Today we are missing Easter weekend with our families to continue our 40+ days and 40+ nights through the (Arizona) desert.
On Saturday, we continued shuffling our way down the Oracle Ridge Trail, which links up briefly with the AZT for some pretty amazing views. In several sections, the trail was steep and covered with loose rock, leaving Jake's knee sore and his pace at half speed.
We were aiming for the small town of Oracle, 13 miles ahead of our makeshift camp spot. Research of Oracle fortold of abundant trail angels, good food, and comfortable lodging.
We called ahead to the Chalet Village, the recommend hiker hub for the tiny town, and asked if there was room at the inn for our tired feet. The owner, Marni assured us there was plenty of room, and without prompting, she even offered to pick us up from the trailhead.
Jake's pace slowed to 1 mph after he tweaked his bad knee on a rolling rock. "At least we have this view." He said. "At least you're in good spirits." I thought.
We pass the 200 mile mark, and at 4pm we finally made it to American Flag Trailhead, where Marni and her white truck sat waiting for us, our knight on her white horse.
We climbed in, cracked open two ice cold water bottles she had brought for us, and sighed.
Marni is originally from Medina, OH. She is noticeably strong, cheerful, and smart. Her family came by the Chalet Village in the 90s and she has proudly raised her family here away from fast food, and fast roads. She had a baseball cap, long braid down her back, a t-shirt, jeans, and she might as well have a halo.
The Chalet Village is a collection of tiny one room (with a bathroom) A-frame houses. AZT hikers receive a reduced rate. There is free laundry and detergent onsite, town clothes, hiker boxes, wifi, and it's close to good food. For what it's not so close to, Marni and her husband Jim offer free rides.
The thru-hiker community that Jake and I have missed along he AZT seems centered here, in Oracle.
Marni tells us we're the only AZT thru-hikers she has right now, but there is a hiker named "Chosen" who came in today, and tomorrow she has a reservation for "The Prophet."
"On Easter?" I asked.
"Yep, he's coming in on Easter. I didn't even notice that before now." She said, "Do you think it was a prank call?"
We all looked at each other excitedly. "I hope not. I'd like to meet him." I said.
On Easter morning we met Chosen. She is the first female quadruple crowner, which means she was the first lady to thru-hike the AT, the PCT, the CDT and the NCT, that's over 10,000 trail miles alone. She's done the AT twice and many many more "smaller" hikes.
Soon after, The Prophet rolled into town. He hiked the PCT in 2013, and was named the Prophet after he rightly predicted he was due a rattlesnake encounter. His other given name is Noah, and he lives in Vermont where he owns a carpentry business.
The Prophet was escorted by Ally, a section hiker on AZT, and prospective SOBO on the PCT this year, who works from the road creating artsy animal prints.
In the evening we grab dinner and gab. Chosen, is a celebrity of the thru-hiking community, and she's packed with stories that had all of us nodding away, jaw dropping and giggling. We all tell stories throughout the night, and I feel loved, being around folks who share the same passion, the same love of the long hike.
Tomorrow The Prophet will leave Oracle to continue on, and Chosen soon will be moving further up North to continue with her book.