After completing the Pacific Crest Trail on September 13, 2015, I came back down to Arizona to hike the section of the loop between the Arizona Trail and the Continental Divide Trail on the Grand Enchantment Trail. Seemed like a good idea, but I got down here too late and an unseasonably cold, wet and snowy winter has me thinking otherwise. The GET in these sections climbs as high as 10,000 feet and up there the snow is feet deep.
So I am headed to lower elevations and warmer climes to continue hiking in the Mohave Desert. The next link in the loop is a short 100 mile traverse of Joshua Tree National Park. I have been wanting to do this hike for years, so I am quite excited to be on the trail again. That this is a part of the loop is just fitting with my goals.
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.