could carry 10 1/2 L and I filled all my bottles up to full capacity. My backpack just got very heavy.
I continued on the westbound road going back to US 260, when I saw a pickup truck abruptly stop and the guy jumped out and ran across the road. I was thinking, wow does that guy have to go to the bathroom and he’s going to the bathroom right where I want to walk. Then I crested the ridge and I saw there was two other people putting out a small fire on the other side of the road started by tire debris. One of the man who is driving a sewage truck and he was thinking he should start spraying sewage on the fire. But another person stopped pulled out a fire extinguisher and this was the trick that got the fire out. I thought I’d have to start taking my pack apart to get the 10 1/2 L out I just put in to start putting out the fire. The police arrived then the fire department arrived, scene secure. I thanked the men for stopping the fire because the winds were blowing in the direction I wanted to walk and it’s really hard to walk through a burning forest. I walked on fully laden with 22 pounds of water, and this would successfully get me to Forest Lakes.
The rest of the day and all the way to Forest Lakes I was on a Arizona state historical trail called the General Cook Trail. When I looked up the history of this trail it basically celebrates how general Cook was responsible for containing the Apache Indians to their reservation. Something in my mind questions this history and thinks it is only from the white settler’s point of view. There are a few signs along the way teaching the
history, but nowhere in history lesson does it include that Native American Apache Indians were forced from their historical hunting and gathering in grounds and how it affected them.
The temperatures are comfortable 72 in this town but I am shivering with the wind, I think I’ve lost a lot of fat on my body I’m excited to find a scale at some point to see what I’ve lost. Some of my muscles are becoming more defined, and my arm muscles seem to be getting smaller along with my chest muscles because I’m not using them. The back of my hands have tanned up quite nicely along with my neck “V” tan that is not covered by my shirt. I’ve been wearing long sleeve shirt and long pants so I have to use less sunscreen. My left foot which hurts every now and then is appreciating this rest in Forest Lakes, but I’m looking forward to getting on with my hike tomorrow morning at 9 AM when the post office opens.
The next section comprising of the Highland Trail and the Arizona Trail, these trails should have many hikers and I’m looking forward to the camaraderie and sharing stories with other people doing the same activity as myself.
Oh, I forgot to mention, one day I saw two herds of elk, some deer, wild horses, antelope and a coyote all within a short period of each other. I really enjoyed watching wild horses on the section.
Signing off from Forest Lakes