Thank you to everyone who came to my Arizona Trail talk at Summit Hut last night! It was a good turnout and a great audience. I am currently talking to REI in Phoenix about scheduling a talk there. I will post when I have more information.
When I finished the Arizona Trail in May of last year, I was more sad than happy about it. It was such an amazing adventure, that I didn’t want it to end. Since finishing the trail, I have gone on backpacking trips and dayhikes, but nothing matches the excitement and continuity of hiking a long-distance trail. Fortunately for me, there is one more long-distance trail that runs through Arizona: the 730-mile Grand Enchantment Trail (GET).
The GET is not an official trail, more of a route that uses existing trails and connects them either with travel on 4wd roads or cross-country travel. It will be a bit more of a navigational challenge than the Arizona Trail, but I found that when I hiked the AZT, I enjoyed the passages that posed a bit of a challenge. This trail was conceived and is maintained by only one person- Brett Tucker aka Blisterfree. He has put together a wonderful route and a really detailed website http://www.simblissity.net/get-home.shtml. You could lose yourself for hours and hours (I know I have) looking at all the pictures, videos, and route descriptions. This picture in the Santa Teresa Wilderness always gets me:
I will be starting to hike sections of the Grand Enchantment Trail in the coming weeks, and the feelings of anticipation and excitement at starting a new long-distance trail are almost too much to bear. This is the feeling I was missing when I finished the Arizona Trail. I love all the planning- looking at maps, deciding what the best time of year is to do the different passages, setting up shuttles, poring over the water chart- good times!
The route of the Grand Enchantment Trail actually uses the Arizona Trail for 70 miles between Roger’s Trough in the Superstitions and Antelope Peak north of Oracle. This means that I have a 70-mile headstart, so I “only” have 660 miles to go…
I will be doing 2-4 day segments, similar to what I did on the Arizona Trail. Logistics will become increasingly difficult the farther away I get from my house, but it will be a little while until I have to worry about that. (My dad, who helped me a lot with shuttles on the AZT, was all excited at the prospect of being able to come out from Chicago and help me again.) Quite a bit of the trail is within 3 hours of my house. Thanks Brett!
When I hiked the Arizona Trail, I did it as a fundraiser to benefit the National Fibromyalgia Association. It was a bit of extra work, but I really enjoyed seeing how generous people can be. I am excited to announce that for my Grand Enchantment Trail hike, I will be hiking to benefit Wildlife Rehabilitation in Northwest Tucson, run by Janet and Lewis Miller. The Millers have run the center out of their house for 15 years, and pay for everything out of their pocket, at a cost of over $10,000 a year. They rely on a dedicated group of volunteers and get small donations from time to time from individuals who drop animals off. I have been volunteering with them since June, and it is a really rewarding experience. They deal with mostly birds of all sizes, from hummingbirds to hawks, but they also get skunks, squirrels, rabbits, bats and other mammals that need rehabilitation. One of my favorite animals that spent some time at the Miller’s was a pair of baby bobcats, who have since gone on to another facility.
If you’d like to donate to the Wildlife Rehabilitation in Northwest Tucson, you can either donate online by pressing this button:
Or you can send a check made out to: Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson to Pima Federal Credit Union P.O. Box 50267 Tucson, Arizona 85703. Please put GET in the memo, so they know where you heard about their facility.
In my trail updates, I will be including pictures of birds and animals from the Miller’s rehab. Here’s a picture of a young Harris Hawk that came in this summer. He is slated to be released this spring, when there’s more prey available in the area.