Sunday, October 4, 2015

WEEK 12—Moving On… On to the Arizona Trail (Sept. 27–Oct. 4, 2015)

Goal: Hike The Arizona Trail.  It 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.   (From:


 The red line in the new trail we were working on.   

Previous post.  

Time to move on.  Sometimes you realize it is time, but just don’t exactly know what that “moving on” is going to look like. Ya just know “Any decision is better than indecision.”   Sometimes you just have to follow your heart and instincts, and just go. September was not a good month for sticking to my training program and doing what was right for me.  Sometimes “moving on” means excluding other people and activities from your life.  I wasn’t sure what that was going to look like at all, and the unknown had me very depressed.  But somehow I got past it and am now moving on.  Rocks may not be in my future. 

Got to play catch-up a little here.

Training Days  63 through 69 (9/13-19, 2015):  Still distracted by the needs of others, but managed to break away.   By 9/19 I was depressed and feeling lost. Looking for my “swankiness.”

Left Sugarite State Park on Friday, 18th and headed to Folsom, NM for the Cowboy Swap meet on Sat., 19th. That was really neat.  Happy talented people.  Room to breath and no one to worry about but myself.


Camped at the swap meet that night and next day drove on to the Capulin Volcano, and camped right off the highway near the entrance.  Very good spot and no traffic at night and little during the day.  Again, room to breath and think and heal.


Training Days 70 through 76 (9/20-9/26, 2015): 

Day 70 (Sun).  Camped and rested near Folsom, NM.  Did nothing.

Day 71 (Mon).  Camped and rested near Folsom, NM.  Did nothing.

Day 72 (Tue).  Returned to Raton, NM.  Broke my own record by swimming 1 mile in 1 hr and 12 minutes.  Felt good about that.  Waited in Raton, NM for mail before hitting the road again.  Spent the night on top of my mountain – SwankieTop.


Day 73 (Weds).  Rested.

Day 74 (Thurs).   Left Raton, NM heading south on I-25 to RT. 3, then south to Rt. 40. Photo is Wagon Mound, NM (I-25 and Rt. 120).  “The town of Wagon Mound sprouted at the foot of the Wagon Mound, often touted as ‘the last great natural landmark on the Santa Fe Trail,’ (now it's a designated National Historic Landmark).”


Yes, I believe I am beginning to look happier.


Day 75 (Fri.).  Route 3, cuts from I-25 south down to U.S. 40… and is a very interesting route passing through the small hamlets of Pueblo and Sena, NM.  Everyone should drive this road once.  There is Villanueva State Park along the way, but no cell or internet.  It is a lovely park and right on the Pecos River.

The State Park…


Day 76 (Sat). 

Spent the night in a large parking lot between Rt. 40 and the railroad tracks.  Then I decided to stop at Bluewater Lake State Park.  What a mess that place is, at least on the west side.  At the bottom of the boat ramp is a dirt road that is rough and pitted.  I followed it on down to the water… and decided I could launch there.  So I drove back up to the Iron Ranger to register and while I was there dozens of cars began to come in and go down that way.  And two large pickup trucks of firewood, and finally a port-a-john.  I knew I would not be happy beside the water with all that going on, so I abandoned the idea of kayaking and just drove up the hill farther, and parked on the hill top… and went walking.  I found a projectile point (arrowhead) and two historic artifacts.  I only paid for day use, so at dark I drove down the road and found a dirt road off into the forest and drove in there to park for the night.  Next time I come through the area I will check out the other side of the lake, where I believe there may be showers.

20150925_10591120150925_11020620150925_14532420150925_16393620150925_184459 image

Next morning I wanted to take the road going around the lake and come back out on the highway, but learned it did not go all the way around… and suddenly I found myself going into the National Forest and the canyon getting very narrow.  Looking at the map later I see 610 goes through the Zuni Mountains south past Mt. Sedgwick, (more on Sedgwick) and then becomes Rt. 50 which merges into Rt. 57, which hits a bigger highway, Rt. 53 that goes E-W… Westward going into El Morro, going right into the heart of the largest Indian Reservation in the country. Decided that would be a great route to explore another time, after checking with Forest Service for dispersed camping information and obtaining better maps of the area.  Looks very exciting.

From there I drove through Gallup NM, into Arizona finally, and rested/boondocked along the highway.  Next day decided to drive through Petrified Forest National Park.  I had been there as a kid but didn’t remember any of it.  The northern end is boring.  I freaked when the gate attendant asked me if I had any rocks in my van.  ROCKS?  Do I have rocks?  Only in every nook and cranny.  I could not envisioning taking everything out of my van to find them all, so I said I had some under my seat.  I had to give them all to her, and she put them in a plastic bag and taped them shut.  Said the fine for picking up any rock in the park was very steep.  I took a deep breath and hoped they would not ask me to empty the van to see if I had rocks. 

The drive through the Petrified Forest was interesting indeed.


Got to the south gate, and there was a sign saying Inspection Station Ahead, Prepare to Stop.   I thought, oh God, they are gonna find my rocks and fine me.  None of my rocks are from there, but no one was manning the Inspection Station.  I got back on the highway, and thought, geez, just because there is a fence, doesn’t mean all the petrified wood is inside the fence.  What’s on highway is free… public domain.  I pulled off and began looking around, and I was right, it’s all over the place and I found some nice pieces.  Shame, shame on me.

O.K. that gets me caught up to the current week.

Day 77 (Sun).  Driving.  Saving as much $ as I can.  Lunar Eclipse tonight. 


Day 78 (Mon).  Nice Sunrise.  Found a good place to camp in the forest.  Big log in the road.  Got around the end of it.  Trees are too close for anyone to get close to me.  Hooray.


Day 79 (Tue).  Rested after the long drive.

Day 80 (Weds).  Walked around the Coconino National Forest a little but felt very tired.

Day 81 (Thurs).  Drove to the Pine Trailhead of the Arizona Trail to meet up with a volunteer group to break a new section of trail (see map at the top of post).  I am there early.  Shawn arrived with one of the AZ Trail equipment trailers and saw my SD license plates and came over to say HI.  I told him I was there to work on the trail.


Day 82 (Fri.).  People are beginning to arrive for the weekend and get things set up.  I was feeling too shy to get out of the van.  Looking back, I don’t know what I was worried about.

Day 83 (Sat).  Finally forced myself out of the van and went to meet people.  There was a Safety Session before we formed teams and headed out to work.  I was the slowest person on the trail and a fella named Mike Brandt followed behind me and refused to go on ahead of me.  I did get to work on the trail… and got a lot done, I think.  I walked a total of about four miles this day.  I should include Sunday Day 84 too… since we continued to work the trail.  Everyone left camp in the morning, before I came out of the van, so I had to hike up alone…. hiked about five miles this day.  Next day, Monday… I was very sore. 

What have I accomplished in the four main components of preparing for this challenge?

1) Get fit, food wise.  Well, I have not been good or keeping good records, but I have not been too bad either.

2) Get fit, fitness wise.   July 24th I swam 1/2 mile in an hour.  Sept 22, I swam 1 mile in 1 hr and 12 min.  Good, no GREAT improvement. I feel really good about that.  I also feel good about hiking nine miles.  That was encouraging to me.  I am sure the intense swimming I did helped tone my body up, or I don’t think I could have done so well hiking.

3) Learn how to ward off biting bugs.   SAME. There just are not many bugs here!!!  Haven’t seen a skeeter, all weekend.

4) Get the equipment I need.  SAME.  Joined the Facebook Arizona Trail group and began asking about electronics and equipment.  There are some more public sessions coming up soon which I may attend to learn more.  Several people are making recommendations and posting lists.  I am going to ask for copies of their spreadsheets and begin adapting my list.  What equipment I do have is in Quartzsite, so I can’t begin weighing things until I get to Quartzsite.

Weight?   I don’t know.  Had to stop using my prescription laxative while out on the trail, so I don’t have a fair idea on weight loss.  Oct. 5,  I was 222 pounds, but that might be wrong.   This week:  abt 220 pounds    Weekly Loss/Gain = ?  Total Loss/Gain (since July 13) = +or-16 pounds.   More accurate report on this in the next blog post.

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Fundraiser for AZ Trail Outfitting:

I am creating a set of notecards of southwestern images to sell in order to raise money for equipment.  Please have a look at what they may look like.   Working to complete the kit fox now… and have him blend in with his background… which they are so good at doing.


I hope to have them finished and ready to mail out by Thanksgiving.  You can reserve your set of note cards now by sending a PayPal donation of $25 to  Note Cards will be sent out before Dec. 1, 2015, or delivered to you are the Winter RTR Rendezvous, your choice.  Only these advance sale cards will have my original signature.  Card sets will be available online afterward this advance sale but will have printed signature.

Sample Southwest Notecards

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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.