9/30/16 Mile 107.9 to 116.3

by sedona maniak

Dad dropped me off in the early afternoon after we attempted to find the route to the trail from Tusayan.  A pair of seeming locals informed us that the gate which appeared to be the easiest access to the trail was private property, so we simply gave up and drove north of town to a culvert trail crossing.  Eventually, I walked to the gate that the women had so adamantly denied being trail access.  It had a deeply incised trail used by many hikers to access the town or the trail, and was, actually, the only way for hikers to make it easily into town.  Jerks. 

After the ordeal of foot infections, I stopped every 3 miles rather than every 5 to remove my shoes and inspect my feet.  At each stop, joy began to seep back into me at being back on the trail after days off.  Amid the huge puddles left by the monsoon were freshly washed lupines and flowering buckwheat varieties.  Fragrance lifted off the evaporating rain, and I was happily intoxicated once again. 

I have forgotten to mention a couple of important points about this trail.  First, much of it is road, mainly decommissioned forest roads, but some active, frequently graded ones as well.  Second, there are SO MANY gates.  These are primarily ranch style, stick and wire, two loop cattle and game gates.  Gates like these seem to be constantly tightened to the brink of mobility by gangs of tall, hulking cowboys.  Several have caused me squished fingers, pack-dropping, and swearing.  The last one today, however, was simply impossible.  The wire loop was fitted into a groove on the opening stick at a height already exceeding mine.  It had been clearly tightened with a fence tool...some asshole really wanted to keep hikers out.  I had to slide my pack under the space between the gate and the ground, then squeeze myself under, catching my pants on the barbed wire a couple of times. 

Finally free of the evil gate, I hiked along a fence for awhile until spying the perfect campsite.  Music swelled, a light breeze trickled over me, a stray sunbeam shone tantalizingly on the little, flat patch of duff before me, between a couple of trees, with east-facing exposure.  It was late enough on a near-o day.  I took it.  After I'd put up my tent in a leisurely fashion, I cautiously removed my shoes and discovered no new blisters.  Lovely!