Arizona Trail – Ready or Not Here I Come!

By now, you all know I’m all about FIRSTS! This will be the first time I’ve hiked in the desert and the first time I’ve been on a trail longer than 10 days. Pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone will be good for me; banishing my preconceived notions of desert and gaining much needed experiences are my goals.

The Plan:

Start at the Mexico border and spend the month of March hiking north.

Challenges:

1. Elevation and temperature changes

Arizona is flat right? WRONG! Here’s a teaser profile for the first day.

2. Water!

I’m a mountain girl, I don’t like to carry the weight of water (2.2 pounds per liter), nor think of water sources, or worry about the quality of water . . . and I’m a thirsty gal. My body demands plenty to drink.

Thankfully, I’ll be sharing this adventure with Joan aka Rambling Hemlock, who gained lots of desert experience while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2014.

3. Lions, Tigers and Bears – Oh My!

Good thing these aren’t a concern, but what about . . .

Wild Javelina

The Bark Scorpion, the most deadly species in Arizona.

13 species of rattlesnakes in Arizona

 4. Botanicals

I’ll be on high alert for the Jumping Cholla, but just in case I’m seriously attacked, I’ll have full-size tweezers and Benadryl within easy reach.

5. Navigation

We’ll be carrying paper maps and compass

Data points, water report, profile, steward contact and town information is on the back of each map.

Way points and tracks have been uploaded to our GPS devices.

6. THE border

I’m pretending this and the inherent dangers don’t exist (please save your words).

Preparation

1. Gear

For the most part, I’ll be using my standard kit. However, anticipating heavier weight with my water needs, I’ve eliminated a few comfort items (i.e. stove), and replaced 1 liter water bottles with 2 liter containers. 

A little disappointed with my 15.5lb base weight

Pack:

Sleep System:

Tent:

Water & Filtration:

Food:

Clothing:

Electronics:

Toiletries:

  • Lotion & Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste & Floss
  • Stainless Steel Deodorant Bar
  • Medications & Vitamins***
  • Eyeglass Cleaner (1/day)***
  • Daily facial/body wipes, dried (1/day)***
  • Wet Anti-Bacterial Wipes (1-2/day)***
  • Poo Bag (Trowel, Bidet Bottle, Dr. Bonner soap, disposable glove & dried wipe x1/day***)

Emergency Preparedness:

  • First Aid Kit (including Leukotape, gauze, needle, tweezers, etc)
  • Medications (including Benadryl, antibiotics for bacterial infections, etc.)
  • Mosquito Repellent & Net (may bounce after first week or two*)
  • Emergency Blanket & Rain Skirt (may bounce after first week or two*)
  • Mini Bic Lighter & Fire Starter
  • Maps & Compass

Other:

*I’ll have access to a support vehicle occasionally which will be carrying my bounce box (see below for contents).

**As an Ambassador for Gossamer Gear I was provided the Mariposa backpack. All other Gossamer Gear items were purchased by me. I choose to use Gossamer Gear products because they work for me.

***Not considered as base weight since they’ll be consumed and replaced at each resupply point.

2. Food

I’m mostly bringing my standard rations, with a few tweaks to account for going stoveless, and plan to supplement with perishable items as we pass through towns along the way. Of course, we’ll be gorging with yummy food in towns when the opportunity presents.

20 days worth, and a little more than a pound per day worth about 3,000 calories

Breakfast:

  • Granola, cold and dry (instead of oatmeal)
  • Coffee, instant (dissolves and tastes fine in cold water)

Lunch/Dinner Options:

  • Hummus* and Doctor Krackers
  • Sweet Potato/Black Bean/Quinoa Salad*
  • Chili*
  • Turkey/Rice/Vege Teriyaki*
  • Fiesta Chicken Salad*
  • Pasta with Sauce*
  • Trader Joe’s Superfood Pilaf**
  • Trader Joe’s Spelt Risotto**
  • Trader Joe’s Quinoa Duo with Vegetable Melange**

Snack Options:

  • Sweet Potato Mash* and Leather*
  • Mixed Berry Leather*
  • Pudding with Chia Seeds
  • Bars
  • Hard Candy

*Homemade and dehydrated. Will rehydrate with cold water and let the sun provide the heat. (For recipes & tips see this link)

**Dehydrated; will rehydrate with cold water and let the sun provide the heat.

Drink Additives:

  • NUUN tablets (electrolytes)
  • Crystal Light (flavors nasty water)

3. Resupply Boxes

I’ll resupply about every 50-100 miles. What’s in my boxes?

  • Food & Other Consumables (i.e. wipes)
  • Town-Use Items (i.e. shampoo and laundry soap)
  • Maps for the next section

4. Bounce Box

Since I’ll have the luxury of meeting up with a friend’s vehicle occasionally, I’m treating it as my bounce box. As a newbie in the desert and on a multi-week trail, this will provide me with the opportunity for a bit of trial and error.

What’s in my box?

  • Extra Shirt (haven’t decided whether I’ll bring my merino wool or wind/sun shirt)
  • Extra Pants (I’m between sizes and it’ll be nice to switch out)
  • Darn Tough Socks (in case I’m having issues in the desert with my Smartwool layers)
  • Tyvek Ground Cover (in case the Polycro doesn’t work in the desert as a ground cover)
  • First aid kit replacement items
  • Mattress repair kit
  • Sawyer Mini (since I have an extra, why not?)

Ready for a Peek at the Arizona Trail?

New Terminology:

  • Passage – The Arizona Trail uses Passage to divide the trail into 43 sections (the much more familiar term).
  • Stewards – Many volunteers look over the Passages, providing contact information and assistance as you pass through their area.

Resources:

Jan’s Tips:

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43 thoughts on “Arizona Trail – Ready or Not Here I Come!

  1. Oh wow how awesome! Although those jumping cactus things on that guy look terrifyng! Lol. Cant wait to follow your trail! ENJoy!

    • Thanks, I’m hoping to do some regular live blogging. But if for some reason that doesn’t work out, I’ll at least update my facebook and add to my blog after the fact.

  2. Awesome! I think you’ll really enjoy the incredible diversity in the terrain across AZ. I live in central AZ, pretty much right between Phoenix and Flagstaff. I’ll message you my cell # and if you guys need anything when you are close to my area, I’ll do what I can to help. Have a great hike!

    PS, the border issues/safety are greatly exaggerated, I wouldn’t worry about any of that. And for the cholla, a small comb works well to remove them, those suckers really embed themselves in you.

  3. Good luck! That’s a great base weight. I hiked the full trail in one go a couple years back. Amazing, humbling and more mountains than desert! You will love it! Feel free to email me for any tips about the trail.

    • Sounds like we will now get to swap stories midway. Looking forward to meeting you! I’ll be carrying a comb so I can rescue you from any stubborn cholla.

  4. Thank you for the detailed overview of your plans and prepartion. I’m thinking of the next long trail. Excited to follow your efforts. Good Luck.

    Dana Law
    San Diego, Ca

  5. If you meet Heidi from AK tell her the couple from passage 3 say hello and best wishes.
    Good luck and congratulations on your hike.

  6. Hi BeeKeeper. I’m starting a thru hike of the AZT March 16. I hope I run into you guys. I’ll be the guy asking you if you have extra sweet potato/black bean/quinoa salad!
    – Mr. Furious

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