We’re hiking the Arizona Trail (AZT)!
We are very excited to begin the Arizona Trail in early March. Joining us on this hike will be our good friend and Triple Crowner Qball. We met Qball while hiking the AT in 2011. He and Beardoh hiked the PCT in 2012 together as well. We fly into Phoenix on the 28th of February with an aim to be on the trail on March 2nd.
The Arizona Trail is an 800 mile trail which starts at the border with Mexico and continues north across to state to the Utah border. The AZT was designated as a National Scenic Trail in 2009 and was officially completed in 2011.
This trail is open to hikers, bikers, and horses. The trail offers a variety of scenery, as it crosses multiple mountain ranges, deserts, plateaus, and even the Grand Canyon. This trail is considered fairly primitive when compared to other long distance trails in the US according to some sources. The trail ranges in elevation from 1,700 to 9,600 feet and we expect to see snow and experience desert hot-hot conditions.
We decided to hike the AZT for a few reasons. A hiker that we met last summer really had some great things to say about the trail and her enthusiasm spurred us to consider it for our next hike. As we look at 2015, we didn’t have a lot of free time. We leave for Peace Corps service in June, and wanted to get a hike in before that time and we are both interested in a hike in the Southwest US. SweetPea hasn’t been back to AZ since she was a young teenager, and Beardoh! has never been. Hiking in a drier climate also appeals to us as well.
A few things we expect to be different about this trail than others that we have hiked:
1. Fewer hikers – On all of the long distance hikes we have experienced, there has been plenty of people. Our anticipation is that the AZT will not be that way. In reading trail journals of hikers who have hiked the AZT in recent years, most remark on only a few hikers that they see, and the authors also note that they often hike for days without seeing other hikers. Very recently, we’ve heard that the AZT is gaining more notoriety. I guess we’ll find out if that means more hikers out there.
2. Navigation – From accounts we have received from friends who have hiked the AZT, it is apparently not as well marked as the other trails that we are familiar with. Even reading on some of the trail journal sites, we see that hikers regularly get off trail. Many comment on using GPS. The ATA (Arizona Trail Association) has a new map set out. We’ve purchased these maps and they look really well done.
3. Water – Outside of some stretches without much water on the PCT, and medium distance water carries on the Tahoe Rim Trail, water has been fairly easy to come by on all of the hikes we have done. We will be relying on the databook put out by the ATA to help us plan our water needs. The databook contains ratings on water sources as well, so we can know whether to completely rely on a source or not. I have a feeling we will be carrying a good bit of water regularly. We plan to have the capacity to carry around 6 liters each.