The Arizona Trail on Unicycle: Day 19, Black Widows and Beer


April 18, 2017

The push to Flagstaff! We were highly motivated at to get to town. Our backpacks were now much lighter after having eaten almost 5 days worth of food and we were excited to get to town to have some craft beer. Beer can be a high motivator for someone out in the woods. 

The previous camp site I selected wasn’t ideal. My blow up Thermarest suffered a hole and was completely flat by midnight. I tried to find the hole my ears and headlamp, but it proved impossible to locate so I just went back to sleep and woke up at 4AM with it flat again. Using a blow up sleeping pad was something I debated about doing. I had to be extra careful about camp site selection and sweep away anything sharp. In the end, it was sharp rocks that must have punctured it. At least I could get something else in town and not suffer with it going flat every future night. 

While we were all packing up our tents Rebekka started saying there was a spider in her shoe. It had created a web over the entrance but she couldn’t shake it out. I also tried and I was going to just stick my hand in and grab it out, but I thought against it and used a stick. And low and behold, what type of spider is it but a black widow! Fully covered in black with that distinctive red hourglass on the tummy. It is a good thing she didn’t stick her shoe on in the morning, and from then on we all started checking our shoes more often. 

The trail started out great: fast ridable terrain that was flat with views of Humphrey’s Peak in the distance that slowly was getting larger and larger the closer to town we got. 

At some points we had to push a bit; there was a loose rock garden downhill that was even tricky to walk through. 

One highlight was rolling by some gorgeous pancake red rocks in a beautiful canyon. The terrain was still full of pine trees and we were fairly shaded for the whole day. Once we got to the bottom of the canyon we rode the base until the hillsides disappeared. It was then a pretty ridable single track all the way to I40; the first real sign of civilization. 

We made a beeline for REI to restock on a few things. It was on the way to the hostel we planned to stay at, and we could get some more supplies and repair a few things. We got there a bit after 10AM and I found a non inflatable sleeping pad; one just like Jamey’s. I planned to mail my old one back to myself so I can repair it at home and not worry about getting a flat again. 

Rebekka held down the fort at REI while Jamey and I took a taxi to the post office that was three miles out of our way. There was no way in hell we were adding 6 more miles of riding onto our “rest” day when we already did about 12 that morning. We got our resupply packages, which is always a relief as sometimes they won’t hold them for over two weeks and might return them to the sender. I mailed home my flat sleeping mat, some extra AAA batteries, and my sucky Goal Zero AA battery charger that was hardly holding a charge and not charging off my panel too well. I forgot to include my old riding shorts, as I stopped using them once I got a new and better pair. Oh well! 

We Ubered back to REI after grabbing our resupply packages from USPS. I picked up a few more dehydrated dinners as I had intentionally shorted myself at this stop because I knew the town had an REI that we would roll right by. My water filter had broken a week or so ago and I was hoping to pick up another pump style filter, but I was disappointed that the selection was slim. I wasn’t going to buy my same filter from MSR that failed, and the other options were too big and bulky. So I ended up getting a micro Sawyer filter. I absolutely hate the squeeze filters, but I succumbed to the small size and weight savings. 

For the past two weeks Jamey and Rebekka have been using their non-inflatable camp mats for much more than just sleeping. They would plop it down at lunch for a nice cushy seat, or lay it out at dinner to put stuff on and keep things off the dirty ground. I was a bit envious because I couldn’t do this with my inflatable mat; it would surely get a hole. But now that I mailed it back (because it got a hole) I picked up one of the more durable ThermaRest Z-Lite pads. It is not only lighter than my old one, but I no longer have to worry about finding the perfectly smooth camp site to avoid getting a flat. The disadvantage is size; it is bulky, but easily straps to the bottom of my backpack. And now I have a seat for dinner, but previously Jamey was kind enough to share his with me. 

After REI, we rode to the hostel in downtown Flagstaff. The shared rooms had two bunk beds for four people. Jamey and I shared the room with John, a through hiker that we met a few days before in Pine Arizona. He is hiking super light, and super fast — doing 25 or even 30 miles a day (if I remember what he told me correctly). The other bed was taken by Toshi, a Japanese tourist visiting America to see all the cool sites. 

We all cleaned up a bit and settled in. I tossed some more JB weld on my handle to strengthen it up and let it dry for a long time. I went to replace my brake pads, and realized that the ones I ordered were slightly different than what was on my unicycle. I have a Magura MT5 caliper, which has two pistons and is super strong at stopping the unicycle. It takes one huge pair of brake pads, or two small pairs of pads. I had ordered the small pair, but it had the larger single on it. The pair require an extra bolt, so my next stop was the bike shop. Rebekka came to the bike shop and they found one spare bolt and gave me a Cotter pin to hack the other one on. I opted to do it a later as the pads were still okay enough to use. 

Then we hit the plethora of local breweries to sample craft beer. Rebekka, being 18, had to settle for soda, but me and Jamey were enjoying it! John also came along to enliven our company and it was great to talk with him. He does his hiking with no stove, so I was fascinated to discuss what types of foods he eats out on the trail. I’ll talk food later; right then it was about the beer. 

At our second brewery we got Something Ridiculous. The duo team of Mark and Jon showed up to hang out with us. They had been doing some gigs in Arizona and took some side time to ride a bit of the Arizona Trail on their geared 36er unicycles. Afterwards they came out and met us to chat and have some food and beer. 

My fourth craft IPA was at a pizza place called Dimarcos (I think…). We also grabbed pizza and scarfed it down before heading back to the hostel. I was feeling great and really enjoying the evening. John had some whiskey, so I took a few swigs and we hung out a bit. 

Our plan was to start early the next day after the free 7am breakfast, so I went to bed at about 8:30 after doing a little writing. It was a great rest day, and I really enjoy Flagstaff. 



Today: 12.7 miles
Total: 453.5 miles  




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