October 1-6, 2019
For continuity sake, I’m providing a brief description of some of the events happening in between finishing the CDT and starting the Arizona Trail. I decided to hike the AZT because Stellar, my good trail buddy from the PCT, is also hiking it this fall. The timing worked out well and I also like the idea of finishing at the Mexican border without retracing hundreds of miles of the CDT. This way I can more confidently say I hiked from Canada to Mexico for the second summer in a row.
I take 6 days off in between, spending about half that time trying to figure out how to get from Grants, NM to Kanab, Utah. Mac graciously invites me to stay with him for as long as I need and so I spend 2 more nights at his house. Dahn also zeros, so we all enjoy each other’s company for another day. We go out to eat at Mac’s favorite restaurants, a diner and an Indian food place. I start to catch up on my calorie deficit, much thanks to Mac.
Finally a plan comes together. I buy a train ticket from Gallop, NM to Flagstaff, AZ. Also, a friend of a friend of Mac’s puts us in touch with a dentist that commutes from Gallop. Since the train gets into Flagstaff rather late, I reserve a bunk at the hostel in town.
I leave Grants in the afternoon on Wednesday and all my logistics go smoothly. I especially enjoy the train ride because I run into another CDT hiker, Legs. We reminisce about the trail all the way to Flagstaff. Incredibly, I discover that we both started at the Mexican border on the same day (April 22nd). I don’t even remember him (since I was not on any of the shuttles) but I wish we had met back then. I really enjoy his company and almost convince him to get off the train with me and hike the AZT. He is going home to San Diego and needs to spend time with family.
The next part of my travels is up in the air as of Thursday morning. Stellar is getting into Kanab on Sunday so I have a few days. I have breakfast at the hostel and exchange darn tough socks at a local gear store…they have a lifetime warranty. I have been wearing the old pair since Leadore, Idaho! They had a few small holes but were amazingly in good shape, considering.
I take a local bus out to the city limits and stick my thumb out. I’ve made up a little sign and hope I get lucky. After only about 10 minutes, a couple towing rafts stop. They can take me part of the way. Austin and Zoe are on their way back from a trip down the Grand Canyon. I so want to do that trip someday…ever since I was in high school and went on rafting trips with my parents and their friends. It’s 20 days on the river and I enjoy listening to the stories the couple have to tell. I love hitching because I get to meet the most interesting people.
They drop me off at an intersection in the middle of nowhere. They have to take the other road towards Colorado, since they are visiting family near Denver. I position myself and within 10 minutes again, I have a ride. The man first asks if I’m allergic to cats and dogs. I see the cutest couple peeking their heads out from behind the back seat…a kitty and a pup, both snuggled together. A guy with such animal friends can’t be a bad person, right? I get in and enjoy a great ride with Joe, who is also on his way back to Montana. He is moving from Tucson and then onto Portugal to live with his girlfriend. I can’t get over how much his two pets in the backseat love each other. They cuddle together and the dog licks the cat often. It’s adorable.
We cross the Glen Canyon damn and stop to look down the sides. I will be crossing the Colorado River for a third time when I hike through the Grand Canyon in a few days. I crossed it earlier this year near its headwaters in RMNP. That seems so long ago and far away.
Joe drops me off at a grocery in Kanab and I have just enough time to grab some snacks before Richard picks me up. My plans getting to Kanab were not set but I have been in touch with trail angels that offered to host me, once there. They follow through with colors! Lynn and Richard have a spectacular house outside of town on the edge of the desert. They give me the grand tour, showing me to my own bedroom and bathroom. It’s such a luxury. Lynn also shares her vegetarian delicacies over the next couple of days. She has a surplus of fresh tomatoes, squash, and beets and comes up with the most incredible culinary creations using these ingredients. Richard is about sick of squash but after months of eating my poor diet, I soak up as much fresh stuff as I can.
Lynn’s delicious creations are as beautiful as she is in person but she’s a bit camera shy.
On Sunday, I go to the BLM office to apply for a permit to The Wave. It’s a rock canyon made famous by pictures on the internet. They have to limit the number of people going there to just 20 per day now, 10 of which are allotted to walk-ins. There are over 100 people in the morning vying for those 10 spots, which are for the following day . They conduct a lottery drawing each morning at 9 am.
I don’t win us 2 of the spots but my intent is to try to secure a ride with one of the winners, since the trailhead is about a mile away from the start of the AZT. I don’t have any luck with that either but it was all worth a shot. Stellar arrives as planned an hour later and we get supplies and pick up packages. I get new shoes, pole tips, and a bunch of other things. We’re ready to start the AZT the following morning. I can’t wait!
And again, much thanks to all the Trail Angels who helped me along the CDT and getting to the start of the AZT. I will spend some more time later recognizing everyone. I couldn’t have done all this without them.