Today was epic as we reached the 100 mile mark in early evening! The theme being the background hum of worry about my knee, the hundred mile mark felt like we really accomplished something with it.
Waking early, we left the Triplex to get water and ran into a 70+ year old hiker with the trail name Bilbo. Man did we love this guy. He was absolutely real, reflective, gregarious, super-open/vulnerable, and tenacious. He had recently retired as the former head meteorologist of the US weather service. His kindness and openness were very welcome given that many thru-hikers we had met so far seemed more concerned with their image of being “well-tuned thru-hiking perfected machines.” There were some solid people we met, but equally a number of hikers that seemed to take greetings as an opportunity to measure themselves to others. Screw that. I’ll take the real persons.
We conversed with Bilbo for quite a bit before heading out. The rest of the morning/afternoon, we seemed to just leap-frog with him over and over on the trail. He was one of those individuals that are humanity. Our final parting brought a strong sense to want to see him again (we would eventually run into him at a restaurant weeks later on the hike in Flagstaff).
The AZT coursed north, descending in elevation as we left the high desert grasslands behind and transitioned into the low desert Sonoran ecosystem. The trail coursed over and past the future(?) home of the Rosemont Mine; in fact, this section of the trail would soon be bulldozed for the future home of the third largest copper mine in the world. This has been a topic I’ve followed quite closely because it is also here that a jaguar has been living - a clash of biodiversity and extraction.
During lunch next to some leafed-out ocotillo, Janna patiently listened to my robo-repeats about self-doubt due to my knee. I freaking love her for this. The heat picked up as the day became steadily classic AZ hot. Every small wash lined with hardpack walls concentrated the heat only minutely reprieved by climbing back out. We wove in and over hills all day. Mid-day, next to a fly-filled small pool of water, the heat has caused my poorly screwed sunscreen container to expand and then explode inside my backpack. Taking forever to clean it (and more importantly that smell) consumed a solid hour.
Twin Tanks was our destination that evening - a well-described massive mud-pit dug into the earth, sopped with water, and filled with cow shit. Wanting to avoid having to drink shitwater, we loaded up algae-water at one last creek. As evening arrived, the AZT made its way through acres and acres of dense stands of prickly-pear before we crossed the 100 mile mark (marked with stones). Obligatory pics completed, we made our way to Twin Tanks in the encroaching dark. Suddenly, a low scream-bellow roared from the piss-pool. Two massive bulls stood bellowing at one another near the water. One on shore faced the other standing in the water; the one in the water actively defecated mounds of turds into the very liquid I was minutes away from drinking. I tried slowly approaching the water several times, only to be quickly chased by the territorial males. Realizing we needed this water and couldn’t continue, we headed up an adjoining shallow wash a bit and found what looked to be a superb spot to camp for the night. Yellow and white flowers bloomed in the loose sand. Evening seemed cool and quick so we settled in. Fuck the bulls, I’ll get water tomorrow.