I had a grand plan: to watch the eclipse from Granite Beach in the Grand Canyon as part of a 5-day Hermit to South Kaibab trip. The soggy weather forecast (four days of cold rain) changed those plans, so plan B was to hike to the top of Table Mountain in Pima Canyon, spend the night and watch the eclipse. I have been wanting to hike up Table for a while, it’s a very rugged off-trail bushwhack and I was excited that I was finally going to get to see the top. I didn’t start until 10 am, because I figured that I had all day to get up there.
Since May I have been wearing light hiking shoes instead of boots, but I wanted boots for the bushwhacking through shindaggers and such. They felt strange when I put them on, but I figured my feet just weren’t used to them. My pack was heavy with water for a dry camp and I made good time hiking up the Pima Canyon Trail. Right before the dam, almost 3 miles into the hike I realized that my boot was falling apart, the sole was flapping off and there was a big hole in the bottom of the boot. I was surprised- I hadn’t worn these boots since May but I didn’t remember them being in such bad shape. I realized when my boot fell apart that I wasn’t going to make it to the top of Table Mountain and I was really disappointed. Crushed is more like it- where was I going to watch the eclipse?
I didn’t want to stay near the dam on the Pima Canyon Trail, so I regrouped and came up with plan C: hike out, grab new shoes, drive over to Molino Basin and hike the Arizona Trail south to a place I’ve always wanted to spend the night- the saddle with a great view of Mica Mountain.
When I went to put my boots back on, I realized why they felt so weird- I had mistakenly grabbed the wrong boots! You see, I hiked the whole Arizona Trail in one pair of boots. When I was done with the trail, I felt kind of sentimental about them and instead of throwing them away, I stuck them in my shed. My husband had recently cleaned the shed and the boots migrated back to the house. My new boots look the same as my old boots from the top and I had grabbed the wrong pair. This lightened my mood instantly, how could I get upset over something so silly?
I was feeling a lot better as I was hiking out and about a mile and a half from the trailhead, I saw another backpacker. I was a little surprised- I hardly ever run into other backpackers, and he complimented me on my Golite Chrome Dome umbrella. I saw he was carrying one too. He asked, “Are you Sirena?” and I said yes. Turns out it was long-distance hiker Guino out for an extended trek in the Tucson area. He has hiked part of the Arizona Trail and Grand Enchantment Trail, and all of the Pacific Crest Trail and we’d read about each other’s hikes on trailjournals.com. We found a spot to drop our packs and sat and looked at maps and chatted for a while before we eventually had to part ways. On the way back to the parking lot, I hiked with Renaat from Belgium, who comes to Arizona each year to hike. We had a nice conversation, and toward the end I found out that he was one of the first men from Belgium to climb the North Face of the Eiger in 1977. Two very cool encounters that I wouldn’t have had if I would have made it to Table Mountain.
I went to Molino Basin, hiked south on the AZT as the sun was setting and set up camp on a knoll next to the saddle. I was worried about missing the eclipse, because my phone was dead so I couldn’t set an alarm. Fortunately, I awoke after midnight, the sky was clear and I had an incredible view of the eclipse over my head right from my sleeping bag! It glowed orange and it lasted for quite some time. I would watch it for a while, doze off, then awake and be amazed all over again that I had such an incredible view.
The next morning, I relaxed at the campsite, reading and writing in my journal until I hiked out in the afternoon. Oh, and the boots final resting place? I thought it was fitting that they be thrown out on the Arizona Trail in the garbage cans at Molino Basin so I don’t make that mistake again.
Sorry, no pictures this time, my computer is acting up. Hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year’s celebration and I look forward to sharing my wanderings with you in 2011!