Arizona Trail

“The Arizona National Scenic Trail stretches 800 miles across the entire length of the state to connect deserts, mountains, forests, canyons, wilderness, history, communities and people. This non-motorized trail showcases Arizona’s diverse vegetation, wildlife and scenery, as well as unique historic and cultural sites…. Starting at the U.S.-Mexico border, the path climbs and descends from one “sky island” mountain range to another, gaining and losing thousands of feet in elevation and traversing biomes ranging from desert to boreal forest. Continuing across the Sonoran Desert, the route crosses the Gila River, winds through the Superstition Mountains and the Mazatzal Wilderness on its way to the Mogollon Rim and majestic San Francisco Peaks. The trail north takes travelers across the Grand Canyon through billions of years of geology. Topping out on the North Rim, conifer forests dominate the Kaibab Plateau, eventually giving way to red bluffs dotted with sagebrush as the trail nears the Utah border on the edge of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.”

– Arizona Trail Association


The AZT was my first long hike, selected from the Wikipedia list of long-distance trails for multiple reasons: 1. I had never seen desert before and was interested in hiking through a new ecosystem; 2. I figured it would be relatively idiot-proof for a beginner backpacker, having no problematic snow or fords or prolonged periods of rain; 3. I wanted a long but not outrageously long adventure. I was seeking adventure because, like many others, I had been inspired by someone else – no, not Cheryl Strayed, but Tim Cope, who spent three years travelling on horseback from Hungary to Mongolia and produced the fantastic documentary On the Trail of Genghis Khan.

Seven years after my hike, the trail isn’t what it used to be. This is the refrain, I think, of all long-distance hikers who hiked a trail before it became popular and wax nostalgic for the solitude and the need for self-dependence that one finds before hiker numbers increase. However, the AZT is a stunning trail, and I highly recommend it to backpackers who are willing to carry water and not bathe in stagnant puddles!

The journal below was written during my hike in 2013.

ARIZONA TRAIL JOURNAL

Day 1: Penchant for the Dramatic

Day 2: Introduction to the Gates

Day 3: Incompetence Preventing Littering

Day 4: 43 Kilometres

Day 5: Weird and Fabulous

Day 6: Wusses Unite

Day 7: Climbing Ditch Mountain

Day 8: Many Rabid Animals

Day 9: No Shade, But…

Day 10: Just Me Again

Day 11: Fake Missing Hiker

Day 12: Lizard Friends

Day 13: Collectable Action Backpack

Day 14: But Fool Me 50 Times

Day 15: I Thought That Other Hikers Didn’t Exist

Day 16: Results Are Always More Favourable When Polling Only Oneself

Day 17: Wilderness of Rocks

Day 18: Progress as Slowly as Possible

Day 19: Trail Angels Extraordinare

Day 20: All Your Fears Are Lies

Day 21: Widdle Bit Afraid of the Dark

Day 22: DAMMIT BOB

Day 23: Laughter in the Dark

Day 24: Change in Plans

Day 25: Make Them Less Fresh

Day 26: Blister Beetles

Day 27: Who Doesn’t

Day 28: Would Urine Do

Day 29: Superior

Day 30: First Rattlesnake

Day 31: Menace

Day 32: Celebrity

Day 33: New Wildlife Viewing Goals

Day 34: Death Trap Either Way

Day 35: NOOO My Cream

Day 36: I’ll Get There

Day 37: Beg for Cheeseburgers

Day 38: No Garbage Service

Day 39: Path of Most Resistance

Day 40: Stampede

Day 41: Hitchhiker

Day 42: Just No

Day 43: Picnic Ants

Day 44: RAGE

Day 45: Camping + Lack of Sunburn + Dinosaurs

Day 46: Arrival in Pine

Day 47: Irrelevancy

Day 48: Escaping the Heat

Day 49: Onto the Colorado Plateau

Day 50: No Babies for You Here

Day 51: Poignant and Tragic

Day 52: Still Forest

Day 53: Arrival at Mormon Lake Village

Day 54: Variation

Day 55: Flies Coming out of the Woodwork

Day 56: AZT and the City

Day 57: Cat Lady Future

Day 58: Ambiguous Forested Area

Day 59: Base Camp

Day 60: Can a Cannibal be Likeable?

Day 61: Stink Beetle Killer

Day 62: Managed Fire

Day 63: Pointless Signage

Day 64: E Pluribus Unum

Day 65: $6

Day 66: Walk-In Permits

Day 67: Getting Stuff Accomplished

Day 68: Incredibly Naughty

Day 69: Inside the Canyon

Day 70: Leaving the Canyon

Day 71: I Could Leave Today or I Could Never Leave

Day 72: Backpacker Ken Doll

Day 73: The Falling Piano

Day 74: Screaming Children

Day 75: Turkeysquirrel

Day 76: Emergence

Day 77: Civilization Is in the Other Direction

Final Thoughts

All Entries


Arizona Trail website, managed by the Arizona Trail Association: https://aztrail.org/
Arizona Trail journals: http://www.trailjournals.com/journals/arizona_trail

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