A walk in the desert

I went on my 9 mile hike yesterday! And it was gorgeous. I forgot that it was in Tonto National Forest, which is just one of my favorite things in Arizona thus far. Except maybe the Grand Canyon. But I get to see Tonto National Park way more often. And it houses, like, a forest of saguaro and I love driving through it and so getting to hike through it was going to be nothing short of spectacular, I felt. And I was not wrong.

I started the morning by duct taping my feet. I rushed. I didn’t put on enough. And next time I will certainly take the time and do it right.

Sunset at the trailhead.

Sunrise at the trailhead.

This was a new group that I was going to be hiking with. Once a few people started to gather in a group I went on over and introduced myself and made sure they were the Meetup group and not some other type of group. I’m finding that it’s easier and easier for me to just talk to people when I want or need to. That’s pretty good.

Then off we went on the journey. I quickly, or slowly, made my way to the back of the line because that is where I want to be. I want to stop and take photos. I want to enjoy the scenery. I want to hang back even further if I just want to be quiet in the desert. But, what I quickly figured out was that this group did not have a sweeper!

A sweeper is the person that hikes at the very end to ensure that nobody is left behind. And since this hike was on a series of trails that intersect, a sweeper would have been helpful. But, alas, they did not have one. And that is fine. Even though at the end me and three other people were, in fact, separated from the group. Luckily we were close enough to the end and we knew the trailhead name. But, yeah. That could have been a bad end to the day. But, instead, I’m focusing on how I did and how beautiful it is. Which is why I got the negative out of the way first!

Granite Mountain-2

Granite Mountain-4

So, I’m in the back walking with another nice older man named Andrew. So we laughed that we were Andrea and Andrew and he started asking lots of questions. I stopped a lot to take photos because look at it. Just look at those photos up there! They are gorgeous!

Then the group stops and is all gathered around because we’ve stumbled across a desert tortoise! Most people had not seen one on a hike before so it was all very exciting. We left him alone, other than putting our cameras in his face. And then warned all trail bikers we encountered that he was in the trail and to not run him over.

Granite Mountain-3

I could feel that the duct tape had slipped. But this group was no damn joke, y’all. We did three miles in one hour. No stopping, no lagging. Except for me because photos. But, still. Three miles on a hike in three hours is a good pace. We stopped for our first break at about five miles in. And I checked my feet and saw that, yes, my duct tape had slipped so I tried to fix it and that was that. And? I didn’t sit down a lot. I wanted to keep my body upright and not chance getting comfy or stiff.

Cathedral Rock. Break locale number 1.

Cathedral Rock. Break locale number 1.

Then off we went into what the leader said would be the prettiest part of the hike. And I was all “There is not way! I’ve already been blown away by how pretty it all is!!”

But, guess what? It was even prettier. There was so much pretty that it just seemed fake. Like it was all a movie set for a Hollywood Western themed film. That’s how pretty and amazing it was. And since we’ve had so much rain the desert was simply alive with green and yellow flowers and it was just amazing.

The trail was mostly like this. Nice, rolling hills. It was just long.

The trail was mostly like this. Nice, rolling hills. It was just long.

Our second break was at Balanced Rock. I didn’t get any good photos of that. I’ll have to go back!

At this break I did sit down and thought about how I felt. We were around 7 miles in at this point. And other than the hot spots I could feel on my feet? I was feeling ok. My hips were maybe feeling a little tired but my legs and my back and everything else were solid. And that is good to know!

Then, I guess, the temperature raised a bit and I got hot. Which is great training since the canyon will get hot. And I didn’t die. I didn’t hate it.

I drank 2.5 liters of the 3 that I have in my bag on this hike. And I think I need to buy some of those electrolyte gummy snacks to have on hand to replenish my salt and stuff while I sweat. Because I sweat like a pig. I had visible crotch sweat. There’s no guessing there, I looked. The crotch, it was sweaty. But the dudes all had visibly sweaty asses so I feel fine about life.

Until I got into my car to drive home. I kept smelling something terrible. And then I finally realized…it was ME! So sad.

BUT! Look how happy I looked on this hike. Even with sweaty crotch:

My crotch is sweaty and I don't care!

My crotch is sweaty and I don’t care!

When I got home I devoured a cheeseburger as if I’d never had food before. Then I showered the shower of the smelly. I may have even moaned “OH, YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” when the water hit my body.

I felt rough. Tired. And sore. But then when I started moving around I realized that the soreness had more to do with the muscles I used during Thursday’s training. I did a lot of ab work that night and my abs were screaming. Which, yes, hiking works them, too.

My feet felt weird all day, too. Like, I expected blisters on my toes but there are none.

But, when I woke up this morning? I felt fine. The blisters suck, but I’m all good. I didn’t go hike today, though. I just figured with the blisters I should give it a rest.

I’m going to REI tomorrow with my boots and blisters to talk to some people about things. Because I really need to get this shit under control.

And that is the story of my very first nine mile hike. Yay!

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