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, heading from Patagonia to Tunnel Spring! Well, that’s not really true. It was just very taxing. So, I left Patagonia and immediately bumped into Cashmere, Cookie and Tic Toc. It was fun hiking with them for the first hour. Cookie gave me all sorts of tips on dehydrating food. Not sure I’ll ever do that, but her meals sound awesome. 
  • 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) - Today I was so excited to be headed toward Saguaro National Park. The day had such promise! Sigh. Sandy made me oatmeal with blueberries, plus coffee with heavy whipping cream. Pure bliss! Then she got me on the trail around 8:15. The day looked to be a good one: 19.9 miles, but mostly flat. Yes!
  • Arizona Trail Day 8: Saguaro National Park Evacuation (3/12/2019) - Big fat evacuation bummer! So 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! Last night the rain began. I was snug and warm in my tent. But it didn’t stop. At 6 a.m. it was still coming down. Not hard, but steady and drenching.
  • 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 at Gordon Hirabayashi (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. Then, after she picked up Amy at the airport, they would meet me at Italian Trap Trailhead late afternoon. Heading south from Gordon Hirabayashi, the trail was a nice mix of ups and downs. There was so much water, though! By noon I’d splashed through at least a dozen creeks. And this is supposed to be a dry trail! 
  • Arizona Trail Day 11: Crazy Day Nearing Summerhaven (3/15/2019) - Last night, nearing Summerhaven, 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. It was cold and windy once again last night, too. Yuck. Why do people enjoy camping? I’m on about day 12 of camping (in my lifetime) and I have not had one good night.
  • Arizona Trail Day 12: NOBO Once Again! (3/16/2019) - Another cold, windy night at camp as we prepare to finally go NOBO again. 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. Diana told us about her exploration of Summerhaven yesterday. How there was still a foot of snow there. How she ran into the West Point Triathlon Team training on their bikes.
  • Arizona Trail Day 13: Beehive Well (3/17/2019) - So today's highlight, if you want to call it that, was hitting Beehive Well. Actually, before I discuss that, let's go back to last night. 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. 
  • Arizona Trail Day 14: Freeman Road and Beyond (3/18/2019) - We had to endure another cold night before today's trek to Freeman Road, an important AZT stop. We heard lots of critters while we were bunked 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? There was an especially worrisome animal that sounded like a dog, but not really.
  • 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, nearing Superior, 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 inflatable sleeping pad deflated overnight! I kept waking up feeling little rocks and such poking me. I hope it just deflated and didn't get punctured.
  • Arizona Trail Day 18: Leaving Al and Maryjo (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) - Today's high: I laughed. And its low: I 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, but it wasn't too bad because I focused on Tim coming today. And anyway, I guess this is the AZT – cold camping nights. So, I got up early to make sure I’d be at the Pigeon Spring Trailhead around 3 p.m., when Tim was slated to arrive.
  • Arizona Trail Day 22: Payson or Bust (3/26/2019) - Today Tim and I will be heading to Payson. Last night we had a nice campsite on a stretch of jeep trail where there are lots of little places to camp. Well, the one bad thing was that Tim kept unearthing beer bottle caps and bits of glass from broken beer bottles. (People, clean up your messes!) But it was nice in that we had an actual campsite.
  • 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 because it was 99.9 percent on rocks. Who in the world thinks walking on rocks several days in a row is enjoyable?! It kills your feet, obviously, and can be treacherous. And you can’t even enjoy the scenery because you’re always looking down to see where to place your feet. 
  • 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) - It's time for a short rest. My toes are 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. So today I planned a 12-miler to let things heal.
  • Arizona Trail Day 28: Up the Mogollon Rim (4/1/2019) - Ed dropped me off at the Pine trailhead around 7:45 a.m. with a day pack to start my trek up the famous Mogollon Rim. This is a 200-mile topographical and geological feature that's basically the southern end of the Colorado Plateau. Anyway, it would be another short stint of slackpacking. Yay!
  • Arizona Trail Day 29: Over the Rim (4/2/2019) - Today's goal was getting up and over the rim. Ed and I broke camp before 8 a.m. and went our separate ways. He was headed back south to the car, which he would move up to the Hwy. 87 trail crossing. I headed up the rest of the Mogollon Rim.
  • Arizona Trail Day 30: Happy Jack (4/3/2019) - We woke up this morning before dawn, camped just inside the Happy Jack segment, 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) - Today's destination was Mormon Lake. The day started off on the frosty side. 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 nine 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) - Today's mission was conquering the Anderson Mesa passage. The day began with Ed dropping me off at Mormon Lake Lodge. The plan was for him to drive ahead and park the car near the Horse Mesa Trailhead, then hike back in to meet me. Unfortunately for me, I had to hike that nasty (rocky) 1.1-mile connector trail back to the AZT, then continue northbound.
  • Arizona Trail Day 33: On My Own (4/6/2019) - I'm on my own again, now until the end. 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) - Today, in Flagstaff, 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, while the temps were nippy the first hour. I was in the shadowy portion of the canyon, so no extraordinary sights.
  • Arizona Trail Day 35: Heading Up the Mountain (4/8/2019) - I was nervous today about heading up the mountain. Brian picked me up at 8 a.m. 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. He even offered to pick me up anywhere if I felt uncomfortable with the conditions. What an incredible trail angel!
  • 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 because it's full of trials! It’s hard because you can’t get off, so it’s five to six days of hiking and camping. Yuck on going so long without a shower, plus carrying food for that long is hard.
  • Arizona Trail Day 37: Babbitt Ranch (4/10/2019) - Today's itinerary called for hiking through Babbitt Ranch. But oh my goodness, this trail is trying to kill me. Or make me give up. But I will not! So, 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.
  • 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, preparing for the trek to Tusayan. But I used my system with the emergency bivvy 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. It’s just so odd to be in the wilderness and hear aircraft. 
  • 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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