Waking up late the next morning, (always a luxury to enjoy in town), we had a few last chores to do. Namely, two that annoyed me deeply. First, my feet were still throbbing in my arch from my insoles (the same ones I had worn extensively before, including my NOLS trip). In addition, I had began to get some inner thigh chafe as sweat accumulated on my thighs in the desert heat and the crystals therein brought friction with every rub. I had ordered a different pair of insoles and better boxer briefs (Saxx for some pouch protection for my genitals and thighs). We ran one last time to the post office to send home the insoles and former pair of boxers before we headed back to Gathering Grounds cafe for one last epic vegetarian breakfast burrito.
Satiated in the way that only follows a meal post-workout, we finally left town at 11 am. We only had 8 miles ahead of us, which brought little urgency to the time. Leaving Patagonia involved a road walk that quickly transitioned to gravel Eventually, we reached a section of trail that had a reroute due to nearby mine cleanup and reclamation. The views of the Santa Ritas were simply incredible, with lingering snowpack on the upper peaks and north faces.
The AZT reroute took us up and over doubletrack on grassland hills, punctuated by mesquite and the occasional palo verde. Old agave stalks stood rigid in the distance while a few Mexican gold poppies erupted from the tan grass. Up and down multiple gullies, the trail summited a large hill, passed through a barbed wire gate, and basically disappeared. Small ribbons flagged in mesquite became the course to follow, albeit as a little unsurely, for the next several miles up and down washes and cat-claw filled valleys. The terrain was particularly steep and I could feel my knee. We happened to stumble upon a cattle tank, unmarked on the maps, but right along the trail where we could refill with some cold water.
After bushwhacking down a hillside into a thicket of mesquite and old cottonwood, we stumbled into a massive abandoned migrant camp filled with backpacks, shoes, water bottles, caffeine pill boxes, and other jettisoned items. The juxtaposition of our desire to hike this route was immediately brought into focus against the contrast of others struggling here in this same place starkly different than our own.
We eventually made our way down a steep wash coupled with several stream crossings. Picking our way across a plain choked with cat claw, we spilled onto the main route again. A half mile down the trail we crossed Anaconda Spring, in full flow, and found some great campsites up a hillside. The sunset was a brilliant pink display as a windy night unleashed on us.