Near Solomon Pass, AZ – 3/12
I spread my gear out on the bed last night and picked through everything I hadn’t used. Warm socks, spare shirt, bandana, sun umbrella, extra gloves, leather wallet, they all went in a box to ship home.
I looked over my food and ditched half of it in a box to ship farther up the trail. I’d been carrying it for 230 miles and hadn’t eaten it yet.
I threw away extra maps that the printer had sent me. They’d made two copies for some reason and I hadn’t checked so I’d been carrying doubles. A spare water bottle joined them in the trash.
My pack’s seams eased off from exploding. It almost felt roomy inside. And when I lifted it, I could feel the difference.
I’d been counting the days to Safford. Not just for the food, but for the chance to retool, collect myself, figure out what worked and ditch the rest. It’s been four years since I’ve backpacked and it showed in the box I slid across the post office counter.
But the trick has always been to adapt, adjust, retool, and move on better than you were.
I walked the highway out, stopping for one last meal at a Mexican restaurant that stacked my plate with tamales, enchiladas, and a burrito. Every bite tasted delicious and I drank cup after cup of ice water as I stared at my pack waiting against the wall.
I paid my bill and walked out, down a lonely road toward a tiny airport, but I ducked into a wash and disappeared up the slopes before I ever saw a plane.
Safford glowed in the night and I thought of all the people and cars and noise.
And the food.
Then I turned away to look at the stars shining of the dark shadows of the mountains.