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Arizona Trail Journal With Pictures

Arizona Trail Journal With Pictures

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Published by Chet Anderson
Hiking the Arizona Trail
Hiking the Arizona Trail

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Published by: Chet Anderson on Mar 14, 2011
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03/16/2012

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Hiking the Arizona Trail
 
Random Memories of a 68-Year-Old RamblerBy Chet Anderson (aka Gray Ghost)
Arizona Trail - March 27
th
to May 18
th
 
Journals, photos, and more available at: http://www.grayghost.info
 
2010 Arizona Trail Journal
 
1
My passion for hiking continues. I have wanted to do the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) but I wasconcerned about my hiking ability in the desert and in the mountains. After completing theTahoe Rim Trail in 2009, I felt better about hiking in mountainous terrain. I thought the ArizonaTrail (AZT) would be a good test for the desert, my next concern. At nearly 800 miles it wouldnot be a summer-long commitment, yet a major test for desert hiking. After purchasing theArizona Trail guide book, Dan, (my grandson) and I created a chart of recommended hikingmonths that made it appear I could start at the end of February. Then my plans started toexpand. If all went well I would finish up in April; then I would be in shape and in time to startthe Pacific Crest Trail near that trail
s most popular starting time at the end of April. Afteremailing Arizona Trail stewards, I was wisely informed by Fred Gaudet and Gary Horner that mystarting date should be a month later. I then chose the end of March which turned out to bemuch better with plenty of water but still plenty of snow at times. This meant hiking the PacificCrest Trail that same year was no longer possible.So then I thought about hiking the Colorado Trail after the Arizona Trail. I was introduced to theColorado Trail by Mike whom I had met on the Tahoe Rim Trail. He and his wife had hiked theColorado Trail and she sent me a link to her pictures. He said the trail was well marked, withbridges (no streams to ford!), and her pictures showed it would be a beautiful hike. With higherelevations in Colorado there would be plenty of time after finishing the Arizona Trail before Icould start the Colorado Trail. This turned out to be the plan I followed. Because of my concernsof hiking in the desert I sent out an emailto all of the passage trail stewards askingfor any particular information I shouldhave. There was a great response of information and offers of help. Afterreading their emails I felt a lot morecomfortable with my sense of the trail. Mywife Eloise was willing to drop me off inthe desert. My grandson Dan was out of college for spring break and offered tohelp drive. That solved my transportationto the Mexican border.
Eloise and Chet
 But first we headed to Flagstaff where there are two trail routes: one through town forresupplying, and the second going around east and north of town. Doug Thomas, a trailsteward, had given me valuable information on Flagstaff which meant that I could take the trailaround town (still finding resupply spots close to the trail) and not the less desirable onethrough town. Also, there was a KOA near the trail north of town where I could shower and dolaundry before continuing on my hike.
 
2
We stopped in and asked if they would hold a food drop until I hiked back through and picked itup. They were glad to help. So we filled a box to last until the Grand Canyon, the next resupplystop north. This was the pattern that we used as we headed south. At each possible resupplypoint we left a food drop and boxed it up at that time knowing how far it was to the last one wehad left.
Gray Ghost at U.S. Mexico border
 The trailhead for the start of theArizona Trail is at Montezuma Pass.From there, you have to hike 1.9 milessouth on the trail to the border, thenback to Montezuma Pass. Dan and Idid this on March 27 and the three of us spent that night in a motel in SierraVista. I thought this might make the
next day’s mileage over Miller Peak
at
9,050’
easier.I had two goals in mind for the firstday, March 28: one was crossing overMiller Peak that still had snow on it, and two was to be as far north of the border as possible. Iwas given a lot of warnings about people illegally crossing the border. I did not get very far thefirst day. There were many different trails made by the border crossers and I did considerablesearching for the trail after the peak. I finally started to use my GPS (
which I wasn’t planning on
taking along until the last minute). Used right, a GPS would have solved all my problems but myGPS was an older cheaper model
that had limited memory and couldn’t hold all the coordinates
for the trail. My solution was to load the waypoints on my IPod as a document, then take awaypoint reading with the GPS and compare that reading with the ones stored on the IPod. Thecoordinates the Arizona Trail use read to 5 decimal points. Example (33.10583 N, 111.00167 W).If the readings for the next waypoint are larger (33.15732 N, 111.08051 W), then I knew I had totravel north and west. This worked but did not give me precise compass directions or distancesto the needed waypoint. I became fairly competent at this procedure especially after findingout the GPS batteries lasted a long time and I had extras in most of my drop boxes. I thenstarted to play with it to become more experienced when necessary.The first full day I hiked only 8 trail miles, with all my wandering and trying to find the right trail.By the time I gave up and started using the GPS, I had passed Bathtub Spring which is just like itsounds-an old bathtub to catch spring water. I have seen pictures of it and decided that I had
enough and didn’t want to backtrack
so I moved on.

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