Day 39: Upper Lake Mary to Flagstaff

Snowy Peaks and Forest

I had reached the point where I was hoping to see something that would break up the pleasant monotony of the forests. Though the hiking was easier and the days cooler, I missed the grand views and overlooks that invited a needed rest for weary feet. Due to the mid-20s low, I wound up sleeping in a bit later than …

Day 38: Mormon Lake to Upper Lake Mary

Elk Below San Francisco Peaks

I heard it as I was falling asleep last night in the Mormon Lake Campground. Hundreds of tiny little collisions on my rain fly as if someone were constantly throwing a bunch of feathers at my tent. It was snowing, and I could feel a bit of it sneaking into my tent and hitting my face. Of course that’s why …

Day 37: Somewhere on the Rim to Mormon Lake

Tree Stumps in Pond

After such an uneventful day yesterday (which is still an awesome day on the AZT), today brought a little action back onto the trail, also partly because I still can’t seem to bring enough food on the trail. There was a much chillier wind this morning that persisted throughout the day, much of which was spent in what is the …

Day 36: Blue Ridge to Somewhere on the Rim

Pine Forest Overlook

Even an uneventful day on the Arizona Trail is still an incredible day by any standards. There were no critters in the meadow this morning as I had hoped. It was pretty, but nothing to keep me from moving ahead. Heading down the trail it was an extremely pleasant morning with cool air and late golden light filtering through the …

Day 35: Washington Park to Blue Ridge

East Clear Creek and Rocky Bed

While zeroing in Pine, several of us were having a great social hangout at Sidewinder’s where E Bunny and Sweep both mentioned the merits of slowing down and not being in such a rush to finish the trail, something I’ve always preached about hiking in general. And yet, on the AZT, I’ve found it difficult to take my own advice. …

Day 34: Pine to Washington Park

Forest Below Sandstone Cliffs

After a long but very enjoyable zero day in Pine, I was ecstatic to be back on the trail. The weather felt great and everything throughout the day felt phenomenal. Noah and I both woke up surprised to find frost on each of our tents. We were relieved we had taken the extra precaution of stashing our Sawyer water filters …

Day 32: LF Ranch to Pine

East Verde River and Riparian Trees

It was Pine or bust. I needed to go 25 miles since I didn’t have enough food to camp for another night. On top of that, it’d be mostly uphill onto large open mesas. And then there were the thunderstorms that were predicted for the day. To be safe, I was hoping to be up and over Hardscrabble Mesa before …

Day 31: Brush Springs to LF Ranch

Stormy Cloud over Oak-Lined Mountains

A six mile day is an easy day. A six mile day on half of a liter of water is a bit more challenging. I got camp packed up as more storm clouds began to consume the clear morning sky. I wasn’t too keen on backtracking up the trail for water, even if it was a short distance, so I …

Day 30: Chilson Camp to Brush Springs

Lifting Fog in Desert Mountains

A 20 mile day would put me at LF Ranch a day early, and it would also reduce the newfound stress around my food supply. While I added in a few extra things since I knew I’d want to eat more, I neglected to factor in that I’d also want to eat more often, in addition to more in general. …

Day 29: Thicket Spring to Chilson Camp

Horseshoe Lake in Desert Valley

When I first moved to Phoenix late in 2004, I was still very new to photography. I was also very new to the southwest. I was eager to explore the area, but in seeing everything with completely fresh eyes, I wasn’t making much progress beyond the city limits. That was when I connected with another photography enthusiast who offered to …

Day 28: Sunflower to Thicket Spring

Oak Forest Covering Mountains

Happy feet are high maintenance. Just when I thought I had them all figured out, I now discover that they’re not getting enough air to dry out properly. This has caused the muscles to become quite sore, making hiking once again a bit difficult. Fortunately it’s only on one foot, and I also know what to do about it. Airing …

Day 27: Northern Four Peaks to Sunflower

Sunset in Arizona Mountains

Funny how an easy day turns into a 20 mile day. I was looking forward to relaxing in the afternoon and doing some laundry, but I didn’t have quite as much time as I was hoping thanks to an error in my assumptions about the trail. I was up and on the trail by 7am, a bit earlier than in …

Day 26: Eastern Four Peaks to Northern Four Peaks

The Four Peaks

Clean socks equals happy feet. Happy feet makes for happy hiking. That was my problem last night. My socks had gotten pretty dirty. Fortunately, despite climbing up the backside of the Four Peaks, I was still able to crank out a nearly 20 mile day thanks to my happy feet. I started hiking after doing my morning routine and the …

Day 25: Pinyon Mountain to Eastern Four Peaks

Dawn over Desert Mountains

A new load of food, and a load of new experiences along the trail. The painful steps of the previous section were beginning to feel like a distant memory, until they started coming back. The day started out with a fantastic sunrise coating the mountains in soft pastel lights, slowly intensifying into a stronger orange, then yellow, then a warm …