‘Hiker trash,’ a fat rattlesnake and fickle Mother Nature: What it’s like to trek 800 miles on the Arizona Trail
Chicago Tribune (September 4, 2019) by
Fat drops of rain tap out a mournful melody on the nylon ceiling stretched over my head. Peeking out from under a thick down quilt, I watch tiny rivulets of water drip down the sides of my tent and sigh.
It’s not supposed to be raining here, at the entrance to Arizona’s Saguaro National Park. Not in March. Not here in the Sonoran Desert. But rain is the least of my problems.
I’m just a week into a 45-day trek along the Arizona National Scenic Trail, or AZT, which unravels northbound from the state’s Mexican border to Utah. Here, in its southernmost passages, the path stumbles up and over Mica Mountain. The problem is that Mica’s summit hovers around 8,600 feet. If this storm weeps over the mountain all night and much of tomorrow, as forecast, Mica will be socked with 2 or 3 feet of snow — not something I want to hike through.
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