Grand Enchantment Trail
The Grand Enchantment Trail is a route that stretches 770 miles from the Phoenix, Arizona metro in the west to just north of the Albuquerque, New Mexico metro in the east, over the ancestral lands of the Yavapai, Akimei O’odham, Western Apache, Chiricahua Apache, Mescalero Apache, and Pueblos. Instead of following a trail the entire way, the route borrows from both the Arizona National Scenic Trail and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, as well as more local trails, dirt and paved roads, and some overland wayfinding. The elevation ranges from a low of 1,750 feet at the Gila River to 10,770 feet at Mogollon Baldy in New Mexico. This is a much more technical route than either the Pacific Crest Trail or the Colorado Trail, and I’m very much looking forward to the new challenges that will bring.
I’ll be headed eastbound from Phoenix in early April, hoping to finish before it gets hot hot hot in early June. I’ll have company this time around, in the form of Raging Pineapple, my most constant companion on the PCT – she and I hike well together, and I’m looking forward to experiencing the magic of both desert and alpine environments with her once again. We have permits for Aravaipa Canyon, and are looking forward to checking out the Gila Cliff Dwellings along the way.
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail is one of the crown jewels of American long-distance hiking, running approximately 2,650 miles from the U.S.-Mexico Border near Campo, California to the U.S.-Canada Border in Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. It is the second longest of three trails – including the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (~2200 miles) and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (~3100 miles) – that make up the “Triple Crown” of long-distance backpacking. The PCT has approximately 421,000 feet of elevation gain, with the elevation ranging from 140 feet above sea level in Cascade Locks, Oregon, all the way up to 13,153 feet at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.
I hiked northbound from Mexico to Canada from May 4th to September 29th, 2016, for a total of 149 days on trail – just shy of 5 months. My “late” start date meant I was a bit behind the herd – most folks started about a week before I did – but I had plenty of company for the whole trail. I chose to take the side trip to Mount Whitney for sunrise, I walked the rim of Crater lake, and I got to see Tunnel Falls in all its splendor on the Eagle Creek alternate. All that said, I think my favorite part of the trail was Washington, and I’d like to hike it again in an earlier season, to see it in all its splendor (minus all the rain). I think a northbound hike was right for me – I frequently walked downhill thinking “holy shit, this would be hard going uphill” – but now that I’ve completed a northbound hike, I think a southbound hike would be fascinating. I’m looking forward to trying something a little more navigationally challenging for my next thruhike.
I’m doing daily updates for my PCT hike Monday – Friday, until I reach the end of my journey. Then, I’ll be talking stats, gear I used, and about gearing up for my next trek!
The Colorado Trail is one of the shorter long trails in the US, winding 485 miles through the Rocky Mountains. It begins in Waterton Canyon, just south of Denver, and extends West and South to Junction Creek, just north of Durango. The trail has approximately 89,000 feet of elevation gain and averages approximately 10,347 feet throughout its length, with the highest part reaching 13,240 feet. 2014 was the trail’s 40th anniversary.
I hiked South/Westbound from Denver to Durango, starting August 15th, 2015 and finishing September 19th – a total of 36 days. I took the Collegiate West route – the old school Collegiate West over Tincup Pass, which avoided the amazing uppy-downy section that everyone raves about that opened in 2014. I didn’t end up going up Mount Elbert or Mount Massive, which are just off-trail, but San Luis Peak was my first fourteener, and I’m looking forward to many more.