I packed and took breakfast at the hotel. This was probably the only hotel night I felt good about purchasing. I bought a lighter for my camp stove from the Sinclair Gas Station in town, which had a sweet late middle aged woman properitor and apparently also had an inhouse cafe. It smelled like cedar chips.
The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was everything I hoped it would be. I vowed to do more research and figure out better entrance points into this beautiful, but as yet mysterious place.
I passed through Glenn Canyon and pulled into a lot make a press of coffee. I had half a mind to recite some Ed Abbey aloud, but instead headed into Arizona peaceably.
The Arizona highway became characteristically rugged. I stopped to refuel at the Sinclair Station at Gap, on the Hopi / Navaho reservation. I ate an ice cream sandwich and regretted not buying the local paper.
Mt Humphreys and the San Francisco Peaks were ever present on the horizon as I inched closer to Flagstaff.
I got there with just enough time to grab a coffee, a memory card for my voice recorder and toothpaste. I also managed make a summit attempt on Mt Elden.
I could feel the elevation from start. Flagstaff is at 7000 ft, and my legs were very heavy off the block. I wore shorts and only brought a fleece hoodie and a light rain jacket, but I did have 1.5L of water.
The rocky, dusty trail was warm and nice for the start, and there were plenty of people around. I only passed people coming back down, as I climbed higher up the mountain, the colder the air bit into skin. I was concerned again.
I pushed hard, at times getting off trail, since it was hard to tell the switchbacks from the rocks at times. But after a go long huff in the shade of the mountain, I came upon the summit ridge, the sun. and a grove of Aspen who had yet to regain their leaves.
There was an old man here descending, and a younger trial runner in only shorts and a dog were racing up the last half mile.
Each step after reaching the Aspens was an alarming one. I constantly felt compelled to turn back. I was afraid of being cold primarily, especially considering how I had no pants.
It was a relief to find that I had some phone service, and at this point I did have my SPOT tracker actived. Perhaps that why I managed to defeat that negative talk and summit.
But I did immediately don the hoody and start running down despite my exhausted legs and lungs.
Once down about 1000 feet, I was comfortable in shirt sleeves again and was happily floating down the trail.
Two police officers were headed into the trail as I approached my car. They were friendly, but on a mission that I never quite found out the purpose of. I refueled at the car and went out for a short lap on the “Fat Man Loop”, which went just to the start of the really steep Elden climbing, before turning back to the parking lot. I went up the new way, and discovered a playground of giant boulders and oak trees. It was well worth the effort, although I learned two things.
First, getting back on the trail, my legs were just as heavy as they were when I started. So momentum at altitude takes longer to build. Second, I could feel the temperature dropping as I got higher on the Fat Man. I had pants with me this time, but I could tell the anxiety was building again. Fortunately, I only went up a 600 feet or so, so it wasn’t long enough to trigger a full response.
I ran back to the car, stupidly checked into a hotel room again and went across the tracks to Pizzicleta for dinner.
I stopped by by Lumberyard Brewing for a second beer and a chili before ambling back to my room. I justified the hotel room because of two calls that I had to make that night, both of which kept me up until almost midnight. The campground that I had found along FS 776 would not have had proper service.