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Azt #2-3, AZ
mini location map2015-01-22
10 by photographer avatarwha
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Azt #2-3, AZ 
Azt #2-3, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Jan 22 2015
wha
Backpack23.50 Miles 3,436 AEG
Backpack23.50 Miles4 Days         
3,436 ft AEG29 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I had to activate my SPOT. I got back ok, but my dreams of a thru-hike died out there.


Day 1 - After leaving my car at the Parker Canyon Lake Trailhead, my sister shuttled me to Patagonia. We had lunch and then I started out from the post office. The road walk wasn't as boring as I expected and went quickly enough. I hiked another 3 miles or so and stopped for the night. My goal was to do 10 miles a day and this was only a half day so that was far enough.

Day 2 - In the morning I woke to a chilly and frosty 17F. A good test for my marmot helium and xtherm pad. I can't say I was warm, but I wasn't shivering. My frozen fingers fumbled around for an hour and a half before I got going. Passed a biker, the only person I'd see on the trail. Other than that, the drone of the drone kept me company. Got water at Gate Spring, which was flowing nicely, during second breakfast. I could have waited for Red Bank Well (the overflow pipe was spouting water) or the spigot at Silver Tank well, brownish for a few seconds then cleared up. Down Under tank had plenty of water, but it was dry near the trail for the rest of the passage. I went a bit past the Canelo Pass trailhead and stopped for the night. With some exploring that made an 11 mile day.

Day 3 - Warmer this morning, about 20F. Another slow start. As I climbed up to the ridge I could see Flower tank had water. On the ridgetop I enjoyed the views south of the San Rafael Valley and north up the Las Cienegas. I passed the high point and thought I can do this. Next time I'll be going north. I dropped off the ridge into Middle Canyon. Rather a steep descent. I stopped at some pools to get water, and my lower back was sore. As I climbed over the ridge to Pauline Canyon, my legs went numb.

---Last January my right leg went numb while on a hike. Within a couple weeks both legs and arms were numb. After a series of tests I was given a diagnosis of congenital spinal stenosis. There was no explanation why it suddenly became a problem. I understand many people suffer significant pain with this. I was lucky, just numbness and muscle fatigue. For a while grocery shopping was an exhausting experience. But I fought back and by the end of the year had over 800 miles and 200,000 aeg. I learned as long as I kept my effort below a certain level I could keep going.---

I stopped for a break and the numbness subsided. Still 10 miles to Parker. I thought if I take it real easy, just a couple more slow miles today, and leave the rest for tomorrow I could do it. I walked maybe a couple hundred yards and the numbness started coming back, and worse, I was losing control of my legs. I fell down. A couple more break and short walks got me to FS 4633 in Pauline Canyon. I knew I'd never make Parker so I decided to bail and take 4633 out to the Canelo road (estimated it a bit over 3 miles) where I might hitch a ride. I made it about 2 miles. I'd rest, then walk as far as I could until I couldn't stand anymore, and the distance got less and less until it was maybe 100 feet. I took a longer break and thought about my options. The 2 miles had taken most of the afternoon. It would be well after dark if I made it to the road. Should I spend the night here. When I tried to stand up and couldn't it was decided. I crawled over to a spot for my tent, rolling my pack before me.

Day 4 - In the morning it was a bit better. Leaning heavily on my poles I could stagger maybe 20 feet before collapsing. I kept thinking, if I sit here longer someone will be out on the FS road, or if I just take a coat and water maybe I could make it out. Finally I gave up and hit the SOS button on my SPOT at 9:20. Just about 2 hours later I heard a motor in the distance, and a minute later "Omaha" was circling overhead. Oh god, they sent in the cavalry. Or at least the border patrol. I waved my arms and they landed nearby. The spotter came over and I told him what was going on. Soon the pilot came over. They were trying to get permission to give me a ride, but the policy is pretty much 'if you're not bleeding or dying, you're not flying'. While we waited we talked about the SPOT. They were surprised I had been waiting 2 hours, they had just gotten the alert. I later found that GEOS had called my phone within a couple minutes of activation. Then Santa Cruz sheriff maybe half an hour later, and about 80 minutes another number out of Nogales. The BP said 'good thing you weren't having a heart attack', but the coordinates were spot on. They came right to me. I had also spread out my tyvek ground sheet which made it easy to spot me. Permission to fly was denied and after a while another BP agent drove up in a truck to take me out to the main road. Where the sheriff, an ambulance, and the Sonoita Elgin Fire Department were waiting.


It's a week later. It is still painful and very difficult to walk so I've rented a wheelchair. At first I felt foolish for hitting SOS, that I could have continued. But in the days after, I realized I would have been crawling, and running out of water quickly. So, I did the right thing. What would I do differently? I'd get an InReach SE with the ability to send text messages of my problem so the response could be proportional to my situation. My plan was to start a thru-hike in March, just like last year. And just like last year, it's obviously not going to happen now, and I'm not sure I'll ever have the confidence again to try it.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Gate Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
flowing for a hundred yards or so down the creek

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Red Bank Well 76-100% full 76-100% full
flowing out the overflow pipe
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