ARIZONA CHALLENGE DAY 13: Packin in, Heading out.

After nearly 2 weeks of rugged wilderness travel Tom and I found ourselves hiking down a winding mountain road to be picked up.  As we moved to lower and lower elevations the flora transformed from 30 foot pines to sycamores, and cottonwoods.  The road followed a trickle of water that turned into a small stream as we walked.

Tom often took the time to stop and tell stories about rattlesnakes he had encountered along this road, border patrol encounters, and memorable times spent out in this beautiful country.

We arrived at what locals refer to as the "well house" after about 4 miles of hiking.  My pace had slowed during the hike down and I blamed it on the weight of my pack.  In reality, I was just exhausted.  The high desert had really taken it out of me, but given me much in return.

Homie Matt arrived at the well house to pick us up at 9 o'clock sharp.  As usual, he had coffee.  Hot coffee!

I've never been a very sentimental person, but driving back down to civilization after spending 2 weeks in the bush made me very thankful.  First, I was thankful for the wilderness that God so lovingly created, and second, for the people that God has placed into my life (Tom, Matt, and a loving, supportive family).

The first thing that I did after arriving back in town was hit up the local doughnut shop which was owned by a Croatian (Edit: Cambodian!) family. When the woman behind the register looked up and saw my face caked with dust, my matted hair, and my sunburned face I saw a look of nervousness in her eyes.  She quickly gave me the doughnuts that I requested while avoiding eye contact.  I'll go back there if I return to Sierra Vista and apologize for the smell.

Tom and Matt dropped me off in my Tucson hotel just after noon, and after snapping a few last photos, we said our farewells.

2 hours after being dropped off I was sitting in a pool, surrounded by palm trees, with my stomach full of doughnuts.  What a change of pace!  It had been a challenging journey, and after 2 of the roughest weeks in my wilderness career I was headed home.