Day 21: Gila River Canyon to Superior

Picketpost Mountain and Saguaro Cactus

Slow down. Relax more. Don’t push it. After the last stretch, I’m going to remind myself of those more. The morning in this canyon was absolutely remarkable. The light breaking through the clouds and the jagged peaks created never-ending photographic possibilities. Golden light flooded the canyon for what seemed like a much longer time than the average morning. Despite constantly …

Day 20: Gila River Trailhead to Gila River Canyon

Twilight Sky over Dale's Butte

Days like yesterday will happen. Part of the challenge in completing something like this is being able to bounce back and not only keep going, but also remember why you’re on the trail to begin with. The weather this morning had me thinking it could possibly rain. There were some heavy storm clouds to the north with many of the …

Day 19: Ripsey Wash Area to Gila River Trailhead

Sunrise over Sonoran Desert

Today felt like a rough day. Not so much physically but more emotionally, a number of factors contributing to that. Firstly, I think I might have brought a bit of preparation stress to the trail with me after the zero day in Phoenix. Secondly, I brought a lightweight tripod to the trail with me, which, given everything I was able …

Day 18: Black Hills to Ripsey Wash Area

Sonoran Desert Sunset

Tonight, I find myself camped below the buzzing and zapping of massive power lines. Being unfamiliar with the area, I only knew I wanted to be near Ripsey Wash this morning, some 25-30 miles from camp this morning. It’s one of the target areas for some good photography to prevent mining operations in the area. I got an early start …

Day 17: Tiger Mine Trail to Black Hills

Hiker on Desert Ridge

My pack feels heavier. That could be because it’s the first time since Colossal Cave that it’s been fully loaded with food and water. Or it could also be the tripod I brought along after a zero day in Phoenix. The gorilla pod just wasn’t cutting it, so I took my lightest tripod along instead, which still added over two …

Day 16: Lower Oracle Ridge to Tiger Mine Trail

Lower Oracle Ridge

The day started off chilly with a colorful sunrise off to both the east and west, but I had very little time to stop and enjoy it. I was being picked up from the Tiger Mine Trailhead at 11am. That left me needing to hike about 11 miles in just over four hours. I downed the last liter and a …

Day 15: Summerhaven to Lower Oracle Ridge

Tucson at Twilight

I love having the freedom and the flexibility to camp early, waiting for the sun to set in anticipation of earth’s shadow rising together with a full moon. Though it wasn’t as cold as I expected it this morning, it was still pretty chilly. The breeze was even chillier. Being down in a canyon, it’d be a while before the …

Day 14: Wilderness of Rocks to Summerhaven

Granite Boulders and Outcroppings

Sometimes you just need a break from the trail. In truth, I didn’t, but my knee did. I actually got a bit antsy sitting around Summerhaven and was eager to get back on the trail. I woke up right around sunrise, giving my knee a good long rest. I popped out of my tent as some great golden light was …

Day 13: Sycamore Creek to Wilderness of Rocks

Camping in the Wilderness of Rocks

Today was one of the best days of the trip. It was also one of the most disastrous. Put simply, "adventure is out there!" From my campsite, I had a short walk up to a small crest of a saddle where a view of epic proportions opened up in front, and below me. An immense canyon that reminded me of …

Day 12: Redington Road to Sycamore Creek

Sycamore Canyon

Near this time last year, I was driving down from Summerhaven on the Santa Catalina Highway having just picked up the mail drop I sent there for my thru-hike, only to have abandoned it a couple of hours earlier. Near the base of the highway, heading out of the mountains in the Molino Basin, I saw two other thru-hikers carrying …

Day 11: Grass Shack Campground to Reddington Road

Large Desert View

Something definitely changed today. My body feels like it’s starting to adapt to life on the trail. I woke up to a surprisingly pleasant morning. I had expected that at the elevation of the Grass Shack Campground that it’d be a bit chillier, but the air was pleasant and the area felt perfectly cozy. This kept from getting as early …

Day 10: La Selvilla Campground to Grass Shack Campground

Sonoran Desert Spring

The climb up the south side of Mica Mountain was one of the more difficult parts of the trail that I remember from last year. In fact, it was one of the primary reasons I was toying with the idea of just picking up where I left off in 2015. It’s long, steep, brutally strenuous, and I simply wasn’t looking …

Day 9: I-10 (nearly) to La Selvilla Campground

Ocotillo and Yucca Plants

Today was finally the relaxing day I had been looking for, though I’m now waiting for my turn at a water spigot being used by a threatening amount of bees. Prior to heading out I noticed a mule deer very close to my tent. It only took a very subtle amount of stirring to send her bouncing casually through the …

Day 8: Mulberry Canyon to I-10 (nearly)

Rincon Mountains Above the Arizona Trail

I woke up this morning to see a bunny rabbit bouncing around the imaginary perimeter of my campsite. I felt very refreshed after a good night’s rest and was ready to have a mellow day. I started off down the trail after packing up camp, following it down and ultimately out of the grassland hills and into the Las Cienegas …

Day 7: Northern Foothills to Mulberry Canyon

Sunrise over Arizona Deserts

So much for my relaxing day. While the day itself wasn’t bad at all, I wound up going much farther than anticipated. I was shooting for about 15 miles or so today, but as soon as I was ready to start looking for camp, there was nothing to be found. I wound up going nearly 18 miles as a result …