Just checking in, given all the concerns in the world for balance and grounding and the center. The heart is so mysterious, especially when it can not breathe or see our nature. Yes, searching always, the challenge is so many paths from which to choose. My favorite are the game trails, which is much of what the Arizona Trail, the AZT, began as so many years ago. Concluding the AZT and touching Utah you touch the sky in one long waltz of emotion that begins 60 some days earlier at Coronado National Monument, on Arizona’s southern border with Mexico.
A nearly unquenchable desire to keep walking appears as an enchanting temptress at numerous points along the way, but especially at the surprising end. She is gifted with such persuasion — the Escalante Staircase, the Henry Mtns, and Bryce, basically the Hayduke Trail calls you to continue north up the upper Colorado and then the Green River. You have a choice; we have a choice to make.
Do you read Abbey? He expresses a similar sentiment as the theme of his Desert Solitude — once you have experienced desert solitude, you never stop dreaming of returning. If you are looking for some balance now after so many years of lurching into a career, or is it careering into a lurch, it may be along this path that you are stricken.
Let me tell you about the mountains, and watersheds, and heavenly passes the AZT crosses. It begins with a near summit of Miller Peak in the Huachuca Mtns; within 5 miles you have climbed to over 9K feet with your new pack at its peak weight, and your legs and wind still getting used to the idea. Then you move on through the Canello Hills, and though not mountains they make for some mean climbs. From there you take on the Santa Ritas after a break in Patagonia – beautiful wine country. Then across the cienaga conservation area, fabulous historic ranch country but even better bird watching, we head on to the Rincons, ‘the corner’, the gateway in to the Catalinas and Mt. Lemon and now we are again back at 9K feet.
I know the elevations may sound lame compared to the Sierras or the Cascades, but then again we are ascending from the desert — the change in texture and the contrast is magnificent. And speaking of desert, we now must descend Mt Lemon and cross the Sonoran Desert on our way to the Superstitions, my second home, cross the Salt River watershed and then on to the Mazatzals. And the summer heat chases constantly through these basins. We are halfway now. And there is no stopping us — it’s in our blood.
From the North Peak in the Mazatzals we descend the East Verde watershed and then climb the rim on our way to the San Francisco Peaks, where we gain our first clear inspiration of what’s still to come as we walk out of the W Clear Creek watershed, encountering the aspens for the first time, now as we make camp at approximately 400 miles.
We follow the rim essentially all the way from here to the San Francisco peaks — passing Pine Mountain, Mormon Lake, Walnut Cyn, and hanging for a while in the Grand Canyon Youth Hostel for various essential nourishments. Climbing out of Buffalo Park on the north end of Flag we ascend and skirt the peaks via Shultz Pass, the Weatherford and finally the Kachina Trail.
We spend the night at 9K again watching the sun set through the firs, sleeping well after a day of climbing. We bypass the ski resort but follow the lift trail for a bit as we move around the mountain to the north face where we descend and begin to cross the Babbit Ranch antelope playground on our way to the Grand Canyon. Essentially we are taking the old Moqui Stage route at this point and making about the same time as those passengers made in the late 1800’s.
And then the Grand Canyon! It has been worth it to walk 700 miles to see the Grand Canyon laid out before you — it’s really us that should be bowing at this point, and we do. We descend the Grandview Trial and navigate the rim trails for 30 miles in solitude until we make it to the corridor trails to cross over to the north rim. Once on the north rim, the world changes again and we wake up under 6 inches of snow.
We take pictures of the storms moving through the canyon — purple mountains’ majesty reigns still. And then we move on enjoying the breathtaking views of Houserock Valley and Saddle Mountain from East Rim View and bird watch all the way to the Vermillion Cliffs. It is spring and we are young and the world is too.
We touch Utah. We will never be the same.
I guess I may have gotten a little carried away? The weight melted long ago. I felt concern and wanted to reassure you. You are fine. Me too.