Top 10 Questions About Thru-Hiking the Arizona Trail

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1) Where do you sleep?

Along the trail, under the stars! I have a “bivvy sack”, sort of a miniature tent, but really more of an outer liner for my sleeping bag, which I use occasionally if it is cold or there is a chance of rain. I set up camp every day along the trail wherever and whenever I find a good spot. I also carry a small tarp, but no tent.  I take full advantage of the Arizona climate and leave my tent at home.

Santa Rita clothesline
Rare quiet on the north side of the Santa Ritas

2) Is someone following you? Are you hiking with someone?

No. I generally hike alone.  I planned the hike in segments and arranged for supplies to be mailed or dropped at various points along the way. Every few weeks I take a few days to re-connect with home and take care of personal business.

Not everything survives in the Superstitions, somewhere north of Walnut Spring

3) Do you hike on roads?

No. Or I should say as little as possible. I followed the Arizona Trail, inspired by Dale Showalter, and created by the Arizona Trail Association as a fantastic legacy to the state of Arizona, and the west. Portions of the trail follow forest roads briefly, but the vast majority of the trail is through established, or developing trails in the Wilderness and National Forest areas of the state.

Pine Arizona
Late spring storms have been my bane on the Rim, near Pine

4) What do you eat?

I carry enough food for all my needs in my pack. There are no other options. Lots of ramen and mac’n’cheese, plus various snacks and treats, and a few beers.

Celebration at Jacob Lake
The night I finished, dinner at Jacob Lake was great — they weren’t even open yet!

5) How many miles do you cover a day?

It varies depending on the terrain, the trail condition and personal endurance. Generally, I hike in the range of 12 to 18 miles a day. On the Arizona Trail I covered nearly 800 miles in 60 days including logistics and re-supply stops. My highest daily mileage was 35 miles. My lowest, 6 miles.

My Mules have seen a lot
These boots are pretty special, wore them to Obama inauguration too!

6) Do you carry a gun?

No. Do you know how much a gun weighs? Plus, I just don’t want to add to the number of guns in the world. Plus plus, it’s a small comfort to me that I can hike the Arizona Trail without killing anything.

Late afternoon entering Las Cienegas conservation area

7) How heavy is your pack?

To be honest I have never weighed it. I am guessing it weighs between 60 and 65 pounds, depending on whether I am fully loaded with supplies and water. On the first day or two, it may have been much heavier, but I quickly shed unnecessary gear.

my closet
In any case, the pack is definitely lighter at dusk, and on the ground

8) Do you carry a cell phone?

No. This one I am always re-thinking. 99% of the time I don’t need or want one.

Roosevelt Lake Bridge
On ‘the top bridges in the United States’ list

9) Do you have maps?

Lots of them! I love maps. I generally have copies of all the forest service maps as well as topographical maps for the areas I am hiking. I couldn’t do it without maps. At the same time, after the first week of so, you come to depend on your senses more so then maps. Map reading becomes a pleasant evening distraction.

4 Peaks from the Superstitions

10) Where do you get water?

Creeks, springs and tanks along the way. I carry a water filter. I also carry water purification tablets, which I have seldom use because they taste gross. I have also bivouacked a few jugs of water with my supplies sometimes. Generally, there are free flowing sources of water at regular intervals across Arizona. So far we haven’t ruined that with our development.

Havasu Creek

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