Jun 242010
 

I originally thought that an Arizona Trail thru hike would be a damn lonely endeavor. Very few people would have reason or desire to be out there on purpose and I was warned that very few do. I did go many many days in a row without seeing people.. At these times I would split myself  into a few distinct personalities and have stimulating interactions with them, frequently casing them against each other in critical decision-making discussions.  The scary part  about this ordinarily harmless way of entertaining oneself is that it mostly wasn’t deliberate. I wouldn’t even realize I was doing it until hours would go by and I would catch myself in a conversation that sounded something like:

“We’re not on the trail.”

“Well I’m not going back.. It has to connect”..

. “Oh just go back or you’ll get lost again”…

“Okay,  sit down, eat some chocolate (always my default solution) , and let’s see what the topo says.”

“No, we can’t waste time or we’re going to have to camp here in cowpatty pasture.”

“You’re right.. we have to at least get to the wilderness boundary”

and on and on and on…

It was all too comfortable…. And I wonder how much I do it in my normal life only not out loud.. These are dangerous thoughts to entertain out in the wilderness by yourself …

Lonely passages aside, there were quite a few people involved in this trip….. To most I owe a hearty jig of thanks.. to some, gaping awe that they even exist.. to some, mere appreciation for making the story more interesting… and I’d like to introduce them to you in no particular order..

Derek Roe

Derek gets the award for the most WEE-HAAA displayed by anyone .. ummmm.. ever.. He singlehandedly ran my life for me which included taking care of 3 parrots, a dog, a cat, a snake and my actual teenager for one of the weeks. He sang to my plants and fired up the VW. He drove me to and from distant trailheads, chaperoned my first four days, the bitchiest days I might add, near the Mexican border, and managed to surprise me for lunch one day. He taught me ALOT about how to be a REAL thru-hiker, being an Appalachian Trail alum himself, and only got us mortally lost once. Derek, you’re one of the rare ones!! THANK YOU!!

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Tara Golden

Tara was my designated primary support person and what that really means is that she was the one who I checked in with everyday or the helicopters would come .. She brought me food, arranged accommodations for me in more than a few places, made sure I had what I needed, and gave me wallops of emotional support .. (I could always text her when I was feeling all vulnerable and incapable and she would always dish me out a “poor baby”)… She actually filmed me the day before I left as I was finalizing my preparations.. I would love to see that footage and laugh hysterically at my ideas about what I thought I was doing..But I guess we’ll have to get back on speaking terms before that’ll happen.. long story.. BUT.. I am grateful for you, Tara…. THANK YOU!! …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Sirena Dufault

Sirena was my  Arizona Trail guru, keeper of the secret routes, the information girl with the magic hands, hostess with the friendliest dog, networker in the who’s who of Arizona trail-ness, top source of inspiration, first person I called when anything quirky happened, Moleno Basin rescue squad, and most importantly, gorgeous new friend of the I-immediately-feel-super-bonded-with-you kind… She took me to take my first steps on the Arizona Trail and was  there when I took the last (albeit on a different segment of it, but it’s all the same trail).. THANK YOU Sirena! <3 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Amazing Miss Chris

Chris brought me a resupply box, peeved out the GM of Kayland into sending me new boots, and reminded me of the joy of civilization with sushi, sake, and unending laughter.. Thank you!!! ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Brian and Tyler

I met these guys at a little rest spot in the beginning of the Four Peaks section of the AZT, a section no one really looks forward to because it boasts the greatest elevation gain in the shortest amount of time and you have to claw your way through the thickets of hell for the privilege. They had all of their food spread out in the dirt, which consisted of some oats and a million Snickers bars and were complaining mercilessly about the climbing. They were straight out of the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Colin Ibbotson

Colin is the shining jewel gift the trail gave to me, my own heart living outside myself, the unexpected miracle.. Thanks for crossing all of those miles to and with me…. Can’t wait to cross them back to you !<3 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Traci Casey

It was from the womb of her home, belly full of her magic cooking, from which I went henceforth into this journey, bars of bad girl breakfast chocolate tucked sweetly in my pack … Thank you Traci!  ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Christine AKA German Tourist

When I met Christine I was amazed and all purplish with jealousy at the amazing amount of trail-walking she had accomplished! She’s done all three of the major US trails, a bunch of the littler ones like the Florida Trail and now the Arizona Trail, and I can’t even tell you what she’s done outside of the US. She’s currently biking around Utah. To meet someone who has given herself the gift of so much freedom is inspiring.. and in spite of her unwelcome bestowing of tacky trail names, I really enjoyed her company… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Amy Miner

Amy and Jeff hosted me on my second resupply in Tuscon. My body was unfortunately  still in blurred out survival mode and I think I squeaked out a scant hello and collapsed in their guest room. But we did talk enough for me to get it that they are creative and wonderful people! Thanks Amy and Jeff!  ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Jellybean and Nancy

Jellybean and Nancy left for their Arizona Trail thru-hike a few weeks earlier than me.. I never actually met them other than by telephone, but their trail journals became more of a guidebook for me than the guidebook (I am personally going to TP the house of the writer of the actual guidebook .. shhhh) … They made lots of just lovely footprints in all of that snow too except after they wussed out in Pine (just kidding ladies!!!) and left the trail for the much tamer Continental Divide Trail.. .! ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Li Brannfors

Our  Grand Canyon host.. as accomplished a trail person as they come.. concocter of the wicked chile verde… GPS and map guru.. he is essentially what it means to be a great supporter and fun person to be with.. Thanks Li!  ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Merlin of the Copper Mountain Motel

Merlin is a capital goober for trying to convince a decent Englishman that I am of questionable repute.. but ya know, it makes a damn good story (almost as good as that guy who shot at me on the rim) …and for that I thank you Merlin!  …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Jordan Sebastian Bonner

My beloved child.. Brought me food, a Calvin and Hobbes book, and life-saving tennis shoes.. Also made an otherwise tiresome resupply in Superior (the first time.. when Merlin was still my friend) a fun family Easter event… Thank you Sweet!!   …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Mike

My first actual companion on the trail.. in the Superstitions.. Always got a good fire going, played the harmonica and sang, and dissipated my bitchy attitude about the senseless climbing in those ridiculously tracked mountains! ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Maya Hunter and Sierra Jones

The finish line greeter crew!! Thanks so much for driving 4 million miles to pick us up and  for tolerating our truly revolting smell… Also to Maya for dodging endless square dancing elk to deliver to a trailhead in the middle of a night.. ! ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..  ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Arizona Trail Association

What an enormously helpful group of interesting characters.. offered themselves to me on every occasion.. Thanks for your support…and to Lee for the Saguaro National Park phone rescue! ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

PICTURELESS THANKS GO TO:

ROBERT SANDERS: Couchsurfing host in Payson who treated me like a QUEEN !! (even though I am sad I missed the Civil War Reenactment 🙂 )

SHAWN REDFIELD: You’ve been the best of comrades..

CHRIS BINDER: For being in front and clearing the brush… And for being the legend I could never live up to 🙂

CHRIS TOWNSEND: For writing such a great book about the trail and for sending Colin out here!

JOE HEIL: Thanks for all of the encouraging and helpful emails.. and also for the water caches and bear canister full of serious YUM!

JOHN THE GENTLEMAN: Thank you for all of the water caches!

AND TO ALL OF THE CLIENTS WHO DIDN’T FIRE ME.. THE FAMILY WHO READ THE BLOG AND SUPPORTED ME… MY BEAUTIFUL FRIENDS WHO WOULD SEND ME ENCOURAGING TEXTS AND PROFESSIONS OF LOVE… THE PEOPLE ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL LIST WHO HELPED ME OUT WITH GEAR AND RESOURCES…. ANNA ILLENBERGER BECAUSE I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE WITH YOU THIS SPRING….. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4 Responses to “~The Arizona Trail~ The Complete Cast of Characters”

  1. BRAVO!! You are an absolutely inspiring person who has taken me along with you on such a rich experience expressed herein with such raw prose! A privilege it is to call you friend. Thank you!

  2. So many interesting people. So blessed to be one of them:)

  3. Some day I am going to hike-again. I did some small short hikes around Phx, as a teenager, and now I live in TN an hour from the AT – be still my heart ( I did run up to the trial the first time I crossed it and had to walk a few feet) and have taken thru hikers for shopping trips while I worked last summer on the Nantahala River. But some day-SOME DAY I hope to do more than dream.
    Thank you for sharing your adventure,

  4. Wow, Fantastic interesting writing!!! I’m moving from Alaska to Az next summer, and will hike every trail I can. I am so looking forward to the adventure, and getting out of the Alaskan winters! Thanks Again…..

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