The first hike of 2021 is here. It’s an area I’ve passed countless times over the last 20 years, but one that I’ve only stopped at once before, and that was only for a few minutes.

The imposing and foreboding PicketPost mountain. I arrive just as the sun was peaking over the horizon, and it looked as though Zeus himself was sitting on his throne at the top.

One can try to summit this mountain, circle the entirety on a massive loop trail, or connect with the infamous Arizona trail. For my first hike of the year and in this area, I choose to do the ten plus mile loop.

The area is rugged and remote as I go, and I don’t see another person for at least a couple of miles. When I do run into another human, it’s either a Father and daughter or maybe a Husband and wife. You just never can tell these days. We chat for a spell, and then as we start heading our separate ways, the man turns around and drops this bomb on me….

“By the way, about 1/4 mile ahead you’ll come to a dry creek crossing with a strong smell of cat urine.”

Say what, you say? He isn’t warning me about your household kitty you see, but a much larger cat. Mountain Lion territory. It freaks me out to say the least, but I carry onward.

I come to the dry creek crossing, but can only smell the desert. I make loud noises and hastily move through the area, and luckily no big cat is to be seen. Although I have no doubt that if the cat was in the area, it certainly saw me.

I exit the canyon, using PicketPost mountain as my compass as the trail just fades away. Memories of my time getting lost at the Finger of God are haunting my thoughts, telling me to turn around and go back the same way I came.

I choose to go forward instead, and find a road that leads me seemingly in the right direction, as I start to slowly circle around the great lone mountain.

Slowly, ever so slowly I go, looking for a more official trail that would connect me back towards my starting point. Just keep breathing. Panic never leads one in the right direction.

Eventually I stumble onto the Arizona Trail, and a huge sigh of relief is exhaled. I’m a little over eight miles in, but the last few miles fly on by as I make my last turn around PicketPost and see the trailhead parking area off in the distance.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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