Overall, I slept pretty well at my stay at the Stage Stop Inn. I can’t say enough great things about this hotel though. Gerry is a huge help and seems genuinely happy to help out thru-hikers. If you’re planning on doing the AZT, make sure a night there is in your budget. It’ll make a lot of things a lot easier. It was also really nice to be able to get clean after those first four days on the trail. My only complaint was that I had to close the curtains since I’m so picky about sleeping in the dark, so I missed waking up with the sun. A pretty minor complaint though.
I went over to a nearby coffee shop to have a much needed hot breakfast and enjoyed watching many locals converging there. Patagonia seems like the kind of town where everybody knows each other and it seemed very evident here. After buying some shoelaces to act as string for my solar panel, I started on some laundry. Almost next door is a fantastic little bakery where I couldn’t help but binge on a cinnamon roll and cherry turnover. I also bought a new USB cable from the lady who runs it which has so far been a tremendous help. I regretted not getting fudge since I already had so much food to carry, so if you’re thinking about hiking the trail, save room for fudge.
Once laundry was done, and once I had a decent charge on my phone, and once I got my bounce box sorted, and once I ate my leftover pizza for lunch, and once I checked out of my hotel just in time, I was on my way up a long series of rural roads out of Patagonia and toward the Santa Rita Mountains.
On my way out, I met a friendly lady driving a Polaris back to town who was eager to give lots of great advice. It turns out she’ll be doing some of the northern parts of the trail next month so we’ll probably cross paths again.
The trail makes use of a number of miles of dirt roads on its way away from town, so it was a lot of just trudging forward, though every now and then I was reminded just how pretty southern Arizona is.
I finally reached the trailhead, which unfortunately also allows cars to still drive on, but at least it resembles a trail more than a road. I then noticed some rather large cat tracks in the sand. I took a picture with my phone, but alas, this happens to be the one photo on my entire phone that won’t load anymore. It was around here, passing over one shallow creek crossing after another that I met a friendly older couple and who I’m guessing was their granddaughter. We exchanged some pleasantries and I continued up my way.
On the way in I noticed a big difference in my pack weight. It’s still heavy of course, but my food seems to be a lot lighter this time, and I also managed to send a few things with the bounce box. I first got rid of all the old nuts, which I did have more of in this new food drop, and also the tortillas which had molded in the mail. I also forwarded my 14mm lens which cut down a good couple of pounds. I also got rid of my biners since they weren’t doing anything anyway. A lot of little things like that helped my pack feel much easier to carry, even with a brand new food drop and full water.
This helped a lot because in late afternoon my energy completely faded, which I came to blame on all the sugar and carbs I had in town. It was also around this time that my feet finally realized what we’re actually doing and started screaming. This only added to the drain. I still found a great campsite after about 11 miles of hiking, which isn’t bad at all considering I didn’t get going till 11:30am. Of course now I’m hearing some distant air traffic as Tucson gets closer and closer.