Thursday, March 21st, 2019
The next morning, Bill T picked us up from the hotel and we began our two-hour journey to Montezuma Pass trailhead. Once we were getting close, we drove by a hiker walking down the road. We turned around to see if he was heading our way. His trail name was Smiley and he had a number of thru hikes under his belt, plus a walk across the country. He was hiking the Arizona Trail to see how his recently torn meniscus would hold up so he could hike longer trails. We picked him up, then continued down the road.
It’s a two-mile trip to the southern terminus then two miles back to the trailhead before we could continue northbound on the AZT. It wasn’t a big deal though. Unlike the trails we hiked before, there were views for days!
Bill T joined us and we climbed through the hole in the fence to get our picture with the monument along the US-Mexico border. It appeared there would be at least 7 other hikers starting the same day as us.
After walking back to the parking lot, we said goodbye to Bill. Not only did he help us big time by taking us to the trailhead, he shared plenty of advice from his own experience when he thru hiked. We’re lucky to have crossed paths with him on the AT.
Then our journey began, passing a couple road runners before we started the big climb. We walked along the ridge and passed a couple caves that were blocked off with metal bars. I couldn’t get over the scenery. Arizona is gorgeous!
We took a short lunch break at the ridge crest. We were regretting not taking our break a little lower in elevation. It was super windy! As we were packing up, we met a section hiker from Boston named Robby, and a thru hiker from North Dakota named Kyle. This was Kyle’s first long distance hike and by the small size of his pack, he looked prepared.
As we got closer and closer to Miller Peak, we’d catch ourselves smiling frequently. The views were stunning.
We’d walk through some snow on our way up, but would have to bust out our trekking pole when we started working our way down the other side. The trail was on an angle, which had us slipping and sliding the whole way.
Eventually we made it out of the snow and took a short break at bathtub spring.
The final climb for the day wasn’t so bad.
We got nearly a 360-view at the top then started working our way down the mountain.
We stopped at an unmarked camp site 3/10ths of a mile passed Copper Glance Trail junction. It was already getting chilly, so Frisbee started a fire as we ate dinner and set up camp.
Kyle would end up joining us later, a brutal first day for his first ever thru hike. I was impressed! Hopefully none of us will be too sore in the morning. We just got off of the Florida Trail, but we haven’t climbed mountains in quite some time!
Distance Traveled: 13.3 miles + 1.9 extra = 15.2 miles (24.5 km)
Jump Ahead to The Arizona Trail: Part 2