I feel that I have some explanations about my goals hiking in the Canyons and Mountains West.
My goal is to emulate Andrew Skurka’s Great Western Loop hike in sections. Andrew did the most incredible thru hike ever, travelling near to 7000 miles in about six months, on what he calls the Great Western Loop – a melange of the great trails in the west. He is one of my hero’s, right up there with John Muir, Henry David Thoreau and others. Google it for details at http://andrewskurka.com
My design is a far different style of hiking doing the loop in big sections over a period of years. The scope of my hike is a bit longer with more time spent on side excursions and explorations. I will probably hike over 8000 miles by the time I close the loop.
Thus far I have completed the Pacific Crest and the Arizona National Scenic Trails, a traverse of Joshua Tree National Park, a section of The Grand Enchantment Trail between the AZT and the CDT and a section North on the CDT from the Gila Wilderness to Northern New Mexico. This is a distance of about 4500 Miles. Only 3500 miles to go to close the loop!
If you are paying attention you will note that The Great Loop does not include the whole of the PCT and the AZT. I elected to hike the entire length of these trails, just because I was there. To be honest, to say I am hiking the Great Loop is just a way of creating a goal for myself. Also to create a concept for those following my eccentric excursion , a means to view my progress. In reality, just like so many hikers on the long trails these days, I am simply just out hiking a lot of trail.
After a long and lazy winter and spring on the hot spring circuit I am finally back on the trail again. A beautiful girl working trail magic on me, is giving me a ride to the Trail Head at Elk Park near Butte. Heading Nobo to Canada, then floppin’ back to Butte. Then headed Sobo as far as summer and fall will allow. Never stop Gliding On!
What a strange, wild and wonderful trail we tread. I have reached the end of the line for my autumn hiking season in New Mexico. I stopped hiking in Northern New Mexico in late September. Having began hiking from the Arizona trail starting May first, I have been on the trail for a long time. I have only hiked about 900 miles this year, but I spent many days on the ground out in nature. I took long stays in most of the trail towns getting a feel for the local scenes and geography. I met many very interesting and helpful people over the past months, but only two hikers on the GET and handful of CDT SOBO’s between Cuba and Pie Town. Because I often carried extra food, I hiked slow days and spent more time on the trail alone without seeing anyone for days on end. Very meditative. Played my ukelele a lot. Really enjoyed having it along.
Echoed the words of Woodie Gutherie. I ‘m walkin’ down the line, I’m walkin’ down the line. I’m walkin’ down the line. My feet will be a fly’in. Let me tell you bout’ my troubled mind.
I found the Grand Enchantment Trail challenging.I feel I had a successful experience hiking from The Arizona Trail to the Continental Divide Trail. North from there, after the Gila Wilderness and all that wading in the West and Middle Forks of the Gila the route used a lot of road. Most of the route finding was far easier on the CDT in New Mexico then on the Grand Enchantment Trail. (The GET is actually more of just a route.) I found the road walking on the CDT sometimes a relief, not having to worry too much about being off track.
Now I am kind of lost in a different kind of way. I have not decided where to continue on the quest of hiking the Great Loop. In the mean time I have staying at the Oracle Chalet Village Motel. Rather squandering my Social Security funds. I have just needed a rest from camping and have been enjoying the amenities of civilization we take for granted. But then how strange to have a TV and to be following our crazy presidential trail. Yikes what culture shock.
Next year I will start southbound on the CDT from Glacier National Park. That will not be until June or July. I am excited to think about that.
There are Mexican Grey Wolves in AZ + NM, but they don’t prowl with me. Not with the Lone Wolf.
I have changed my hiking mode this season, being very much a Vacilando. I’m soaking in the local culture and the hot springs!
Not much to be inspired about as far as distance and miles, yet the experience has been rich. To use a cliche: smiles not miles. When will I be in NM again?
Now I am hiking North in September Monsoon weather. The monsoon came late, but there are no problems with water sources. The rains filling tanks and pools.
The long and winding road seems to never end, keeps calling and beauty and adventure are ever present.
Lot’s of mountain bikers riding the CDT bike trail. Shared with them at the Toaster House Hostel in Pie Town. Thinking a bike might be the way to go. What do you think?
I have been lounging at the beautiful Gila Hot Springs for the past week. This at the junction of the GET and the CDT. Four hundred miles done after many challenges. North now on the CDT in summers heat. The first 30 miles is up the Canyon of the Middle Fork of the Gila River with over 80 fords. No water issues. The following 90 miles to Pie Town is across arid cattle country with few water sources. Will be using cattle tanks again. Hoping navigation on the CDT will be easier then on the GET.
Hiked about 260 Miles on the Grand Enchantment Trail, from the Arizona Trail at Aravaipa Canyon to the Western edge of the Gila Wilderness – where I am headed next. I have been challenged to the core, hiking in the heat over extremely rough terrain. Dangerous duty. Lost, searching for water, more then found. 65 Miles until I reach the CDT and start North into the Rockies. Still have lots of arid ground to cover in Summer’s coming heat. Hopefully, the snow will be gone by the time I reach the San Juan’s in Colorado.