The first adventure of the summer was a backpacking trip in southeastern Arizona. I sent out an open invite to a handful of friends who had mentioned they'd be interested in going sometime, and my friend Alli (Sketch) from camp and Daniel from Cronkite both said they wanted to come!
We set out on a Friday afternoon and drove from Phoenix to Chiricahua National Monument where we camped the first night. Initially, we were going to spend two nights in the wilderness, but when I realized how far away Chiricahua was, I booked a campsite and decided we'd be sleeping there one night.
Alli and I hung our hammocks on two trees at our campsite, and Daniel used my two person tent. It was our first time sleeping in hammocks for a whole night, and it was relatively warm for a while--but once we got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, our cocoons lost their temperature and we shivered through the rest of the night.
In the morning, we were awoken by a park ranger who said we needed to take our hammocks down before we got cited. Funny, there were no signs saying we couldn't have hammocks...
But I digress. We packed up the campsite and headed out for an hour drive up a steep, twisty dirt road to the trail head.
I was following directions to the trail (Chiricahua Crest) from a book my uncle wrote, but what I didn't expect was how high we had to drive to get there. When we parked at the trailhead, it was clear we were at a much higher altitude than expected, and we would be climbing higher still.
The trees along the trail were burned to a crisp but were also showing signs of growth. A campsite was located at the trailhead, but it was closed until further notice from fire damage. I'm going to take a wild guess and say the area we were hiking in was affected by the Horseshoe Two Fire in 2011.
It made for a less green and more brown view, but it was still gorgeous. It felt great getting buried by the trees.
We hiked somewhere around 4 miles from the trailhead and ended up at a clearing in a saddle between two peaks. We set up camp and hung our hammocks while Daniel pitched the tent beside a rock to protect it from the wind.
I didn't know it while we were setting up camp, but we were in an area described as a "sky island"--an area of land so high, it's surrounded by nothing but air at its altitude. This made for a very, very cold afternoon and evening.
Alli and I bundled up in her doublenest hammock while Daniel used my single hammock, and we napped/listened to music/read books and chilled for the afternoon.
At some point, I got out of my cocoon and found Alli and Daniel by the tent where they had started a small campfire. We hung out there, made dinner, and talked about life.
The sun soon set and we climbed to the top of the rock behind which the tent was pitched. From the top of the rock, we saw city lights.
I was honestly a little disappointed by this. Even in the middle of nowhere on a sky island, I couldn't escape civilization. I really just wanted to be away from people and totally immersed in nature, but clearly that wasn't happening on this trip.
But when it comes to escaping civilization for a while, I'll take what I can get.
That night, we ultimately ended up with the three of us in the two person tent. It was too cold to sleep in our hammocks, so we squeezed like sardines into the tent and fell asleep after I read an excerpt of A Sand County Almanac to Alli and Daniel.
Daniel chose "February" as the chapter, which was a very applicable choice. While we were hiking up the mountain, I had noticed a few trees that had been cut down. I admired their rings and thought of all they had lived through before being singed in the fire or cut down to clear way for the trail.
The "February" chapter starts with the narrator telling the story of a grand tree that had lived for hundreds of years until it was struck by lightning. As he saws it down, he tells the stories of the rings in the tree's core and how it withstood human conflict, tough weather, and societal change.
Reading about trees and their lives while surrounded by many tall, healthy trees (we were out of the charred zone) made for a lovely moment on this trip.
We all awoke the next morning, ate breakfast and packed out. The drive back to Phoenix was a bit longer than anticipated, but we stopped in Wilcox to explore abandoned buildings, and stopped in Tucson to eat tamales and look at a book store.
All in all, it was a great weekend getaway from the beginning of Phoenix's summer heat, and I hope to go backpacking with these two (and perhaps some others) again.