AZT Day 52: Mexico, The End, So Long Arizona Trail


Friday, November 16
Miles: 11.7 + 1.8 bonus miles
Starting/ending: 778.0/788.7
Camp elevation: A bed in Tucson

It’s my last day on trail. I wake up at 5:15 to the sound of David and Oklahoma talking and packing. Again, it’s warmer than expected and I’m grateful for it. Coffee, ramen, and pack for the last time. I get on trail at 6:30 after David and before Oklahoma.

There are beautiful views in all directions from this Huachuca ridge. Sobo is the way to go. I’m happy to save these lovely views for last. I’m slow this morning. My back is still nagging me. I walk along the ridge. Some ups and downs. Sunlight eventually. More ups. Up to Bathtub Spring and I fill up with 2L. It’s cold in the shade. Up. Past a section hiker, a guy originally from Vermont.

Up to the high point around 9000 feet, just below Miller Peak, where I find David having just summited. Down we go. David accepts a trail name – Ice Man! Because he froze his water filter once, maybe twice, and he killed his stove along the way. We go at a slow to average pace. Oklahoma catches up and passes us. David takes a bathroom break. A helicopter buzzes by. I chuckle because they’re probably catching Ice Man digging a cathole.

My back feels better on the downhill. I speed up. The sun is warm. Morning is in full swing. My snacks are light. Ice Man catches up, then we catch up to Oklahoma at Montezuma Pass at 10:30 where there is a parking lot, bathrooms, and picnic tables. We’ll tag the monument from here, then return for our ride at 2. But we’re ahead of schedule so we relax, snack, and soak up the sun. I stash my pack and assemble a bindle to bring to the monument – embracing the full hobo style. Damien – an Australian thru-biker shows up. Not permitted to ride to the monument, he’ll walk, too.

We all take off together after 11, chatting and hiking quickly. It’s 1.8 miles down to the monument. At last! We’re there. It’s somewhat anticlimactic. We take pictures, eat celebratory sponch (a Mexican snack cake), cross the border “fence” for better lighting and pictures from the Mexican side. We did it! AZT success!

Then we turn around and hike back up the 1.8 mile hill to Montezuma Pass. Another thru-hiker, Cruise, passes us along the way. We plan to squeeze Damien and Cruise into our 2pm shuttle if room allows. Back to the pass, an hour to kill. Relax. I eat a Snickers. Clouds make the air chilly. At 2, Ken, our shuttle driver, shows up up. There’s room for 1 more, but not for a bike, so Cruise piles in along with Oklahoma, Ice Man, and me, while Damien pedals off.

Into the SUV and away we go! Cruise is a talker. The pavement whizzes by. A Walmart stop. Oklahoma fails to find the Rubbermaid bin which he seeks, but I pick up snacks – Gatorade, pineapple, twix, peanut m&m’s, and Taki’s. We stop by a hotel and I bid farewell to Cruise, Ice Man, and Oklahoma. Onward to Oro Valley for me. To Ann and Kris’ at 5:15! Inside I catch up with Ann, have a beer. Kris gets home and we chat before dinner – chicken soup and cheese crisps. I celebrate my victory with a Pueblo Vida beer. An email from my mom says congratulations and Charlie says mission accomplished Shower. Laundry. We watch the news then hit the hay at 9pm. A real bed indoors! I talk to Jared.

I’m no longer a dirty thru-hiker, but have already been transformed into a semi-clean real person. 52 days on the trail. AZT complete! As Charlie said, mission accomplished. Sleep.

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