Arizona Trail hiking path passing a saguaro.My Arizona Trail thru-hike begins in six days. Yikes!

Starting a long-distance hike is always daunting. This one is especially so because I’m not familiar with the terrain or environment, being from the Great White North. It should be comforting that Arizona has been nailed with snow recently. Some mountaintops sport two or even three feet of snow. But I’m from Wisconsin. My trail name is Snowshoe. Snow and cold are no problems for me!

But what IS a problem is camping. Camping in general, and particularly camping in snow. I’m a camping novice. I’ve camped maybe a dozen times in my life. So while I’m learning, I haven’t yet camped in snow. And I don’t WANT to camp in snow. At least not yet. So I dearly hope that all of this snow is on the mountaintops and won’t be at the lower elevations where I intend to camp.

More Concerns About The Arizona Trail

As always, I’ll be hiking with a suitcase and laptop. Well, not carrying them with me on the trail! But I’ll be shuttling them up the trail so that when I get to a town/motel, my bag and laptop will be there. This has been relatively easy to arrange for the majority of the trail. Until the Grand Canyon, that is.

My beloved Great Lakes are great, and the Grand Canyon is grand. The Great Lakes and the Grand Canyon are BIG, people. Really big. A shuttle service will take your bags over the Grand Canyon, but the shuttle service doesn’t start until May. I’ll be there mid-April. Ubers will charge plane fare to take my bag around the canyon and to the next town, Jacob Lake (it’s about three hours one way). Trail angels don’t want to drive that far, understandably. All of the rental car companies in the area (and there aren’t many) have no cars available then. Spring training, perhaps?

So I’m leaving in six days, but I have no idea how I’m going to get my bag and laptop over the Grand Canyon. Maybe I’ll have to wheel my suitcase behind me. Ha! That’s quite a visual. I guess I’ll have to pray to the trail gods that something works out.

Random Last Thoughts

Right now here in Sun Prairie, Wis., we have at least a foot of snow on the ground. Maybe more. The temperatures are predicted to be unseasonably cold for March, and already there are many sub-zero days on the 10-day forecast. (The morning I leave for Arizona, it’s supposed to be -16 overnight. Brr!) It’s hard to picture that when I return in late-April, the snow will be gone, the grass will be green, and flowers and trees will be leafing out.

I’m going to miss Ella, our German Shepherd. I’m going to miss my hubby, Ed, although at least he’s coming to hike with me for a week. I know I will dearly miss eating fruits and vegetables, especially the “big salad” I make for myself almost every lunch. But it will also be fun to eat a lot of Pop Tarts and other junk food!

An old college buddy wrote to me recently that, “You really are living life to the fullest.” That touched me. I’m not quite sure how I got started on this hiking odyssey, but his words rang true. I AM living life to the fullest. I’m embracing everything, even if it scares the heck out of me. And when I die some day, I’ll at least be able to know #NoRegrets.

Hike on!


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©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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