I have been in Arizona for the winter, prior to my move back to Hawaii. I have done many day hikes here, but did not feel complete without at least doing a two-day overnighter and walking even the tiniest portion of the Arizona Trail. The people who tackle the AZT as a through-hike are beasts. The conditions are not for the weak-hearted and I have no pull to attempt it, but admire those who do. Hearty sons a guns.
Enter Sabino Canyon, where if you hike far enough you reach the Arizona Trail (West/East Fork #24) and a few miles more takes you out to Hutchs Pool. That was my plan, and after talking to wardens, hikers, and Summit Hut employees…thank goodness changes my original route which would have been…uh, undoable. As you will see from the photos, even the “intermediate/difficult” route was above my paygrade, but it needed to happen.
This was my favorite long hike to date. I love the desert almost as much as the ocean and once I rounded the corner and the steep canyon walls cut me off from society for the next 30 hours…I was in heaven. A hot, greuling heaven but nonetheless. I had picked a cooler day to hike out (up) so that worked out well.
About being a camel: First rule of desert hiking-don’t hike alone. HAHAHAHAHA. I can’t imagine any other way. Next. Second rule of course is water. There are few water stops, and my next stop way my intended campsite so I didn’t take any chances and pulled out with 5 liters of water. That was HEAVY. Plus, I was hiking UP. I had plenty of water though to cook dinner and make coffee, and didn’t need to filter creek scum. Yay!
About the trail: Trail?? There was some trail. Some. A majority of the terrain was rocks. Rocks going up, rocks going down…sometimes I looked ahead and for the life of me couldn’t see a trail, but had to climb rocky slopes till I met the trail again. This on a canyon slope…and I’m scared of heights (or falling from them). I am not sure why but I wasn’t afraid this time. Maybe it was the disconnection from any sort of signal (I didn’t care my sat beacon, oops) or the knowledge there was no way I could hike back out before nightfall….but I proceeded by selecting every step and …well, not falling. I want to say it was exhilarating but it was more peaceful and filling.
I got off track a little bit at the end but wound up in even a better place for it. I had never used cairns as a sole means to navigate before, and I think folks had added extra ones to be funny? Creative? Who knows, but the guide mentions three and I passed a lot more than three. All’s well that ends well. There were no other humans on that part of the trail and I was blissfully alone. I also ran into a through-hiker that took a wrong fork and would have wound up in Tucson if we hadn’t bumped into each other. Some of the trail markings are awful and could be easily fixed : /
Video of me trying to find my way with LOTS of babbling. My Cairn Issue
I had a million other things to add but am still wiped out two days later…so this is it for now. BTW, the photos of the rocks and boulders…are the trail! O.O