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The Arizona Trail on Unicycle: Day 28, The Cold Cold Day


April 27, 2017

That’s two colds in the title, because it was really cold. One thing I didn’t mention about the prior day was the wind. The wind was constantly blowing, and it would usually stop at night, but the night before it never stopped. We woke up in the morning, and the wind woke up with us. The wind was a little tired and slower than normal, it probably just needed its coffee, but it was still blowing, and it picked up as time went on.

One good thing about it freezing at night is that the snow becomes hard as a rock. This meant we could more easily push our unicycles over the constant barrage of snow banks in the trail and walk over them without sinking in and getting our feet even more wet. I had put on my wet socks from the day before, as I knew that they would never dry out with wet shoes. But walking on dry hard snow was actually a nice change.

Still, the snow was a constant on the trail and it made travel very difficult. Trees had also fallen down and were blocking the path, but not nearly as numerous as the ones we encountered by Flagstaff. We also had to skip around some water areas that were a bit tricky to navigate without having our shoes sink into snow, mud or water.

At some point we were starting to head more uphill, and the higher elevation probably meant even MORE snow, but we had no choice. We crossed a dirt road and stopped to consider our options. Progress on the trail was slow and miserable, so we decided to take the dirt fire roads and head over to the main highway that followed the same path as the trail. The dirt road was a bit easier, as there were less fallen trees and less snow, but it was still slow.

Eventually the dirt road had spent enough time bathing in sunlight to be free of some snow, so we could ride short bits before hitting the proper road. That was nice.

Now, road riding on a 26″ unicycle is slow and boring. Add in strong gusts of cold wind and it became a miserable time for us. We all were wearing our jackets; the first day on the trip that we had to keep them on for the entire day. I rode in my rain and wind jacket, which wasn’t too warm but blocked the wind just enough to keep my internal temperature up. I would sometimes through my puffy on for extra warmth — particularly when I was stopped for a bit and starting to get cold from non-movement. The wind was relentless, especially when we went through an open meadow — the extra space gave it the room to blow extra hard at us, causing us to fight to just stay upright on the unicycle.

After about 20 miles we hopped onto the trail briefly and got some water at a known reliable water source. I initially pulled off a little late, and couldn’t find a second source, and had to backtrack a bit with Becky to find Jamey at the good water. The terrain was open trees that had succumbed to a large fire some time prior, so they didn’t offer any relief from the wind. We decided to ride the road two more miles and then hop on the trail.

Once we got on the trail it was actually ridable. The snow was basically gone, with only a few sightings of it every now and again, and it was no longer in the trail. The trail was also mainly downhill with a few short climbs. The hardest part was running through batches of fresh pine cones on the trail. They were small enough to crush but it was better to avoid them.

We passed one water source, a nice dirt water tank, only six miles after our precious source. The AZ Trail app said there was another one in four more so we continued on to it. But, we were disappointed: it was dry as a bone and we were needing water to cook for the night and enough to get us through the next day. Normally the app would have user comments that would tell us the current status of the water, but for some reason both Jamey and my app had lost the comments and we were traveling in the blind guessing if it would be full or dry.  We decided to ride about two miles more to the trailhead at Highway 89A.

The trailhead had a box with a gallon in it but it wasn’t enough for all three of us. Jamey volunteered to hitch hike into a town only 2.5 miles away; we didn’t want to do any more riding than necessary and he almost immediately got picked up by some nice guy in a truck.

The guy in the truck was super-nice and gave Jamey a round trip, so he quickly returned and even had an extra bonus: a few cans of craft IPA and a bag of chips! The beer made the long, 35 mile, cold and windy day more tolerable at the end.

Once we were all tucked inside our tents it started raining lightly for a short bit.

Stats:

Today: 24.8 miles
Total: 602.9 miles  

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/960898640

 

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