Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
The four of us packed up after a night cowboy camping, then walked one mile to the town of Pine. An elk stopped in the middle of the road, not at all bothered by traffic or the smelly hikers walking passed it.
We stopped at Early Bird Cafe for breakfast and found Klaus already there with a plate of uneaten pancakes in front of him. We ordered too, and shortly had the table cluttered with an assortment of food.
A couple walked in and sat nearby. One of them was a thru hiker who went by the name of Junco and he was there with his wife, Paula. They lived in Flagstaff and shared their contact information with us in case we needed a place to stay when we got there. Pretty kind of them!
We had a number of boxes to pick up at the post office. Frisbee had two for his birthday; one from his parents and the other from his brother. I also had two; a new Sawyer water filter from REI (which I’d be mailing home), and another I had bumped ahead.
We mailed some items home and others to the town ahead, then joined Klaus at the road. There was bad weather in the forecast, so we decided to hitch back to Payson which had much cheaper places to stay in comparison to Pine. The only free place was already full.
A lady named Terry picked us up in her pickup truck. She lived in Pine and was a trail runner who was dropping off her father’s dog before filling up the gas tank and taking us to Payson. She was nice enough to offer us a ride back to Pine the next morning.
Klaus convinces us to pay a little extra to stay at Comfort Inn this time, and after booking our stay, we met another older hiker who was staying there named Bilbo. We would be seeing chipper hostess Cherie again at the Pizza Hut lunch buffet, that we drug Klaus to.
After lounging around the hotel, we went to Basha’s grocery store together to grab a few things for dinner. As a late birthday meal for Frisbee, we each got a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream, Oreo cookies, chocolate milk, and a slice of German Chocolate cake to split. We finished it off with some coffee and conversation with Klaus and Bilbo in the lobby before returning to our room.
0 miles (0 km)
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019
Terry touched base with us. She couldn’t pick us up in the morning. She tried, but there was a car accident that had both lanes into Payson blocked, and she decided to turn around to check on her dad. It was around the time he heads to the casino to eat, and she was worried. It is what it is. So the three of us walked to the highway to hitch.
We got picked up by a local artist named Jane. She schooled us on some of the pronunciations we’ve been struggling with.
Mogollon Rim = Mug-E-yawn Rim
Mazatzal Wilderness = Mad-as-hell Wilderness
We hit the remaining traffic congestion from the accident Terry got stuck behind, but were able to get back on trail by 10 am.
It was a steady climb with a brief rain shower at the start. We started passing a lot of the people who had stayed in Pine. First it was Geronimo and Puns, then Detour, followed by a hiker we haven’t met yet named Twigs. Eventually we caught up with Bilbo who took a shuttle from the hotel early in the morning. He was surprised we took so long to catch up. We told him we got to the trail an hour later than originally planned.
We stopped around lunch time at a view of the Mogollon Rim. Jump was already there on her break. Klaus stopped to say hi, then took off.
The color of the trail would alternate from red to brown to gold. We were bumping along for the most part. On the way, we met another hiker named Barrel who was being accompanied by his wife for a short section before she returned home.
We crossed a creek, getting our feet wet before returning to pine forests. That’s when we ran back into Rosey and Gerber. They were about to call it quits for the day, but we encouraged them to hike to the top of the plateau where there was a cabin. It was less than 2 miles away and it wasn’t even 6 pm yet.
It was a short, but steep climb with many views.
Rosey yelled down to us when he reached the top, “There’s a pizza up here!” If we were on the Appalachian Trail (AT), I might have believed him. There was no trail magic for us on this trail. Just a few people offering us beer, which we no longer drank.
There were patches of snow and a defaced plaque for the Battle of Big Wash before we reached General Springs Cabin.
We were planning to keep hiking since it was only 6:15 and wouldn’t get dark for another hour, but they guilt tripped us into staying. We did tell them we’d camp with them if they went to the cabin, so we stuck to our word.
Initially we were going to sleep inside the cabin. The front room had nail pops in the flooring which would’ve punctured our sleep pads. The back was smooth, but it was super dirty. We swept the floor with our feet to clear an area. Unlike the AT shelters, there was limited air circulation inside, so we only succeeded in kicking up dust and mouse poop. I didn’t stop coughing for a good 30 minutes.
We set up our tent instead. It was a cold night with a full moon. We talked to Rosey and Gerber a little while before bundling up.
20.7 miles (33.3 km)