Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Arizona National Scenic Trail Hike Training–Began July 13, 2015

What is the Arizona Trail?

The Arizona Trail is an 800+ mile recreation trail from Mexico to Utah that connects mountain ranges, canyons, deserts, forests, wilderness areas, historic sites, trail systems, points of interest, communities, and people. It serves dayhikers, backpackers, equestrians, mountain bicyclists, trail runners, nature enthusiasts, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and mule and llama packers.
The trail can also be described in two other ways; for its features, and for the experience it provides.   (From:  http://www.aztrail.org/at_about.html)

I will be doing this as a solo hike.  I would also like to raise money for some worthy cause by doing the hike, but have not yet selected a cause.  I am open to suggestions.

Training Day One

I have never been thin and am genetically a hefty woman, my bones are not petite.  I can’t change any of that, but I can become more fit, and therefore, more healthy.  My mother died in her 50s, I believe, from messing around with all kinds of diets in an effort to be thin and attractive to “other” people.  I thought she was the most beautiful woman on earth, but she ruined all that by being obsessed with weight.  So, I made up my mind long ago, that I would not take that same path.  I will NOT diet.   I’m gonna be happy first, and give happiness to those I love.  She became so vain about her appearance that she was miserable and lost track of what was really important.


How the heck could she look any better?  Why did she feel so inferior? Well, I can’t change any of that either.

For several years now I have wanted to train to hike the AZ Trail (820 miles). Ironically, it was a let-down to complete my goal of kayaking all 50 states and I immediately felt the need to find a new challenge.  A friend of mine had talked about hiking the AZ Trail and my son had hiked both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and so I thought, that’s it… I will hike the AZ Trail.  It is as if, having a big, almost impossible goal in front of me gives me purpose and a reason to go on living (a promise I made to David Swankie on his death bed).  Trust me, I’d trade the dream in for the chance to be the Grandma, like the kind of grandma my Grandma was to me, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me.  I decided after kayaking my 50th state, Hawaii, that I would hike the AZ Trail in spring of 2015.  But, last year family health issues prevented me from beginning my training, however, today, July 13, 2015, I began.

There are four main components  preparing for the hike: 1) get fit, food wise, 2) get fit, fitness wise, 3) learn how to ward off biting bugs, 4) get the equipment I need. I have read a 2002 book on the hike written by a guy from Ireland.  The Trail was not even completed until 2012.  I have the new book.  I will join the Arizona Trail Association.   I will be studying what is needed, like GPS device, boots, etc. and making a wish list to add to my Training Updates.  These items will be made available on my Amazon Store as well. 

I should also add that I am not new to backpacking or hiking.  I hiked and trained with Paul Petzoldt, founder of the National Outdoor Leadership School.  We were actually camp-mates (sharing tent, meals, supplies) in 1977, and I learned so much from him.  This was the pilot class for his plan to develop a nation-wide training for outdoor leaders.  He set the standards for “leave no trace” and responsible use of the outdoors.  I hiked with him for three weeks once, with all supplies needed for the whole time period, on MY back, and in fact all his food was on my back too (“the leader doesn’t carry the food or cook”).   In 1978, I worked with him in establishing the Wilderness Use Education Association, I was his administrative assistant. I organized a nation-wide tour for him to travel and speak at all the major outdoor recreation colleges in the country, about the need for responsible outdoor leaders and the leave no trace philosophy.  The name has since been shortened to Wilderness Education Association and some of the people I hiked and trained with in 1977 are still with the Association, although Paul is now deceased.


Paul Petzoldt, and one of the camp meals I prepared for us.  He was a legend in his own time.  So, I know stuff… he taught me stuff. Lots of stuff.


Our camp in the high Tetons.  I CAN do this.  I am not new to all this, but I AM really out of shape.

But for today, 48 years later, July 13, 2015 this is what I did to get started:

1) I hiked up and down mountain terrain for about 3 hrs.,

IMGA0685 slide_026

Left: 2015,  Right: Me in the Tetons 1977.

2) I only bought 1 soda at fast food and no other junk, 3) I traded in my change for a $10.48 Coinstar coupon and bought $6 worth of fresh veggies, 4) I made and ate a very yummy, very healthy salad (have enough greens for one tomorrow also). And finally, 5) I'm pretty proud of all that.  It’s a good beginning.

Oh, and I forgot one thing, I bought fresh garlic, and added a whole clove to my salad. It burned my mouth, but lots of people said it would help with skeeter bites.  I will add a clove of garlic to everything I cook or eat.   If I'm gonna do 820 miles of walking in the great outdoors, I have to be less of a magnet for biting bugs. Time will tell. Today I hiked using bug spray, and a head net and hat.

OK, full disclosure is required: (my aim is not to loose weight, it will be what it will be) Weight today: (ugh) 240 lbs.

I will end my updates with full disclosure confessions like my weight above and anything I goofed up on: The coke was the only bad thing today.


Lastly: face shot of me today, full-body shot to be included when someone is around to take one.

Always hated photos of myself... but the only way to succeed is to be open and honest.

I lost weight before… but gained most of it back.  It is not my goal to loose weight, but to challenge myself beyond what I think I can do.  To become better than I have ever been before. 


Left taken about 2009, and Right taken May 2014, the year I turned 70.  Unfortunately, I have regained some of the weight due to inactivity.

Who knows what I will look like or feel like at the end of the trail.  I will begin the hike as one person, and come out the end of the trail as someone I have never met before.  Boy, I hope that will be a good thing?!  I am not doing it to make David Swankie or Paul Petzoldt proud of me, they are dead.  I am doing it all for me!!!  (But if you want to learn more about my mentor, Paul Petzoldt… see his publications on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=paul+petzoldt&tag=mh0b-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=1695751562&hvqmt=p&hvbmt=bp&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_35flig7dba_p .)

Training Day Two:  Today I was lazy, but ate right and bought no fast food.  One step at a time.  Wrote this blog.

Thank you for doing your usual Amazon shopping using my affiliate link.

Help me a little if you can by donating to my equipment fund for the hike.  I promise to pay it forward.  There is a PayPal donation button in the top right corner, but I realize people using phone may not see that so I am repeating the button below.

Contribute to Equipment for the Trail Hike:

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.