Having just crawled out of the Grand Canyon, tired and thirsty, I noticed the Arizona Trail on the hiking map. “This looks like a cool trail,” I thought to myself, intrigued. At the time, I didn't realise it was one of the 11 long-distance hiking trails in the USA known as National Scenic Trails — and that it was an epic 808 miles (1,300 km) long.
Upon discovering the staggering distance of the trail, I shelved the idea because I didn’t have enough annual leave. But the thought never left me. On the contrary, the longing desire to hike this unique and historic trail grew ever stronger.
Where there's a will, there's a way. And so, a whole seven years later, I find myself standing on the Mexican border. Armed with two trekking poles and with my essentials squeezed into a 60-litre rucksack, I began the two-month adventure.
In this Collection, you can accompany me on the greatest adventure of my life to date; through mountain ranges (because Arizona is not just flat desert), over old and new snowfields, into the paths of rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, past majestic saguaro cacti and into hiker-friendly small towns. And, of course, through the breathtaking Grand Canyon.
Let me take you into the daily life of a Thru-Hiker, where you'll meet lovely, like-minded fellow hikers. Thru-Hikers are exactly the kind of crazy people who walk a long-distance trail from one end to the other in one piece. They count their food by calories — and get as many of them as possible! They don't shower for a week and hike more than 30 kilometres (19 miles) per day. Once you become a Thru-Hiker, you never want to give up the lifestyle.
A few facts: The Arizona Trail runs through the entire state of Arizona; from the Mexican border in the south to Utah in the north. You cross six mountain ranges and climb a total of around 30,000 metres (98,425 feet). On some days, the ups and downs of the trail allow you to experience six of North America's seven climate zones within a few miles. Nights are almost always cool, sometimes around freezing point, while temperatures can easily rise to over 30 degrees during the day. The best season for the desert trail is therefore spring, starting in early to mid-March. If you want to walk it from north to south, autumn is the ideal time. Water is a critical factor at every time of year, making the Arizona Trail one of the most challenging of all long-distance trails in North America. One thing to remember: no matter how clear a stream is, you should always filter your water.
The Collection follows the classic 43 section division of the Arizona Trail, so it's easy to follow or split up as you see fit. I'll show you where to replenish your supplies, where to get water and where the best places are to spend the night under the stars. Of course, you can also hike the trail in individual stages. The towns of Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff are reasonably close and make good entry or exit points.
As Walt Disney once said: "If you can dream it, you can do it.” Do it! Hike your own hike.
Here I am. In the middle of the desert. After years of planning, it's finally here: the day I start the 1,300-kilometer Arizona Trail from Mexico to Utah. Only a narrow path leads from the Montezuma Pass to a rusty barbed wire fence that separates the United States from Mexico. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere is a small metal obelisk - the southern terminus of the Arizona Trail.
Recibe recomendaciones de senderos, montañas y muchos otros sitios increíbles.
Wide, open grassland and a stony path that winds through it. A black shadow appears next to me between the bushes. Whether the cow was more frightened of me or the other way around - probably only she knows. Again and again today I open heavy iron fences that adorn the Arizona Trail symbol. They are not intended as barriers for people, but as portals for the trail. And so that the cows don't run away.
100 miles are done. So around 160 kilometers. On the last few meters just before the twin tanks, I have the feeling that the route is not going to get any shorter. My joints are my bottleneck again today. What is that? I'm actually practiced. Admittedly, the stones and boulders that are served on the Arizona Trail simply cannot be found in Germany.
Due to the proximity to the river, we pack a soaking wet tent in the morning and set off for the ascent into the Rincon Mountains - and into the first of two national parks along the Arizona Trail. We meander over 22 kilometers and a crisp 1,600 meters in altitude from the hot cactus garden over grassland up into the shady, cool coniferous forest.
Days of separation. This section should be the most eventful of the whole trail for me. After the last incredibly beautiful kilometers through the canyon landscape at the gates of Tucson, my hiking buddy has to leave. Time to go on alone. As if that wasn't strange enough, I lose my vital cell phone and camera in a waterfall on the same day.
Despite the sunny weather, an icy wind whistles on the summit of Mount Lemmon. Shortly before Summerhaven, the little mountain village up there, I meet another Thruhiker: LarryBoy. Together we stand with tears in our eyes in front of the pizzeria, whose oven was switched off 15 minutes ago. I try to warm up a can with questionable contents on my wood stove, with little success.
I love the Tortilla Mountains. Not only does the name sound damn delicious - the postcard-perfect landscape also lets me completely forget about everyday life. There are no worries or hardships out here. Just the trail, the amazing view and me. Well and LarryBoy from Utah, with whom I keep talking about this and that. The kilometers just melt away.
Leaving a cozy house is always a bit of an effort with a Thruhike. When Ranger, LarryBoy and I are dropped off at the trailhead after our trip to Superior, our paths get lost pretty quickly. "Hike your own hike" is the motto of long-distance hikers in the USA and means something like: Hike the way you feel right. It could be the pace, the equipment, the food, anything.