Boo. So this return to hiking wasn't as smooth as desired. I was unable to get a ride to the trailhead from the end of the bus route, so I had to tack nine more miles onto my day. 5 of them flat, 4 of them a grueling climb on pavement. I ended up not even making it to the trailhead before dark and had to camp on the side of the road in a wind tunnel apparently. Sadly sleep was not easily found, and I had a restless night being thrashed by huge gusts of wind. The moon was pretty though!
I tried to rally a better attitude for the morning, and almost did for the first few miles, until the climbing started. 6000 feet of climbing. With a pack filled with water. About halfway up, I caught a glance of Tucson, and saw the storm clouds building. The valley floor was quickly shrouded with the smog-y haze so indicative of rain. Exposed and around 6000 feet with another 2000 to climb, I cranked some tunes and started to haul ass. Thankfully I made it over the peak and dropped into some marvelous pines that comforted me amidst the cracks thunder ripping around me. Having just made a wrong turn and taken an extra half a mile, I was feeling fairly low, and no amount of Mumford & Sons could help me now. Exhausted and feeling defeated, I decided to rest and consult maps, secretly hoping I was further along than I knew I was. Just as I sat there realizing I was further back than I hoped, I started to feel the clouds spiting on me. Small harmless drops that indicate more to come. It was still early in the day, but I could see a nice fire ring and campsite right next to me and figured I would "check it out." Well it was splendid. Perfect camping among elderly pines, and a little rock cave complete with fire pit and enough overhang to shelter me from rain! In likely the fastest pace I moved all day, I had a tent pitched and dry wood harvested. I built a lovely "one flick of the bic" fire and watched the skies open up and let loose. My little tent performed immaculately, as expected, and after an early dinner, I tucked in with my book and got the best 12 hours of sleep I had had in a long time.
The miles the next morning were much better, whether from a change in sleep, attitude, or weather. I rolled into Summerhaven to one of the friendliest post offices, got my resupply box, and chowed down on a corn beef hash-wich and maple bread pudding. (shout out to Sawmill Run Restaurant!) Spirits are high again in a way only a full belly and thoughts of downhill miles can do.