A new load of food, and a load of new experiences along the trail. The painful steps of the previous section were beginning to feel like a distant memory, until they started coming back.
The day started out with a fantastic sunrise coating the mountains in soft pastel lights, slowly intensifying into a stronger orange, then yellow, then a warm shade of white. By then Gizmo and Dirt Nap had already left and I wasn’t far behind on my down, which at this point was a steep and rocky dirt road.
Soon I was hiking along a wash, the trail making one crossing after another through the mix of sand and rock. Up and over rocks, into the sandy wash, the sand reducing my speed every time. Up and over rocks onto a smoother part of the trail for just long enough to enjoy it, then repeat. I don’t think I’m going to miss hiking through washes. While they do frequently contain some more unique desert vegetation (and occasionally water), they’re still slow-going and can be a bit annoying to hike through.
By now the heat was beginning to come in and it was beginning to look like it’d be a long trudge through a long wash, until I was teleported out of it.
I rounded a corner, looked up, and was instantly in a large shaded desert oasis. Sycamore, cottonwood, and other trees I wasn’t familiar with towered above dozens of feet high creating a high green canopy. Green grass grew on every patch of available soil. The air was noticeably cooler. And all of a sudden, a bit farther down the trail, a small spring created a creek that trickled beside the path. A couple of saguaros could be made out through the trees peeking in, trying to see inside the oasis’ secrets. It was as if I had actually been instantly teleported to a lush botanical garden somewhere far away. There was no indication that this was ahead from farther back on the trail, and the guidebook also never mentioned anything about teleporting anywhere.
I found Gizmo and Dirt Nap here who were getting more water and enjoying a bit of a siesta, a perfect place for one. I was also in need of water, so I set my stuff down and got to work getting more. Once ready, it was hard to leave such a nicely shaded and relaxing environment. As the sycamores and other trees began to thin out, the air got warmer and the trail got rockier. It was back to the desert nearly as quickly as I had left it. A few other similar groves popped up as water became available, but none so immediately transformative. Regardless, I take back what I said earlier about this particular wash. It turned out to be a pretty amazing part of the trail.
The mighty Superstition Mountains rolled down into pleasant hills toward Roosevelt Lake, and our main destination for the day, the Roosevelt Marina. Over easily walkable, then excessively steep dirt roads, we followed the trail down toward a junction to leave the trail to get our mail drops. By now, Gizmo and Dirt Nap had gotten out ahead of me, and so I took the junction I remembered seeing on the map, just a half mile walk from the trail, through a small community, then to the marina. After getting help with where to actually go, I went down to the marina and met up with Gizmo and Dirt Nap who were already on their food. A nice lady brought out my mail drop and I went to go order some lunch as well. We all stayed there for a while, myself and Gizmo dreading getting back out into the heat, and Dirt Nap dreading having to hitchhike back to his car in Superior since he was only doing that section with Gizmo.
The marina itself didn’t leave a great impression on me. The food seemed to be the cheapest quality available, and the delivery process is extremely wasteful. You order a burger, brat, or hot dog from the bar (I had all three). Then you’re given each in a separate, heavy-duty Ziploc bag which you take over to a grill 15 yards away and throw away the Ziploc bags. I got over the fact that I had to grill my own food. After all, thru-hikers aren’t the primary customer there, but the use of the Ziploc bags was not only wasteful, but seemed completely unnecessary. Then, the food didn’t really settle too well later on, most likely due to its bottom-of-the-barrel cheapness. Though the employees were all nice and friendly, eating at the marina wasn’t really worth it.
I eventually got moving before Gizmo and was heading back to the community to potentially use an RV hookup site for water when a truck pulled in next to me. A friendly older couple, Chuck and Sue, offered me a ride just up the road a bit to their house where I could get more water. Once there, they even gave me some iced tea and a banana. I had a great visit with them and thanked them before heading back to the trail, but not before being warned about rattlesnakes, even though I still hadn’t seen any.
I had assumed at this point that Gizmo had jumped ahead. I learned that they had taken the much shorter route from the trail just a bit farther up that I had completely forgotten about. As I approached the junction for it, I heard the sound I fear the most: the rattling of a rattlesnake’s tail. I heard it behind me, and after turning around, saw it there coiled up in the grass right next to the trail. I felt I was far enough away to get a picture, but by then he agreed about the distance and sank back into the grass, disappearing. Adrenaline still pumping, I was thankful my first rattlesnake encounter on the trail came and went without incident.
Up and down the trail went over desert hills until it finally reached the highway which it used to cross the lake just behind the dam. From there, it picked up another trail to begin climbing up the east side of the Four Peaks. The trail wasted no time gaining elevation and it was another steep climb up. I was eager to find a campsite, but it’d have to wait. The ground just wasn’t suitable for a site. Unfortunately, one of my feet didn’t like this. I had let my left shoe either get too loose or too tight again, and I could feel a blister or two returning. I hiked a couple of extra miles than I would have liked, then found a campsite that would work well enough. The views weren’t too great, so there was no photography. Just extra rest and hopefully a lighter pack in the morning to make the climb up.