Monday, April 15, 2013

To Superior

To Superior:
4/12-4/15 p.m.
Section: 97m
From Mexico: 301m
Vagabond Loop Mileage: 73m

By the time the evening came I thought I would have nothing too much to say about this section. We ambled over gentle desert hills, up an over, wide sandy wash after wide sandy wash. The miles breezed on by. At Cowhead Tank, after 20m, we bedded down in a Bloodsucker Wash along one of the tendril sandy arms.

The grumble came from afar in the darkness. I turned over on my stomach and raised my beanie above my ears. The grumble turned into a groan. I perched up in my bedding. I could hear the groan curling toward me while trying to separate the snores from Lint. Down the wash the groan began to roar. And lights began to flash on the surrounding small ridges. Suddenly, a strong vehicle came tumbling into our view and stopped with lights aflame. Lint popped up quickly and pssted at me. We waited in stilled silence. The vehicle made a u-ie and went back up in the wash. We eased our way down into our bedding. But the strong noise of the vehicle cam back down another tendril. The vehicle ravaged its way through the wash and blackness. The lights lit up the whole area. Through the tanglement of mesquite the vehicle plowed over a sandy bank and into another tendril. Their line of destruction was headed straight towards us. I swallowed up my gear and moved from out of the middle of the wash and near the coverage of a large mesquite. Lint held his ground. We looked at each other frantically in the darkness.

"Quick! Put down your water bottle!" I exclaimed at Lint in a hushed, harsh whisper. We held firm.

The strong vehicle turned and roared over another bank and into the wash next to us, the lights beaming amazingly into our faces. "Shit, this is it!" We rose to our knees in a crouched position ready to scamper into the night.

The strong vehicle turned up-wash and within seconds the grumble tapered into silence and the lights waned into the black.

Our nerves jingled, we chatted up war stories of times passed and tried to figure out what they wanted. They seemed to be looking for something, or someone.

An half an hour later I awoke again, this time the grumble from Grant Camp Wash to the east of us. I sprouted up to get Lint awake and ready. The strong vehicle stopped by a large tree 100 yards from us.

Clack clack clack! A gun fired. We figured them to be on a joyride. But we also figured to meet anyone in the desert this far out was up to no good.

With the lights silohuetting the large tree in the dark for about an hour, I got tired of waiting and fell asleep.

The morning rose much rosier and we marched. We made Beehive Well, where the GET will intersect in my Vagabond Loop, and marveled at the nastiness of the water. The large rusted tank sported a sheen of birdshit and a clump of a lifeless bird, an owl.

We skoaled the heavens and mashed through rolling desert terrain. The desert scene became greener and greener as spring obviously showed itself in fecundity. Plants and cacti became more dense and crowded. The tentacles and spikes of the flora reached out to greet us. As Lint rounded a sharp switchback a cholla cactus, or teddy bear cactus, reached out and tried to give Lint a special embrace. He hollered out in pain and I quickly made my way back to him. Blood speckled his sleeve with red dots and I helped him disrobe his shirt. He grimaced as he pulled out a couple of spikes.

Thirty minutes later, a 3 inch cholla arm secretly stuck to my right shoe. As we climbed a knoll I clipped my right shoe with the front of my left one and licked the barb into my inside portion of my left ankle.

I shrieked, "Yeow!! Lint come get this thing outta my ankle!" I began to turn on my phone to get a photo of it. I looked down and saw the 3 inch arm loaded with 1 inch spines plunged into my ankle. I thought, "Cool!" "Lint, come get this shit out!"

"What are you doing?! Gonna take a pic?! Goddam it," in replied exasperation. "Come here!"

"I can't, my muscle is seized up!" Lint rushed back and found 2 sticks. He began to pry the barb loose but the sticks snapped. He found sturdy rocks and pried the barbs loose clean off my ankles. The punctured holes rose in a concave fashion and spurted droplets of blood. Jazzed, I mashed up the hill following Lint.

The day became hotter and drier and we camped near a cattle trough near Ripsey Wash.

The next day was rather uneventful. No water yet good tread to follow. We crossed the Kelvin-Riverside Bridge spanning over the muddy Gila River, then headed in a westerly course along the river corridor in meandering trail tread. A long dry stretch, we took only 2 liters to cover what we thought would be 13 miles to water, according to our maps and water information. But as we came to our road in Walnut Canyon wash the signs pointed to go through it. We did so.

Minutes earlier we were in good spirits. Lint led the way and suddenly stopped and reached down to pick up something. I couldn't quite see what it was and he shouted into the hot wind, "Aha! I've been looking for one of these for some time!"

"You have!? What the fuck is it?" I noticed something purple and resembled a Livestrong bracelet.

He quickly turned around and said "This!" "Why, what for?!"

He pulled the rubberband back and snapped it my direction in a flash. I curled up my arms in flinch and retracted my left leg. The rubberband thwacked my left hand. Lint almost died in laughter.

Fast forward and hour later and we are laying on the side of the trail hot and thirsty. We are not sure where the trail is taking us. I am sure the river canyon sweltered in the mid-90s. Our brains boiled as we tried to decide what to do. Ultimately, with confusion addling our melted brains we stayed on trail. I heard rumors about the AZT going around Walnut and White Canyon but I disregarded the rumor for some stupid reason. Our waterless stretch went from 13m to more or less 20m. We slowly ran out of water and were forced to drink out of the muddy Gila. It wasn't the fact that the Gila River resembled poop water but rather we knew that Mineral Creek Mine drained their tailings a few miles upstream from where we stood on the riverbank. We begrudgingly took 2 liters each. We complained and bickered with each other like savages. I turned and hiked quickly away. We spoke nothing for a couple of hours. Why would they re-route this section from a beautiful area on trail with reliable water sources to a detour where non-reliable sources existed? We stewed over this in our minds after vocalizing out loud how we disproved of the detour.

We knew of a water cache some 6m away but we doubted there would be water. But lo and behold, there was water. We calmed down and our demeanors changed. We even ended up walking another 3 more miles up Martinez Canyon which arrowed steeply up a wide ravine with magnificent red walls. I reveled in the beauty and embraced with the desert taught me that day. With patience I marveled at the approaching magenta-colored dusk turn to peach, then fade to black. Stars twinkled and winked at me saying, "Tsk tsk..."

The next morning we mashed waterless 18m on 2L to the Picketpost Mountain trail head.


  1. You skipped white canyon wilderness!?

    1. Yea, unfortunately we did. Super-pissed about it. The new AZT route takes you further west along the Gila River then up Martinez Cyn where youll climb up and eventually missing the White Cyn Wilderness. We stuck to trail. Initially we wanted to do WCW but as we inadvertantly went passed Walnut Cyn rd about a mile and realized our gaffe, also with signs and cairns leading us astray, we just sludged on forward. Alot of confusion and high temperatures. The new route is scenic once up in the cyn but theres no water sources unless you count the Gila. Crud!

    2. I shouldve just said 'yea, but oh well. Ill catch it on the GET' instead of a long ramble...

  2. Freaking badass man!! Love the rawness of this place. Keep on dominating son!!