Arizona Trail 2019

  • The Preparations Begin (12/26/2018) - How long does it take to prepare for a thru-hike? A long time! I've actually been planning my Arizona Trail (AZT) trip for several months now, and it's still two months away. I bought both the guidebook and the guidebook app, joined the Arizona Trail Class of 2019 Facebook page, read the AZT trail journals of people like Late Start and Hiking Dude – friends I've made while hiking other trails – and am currently sketching out my itinerary.
  • The Start Is Near! (2/28/2019) - How long does it take to prepare for a thru-hike? A long time! I've actually been planning my Arizona Trail (AZT) trip for several months now, and it's still two months away. I bought both the guidebook and the guidebook app, joined the Arizona Trail Class of 2019 Facebook page, read the AZT trail journals of people like Late Start and Hiking Dude – friends I've made while hiking other trails – and am currently sketching out my itinerary.
  • Arizona Trail Day 0: Getting Ready in Patagonia (3/4/2019) - Day 0 on the Arizona Trail. The journey began this morning heading to the airport at 5:30 a.m. The temperature was -10 and we still have a foot or so of snow on the ground. It's hard to believe the next time I'm home spring will be in full swing, the grass will be green and trees and shrubs will be leafing out.
  • Arizona Trail Day 1: Patagonia to Canelo Hills West (3/5/2019) - I headed out from my cute B&B in Patagonia at 8:15 a.m., heading southbound. The first 2.7 miles were along Harshaw Road, so that was pretty easy. The temperature was forecast to be in the 70s, so I wore my favorite shorts with calf sleeves.Then the fun began as I entered Passage 3: Canelo Hills West.
  • Arizona Trail Day 2: Canelo Hills East to Huachuca Mountains (3/6/2019) - Had a great evening last night in my cute campsite. It wasn't too cold at night and I heard some coyotes, but nothing else. Right now it takes me about two hours to get up, eat breakfast, break camp and get going. Let's see if I can get that time down by the end of the hike!
  • Arizona Trail Day 3: Huachuca Mountains to Southern Terminus (3/7/2019) - I was nervous today. I had arranged for a shuttle from Montezuma Pass and the southern terminus back to my B&B in Patagonia. This would allow me to flip back northbound tomorrow.
  • Arizona Trail Day 4: Patagonia to Tunnel Spring (3/8/2019) - I hated this day! Well, that’s not really true. It was just very taxing. I left Patagonia and bumped into Cashmere, Cookie and Tick Tock. It was fun hiking with them for the first hour.
  • Arizona Trail Day 5: Tunnel Spring to FR 4062 (3/9/2019) - Today was a day of highs and lows. Last night was really cold. They predicted 29 degrees. Here’s what I wore to bed: compression sleeves on my arms and legs, running tights, thermal shirt, wool socks, lightweight vest, puffy coat, mittens and a hat.
  • Arizona Trail Day 6: FR 4062 to Sahuarita Road (3/10/2019) - Why do I keep losing things? Last night I realized I didn't have my vest. It's my only coat, really. I have the requisite puffy coat for around camp and wearing to bed when it's cold. But for chilly mornings on the trail, I have my vest.
  • Arizona Trail Day 7: Sahuarita Road to Saguaro National Park (3/11/2019) - This day had such promise! Sandy made me oatmeal with blueberries, plus coffee with heavy whipping cream. Pure bliss! Then she got me on the trail around 8:15.
  • Arizona Trail Day 8: Saguaro National Park Evacuation (3/12/2019) - I heard mid-afternoon yesterday about the rain and snow coming. And how everyone was getting off the trail. Except me, apparently, who didn’t get the memo! 
  • Arizona Trail Day 9: Hunkered Down in Vail (3/13/2019) - Today was a zero day in Vail, at Sandy's home. It rained quite a bit again, plus the winds were very strong. I'm sure it was snowing on the mountaintops. So while I missed hiking, I was glad to be warm and safe. I took the time to revise my itinerary -- an itinerary I'd spent several months creating. It wasn't easy!
  • Arizona Trail Day 10: Confusion (3/14/2019) - Diana dropped me off at the Gordon Hirabayashi Trailhead around 8:20 this morning. The plan was for me to hike SOBO. She and Amy would meet me later on.
  • Arizona Trail Day 11: Another Crazy Day (3/15/2019) - Last night we heard lots of coyotes as we drifted off to sleep. It was pretty cool, although their howls were interspersed with the sound of planes flying overhead. 
  • Arizona Trail Day 12: NOBO Once Again! (3/16/2019) - Another cold, windy night at camp. Amy and I got going just before 8, heading back to meet Diana at Gordon Hirabayashi Campground. We arrived at 9:30, just as planned. 
  • Arizona Trail Day 13: Cold and Hot (3/17/2019) - Happy St. Patrick’s Day! When we went to bed last night, we thought it would be pleasantly cool. Wrong! It got cold again. I had to add layers and my emergency blanket. Reveille was 5:45 a.m. It was still cold  out and our tents were wet. But we got our butts in gear and were on the trail by 7:30.
  • Arizona Trail Day 14: Alone Again, Naturally (3/18/2019) - Another cold night. We heard lots of critters as we were bunking down in our little wash, and I got nervous because I had spilled part of my dinner next to my tent. Would I be harassed by some hungry wildlife?
  • Arizona Trail Day 15: Hitting Kearny (3/19/2019) - Last night's camping spot was great in many ways. It was grassy and flat. There was no prickly shrubbery nearby. And it wasn't too cold overnight! I didn't have to sleep in my coat or hat.
  • Arizona Trail Day 16: Heading for the Tonto National Forest (3/20/2019) - My half-day in Kearny went much too quickly! Last night Diana, Amy and I had pizza at Kearny’s famous pizza joint, and we signed the hiker wall. Amy took the trail name Sherpa, while Diana became Clarence.
  • Arizona Trail Day 17: Superior or Bust! (3/21/2019) - Last night should have been my first epic camping night. I had a nice spot. It wasn't too cold or too windy. So what was the problem? My air pad deflated overnight!
  • Arizona Trail Day 18: Dead Legs (3/22/2019) - I slept great at Al and Maryjo’s. Maryjo made us waffles, blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Yum! They are just too kind. Al shuttled Rambler and Gardener to the trailhead early; Cow Step and I went at 7:30.
  • Arizona Trail Day 19: Highs and Lows (3/23/2019) - I laughed today. And cried. Sigh. Such is this trail! Last night was cold, but I was snug in my tent. I had to pack it up wet again, though. The first few miles were a little rugged, plus had lots of downed or bowed vegetation from the early-March snow. I passed CowStep, who told me the correct spelling of his name. 
  • Arizona Trail Day 20: Roosevelt Lake (3/24/2019) - So here’s the thing about long-distance hiking: You think about food and drink a lot, and you look forward to every “event” — anything different. Today was special because I was going to take the quarter-mile detour to the Roosevelt Lake Marina, where there was food, drink, bathrooms and WiFi. 
  • Arizona Trail Day 21: Tim Is Here! (3/25/2019) - Last night was another cold one. I guess this is the AZT — cold camping nights. I got up early to make sure I’d be at the Pigeon Spring Trailhead around 3, when Tim was coming.
  • Arizona Trail Day 22: Payson or Bust (3/26/2019) - It actually wasn't that cold last night, so Tim and I slept well. After breakfast, he hiked back 3.1 miles to the car while I forged ahead. The plan was for him to drive up to the Hwy. 87 trailhead, then hike in to meet me.
  • Arizona Trail Day 23: Half-Hike (3/27/2019) - My feet felt pretty trashed last night. I was also feeling lucky after meeting so many hikers who had serious ailments that were driving them off the trail. So I decided today would be an easy day. 
  • Arizona Trail Day 24: Heading Toward Pine (3/28/2019) - Tim left around 6:30 this morning. It was sad to see him go. We’d had another cold night, but I guess that’s what every night will be. I headed out by 7:45. After being so awful yesterday, the trail was a dream the first few miles — soft dirt, little swells. Of course, that didn’t last.
  • Arizona Trail Day 25: I Hate Rocks (3/29/2019) - I hated almost every second of today’s hike. That’s because it was 99.9 percent on rocks. Who in the world thinks walking on rocks several days in a row is enjoyable?! 
  • Arizona Trail Day 26: I Really Hate Rocks (3/30/2019) - I'm an optimistic person. A PollyAnna. Someone who walks through life with rose-colored glasses. So I started off today's hike in a great mood. The path was relatively normal! No horrible rocks!
  • Arizona Trail Day 27: A Short Rest (3/31/2019) - My toes were sporting all of these odd, red patches, which I'm sure are from walking on the rocks and my hiking shoes. I also have a monster blister on the bottom of one heel.
  • Arizona Trail Day 28: Up the Mogollon Rim (4/1/2019) - Ed dropped me off at the Pine trailhead around 7:45 with a day pack. Another short stint of slackpacking! He took care of a few errands in town, then drove to the Webber Creek trailhead 8.7 miles ahead and hiked back in to meet me.
  • Arizona Trail Day 29: Over the Rim (4/2/2019) - We broke camp before 8 a.m. and went our separate ways. Ed was headed back to the car, which he would move up to the Hwy. 87 trail crossing. I headed up the rest of the Rim.
  • Arizona Trail Day 30: Happy Jack (4/3/2019) - We woke up this morning just before dawn to the eerie, yet captivating, sound of an elk bugling. The strange sound echoed through the woods and was so cool to hear. 
  • Arizona Trail Day 31: Mormon Lake (4/4/2019) - Brrr! We woke up to chunks of ice in our water bottles and frost on our tent. But it helped to have Ed in there with me. It really didn't feel that cold.Today we both hiked close to 9 miles to the end of Happy Jack. A trail angel had left some Coke and Coors Light at the trailhead, so of course Ed and I had to split a beer.
  • Arizona Trail Day 32: Another Passage Down (4/5/2019) - Happy Birthday, Tim! Our oldest turns 30 today. What a milestone. On our end, Ed drove me back to the Mormon Lake Lodge, then drove ahead and parked the car near the Horse Mesa Trailhead and hiked back in to meet me.
  • Arizona Trail Day 33: On My Own (4/6/2019) - Ed had to catch a morning flight home out of Phoenix, so he dropped me off at the trailhead at 6:30 a.m. Yawn! It was sad to see him go, but I need to finish this on my own, just as I started it.
  • Arizona Trail Day 34: Flagstaff (4/7/2019) - This is the start of my two-day, semi-rest period. Brian got me on the trail before 8 a.m. and I slipped into the cool embrace of Walnut Canyon. The footing was largely good here.
  • Arizona Trail Day 35: Heading Up the Mountain (4/8/2019) - Brian picked me up at 8. I decided against borrowing his snowshoes based on other hiker reports. He dropped me off of the outskirts of Flagstaff at 8:30, plus offered to drop off four boxes at the post office for me.
  • Arizona Trail Day 36: Trials and Smiles (4/9/2019) - This is the hardest stretch of trail — Flagstaff to the South Rim — and I wish it was over! It’s hard because you can’t get off, so it’s 5-6 days of hiking and camping.
  • Arizona Trail Day 37: Babbitt Ranch (4/10/2019) - This trail is trying to kill me. Or make me give up. I will not! Last night was supposed to be 15 degrees, but thank goodness it was much warmer. I didn’t even wear my hat or gloves until close to morning. Today was chilly and windy, just as forecast. I hit the trail shortly after 7.
  • Arizona Trail Day 38: Coconino Rim (4/11/2019) - The wind finally subsided overnight. It was cold, but I was snug in my emergency bivvy. But Justin from REI got it wrong or misspoke. He told me to get into my down quilt, then slide into the bivvy.
  • Arizona Trail Day 39: Tusayan! (4/12/2019) - Another frigid night, but I used my system with the emergency blanket and I stayed warm all night — and no moisture on my quilt! Quick note: I’ve heard planes almost every night on this trail, but tonight the planes and helicopters were almost nonstop. I’m assuming they’re for Grand Canyon tours.
  • Arizona Trail Day 40: Grand Canyon (4/13/2019) - Got up today ready to catch the first shuttle to the Grand Canyon at 8 a.m. First, I got a sandwich for lunch at a local cafe. It was $9. Ouch! A motel employee said everything in town is overpriced because of the GC. He said the local McDonald’s is the third-highest-priced one. In the U.S.? World? Either way, yikes!
  • Arizona Trail Day 41: Into the Canyon (4/14/2019) - What a day! This morning I booked my flight back home for Saturday morning — I’m so excited to finish this long journey! Then it was time to hop on the first shuttle to the GC.
  • Arizona Trail Day 42: Out of the Canyon (4/15/2019) - Today was another crazy one. This trail! Last night, while I was in my tent, a man called out, asking if I needed water, as he had extra. It was my old friend Golden.
  • Arizona Trail Day 43: Blizzard (4/16/2019) - This trail.I left my lovely porch by 6:30 a.m. What a great spot! I heard the wind all night, but I was sheltered on two sides by the cabin and a giant wood pile and was nice and cozy.
  • Arizona Trail Day 44: The End Is Near (4/17/2019) - Ed had to catch a morning flight home out of Phoenix, so he dropped me off at the trailhead at 6:30 a.m. Yawn! It was sad to see him go, but I need to finish this on my own, just as I started it.
  • Arizona Trail Day 45: Success (4/18/2019) - How many items have I lost this trip? Too many! I realized tonight that I’d lost my second spork the same way as the first — I washed it in a motel sink, then left it there to dry and forgot to pack. So tonight I got my second use of the cholla key, this time as a utensil to eat my backpacker meal. 

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