Packed and Ready to Go

Monday afternoon, April 2

It’s hard for me to fathom that I’ll actually be backpacking in Arizona day after tomorrow.  I said good-bye yesterday to my son and his family and my wife who all flew back to Reno.  A couple hours later I saw my daughter off to her home in Orlando.  They won’t see me again until after my hike is over.  What a great time we had together!

I’m home in Cooperstown and did yard work in 40 degree weather this afternoon after waiting for the one inch of overnight snow to melt.  I also finished other tasks to get our house ready for this summer’s rental season.  These little jobs distracted me from thoughts about trekking past saguaro trees in just two days.  But I spent the chilly morning hours inside the house organizing all of my supplies for my flight tomorrow night.  Stuffing supplies into my backpack made me understand that my goal to undertake a through-hike of the 800 mile Arizona Trail is finally almost here.

I’ll fly out of Albany, NY, tomorrow night, connect in Denver, and reach Tucson late Tuesday night.  I’ll catch a hotel shuttle to the Quality Inn and begin my short night’s sleep.

The next morning I’ll load up with my last real meal at the hotel’s breakfast bar.  I’ll look out for my shuttle driver, a guy named Ken, who will drive me to Coronado National Monument where the AZT begins.  I learned about Ken from my guidebook.  It will be a two hour car ride, and he is also picking up another hiker, a lady named Sherry, who is apparently on the same schedule as me.

We will be dropped off at Montezuma Pass along a rugged dirt road at the national monument.  It’s the closest a car can get to the southern terminus of the trail.  I will hike south about two miles to the monument at the Mexican border, contemplate the start of my newest adventure, take a deep breath, and begin my long hike.  I don’t know if I will be there alone, or if it’s just me and Sherry, or if there will be other aspiring long-distance hikers.  Will I know Sherry for only a couple hours and never see her again, or will we be hiking partners and post-hike friends?  In fact I’m very curious about the number of other hikers I’ll encounter along the way.  The AZT is lesser known than the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.

The temperatures at the start of my hike begin with an overnight low of 48 and a daytime high of 75.  The 10 day forecast for Coronado is 0% chance of rain.  My first town for a sit-down meal and a little re-supply from a store will be Patagonia.  It’s 51 miles into my hike.  There’s a public library there and it should be my first opportunity to write an in-progress blog.  In fact it may be the next time you hear from me.

********

My mother has some tuna noodle casserole waiting for me.  Served with a side of Harvard beets.  It’s my favorite dish that she makes.  My stomach’s growling.  Here we go again.  I’d better get used to it.

 

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