It’s that time of year again for a retrospective of my travels, let’s see where I wandered in 2015! If you’re a regular reader of the blog, don’t worry, I’ve added a lot of new pics from hikes that didn’t get a write up. Click on the links to open the post in a new tab.
I started the year out with a snowy hike on the Arizona Trail up to the High Jinks Ranch in Oracle.
Snowy American Flag Trailhead
Explored some peaks and ridges near Gordon Hirabayashi Campground:
Great spot for a break
Met with other Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors for some dayhiking near Moab. Loved the slickrock and big views and the company was wonderful!
Sandstone Fin and La Sal Mountains
Hiking the slickrock toward Jeep Arch
Bagged a Cat in the Tucson Mountains:
Spine of Cat Mountain
In addition, I went on a speaking tour about my Arizona Trail Trek that took me to outdoor stores, hiking clubs and community groups across Arizona. I did 10 talks in under 6 weeks!
Took a backpacking trip in the foothills north of Catalina State Park on the Baby Jesus Trail and some unnamed routes.
Love those Arizona sunsets!
Backpacking in the Catalina Foothills
Spent my birthday hiking the Sweetwater Preserve with Brian.
Brian out on the trail
Backpacked a loop in the Tortolita Mountains and got to experience the awesome Ridgeline Trail.
Sweeping curves of the Tortolita Ridgeline Trail
Chased Wildflowers on the Arizona Trail from Pickepost to Kelvin, one of my favorite pieces of all. Did some trail maintenance to my passage in the process.
Gila River Canyons
Hiking through the poppy-covered hillsides near Dale’s Butte
Battling spiny plants
Hiked the Arizona Trail from Mexico to Patagonia with Warrior Hike, a nonprofit that puts veterans on the National Scenic Trails for therapeutic purposes.
Warrior Hike- Arizona Trail/Miller Peak Junction at 9050 ft.
The end of March and beginning of April were tough. In 10 days I lost both my father-in-law and my old dog Bailey.
Bailey and Zeus- both gone but the great memories will live in my heart forever.
My 18-year old nephew Chase visited Arizona from Michigan and I got to take him to the Grand Canyon for his first hike. He’s hooked and can’t wait to come back.
And then there was the time I stepped on a rattlesnake and lived to tell the tale (thank goodness it was a cold snake!):
My buddy Bill and his dog Bella and I did the Wilderness of Rocks Loop in the Catalinas. That was one happy water-soaked Lab!
Love the Wilderness of Rock! Photo by Bill Bens
I joined Warrior Hike in the Grand Canyon and enjoyed showing my favorite place to the veterans in the program.
A perfect day for a hike- 7 miles and 4700 ft. down the South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch
A perfect day.
Fun with headlamps!
The International Trails Symposium was held in Portland and I was part of a presentation about outdoor therapies for veterans. I took some time to explore the area and backpacked from Eagle Creek to Whatum Lake and down to Cascade Locks on the Pacific Crest Trail. A gorgeous loop filled with waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. My favorite part was carrying a mere half-liter of water, what a concept for a desert rat!
Presenting at the International Trails Symposium about my work with Warrior Hike
Tunnel Falls- a magnificent place to be!
Into the Mist
Ducklings at Trillium Lake
Time once again for river season with Arizona River Runners– I decided that this would be my last summer guiding. I will forever cherish the time I got to take people hiking and boating and teach people about the Canyon.
Lee’s Ferry Sunrise
I got a fun little hike in to O’Neill Crater near the ARR warehouse, complete with a small cliff dwelling and tons of rooms and pottery.
Walls on the summit
My friend Carrie was nice enough to teach me how to ride a horse and we took her Arabians out on the Arizona Trail.
Viewpoint on the ridgetop above Oak Tree Canyon
At the end of the month, little Stu joined our family. It sure was empty without any animals in the house!
More river trips and horseback riding. I got to ride on the Las Colinas passage of the AZT, a piece I had helped build. Such a different perspective riding high on a horse!
Riding Las Colinas
I had my last trip of the season on the river, bittersweet to leave. I will miss living in the Grand Canyon, sleeping on the beaches of the Colorado River. I plan on devoting time to exploring more on foot.
I put a GIF together (sorry it’s a little choppy) from a bunch of pictures that were taken from the other boat of me driving Hermit Rapid at 22,000 cfs – watch the 35-foot boat disappear into the massive waves!
Cheering at the end of Hermit Rapid at 22,000 cfs, the most fun on the whole river!
Giving an archaeology talk at the Whitmore Pictographs
At the Local First Arizona Rural Policy Forum, I participated in a well-attended presentation about trails and communities. It’s so great for me to see how the idea of trails as an economic driver for small towns has really become popular in Arizona. It’s a big part of my Gateway Community Program that I’ve developed since 2011 for the Arizona Trail. I got to paddle the Verde River near Clarkdale and had a wonderful time on the water.
Taking a break to enjoy the view upstream
Summer is the time to head for the high country and I did a hike on the Aspen Draw in the Catalinas with my friends Silver and Leigh Anne and her mini-donkey Jasmine.
Jasmine, Leigh Anne and Silver on the Aspen Draw Trail
August 15th, the hottest day of the year- it hit 110 in Tucson but I stayed cool canyoneering the 7 Cataracts of Willow Canyon. Russ and I took our time and spent the whole day rappelling, scrambling and swimming. So glad I finally got to see this beautiful canyon.
Willow Canyon- photo by Russ Newberg
Russ on the 3rd rappel in Willow Canyon
Took a hike on the Arizona Trail down Oracle Ridge, which was covered in wildflowers from the abundant rains.
I went to Chicago for a visit with family and paddled the Kishwaukee River- we saw a bald eagle fly downstream right overhead!
Paddling the Kishwaukee River
We had a very successful Arizona Trail Day weekend in Flagstaff and had the Arizona premiere of the movie Unbranded. I highly recommend it, the story of 4 men and 16 mustangs who ride from Mexico to Canada. They used the Arizona Trail for part of their journey and the cinematography is incredible.
Back to Portland for the American Long Distance Hiking Association-West 20th Annual Gathering, but first I joined Grant Sible from Gossamer Gear and friends for a 4-day backpacking trip in Olympic National Park. We hit fall colors on the High Divide Loop- a tour of alpine lakes and rainforest.
Got lucky with beautiful views of Mount Carrie with blue skies on our side trip to Cat Peak
Fall Colors and Mount Olympus
Hiking above last night’s lake
The ALDHA-West Gathering was so inspirational, I got to see a presentation by Trauma and Pepper about their PCT winter traverse and many others.
Pepper and Trauma talk about their PCT Winter Traverse
Gave my Arizona Trail talk, there was a lot of interest in the room and I hope we’ll see many of those folks on the AZT in the future. Also got to see Anish days after she set the Appalachian Trail speed record, what fun to be a part of such a dynamic group.
My friends got married at the Nordic Center in Flagstaff and Brian and I hit the Aspen Loop/AZT for some fall color.
Fall Color on the Arizona Trail north of Snowbowl
I did a canyoneering loop down the East Fork of Lemmon Canyon- a wonderland of giant granite boulders and waterfalls. The final rappel was into the “punchbowl” of Lemmon Pools.
Russ in a granite cave
Giant granite boulders in East Fork Lemmon Canyon
Wilderness of Rock- photo by Russ Newberg
Gorgeous sunset and sliver of moon over Thimble Peak
My favorite part of October was finding little Roscoe at Pima Animal Care Center. He was 3 months old with the most adorable little brown face and gigantic paws. Can’t wait till he’s big enough to be my backpacking buddy!
Roscoe- 3 months old
Roscoe and his buddy Stu
First hike in the Tortolitas
Oh Grand Canyon…how I’ve missed you! Spent six days solo backpacking from Tanner to Grandview along the Escalante Route and Tonto Trails. Only saw one other person the first five days, it felt like I had the whole Canyon to myself.
Redwall Overlook on Tanner Trail
Morning at 75-Mile Saddle Camp
Outrageously good rainbow over Unkar Rapid
Dramatic light on Wotans Throne and Vishnu Temple
On Thanksgiving I hiked to the south side of Sombrero Peak, Peak 3263- a fun little bushwhack.
Hiking up to Peak 3263
Micro Chicken’s Thanksgiving dinner
Took a hike on the always-attractive Baby Jesus Trail to round out the month.
Fall comes late to Southern Arizona and I did a Sabino Canyon -Bear Canyon loop to catch the color.
Went for a fall hike in Cienega Creek. Ash trees were the best in the drainage, with some cottonwoods and sycamores still hanging on.
Tried a new loop near Catalina State Park- a route that connects Alamo Canyon and Buster Mountain was a fun puzzle to follow.
Saguaros and Leviathan and Wilderness Domes
Witnessed my friends Kathy and Ras Vaughan complete the first known Yo-yo (up and back) of the Arizona Trail– what an accomplishment!
Completed- the first known Yo-yo of the Arizona National Scenic Trail!
Planned on Christmas and end of the year hikes but got sick with the flu instead. Oh well.
2015 was a year of change and transitions. Some years are tougher than others and this one didn’t come easy- I am looking forward to 2016.
Now for the big news…I decided that I am going to section-hike the length of the Grand Canyon over the next couple of years. I will be connecting a line- some on the south side, some on the north- from Lee’s Ferry to Pearce Ferry. The total mileage is somewhere around 600, depending on what routes are taken and there is no trail for most of it. To date, only 27 people have walked through the canyon and of those, only three women. Most of the route I will be taking will be tough bushwhacking and scrambling through one of the most remote, wild and extreme places on the planet.
Grand Canyon Overview Map
To date, I’ve hiked from Tanner to Elves Chasm, minus the Gems, for which I have a permit in the spring. The most exciting news is that I am taking the month of October off to hike a big chunk of the Canyon! I am currently figuring out what section I will be doing and who will be joining me. As much as I enjoy my solo time, safety comes first and I’ll feel more comfortable with someone else there. I haven’t felt this kind of excitement since I first heard about the Arizona Trail.
It’s eight years since I started blogging for my first hike of the Arizona Trail and six on this site- thanks for reading and giving me someone to share my stories with. I wish for good fortune and exciting adventures for all in the new year!