The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a continuous, 800-mile diverse and scenic trail across Arizona from Mexico to Utah. It links deserts, mountains, canyons, communities and people. Open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians alike, it was connected across the state in 2011.
On March 14th, I began the Arizona Trail Trek- a journey that will take me two and a half months to complete! Not only will I be hiking the entire Arizona Trail at one time, but I’ve also set up 14 Gateway Community events at fun, funky locations where people can come together to talk trail, eat tasty food, or even enjoy an Arizona Trail Ale. I’ve also opened up certain parts of my journey for people to actually register to join me on the trail for a day hike or backpacking trip.
I became interested in the Arizona Trail (AZT) while on a day hike in 2007 near the town of Oracle. I finished my hike and at the trailhead was a map with a trail going all the way up the state. On the map, there were many of the iconic wild places in Arizona- Saguaro National Park, the Superstition Wilderness, San Francisco Peaks and Grand Canyon- and this trail that I was standing on connected them all! The AZT wasn’t complete at the time, and I began volunteering with the Arizona Trail Association to help build the remaining miles of trail and was on the crew that connected the very last piece across the state in 2011.
In 2008-2009 I hiked the Arizona Trail in sections, mostly solo, over a period of 15 months. I hiked to raise awareness for Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition I have had since being hit by a car as a pedestrian in 1997. I used to be really sick and in pain and unable to handle much activity at all. I tried everything under the sun to help myself and what finally did it was hiking. My first hike of the AZT was an incredible learning experience; I had only gone on two backpacking trips before starting the trail, I was still unsure of my body’s ability to handle such a long hike, and I was alone for days upon end. The journey was challenging and breathtakingly beautiful and hooked me on the Arizona Trail forever.
After that first hike of the AZT, I have been an advocate for the outdoors. We in Arizona are so lucky that we have endless year-round options and so much public land to explore. Despite its designation in 2009 as a National Scenic Trail, many people are not familiar with where the Arizona Trail goes or of its existence at all. By sharing my journey with people online and taking them with me on the trail I hope to educate folks about this amazing trail that connects all of Arizona.
Since 2011, I have been the Gateway Community Liaison for the Arizona Trail Association. I have cultivated a relationship between trail users and the 33 towns along the trail while promoting area tourism to stimulate local economies. In working with many of these small towns, I grew to enjoy spending time in the communities as much as the trail itself.
While on the AZT Trek, I will be doing a mixture of day hiking and backpacking, with rest stops in the Gateway Communities for events and resupply. I can’t wait to sleep outside- there’s few things better than a dark Arizona sky glittering with stars!
Along the way, I will be posting on-the-trail updates via the Arizona Trail Association Facebook and on Twitter using the hashtag #AZTtrek. To see the schedule of events and register for the hikes, visit www.aztrail.org/azttrek.
One of the most common questions I get is “What are you going to eat? A couple of weeks ago, some friends of mine and I got together and packed up all my food for the next two and a half months. I've got resupply boxes for the whole trip that will be sent to me along the way. Not a fan of packaged meals and bars, I make and dehydrate a lot of my own meals for the trail and try to eat healthy. I'm half East Indian and half Italian, so lots of curried lentils and pasta dishes for dinner, oatmeal, couscous, or quinoa for breakfast, and a wide variety of snacks for throughout the day. You burn 3,500 calories a day backpacking, it's tough to get enough calories.
I hope you’ll follow along with me, or even join me on this incredible adventure unfolding over the next few months across the state of Arizona!