The zero day was a reluctant decision, but it was a hugely beneficial one.
This morning I woke up in my room at the Beeline Guest House and got to work charging more devices and then patching the holes in my sleeping pad since I now had a nice big tub to work with. I then went down for breakfast where Patrick had created an enormous and absolutely delicious meal. Every bite was a sweet morning sensation. Thru-hikers may not be his target patron, but he sure knows how to take care of them and he completely understands he’ll get some overflow since there aren’t too many other options in Pine. He offered all kinds of help and assistance and made some great conversation. It may be out of most thru-hikers’ price range, but if not, the Beeline Guest House is very well worth the stay, especially if you’ve just hiked 25 miles and are slightly hypothermic from constant rain and cold.
I did some laundry before checking out and had lunch at HB’s Place, which I found to be a little generic. Pine has better options, just for the record.
As I was leaving town though, I ran into Bruce and One Gallon who were just arriving. I needed to get my jackets hopefully soon, which I relayed to Bruce, and he said his wife might head up to meet him but wasn’t sure yet. That was enough for me to chance waiting around. I was dreading facing freezing nights in only a fleece, and another potential rain storm in a rain jacket that didn’t protect against more than a drizzle.
We all walked back to Sidewinders which appeared to have a really great menu and the food looked amazing as well. Bruce wouldn’t know for another hour or two if his wife, Tina, would be making the trip up, so we all just hung out on the patio. One Gallon even mocked me a little for wanting heavier jackets, saying "Arizona’s just a big desert! What do you need more jackets for?" So we taught him about the higher elevations he was about to hit and how it would indeed be much cooler above the rim. Then he was a little nervous.
One Gallon met a local with whom he secured a ride with into Payson just as E Bunny and Sweep had gotten into town. So One Gallon left for Payson and the other two joined Bruce and I on the patio.
We chatted and told stories and had a great time with each other when I later learned that Tina would in fact be heading up. She was able to find my jackets and was now en route to Pine, which would take her about two hours from Phoenix.
E Bunny and Sweep went to check in at the Beeline where they had reservations and Bruce and I were now just waiting for Tina to arrive. Once she did, we made our way out to the parking lot and I began my jacket swap.
I was offered a ride to the Pine trailhead, near the Arizona Trail where I had gotten off, and I graciously accepted. As we were finishing up and about to head out, another thru-hiker came waking toward Sidewinders. We waved and he veered into our area. It turns out this was Noah, who I had conversed a few times with on an AZT Facebook group that he had created. At the same time, Bruce had talked Tina into staying for a beer, and at the same moment E Bunny and Sweep also returned for dinner. We all went back in and made a fun meal out of it.
There was great conversation with great company, but as the sun sank lower behind the horizon, the cold chill began to tell us it was time to call it a day. Noah decided to join me at the Pine Trailhead where we were dropped off by Bruce and Tina, and we stayed up chatting about hiking, conservation, and many other things.
In the end, it was a pretty relaxing day with some really fun company, but I can’t wait to get back on the trail in the morning.