The journey was as good as a long-haul flight in economy can be. I only got into trouble when I landed in Phoenix. I stood at the baggage carousel for ages, and when the baggage for the next flight was loaded onto the carousel, I gave up waiting for my suitcase.
After a long search, I found the counter where the luggage is reported lost. I was encouraged – within 24 hours almost every suitcase would turn up. Unfortunately, I am still waiting….
With the rental car, but without suitcase, to the hotel in Tucson
At the rental car station I got a proper upgrade. I had actually only paid for the smallest, cheapest and rustiest car, but then got a fat Nissan Frontier – what a ship!
With fatigue setting in, it was then the 1 1/2 hour drive to Tucson to the hotel. I was so glad to have arrived – just a quick walk to the supermarket for an ice cream sundae and the food for that evening.
While enjoying the sundae I then made the decision not to wait for the bag and rather buy new equipment and prepare the 2 most important maildrops before my departure: Roosevelt Lake Marina and Colossal Cave. The shuttle from Tucson to the trailhead was booked, I didn’t want to miss it.
The package of food I sent to Roosevelt Lake cost me $17! I drove myself to Colossal Cave. They knew immediately what I wanted there with the package. The woman was very friendly and just said that there were a lot of people on the trail this year and I was sure to find lots of new buddies to hike with. Hopefully not as many as at the kick-off party of the PCT. I like meeting other hikers, but too many is not good either, I thought to myself.
On the way back I bought a first aid kit and new trekking poles and shoes. The Altra Lone Peak 6, which I got in a sale, are a bit too big, but I think my foot will swell up from all the walking anyway. At the hotel I stole all the toilet paper, so I had the most important things together.
My main meal for today was supposed to be mashed potatoes with dehydrated beans, onions and chips.
Somehow I still live in the German time zone. Every day I can’t keep awake until after 8pm and then I’m wide awake again from 3am. This was also the case on the day when my shuttle was supposed to take me to the trailhead.
Arizona Trail Shuttle to the trailhead at the Mexican border
First I had to refuel the rental car and bring it to the rental station. Unfortunately, refuelling was difficult, as I could only pay at the petrol station and not at the pump, as is usually the case in the USA. But I can remember darkly that I have always had this problem.
When I told the lady behind the counter that I wanted to fill up for $60, she asked twice and when I filled up the Nissan again for $35, I knew why. Fuel in the USA is still a lot cheaper than here.
It was only a stone’s throw to the rental car station and I was there a little earlier – luckily Ken, my chauffeur, was there too, so I was off straight away. After getting in, I was pleased to see that there were two other hikers on board. This meant that the price of the shuttle for me was only $70.
Border Monument 102 Southern Terminus Arizona Trail
The hiking on the first day on the AZT was quite strenuous. We started at 2000 m and then walked down to the border to take a photo of the starting point in Mexico. Then we went uphill, back to the starting point at the car park and then on to 2823 m!
I didn’t miss the chance to run the extra mile up Miller Peak. I had already worked up most of the altitude anyway, and after all, it is more than twice as high as the highest mountain I can hike at home in the Harz mountains.
After the ascent, there was a snow-covered path on the other side of the mountain. The one on the photo is the harmless part, later it became unpleasantly slippery. In between, I came across a bathtub that serves as a water source in the middle of the forest. Otherwise, the rest of the day was rather uneventful, but beautiful.
What was not so beautiful – the pitch of my new tent, which I had never pitched before. This took more time than expected at dusk around 6pm.
In total I saw 7 other Thruhikers walking the Arizona Trail today.