Arizona Rain

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Wake in even rain, between a pour and a drizzle, flint chill. Blink across to where Gary is sorting gear under his tarp, no motion from Cass’s poncho, then tracing the geometer’s lines where my own tarp kept the dirt dry from saturated. We eat in three solitudes not remarking on the increases or ebbs, wisecrack this or that through thwat thwat thwat, slow pack. Gary sets off, then Cass, last me, brave from zipped cinched gore tex.


Mud taxonomic dream of all the kinds that clump stick and grate, and ruts shearing collapsing or filling so the track’s cracks seem live tendrils. Happy to begin with a climb but the high point marks the fiercest pelting, we’ve shortened the distance between us and achromatic sky now firing point blank. Little cover so we pretend, and that it doesn’t suck to be cold and soaked through already in the first hour. Some weather you can feel its transience, this  storm says it has patience, ours lapses first, speedy flight fishtailing downhill to oscillate between focus and detachment over rollers through running arroyos skittering wet deflections sideways between boulders.


A day when the mild ache and near shivering pedals you, eat lunch at four o’clock, when you try for a statue movement on the revolutions so cold clothes don’t shift and close a warm air void. Heavy sludge, stop to clear, push, clogged again, pedal, push.

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At least the cholla and saguaro are green halo luminous with droplets clinging to their spines and the mist roiling, greenshades rarely seen.

P1050066 The plan to resupply and maybe dinner in Superior keeps flipping modality from will to might to won’t and then ends on must. We reach the intersection of the AZT and Telegraph canyon just as it gets dark. Headlamp and Braille, I pinch flat in my zeal. My companions seem far in the flowing ink even if they’re not. We see the lights, it will be another hour and deep slippery ooze, brake squeal luge, fording washes and scooting under a chain that warns motorists not to drive through the knee high flooding before we’ll be eating Mexican food dinner and another hour later still before laughing drying out in a rented room.

4 thoughts on “Arizona Rain

  1. Joe, thanks for the writing and pictures. Sounds like a trip well memorable. Question, how would the Pugsley have handled the trip and would you have taken it had you know those conditions forhand? Thanks, Seth

    • Hey Seth—I lost count of the number of times that I wished for the Pugs on this trip! Cass made short work of the sand and soft mud sections on his Krampus (his skill and fitness played a role in that, too), leaving me perpetually jealous. Don’t get me wrong, the Rob English is the best handling best riding xc bike I have, but for exploration over long days in varied conditions, there’s nothing to compare to a Fat Bike.

      For these quick trips, a week here, a week there, the packability of the English trumps even that, though. I took a cab to JFK, checked the bike with no fee (US Air would have wanted $200 each way for a bike box), rode a cab to the motel on the other end, and that was that.


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