Arizona Trail – Post Trip Report – Learning to be a Long Distance Hiker

As a newbie to long-distance hiking, I learned many helpful tips from my much more experienced comrade, Joan.

Preparation:

  • I already covered information on our planning in my introductory post, so I’m not going to repeat it here.
  • Basics – maps, data book, GPS track and way points, water report with the knowledge base and experience to use them.

Goal Setting:

  • Establish your start and end dates
  • Determine your daily/section mileage
  • Map out your plan (using a calendar worked best for me)
    1. Record start and end dates
    2. Determine resupply locations and mileage between them
    3. Determine whether resupply locations will be NERO or ZERO stops

Action Plan:

  • Mail resupply and/or bounce box packages (see below for tips)
  • Make motel/camping/transportation reservations and/or obtain permits (revise later as needed)
  • Deliver water to caches (include your name and ETA, add date available for public use, take out all empties)
  • Check weather reports
  • Check water reports

Daily Hiking Strategy:

  • Review profile (I’m slower on long climbs and drink more on climbs and in heat)
    • Tip: Keep a log of elevation per mile hiked and water consumed per mile until you know your requirements
  • Locate water sources
    • Tip: The AZT uses a scale of 0-4, with 0 being unreliable and 4 being reliable; you’ll learn what part of scale is applicable depending on time of year and recent weather
  • Determine mileage between water sources
    • Tip: Keep a log of miles hiked and water consumed per mile to determine your personal needs. The goal is to carry just a little more than you need, but not to be wasting energy by carrying excessive amounts.
    • Tip: Plan to drink a liter at the water source.
  • Review maps and estimate camping location
  • Schedule routine breaks (for us it was every 2-3 hours)
    • Sit and rest
    • Stretch
    • Shoes/socks off, feet inspection and maintenance, soak if possible
    • Eat, drink, hydrate next meal, filter water, etc.
    • Watch clock to manage break time and miles
    • Best to break in shade, better near water
    • Laundry
    • Water gathering

Town Strategy:

  • Retrieve resupply package
  • Shopping (make list while on trail)
  • Laundry
  • EAT!!!! and DRINK!!!!
  • Body & foot care
  • REST!!! (if taking a ZERO)
  • Recharge electronics
  • Check for water report updates
  • Check weather report

Resupply Tips:

Although I don’t care for planning in advance, I’ve found I prefer the weight and taste of my own food; although I’d love to learn to resupply from a mini market. I supplement my resupply with fresh food and snacks purchased locally. I use a flat rate box (regional is best rate) and recommend shipping to a local business (i.e. motel – call first) vs post office (with restrictive hours).

What’s in my box?

  • Breakfast (cereal, coffee and vitamins)
  • Dehydrated meals (packaged in snack size bags, I figure 4-6 per day)
  • Drink additives, including electrolytes
  • Refill items such as ibuprofen, lotion, feet ointment, wet wipes, dry wipes, eyeglass wipes,
  • Plastic bags to repackage town purchases
  • For town stops:
    • Oxiclean (unscented) for presoaking and washing laundry
    • Personal care items such as Q-tips and fingernail cleaner
    • Denture tables (for cleaning water vessels, water filter, toothbrush, etc.)

Bounce Box:

I might send in addition to my resupply box or bounce ahead every couple weeks. I use a flat rate box (regional is best rate), and if it’s not opened it can be forwarded to next stop at no charge. I recommend shipping to a local business (i.e. motel – call first) vs post office (with restrictive hours).

What’s in my box?

  • Batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Medications
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Plastic baggies
  • Repair items (i.e. for air mattress)
  • First aid kit resupply items
  • Emergency preparedness resupply items
  • Toiletry resupply items (i.e. floss)
  • Items that may be needed in near future (i.e. mosquito head net, mosquito repellent)

Tip: many items can be ordered online (i.e. Amazon) and delivered timely to your next town stop. It may be cheaper than shipping forward in a bounce box (i.e. shoes). Amazon Prime is a great investment for long-distance hikers with their two-day free shipping on most items. When we need something, we need it now!

Helpful Links:

Tips and Resources:

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