Monday, April 15th, 2019
Today was Frisbee’s Birthday and we took second breakfast by the creek where he opened one of his birthday cards.
We walked by a bunch of horses before crossing the ankle deep East Verde River. We made the steep climb up to the plateau, which was a struggle in itself without having to pause halfway up to tweeze out the hair-thin spines of a prickly pear from my leg.
The top was flat, grassy and covered in juniper trees. We’d run back into Rosey who was in the process of making a pit stop at the water tank before making a second climb to another flat area covered in porous rocks.
We were happy that we hiked 12 miles before 12 (noon), a goal we usually set for most days, and found a place to eat lunch. I didn’t have much to offer Frisbee on his birthday, but gave him a birthday bean burrito with the refried beans I cold soaked all morning. He received a lot of food gifts from other hikers too, which was convenient since he was low on food. Rosey tossed him some snacks as he passed by.
I felt like I was back on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania during the next section. There were an obnoxious amount of rocks that made it tricky to keep a steady pace.
Once the terrain was back to normal, we ran back into Rosey by the cow pond. He was there filtering water with Rebecca, who we met a while back before hitching to Payson, and he was not looking too happy. I assumed that his feet were hurt from hiking in sandals through that rocky section, so I asked, “How’re your feet?”
“I slipped in the mud and into the cow pond, and now my feet are all dried and cracked.”
Not the foot complaint I was expecting. He would be even more frustrated when there was a water cache by the fence less than a half a mile ahead. All that trouble for nothing!
After passing a discouraging sign, we hiked with him the rest of the day on the forest roads.
He used to live in the area and told us how nice the section is ahead of us with the ponderosa pine forests and nearly unlimited tenting opportunities. We stopped briefly when we saw another face from hiker past, Detour, who we hadn’t seen since she was struggling with ankle pain at the start of the trail.
Then we hiked with Rosey through the final stretch. Frisbee mooched snacks off of him most of the way down the forest road, through the field, and up the single track switchback covered in wildflowers.
Rosey lagged behind as Frisbee and I walked by a pond with several elk surrounding it. They trotted up the hill as soon as we were spotted and they heard Rosey whistling behind us.
We only walked a short distance before seeing Klaus, who had his tent set up nearby. When Rosey got there, we all heard a commotion by the pond. Thinking there was no one watching, the elk returned to the pond and were playing in it. We could see from a distance through the shrubbery that some of them were prancing through it while others jumped in place. It was adorable! I regret not sneaking up on them to catch it all on video, but knowing how graceful I am not, they likely would have heard me and ran off before I got close enough.
We made one last stop at the next creek to fill up, and met a hiker named Colonial who was tenting there. He was hiking this section southbound to meet up with a friend, and had been lingering around there for a day or two. He told us an elk was chewing on his straw hat during the middle of the night, and also mentioned that the pub had an open mic night, which peaked our interest. We don’t drink anymore, but food and entertainment was sounding appealing.
Detour caught up with us and we encouraged her to join. We wanted to confirm the event before walking into Pine, so we called first and were thoroughly disappointed. Wrong Monday. At least there’s a nice breakfast in town in the morning! The four of us cowboy camped next to Highway 87 so we could get there as soon as the cafe opened.
28.7 miles (46.2 km)