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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jacob MacLeod
Sunday, August 4
Backpacking at Last
I was so excited packing outside the Lake Valley Schoolhouse that I could hardly stand it. I had been told that I would be able to accompany the trekkers for most of the journey, but in reality that wasnít a practical option. This was going to be the first time I would be able to go along with them on the actual trek route. One of the frustrations felt by some of us is that we never get to see the team. Theyíre always tense in the morning getting ready for the rough day ahead, then were gone while we went to the new campsite, then were tired when they got back We missed being able to relax in each others company, so I couldnít wait to be with them for three days straight.

The trekkers had a really rough morning. They had been unable to finish the previous days distance due to the difficult terrain, so they had a very hot day of catching up. I had received word just a few days prior that I would be able to accompany the trekkers on their backpacking trip in the Gila Wilderness, so I was ecstatic, despite the grumbling brought on by their rough start. They got the tricky part out of the way, and were ready to begin the backpacking section by early afternoon. Vipul, Jessica, and I had been riding in the back of the pickup with all the gear, following the trekkers until the backpacking segment could begin, getting more and more excited with anticipation.

Everyone could feel the relief when we reached the trailhead and unloaded our backpacks. The trekkers started joking again, finding that energy they didnít think they had. Those of us who hadnít been walking all day in the sun were raring to tear off down the trail, but Jan reminded everyone to try and stay close together since we werenít sure where we were going to be camping. The afternoon sun was berating us as we headed off into the pines, glad to be together. It was a hot hot hot afternoon as we hiked into the Gila Wilderness. As we started into Ponderosa forest and mountainous terrain, it was easy to forget that we were in the arid southwest, until we saw (or, more frequently in my case, bumped into) the occasional cactus. Not too far along the trail we came upon the little trickle of a stream the trail followed up into the mountains. We first came across it as a three-foot waterfall over some rock and into a small pool. We all took turns getting under the flow to cool ourselves off, and lollygagged for a half hour or so which helped the trekkers out a lot. With yet more renewed vigor, onward we went.
Jessica spotted our next surprise: three Coatimundis above us on some exposed rock. ďCoatisĒ are a peculiar mammal related to raccoons that thrive in the arid southwest. Think of a long-legged, red badger with a long tail. Jan was the only one of us that had seen them before and shared some of his entertaining experiences with us. We stopped and watched for several minutes through binoculars, until the last one waddled out of view around the rocky peak.

Another three-quarters of a mile and we found our camping spot: a beautiful, mostly level, partly open, clearing by our little stream. We were tucked away amid towering ponderosas, and a multitude of other flora that thrived along the life-giving stream. We set up our Coleman tents, and got right down to dinner. Kay, Vipul, Jessica, and I shared one of our fabulous Brunton Optimus Nova backpacking stoves, the same stove that was rated ďbest new outdoor gear for 2002Ē in Outdoor Magazine. The trekkers shared a canister stove, but Iíve always been a big fan of the liquid-fuel variety, and would highly recommend the Nova to anyone considering one.

Iíve actually never used freeze-dried meals any of the times Iíve been backpacking or camping, but after having Mountain House meals for the whole trip, Iím a believer. They were all delicious, and convenient to make. The chicken teriyaki is great, but raspberry crumble is better! Right after we finished dinner, it began to rain so we all disappeared into our respective tents. After it slowed down to a drizzle, we all slowly re-emerged. I was filtering some water in the stream when I was joined by Vipul and Jan. We took turns telling stories and got to joking loudly enough to roust everyone else out their tents. Vipulís rhino story takes the cake, that even got Richard out of his tent. That evening was so beautiful. The sun was just setting, but was hidden from us by the surrounding mountains, so an azure light filtered down through the trees in the perfect stillness that follows such brief showers. When no one was talking, the forest was ghostly silent except for the somber dripping of water from the pine needles, and the jubilant rushing of our creek, which had inflated dramatically after the shower. As beautiful as it all was, we were far too happy being camped after a hard days work to do it justice. Instead, we stood around in the brisk twilight and took turns telling stories and singing songs. It was a beautiful ending to a beautiful day.
for Sunday, August 4
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jacob MacLeod
Jake hikes through the sandstone wonderland of the Wave formation in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Where's your hat, Jake?

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List of All Journal Entries
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Saturday, September 28
Jacob MacLeod
National Public Lands Day
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Friday, September 27
Jacob MacLeod
Together Again!!
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Thursday, September 26
Jacob MacLeod
Our Last Full Day
   >> more...

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Sunday, September 22
Jacob MacLeod
Letter to My Family
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Thursday, September 5
Jacob MacLeod
My Bird List for the Trek
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Sunday, August 18
Jacob MacLeod
I Got It!!
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Thursday, August 15
Jacob MacLeod
Exelsior
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Monday, August 12
Jacob MacLeod
The Lesson at Eagle Peak
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Sunday, August 11
Jacob MacLeod
Snow Lake
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Thursday, August 8
Jacob MacLeod
"Attack of the Nine-Million Flies!"
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Sunday, August 4
Jacob MacLeod
Backpacking at Last
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Friday, August 2
Jacob MacLeod
El Paso and Back
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Thursday, August 1
Jacob MacLeod
A Rocky Place
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Wednesday, July 31
Jacob MacLeod
Day 1 Highlight
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Wednesday, July 31
Jacob MacLeod
The Trek Begins
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Tuesday, July 30
Jacob MacLeod
To the Mexican Border
   >> more...

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Sunday, July 28
Jacob MacLeod
Training Week
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