A hiker once quipped that thru-hiking is a series of back-to-back five-day backpacking trips. This is so true. When I hike an 800-mile long trail like the AZT, I don’t constantly think about getting to the finishing point at the Utah border; rather, I set my mind on the next trail town. A thru-hiker basically hikes from one town to the next and eventually arrives at the end of his journey. He does not have a destination per se as do other travelers. The purpose is not an ultimate place but getting to that place. It’s the “between parts” that matter to the long-distance hiker.
Coming out of Kearny, I was drawn to the old railroad tracks just outside of town. It got me thinking of how far I had come yet how far I still had ahead. It’s a “long train” indeed! The train—a metaphor for our lives—is full of so many memories. One can think back upon his life at all that has been seen and done and he can also look forward to the life yet to come. The train of life can be scary and difficult at times but a good attitude and abounding optimism can go quite a long way! The best is yet to be. Just when I start to become discouraged of the long way in front of me, I hear that quiet but penetrating voice whisper, “You’re going to make it, David!”
Mary Jo, a kind “trail angel” in Superior, accommodated me in her southwestern-themed hiker hostel. This place is a hiker’s dream! Basically, MJ outfitted her home so hikers and bikers could stay there and rest up. There is a shower, laundry room, a resupply station, and sleeping quarters. Trail angels like Mary Jo make the trail such a special experience and I am so grateful for her hospitality. This hostel provides rest for the weary hiker and replaces aches and pains with smiles and laughter. The stopover here was one experience of which I will never forget.
The hike then led me through the much-talked-about Superstition Wilderness—an area known for many legends. One local named Mario, who had picked me up at the Picket Post trailhead, told me about a time when he was fifteen years of age and found a human skull while exploring a cave in the Superstitions. He also talked about a shaft he and some kid friends had discovered whereupon dropping a coin no sound was ever heard.
The hike into Roosevelt Lake Marina involved much ascent, climbing from Superior at 2,386 ft. to the saddle at 5,414 ft. Most of the water on this stretch was drawn from spring-fed cattle troughs controlled with a float valve. The water, although covered with some algae and summer bees, tasted just fine after filtering with my Sawyer.
Arriving at the marina, I was struck by how magnificent the lake was. The area was built up by a huge gravity dam constructed under FDR during the Great Depression. Many families were there with their recreational motorboats, houseboats, and jet skis. The water was a perfect temperature and a cool dip was precisely what I needed after hiking under the Arizona sun. The marina had an open-air restaurant overlooking the waterfront so I ended the evening with their barbecue special and a salty margarita—a perfect ending to a long day! Well, it was time to cross the bridge and advance northward toward Pine and the Mogollon Rim. Excitement is building as I am nearing the halfway point. Despite the heavy water carries, I’ve been crushing the miles and have managed to sleep up in towns for bodily restoration.
Until next town along the AZT..,