First, spend a night in a 15°C sleeping bag when it is 5°C outside because your girlfriend told you you wouldn’t need a warmer sleeping bag and we’ll talk about it again.”
A quick trip to REI’s for a new sleeping bag was necessary, after which we hit the road towards the Saguaro National Park. The problem is, Tucson is big. And very square. Everything is 2 hours away by foot from everything so unfortunately, we couldn’t get to the National Park before darkness surrounded us. And darkness means sleeping, except we didn’t have a place to crash that night. We started knocking around houses, asking if we could spend the night in their backyard. If it worked in Brazil for Aurélie, it should work for us in the States as well, shouldn’t it? Except it didn’t.
Don’t walk into rich neighbourhoods when hoping to sleep in someone’s yard. That is our 2nd best advice.
So we switched strategy and asked for any tips on a place to pitch our tent. One knock and small talk later, Michael Perry Park was our home for tonight.
Some things must be done & re-done & then re-re-done.
Like hopelessly trying to make your backpack lighter. First thing we did in the morning is throw away some stuff even though we had done our bags just two days earlier. And then we left, determined to reach the National Park today. But hitchhiking didn’t work out so well, so we walked.
We walked and complained about walking. Walked. And complained. Walked and complained again. What were we going to do in that park again? Oh yeah, walk.
Imagine you’re in hot Tucson. You’re lost. You’ve been walking for hours. The weight of your already-emptied-twice backpack on your shoulders gets heavier with every step you make. And then, when all hopes are lost, and all possible complaints are made, there you see it on the horizon. You see a giant, bright, supermarket cart.
There it was standing, like a gift from the gods, on our path, even though there was no supermarket to be seen anywhere nearby. That cart became our new best friend for the next 90 minutes as we were pushing it around with our bags in it. And leaving him behind was our first sad and emotional goodbye of our trip.
We finally got the camping permits at the Saguaro National Park Visitor Centre and had to walk another 11 miles to get to the closest campground called Little Sevilla. Another 4 hours of walking. Luckily a good soul picked us up with his huge pick-up truck for a short 15 minute journey.
Little Sevilla, where the only water faucet was our shower, our washing machine, our drinking water source and our kitchen sink. It was like having a whole open air house just for the two of us.
We thoroughly checked if there weren’t any spiders or scorpions near our tent and slept like toddlers at 7pm.
Now, guys. A new day, a new picture.
Take a good long look at that smile because it is soon going to disappear.
We estimated the distance of our hike between Little Sevilla and our first campground called Grass Shack to be 14 miles. We hit the trail at 8.30 in the morning with the hopes of getting there before it gets dark.
Soon the crushing sound of our boots on the the loose gravels was the only sound to be heard and the giant distinct shapes of the Saguaro cacti overlooking the Sonoran desert our only companions.
The heat went up with the hours and miles we walked. While Aurélie’s body released endorphine shots one after another, every step became harder and harder for Kenzi. Breaks became more frequent and longer. Until he couldn’t handle it anymore. The fatigue and altitude had taken the better of him. We had already walked 11.5 miles and still had another 7 to go, getting up higher and higher, until the dry dusty sand of the Sonoran desert gives place to a soft bed of pine needles in the mountains.
As much as Aurélie hated it, we had to walk back. Camping was prohibited there, but the abandoned old windmill called Hope Camp was the only place we could reach before nightfall. We made yet another campfire with the hopes that the great smell of rice & beef stew soup wouldn’t attract the bears, mountain lions or other wild animals from the area.
The next day, after our instant oats & chia morning routine, we headed back to Little Sevilla, and to Tucson, to get better prepared.