27 November 2017

Arizona Trail; Sky Island Traverse; or a Little of Both?

Wow, it has been a long time since I've posted. And it is not for lack of fun adventure! All I have is the excuse that lack of time permits adventure, but not sharing.

However, I'm looking forward to a new adventure that requires preparation and planning that I'm unfamiliar with. For me, writing and sharing actually helps in the preparation. It helps clarify my thoughts, identify next steps, and the end result is *the plan*.

My thoughts: create a ~15 day backpacking trip in southern Arizona. At this stage, my primary thought is to focus on the Arizona Trail (AZT) - an 800 mile trail from the Mexican border to the Utah border. This trail is amazing - it passes through three of the Sky Island mountain ranges, Saguaro National Park, the Mogollon Rim, and through the Grand Canyon to Utah.

Now, I'm realistic - 15 days and 800 miles with 102,000 feet of elevation gain accumulated is not in my skillset. So perhaps I'll focus on my favorite part of Arizona - the southern Sky Islands?

I'm not out to set distance records (though I admit, the competitive side of me would like to achieve some impressive miles). Instead, I've decided to focus my goal. My most special moments in nature are when I achieve "oneness" with the environment. It is those rare instances when the mind has cleared trivial thoughts, and one achieves a meditative state where existence in entirely in the present.

For me, this most often occurs when I'm observing dynamic elements of nature. Birds, butterflies, mammals, reptiles, or other animals interacting or simply living their lives. My goal: achieve as many of these moments as possible in the period of time I have.

With a goal in mind, I can open that same mind to think differently, as Steve Jobs might say. Why constrain myself to the Arizona Trail? The AZT takes me close to some of my favorite spots - but not to them. Can I add in Patagonia-Sonoita Preserve? San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area? Madera Canyon? Ramsey Canyon? Miller Canyon? Why not.

After a few hours with Caltopo, I have a rough plan.

  1. Cochise Stronghold
  2. San Pedro Riparian Area
  3. Miller Canyon (I'd love to make it to Ramsey Canyon, but the route isn't as direct)
  4. Parker Lake
  5. Patagonia (I'd love to make it to Patagonia Lake State Park, but is walking along that road safe?)
  6. Mt Wrightson and Madera Canyon
  7. Saguaro National Park (East)
  8. Sabino Canyon

Next steps: assemble some lighter weight backpacking gear and create a more detailed plan (i.e. waypoints, water stops, exact route, etc). Check back for updates!