The Arizona Trail by Unicycle: Day 12, The Day of the Push


April 11, 2017

A 15 mile hike pushing a unicycle is hard work. Add on 5 miles of riding and it makes for one long day. The views and scenery should make up for it, but that didn’t happen on this day. 

I woke up at about 4:45AM hearing Rebekka’s alarm. She usually hits snooze 2 or 3 times, but once I’m up I’m up. So I got out of bed and started cleaning up my tent at about 5AM. It was freezing the night before and my tent was full of frost, particularly the area under my outer rain shell. Your body head moisture rises at night and freezes on the top. I had washed some socks the night before and tossed them outside to finish drying. Within 30 minutes they were frozen. 

Smiles had camped with us the previous night and started cleaning up her camp by at about 5:30. I was drinking my coffee and eating my oatmeal. She was packed up and hiking within 30 minutes. She said she doesn’t do a hot breakfast and just has some bars on the way. We never saw her the rest of the day, despite following the same trail for at least 16 miles. She is a fast hiker and we are slow at pushing our unicycles. 

I decided to start earlier than Jamey and Rebekka since I got an earlier start. I was worried that my handlebar would crack if I were to fall again, so I wanted to ride slower and more conservatively. At least, that was the initial plan. 

The start was a fireroad downhill. It was pretty ridable but had some loose spots that I’d hop off and walk through. The road lasted a few miles and then the trail continued on a single track path to the left. It immediately was impossible to ride and became a push. 

My normal pushing technique is to flip the unicycle backwards and push from the handle. It sort of feels like a wheelbarrow and I can balance it just right to make it fairly easy to push. But I was still worried about snapping my handle off, so I instead pushed it forwards with my hand on the rear rack. This is much more difficult to do and takes more energy. 

The trail was mostly downhill, but it just wasn’t ridable. A few spots I’d ride for a few feet and then have to hop off because of a bunch of loose rocks or some other obstacle. The scenery was also just average. We had moved to a high desert and the foliage was less cactus and more vegetation. This also added to the aggravation of pushing as it was thick in some places and scraped up my legs and arms. 

I did manage to ride a bit of one section but crashed hard; my upper left buttock when straight into a rock and left a bad bruise. My left shin also hit hard and was left with a lump. 

My goal was to ride to the main river and wait for Jamey and Rebekka. I relaxed and washed up a bit and soaked in the sun. One nice thing about the day was the weather: mainly overcast that kept it a bit cooler with touches of sun shining through. The others rolled up about 45 minutes later and we all filled up with 3 liters of water before continuing with the push. One highlight is that they saw a rattlesnake! Our first on the trip. I saw a bunny that day, which wasn’t nearly as exciting. 

The trail went under highway 87 and we just kept pushing with short bits of riding. Eventually we got to some large power lines and veered off the trail onto a fireroad to avoid the no-wheel wilderness area coming up. After a mile of fireroad we had a treat: a regular paved road. Finally some easy riding. We road for about 2 miles paved and 2 miles off gravel dirt road before hitting the campsite at 5:15. 

Jamey had stashed water at the side of the road. Rebekka went and grabbed the 3 gallons but discovered one gallon had a hole and was almost empty. We were bummed as it would make the next day harder, but Jamey went and took another look and found a forth gallon that he had left marked “free water” in a slightly different spot. Ah, perfect, we had enough water and it was definitely warmer than the night before.   



Today: 19.7 miles
Total: 281.4 miles  




Me pushing the unicycle up a hill:


Looking at our campsite: Jamey (in red) and Rebekka (in blue) cleaning out an area. There was a small creek to my left that crossed the road. It was perfect for washing socks in, but made the night extra chilly and damp:


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