14.8 miles (71.8 to 86.6)
I hear someone call my name. Or not? I flicker out of sleep, but hear only my tent flapping in a gust of wind. I quickly slide back into sleep, and from inside a dream hear my name again. I wake fully. Dad is calling me, saying the sky is red. Burrowed deep in my sleeping bag, all is dark. I pop out and see that the walls of my tent are glowing pink. I pull on my jacket and shoes and get myself out of my tent.
The sky is on fire! It’s one of the prettiest sunrises I’ve ever seen. I take a few pictures before the colors pale, and then it’s time to start our day.
We walk 5.5 miles down to Scissors Crossing, where we’ll meet my uncle Pete and cousins Josh and Toni. They’re bringing us our resupply boxes, along with some special requests (Chocolate cookies! MSR Cyclone stakes!), and then Pete is going to hike with us to Paradise Valley Cafe. On the way down the trail, we see a bright yellow Scott’s Oriole. We saw one yesterday, too – briefly – but I didn’t get a good enough look to ID it. Gorgeous!
Dad and I arrive early. We sign the hiker log and work on various tasks. Reception here is good. I post photos of wildflowers from this morning’s walk. Dad washes his feet and uses my solar panel to charge his phone. We eat. A few more hikers arrive: a couple section hiking to Warner Springs. A local sheriff shows up and chats with us for a bit. He’s a nice guy, responsible for covering a huge area.
Pete, Josh, and Toni arrive bearing treasure. I offload my Merrell shoes into their car; from here on, I’ll use the Altras. I can’t afford the luxury of breaking in shoes that give me blisters, so this seems like the best decision. I hope I’m right.
Dad and I repack our bags with our new food (suddenly we seem to have way too much food!) and enough water to get to 3rd Gate Cache at mile 91. I take a little extra, just in case; if the cache is empty, we won’t reach water until Barrel Spring at mile 101.
I hike away from Scissors Crossing with 7.5 liters of water. My pack is enormous and weighs a staggering amount. I struggle to get started up the switchbacks, but soon fall into a steady stride.
We walk through a landscape that looks exactly like the one I see whenever I hear America’s “Horse With No Name” – although my mental version isn’t quite this steep.
There’s a different cactus species here, and a tall spindly plant with bright red flowers ripped from the pages of Dr. Seuss. I take photos upon photos. Dad stumbles into a cactus and stops to pick the spines from his pants.
The trail meanders up a mountain, weaving in and out of ravines only to emerge in the next canyon where the view is much the same: trail wandering through a ravine or two, a swatch of trail just visible across the canyon. When at last we reach the far side, and swing around the mountain, we find ourselves repeating the sequence. There is always another canyon around the corner.
We take a few snack breaks and walk until we find a huge camping area with space for many tents. We set up and eat dinner. Then, as the sun sets, wind comes. Big wind. Champion wind. I’m thankful for my new cyclone stakes. With those babies in the ground, I feel confident my tent will last the night.
*More photos on Instagram