Amphitheater Lake

Amphitheater Lake

Distance: 5 miles (one way) Difficulty: Strenuous Best time of year: Summer, early Fall Last hiked: 2015 October The Amphitheater Lake Trail is the most challenging of the three most popular hikes in the Tetons. While many casual hikers will check out Inspiration Point and Taggart Lake, experienced hikers don’t mind the 3,000 foot elevation gain to a spectacular alpine …

How to Successfully Thru-Hike the Arizona Trail

Exploding Meteor over Coconino Rim

The Arizona Trail (AZT) is a rugged, challenging 800+ mile thru-hike that stretches from the border of Mexico to the border of Utah, and is riddled with challenges such as extreme heat, freezing temperatures, snow, blowing sand, lack of water, consistent elevation change, and many stinging and poisonous critters. It also traverses through some of Arizona’s most spectacular landscapes that …

Day 52: Jacob Lake to Stateline Campground

Stars over Northern Kaibab Plateau

The plan (which as we’ve learned means nothing) was to head out from Jacob Lake, then find a scenic spot to camp several miles before the Stateline Campground to get some final views before completing the Arizona Trail. I woke up and was excited to see sunlight coming in through the window. All the weather looked like it had at …

Day 51: North of the Grand Canyon to Jacob Lake (again)

Spruce Trees over Arizona Trail

I thought I was ready for today, but the weather once again threw me a major curveball that would require some pretty amazing trail magic to overcome. I knew today would be rough. The forecast had called for a lot of rain pretty much all day, so when I woke up to snow showers, I wasn’t terribly surprised. I assumed …

Day 50: Jacob Lake to North of Grand Canyon National Park

Rainbow over East Rim Viewpoint

The plan was to hitchhike back to where I left the trail and pick up where I left off. This wound up being much more difficult than I expected it to be, or even than it needed to be. I was up early and well rested and so I said farewell to Josh before heading out on the closed highway …

Day 49: Grand Canyon North Rim to Jacob Lake

Aspen Grove in Snow Storm

My plan for this last remaining stretch of the Arizona Trail was to take it slow and easy. There was one 20 mile day in there, but with hardly any elevation gain anywhere for the remainder of the trail, it would be pretty easy. Except I forgot to account for weather, so today went way off plan. I was up …

Day 48: Phantom Ranch to Grand Canyon North Rim

Geologic Layers of the Grand Canyon

I slept better last night than I’ve slept in a long time, and that includes the motel stay in Tusayan which was quite comfortable. I was going to need the rest too. I underestimated the climb out of the canyon (the Grand Canyon, no less), and got completely lost once on top about permits and where to camp. With my …

Day 47: Grand Canyon South Rim to Phantom Ranch

O'Neill Butte

Though putting last night’s plan into action this morning was technically successful, there were a few glitches. First, the only reason getting up at 4am was a better option than sleeping in was because the hole(s) in my sleeping pad are still eluding me. As a result, getting up seemed like it’d be better than waking up on a hard …

Day 45: Coconino Rim to Tusayan

Grand Canyon from Coconino Rim

My feet were beginning to complain again, particularly the left, which has had trouble adjusting to life on the trail. It’s about a half size smaller than my right foot, the latter of which is doing quite well. Lefty however, has been getting too cooped up lately in two socks, which worked great to distribute the comfort more evenly, but …

Day 44: Babbitt Ranch to Coconino Rim

Arizona Trail Passing Rocky Ledge

The Coconino Rim was just over 20 miles away. I had visions of this area being ripe with campsites all along the rim overlooking the eastern edge of the Kaibab Plateau below, as well as the Grand Canyon carving its way toward the area. Surely there had to be one good campsite like that within the first few miles of …

Day 43: Cinder Cones to Babbitt Ranch

Arizona Trail Sign on Dirt Road

There’s a section of the Arizona Trail that’s become infamous for its lengthy dirt road walking. It’s through this stretch that water is scarce and interesting features even less so. Having not looked much into that particular area, and with few photos of it, I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there. Would it be 50 miles …

Day 42: Snow Bowl Road to Somewhere Amongst Cinder Cones

Bismark Lake Below San Francisco Peaks

Every now and then, I feel as though a thru-hiker deserves to feel a little sluggish and grumpy, the former causing the latter. Such was the case this morning after Gizmo and I had a fantastic breakfast by trail angel Hannah. I suppose though that this was just the culmination of the last few days of not really being all …

Day 41: I-40 to Snow Bowl Road

Thru-Hiker at Schultz Tank

There’s definitely been a different mood about the trail that I’ve been feeling, and I don’t like it. I can’t tell if I’ve just grown tired of the monotony of the forest, or if I’ve just let myself become preoccupied with overly distracting thoughts, but I’m simply not feeling the enthusiasm of the more mountainous sections, and I want that …

Day 40: Flagstaff to Somewhere Between Walnut Canyon and I-40

Sunset over San Francisco Peaks

Yesterday I took a zero day as planned. Cydney had her first hostel experience and then we went for breakfast at the highly recommended MartAnne’s, and it exceeded expectations. We made a run down to Phoenix where I was able to make a few adjustments, such as bringing my hiking poles back onto the trail, before heading back up to …