We slept in late after a hard sleep all night. It was nearly 7 am when we woke up. After getting more silt-dusted water for breakfast, a southbound thru-hiker came upon us. We talked about the trail ahead - mostly learning that there were just miles of trees. After the AZT left Jack’s Canyon and its adjoining wash, the trail became a rocky mess with clumps of volcanic pumice. But, the few miles of rocks eventually gave in to easier terrain. Tank after tank of water was gloriously clear so there as no need to filter cow shit.
The largest ponderosa pine forest in the world can be a homogenous place. The relatively flat terrain let us easily cover 23.6 miles. The views were basically stand after stand after stand of ponderosa pine. Around mid-day, we came upon a beautiful tank filled with a chorus of frogs. A truck parked near a dirt forest road had a hunter out collecting deer and elk racks. Shortly thereafter, we ran into Blue Skies, a thru-hiker cover 30+ miles a day.
In early afternoon, the trail slowly went up a rise to 7,500 feet where we saw large patches of snow. Green grass pushing through the ground spoke to late spring in the high country. After a slight descent over several miles we came out into a large field with power line towers. The wind picked up and blew coldly and powerfully across the field. We stopped at a spring forming a pool and small stream where frogs called to grab some water. The trail moved into the forest past gorgeous green fields with towering pines. A large herd of elk broke into a run between the trees. The sun filtered sideways through the trees setting the whole forest into golden light. Small ponds and snowmelt sat in areas, encouraging the growth of new plant life.
After carefully walking through mucky and deep mud in double track, we approached a series of small tanks set in the woods. A herd of tree trotted up the trail in front of us. One tank was in a small flat valley with a rise nearby. We walked up the hill and found a flat area in some trees on top. There, we setup camp with a beautiful view into the tanks and grassy trees below. Two bikepackers riding the Arizona Trail showed up and setup camp in the valley below. We ate dinner and watched streaks of red light up the sky in the evening light. Cold clamored toward us and we snuggled in our quilts.