The Arizona Trail on Unicycle: Day 16, Found Trash


 April 15, 2017

We did our morning routine and started early, about 7 or so. The day before had proved to be so difficult, and we had no idea what was in store for us. My Vans are really inappropriate hiking shoes, but my get were holding together pretty well, but I feared another 20 mile hike would start to give me blisters. 

We left our river campsite and hiked about three miles away and I spot a plastic Pepsi bottle. Now, up to this point I have seen zero trash on the Arizona Trail so I was astonished to see it left there on the side of the trail with a tiny bit of Pepsi left in it. I wondered if it would fit the Sawyer water filter, and sure enough, it did! We got incredibly lucky; it means we have a backup bottle in case the filter bag broke. 

We sort of crested the mountain top and actually got to ride a bit. It was a welcome change and our feet were happy that the unicycle seat would be mostly supporting our heavy weight. The terrain was up and down, but more or less ridable and we were starting to make some good time. In fact, we passed two through hikers; the couple we had seen in Pine that normally lived in Flagstaff. We even got to do some long flat ridable sections and really pick up the average pace. Our normal hike and ride was averaging about 3 MPH, and hiking alone was something like 2 or less. Good clean terrain would be 4-5 MPH and paved roads where 6-7 MPH depending on the terrain. 

Then something amazing happened. I was riding ahead on the trail and saw an Arizona Trail sign at the trail head by a large paved road. Underneath someone had left a cooler and a note next to it. The note said, “Go AZT racers! Please take one and the cooler will be restocked regularly.” I opened the cooler and it is full of ice cold Gatorade. Now, I’m not doing the Arizona Trail race, but I really hoped the guy who planted it there wouldn’t mind a few unicyclists taking one. So I got to indulge in what was the best and coldest Gatorade that I had ever had in my life. My body really needed the electrolytes, and I could feel some energy returning as I downed the drink. Jamey and Rebekka rolled up and also took one. We were happy, and I give many thanks to this “trail angel.”

The scenery had been changing ever since we got to Pine. The town’s name probably stems from the fact that there are a lot of pine trees around — probably ponderosa pine. We hadn’t been seeing any more cactuses, and there was more grassy vegetation around. The trees were a nice cover from the sun, and allowed us to ride and hike in a bit shadier of an area. Unfortunately, this made it difficult to keep our devices charged, as the solar panels off our backs were also hanging in the shade. 

Finally, we were about two miles from our water destination and I pushed ahead solo. I caught up with two other hikers we had met in Pine — one by the name of Two Liter and another called Top Shelf. I stopped riding (it was rocky anyways) and chatted with them. They were hiking super light; frameless packs, no tent, and no pants, just shorts! We hiked together until the water stop where Jamey and I planned to camp; the hikers wanted to hike more and went a few miles further. 

The water stop was a large pond, with fairly clean looking water. Another backpacker coming south from Flagstaff heading to Pine already had his tent pitched by the pond. He came over and introduced himself as Beaver. He was hiking solo and said he spends a lot of his year living out of a tent; something like 300 plus days a year! He was just doing a short portion of the AZT for fun. 

Once Jamey and Rebekka showed up we all setup our tents and cooked some dinner. Beaver was a no stove type of guy, and let some Ramen soak in water for a while and then he spread it onto some tortillas with a bit of tuna. Jamey and I have been going the more expensive route by purchasing dehydrated dinners and simply adding hot water to them to make them rehydrate and warm up. I had never had one before I started planning for the trip, and I do like them quite a bit but they are pricey at $8-$10 a piece. Luckily the guy at REI gave me a bulk rate discount because I bought so many! Rebekka has been cooking a prepackaged pasta dinner and adding a thing of Ramen for extra substance. It is super cheap and she has been saving the most money on the trip. During the day we eat energy bars, granola bars, gummy snacks, trial mix, and jerky. I also brought a jar of peanut butter and a honey bear; I mix some honey into the peanut butter and it it straight out of the jar. A fresh hole jar weighs a full pound, but I think it is with the calories it contains. The jar lasts me about 5 days, and I had mailed myself a new one at each food resupply. 

That night, much to our neighbor Beaver’s dismay, the frogs came out and croaked to us while we fell asleep. 



Today: 25.5 miles
Total: 385.2 miles  




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