April 2 (~08:25 – ~16:30)
Tentsite after Chihuahua Rd – tentsite after Table Mountain Rd (16.7 mi / Total: 148.2 mi)
Weather: Hot, windy. Some clouds in the afternoon.
I wake up at 5 when my tent half collapses on me again. It’s erected with two trekking poles, but one of them doesn’t seem to want to stay in place. Every night I think I’ve got it, but the tension just won’t stay. In the morning my tent has floundered like an empty sack of potatoes.
Despite the early wake up call, I start late. I only need to reach one of the tentsites before Highway 74, so that I can go to Paradise Valley Cafe in the morning. The trail begins as a bit of a maze and then settles into its usual meandering desert trail. Every desert view we’ve had so far seems to repeat itself today. The greener lower elevations, rocky sidles and cacti gardens with oversized pink boulders. The trail goes up more than it goes down, and the sun is strong. There isn’t much water, and the one creek early on has a lot of grit in it. It makes for a long waterless stretch, but luckily there are two water caches close to each other in the afternoon. It’s a tiring day.
There are quite a few people around. I appear to be in a bit of a bubble, and it stresses me out a little. I let them all go, take it slow, then inadvertently pass quite a few of them when a big group is having lunch. I can’t help but wonder if they’re all planning the same thing I am – camping at one of the last tentsites before the highway, perfectly positioned to get breakfast at the café in the morning. I fear there aren’t enough spots for everyone so I limit my breaks to try and get there first. By the time I get close my pace has slowed to a crawl – I am not cruising anymore today.
Luckily, I needn’t worry about the camping spots. There are lots, and I decide to strike down early, beaten by the sun and settling at a campsite before finding Speedy. I will see her at breakfast.