The adventure of hiking the entire Arizona Trail northbound began with a 1.9 mile hike south to the southern terminus at the U.S.-Mexico border, as there’s no vehicle access to the border. My friend Leigh Anne and I made the round-trip trek, without my full pack, just a light bag of essentials. We celebrated the start of my trek, had fun making photos and videos, and shared prayers for my journey. Then I began the first steps walking north! We returned to her vehicle, where I powered my phone, and powered my body with food and water for the steep climb ahead.
After saying goodbye to Leigh Anne, I took off with my full pack toward my destination for Day 1, about 3000 feet of climbing in the first 6.5 miles of the trail. It was a tough climb! My training for the month prior had not happened as I planned, after a minor surgery on my arm resulted in me not being able to carry a pack while the incision healed. My strength and stamina would build through the early days of my hike!
I made it to my intended destination at a nice camp spot at 8700 feet. I enjoyed great views into Mexico to the south and the town of Sierra Vista to the east.
I slept well in my tent and cozy sleeping bag, with temps in the upper twenties. After the frantic days prior to departure, I decided to sleep as long as I needed, which would also avoid getting up in the freezing early morning! After sleeping late on Day 2, I enjoyed a mother-fawn deer visit very close to my camp. 🙂 Then some hot black tea, oatmeal with nuts, dried fruit and chia seed, then down the trail a quarter mile to filter water for the day. I got a late start but I sure felt rested!
I met another thru-hiker that morning – we chatted a few minutes and he was off, hiking at a much faster pace than me! The views into Mexico were beautiful as I traversed a high ridge. After my lunch break, four guys came by, doing a day hike of Passage 1. Turned out that I knew one of them, and I enjoyed hiking with them for a bit. They had to move fast to finish their 21-plus mile hike, so they moved on.
About that time I began a steep descent into Sunnyside Canyon. Downhills are about as tough as uphills in my opinion! The day ended with a nice campsite near the bottom of the canyon, although it lacked the early morning sun that I always try for on chilly nights.
Day 3 began with a great water source in the first mile of hiking, so I stopped and filtered water. I also met two more thru-hikers, and two others on a 2-day hike. I love to meet and talk with other hikers! It was an easier day than the first two, which was good because Days 4 and 5 were going to be harder than I expected – it would take awhile for me to develop my “hiker legs!”
Happy in the wilderness on the morning of Day 4
Days 4 and 5 continued with spectacular scenery, and a stunning level of diversity in just 50 miles of trail. From open desert expanse, to forests, canyons, oak grasslands, streams, rolling hills, dry washes – wow is an understatement. It’s a good thing that the landscape, plants and critters kept me captivated, because the last two days were tough! Ups and downs that went on and on, and I’m sure it was challenging because my body was developing the fitness and the rhythm of life on the trail. During the difficult miles I repeated mantras, said prayers, sang, and felt grateful for the experience of this adventure. It was harder than I expected, but my body felt good, my feet were doing great, I was happy with my gear, so all was good!
On the morning of Day 5, I was thrilled to find the water cache that a friend had left for me. Yay!
I hiked 17 miles that day – I was determined to make it to the town of Patagonia and a much-needed shower and day of rest! I got there just in time to check in to the delightful Stage Stop Inn, take a shower, and have a delicious dinner in their restaurant before their 8:00 close.
After five days and 50 miles, I felt I was on my way to finding my rhythm and strength as a thru-hiker!