Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Exhausted on the G.E.T.

We tore ourselves away from our luxurious stay a Jeau and Charlie's home but not before they served us a gourmet breakfast of blue corn, blueberry pancakes served with prickly pear syrup and prickly pear candied, Arizona pecans with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and hot coffee. Charlie drove us to the trail head, giving us a tour of the canyon en route. We love Aravaipa Canyon and in the hot, dry days leading up to it we each fantasized about the numerous swimming possibilities and lush shade trees awaiting our arrival. One of the quirks of a long distance hike is the we don't always arrive at each place at an optimum time. Our swimming fantasies were thwarted by a cold rain that accompanied us as we sloshed through the creek. Even in the rain, the canyon is a stunning place. This perennial stream makes for a fecund riparian area. While in the canyon we met Bill, a 68 year old hiker also following the Grand Enchantment Trail. He is one of only 5 hikers, including us, that we know of out here this year.

From Aravaipa Canyon we entered the Santa Teresa Wilderness. We both agree that we have never felt more remote anywhere else we have traveled. This area is rarely traveled due to difficult access issues. Because of this, the trail ranges from faint to non-existent. We spent three rugged days of hiking by following rock piles and deteriorating flags marking our way. While camped in an old corral our water filter gave up the ghost while trying to purify water from a stock tank. We had emergency iodine tablets to get us through but had to make the decision to take an alternate route around the Pinaleno Mountains (The Grahams) and get us into our re-supply town of Safford. From Safford we could deal with the filter situation. We have since learned that the G.E.T. founder had to also bypass Mt. Graham because of snow conditions. Our filter inconvenience now seems fortuitous. The alternate route, however made for a 24 mile dirt road walk that destroyed our already fatigued bodies. As tough as the wilderness hiking was, the monotonous and exposed road walk was physically taxing. Walking on a road proves a special challenge due to lack of variation in steps and we are both complaining of some tendinitis issues. All this makes us happy that we are now hiding out in a hotel room for a much needed day off! From here we will leave with rested bodies and restored spirits ready to learn what awaits us.... stay tuned.

GET - photos from week 2

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


We seem to always forget how challenging the beginning of a long hike is. The body is adjusting to the rigors of long days and heavy packs. Sleeping on the ground requires some getting used to and the complete immersion in nature is a pleasant shock. We have each had a couple of small blisters on our feet and assorted aches and pains. New to us on this hike has been large patches of heat rash all over our bodies! Ahh, the romance of it all. Just about makes you want to grab your pack and head off into the woods.

This last section had us traversing southbound 70 miles of the Arizona Trail before breaking off and heading east. We were hiking on new trail that did not exist when we hiked the AZT in 2001. Along the way we met 4 different AZT hikers heading north on their own quests. Our rattlesnake count is up to 13 and the Gila monster count now stands at 5. Through the White Canyon Wilderness we were blessed with a desert tortoise sighting. We attempted two different crossings of the Gila River which proved unsuccessful due to high water levels and strong flow. Even though we didn't get across the river the dip was refreshing on a very hot day.

We are excited to be entering Aravaipa Canyon, one of our favorite places in Arizona! We are spending tonight with our generous hosts Jeau and Charlie, who live in the canyon. They have a beautiful sanctuary and have welcomed us warmly. We sat on their porch this afternoon watching the rain come through. Jeau made us her famous Mammoth Mesquite Chocolate Swirl Cookies, yum! We will head up through the Aravaipa Wilderness in the morning but it has been a nice break here today letting our bodies heal a little. Our next stop is still 7 days from here.

Thank you for the comments, it is nice to hear from friends and helps us feel connected!

GET - photos from the first week

Friday, April 16, 2010

Grand Enchantment Trail - Superstitions

We have successfully traversed the Superstition Wilderness section but we had to earn it! Rocky overgrown trail made for extremely slow going (our daily mileages were 5, 12, 17, 14) but we were rewarded with incredible scenery, wildflowers, knee-high grasses and lots of water (even managing a couple of skinny dips). We were also honored with two Gila Monster sitings (and three rattlesnakes). Unfortunately, this mid-80s era computer won't allow me to upload any of my photos.

Our hiking partner J-Box left after just 45 miles. The Grand Enchantment Trail - it's not for everyone!

To our Arizona readers: Get out for a hike! This spring is not one to be missed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Grand Enchantment Trail - Food Prep

With less than 36 hours before departure, we are putting the final touches on our food prep and resupply boxes. Lori felt so confident that she was on top of it that she baked a pie for the Pie Party tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Grand Enchantment Trail - What's for Dinner?

Have you ever struggled with what to cook for dinner? What if you had to figure out what you wanted to eat for the next 48 dinner's? Some restrictions apply; The dinner needs to be prepared in a single pot. It needs to be light enough to carry with up to seven other dinners in a backpack. It should have a high calorie count and taste delicious. This is the challenge I'm currently faced with. We are striking out next week on a two month backpacking trip along the Grand Enchantment Trail. We have done this kind of thing enough to have our favorite meals that account for half of the requirement. Rice and Beans and Mac and Cheese remain perennial favorites. Most of the food is precooked and then dehydrated to save time and stove fuel. I'm anxious to test some new creations. Some of the crazier pursuits include making my own bulgur wheat. I cooked whole wheat berries and then dehydrated them. After they were dry I course ground them and voila, bulgur! To take the craziness to the next level I'm attempting to make kishk. Kishk is a Lebanese ferment of yogurt mixed with bulgur wheat. It tastes like strong, musky cheese (it certainly smells like that). After it is fermented it will be dried and added to flavor and thicken certain meals. A friend at the CSA gave me a recipe and spice mix for Indian Saruu which I made and dehydrated - yummy! So now we know what's for dinner. Bon Appetit and Happy Trails!

We've got company!

Our friend Justin (JBox), who we met on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2008, has decided to join us for the first 200 miles of the GET. He quit his job as lawyer to go hiking - now that's dedication!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Grand Enchantment Trail - Shakedown

So we did our first (and only) shakedown backpacking trip into the Catalinas. We had beautiful weather, plenty of water and, except for a few minor tweaks, our gear worked like it should. The main problem was our bodies - lots of pain! Our only training has been dayhikes and cycling - neither of which prepared us to throw on 30lbs of gear and hike fifteen miles a day. Not much we can do about that now. Guess we'll have to get in shape on the trail!