If you want to make God laugh, plan something.
Not surprisingly, I’m home again. This time it was because of an injury to my dog. I don’t know how/when it happened, but I discovered a rather alarmingly large gash on my Zuni’s inner thigh. So, I contacted my wife, and she scooped us up. After a brief visit with our trusty veterinarian, Dr. Bastek, we’re on the road to recovery. And, as you might expect, I took advantage of this down time to make some small gear/logistics adjustments.
They’re rather minor so I’m not going to waste time elaborating. However, I AM going to bring you up to speed and try to pass along a little wisdom to anyone planning their AZT hike. As you may recall I had a hiccup a couple of weeks ago; I got that sorted out and hit the trail again a week or so later. Since then, I’ve hiked from Jacob Lake to just outside Flagstaff. The miles have been pretty easy since exiting the Grand Canyon too, which is nice.
When you get to the Grand Canyon, go to the permit officer and tell them you’re an AZT hiker – they’ve gone out of their way to accommodate us. You see, they have some campgrounds at Bright Angel/Phantom, and Cottonwood that are exclusively reserved for people that take horses/stock into the canyon. They’re rarely used and the Park Service puts thru-hikers up at these camps so we don’t have to wait around for days until an opening comes around. It’s apparently a rather new policy so you might have to kindly guide the ranger. I worked with Steve Bridgehouse (N. Rim) and he was VERY helpful.
Another thing about the GCNP is that they have a biker/hiker campground that’s “always available”. Those were Steve’s words – I don’t know if he meant that they will “make space” or that it’s so underutilized that it’s rarely a problem, but keep that in mind as you approach the canyon. Technically it’s illegal to camp in the park, but outside their formal campgrounds.
Something else I learned is that the trail comes VERY close to Tusayan. It comes within about 40 feet of an RV park. DON’T get a spot at the RV park; there are some great spots in the National Forest. The best spots are on the trail just south of the trail/park junction. They have a shower, laundry, some sinks to wash dishes, and water. They’re also right next to the General Store (which will receive packages as long as they’re shipped UPS or FedEx) and a pizza joint. Oh, and the Stage Stop has great coffee, but you need to get there at 7, just as it’s opening otherwise you’ll wait a looooooooong time for your brew. It’s popular and they don’t move fast.
Regarding the stretch from Tusayan to CO Bar – it’s as dry as they say. As of this writing there was water in the trough next to the metal Russell Tank, at Lockwood AND an unnamed tank about 8.5 miles south of Lockwood. I was forced to strain it through a bandanna and use iodine. It had a faint smell of “cow” but tasted fine. A proper filter would go a long way here. Yes, I had a filter but it crapped out on me AGAIN. It was the MSR Hyperflow; I can’t overstate what a fickle POS this thing is. I broke down and bought the Sawyer. I should have started with that to begin with.
Well, that’s what I know so far. I’ll report more as I learn along the trail.
Oh, one more thing – Anish is on the trail. She’s hoping to finish by October 23rd. In her words: “we’ll see”. I love it when chicks kick such royal ass.
See you out there, sole 2 soul.