Saturday, February 21, 2015

Arizona National Scenic Trail ~ Part 14 ~ Patagonia, Arizona to the Mexican Border at the Coronado National Memorial

We woke up especially early and got into Patagonia on the road system by 7 am. 

By 9 o'clock we had eaten a wonderful breakfast and had bought 55 miles worth of food from a small convenient store to reach our final destination on the Mexican border.

On our walk out of town we witnessed some hunters driving by with a buck on top of their vehicle as they drove by a spiritual retreat center.

Flash floods apparently had washed away some of the trail along certain creeks in the area of Redrock Canyon. We could see Chris's footprints in the wash with flowing water as well as the tread from a mountain bike who had also lost track of where the trail was supposed to be.

At Gate Spring we realized the trail was just above us, and so we bushwhacked to rejoin it.

Meadow Valley made us feel as if we were in yet another country with its wide open and dry grasslands.

Deer Hunters were scattered everywhere. The border patrol was probably going nuts with all of the activity and sporadic movements that were occurring in so many directions.

Both day and night, unmanned drones flew above us.  They would methodically circle one area a few times and then would move on to scan the next adjacent area. Apparently, our lack of movement during the night made us an unlikely target of investigation.

Passing by Parker Canyon Lake and Store, we began our final big ascent into the Huachuca Mountains and the grandeur of the Miller Peak Wilderness Area.

The deciduous trees lining the flowing creeks were complete in their colorful fall splendor. Old mining operations haunted the terrain as we approached the crest for our final approach towards our anticipated completion of our 800 mile trek across Arizona.

Having camped at Bear Saddle for our final night, we were approximately eight miles to the border.

Bathtub Springs provided us with pure water for our final water source on our journey.

This sky island high above the desert provided for the perfect ending to a long trip of ever-changing diversity.

Mexico was now in clear sight as we entered the realm of Coronado National Memorial.

The date is October 26th, 2014 and it took literally and metaphorically 40 days and 40 nights to cross through  the plains, the plateaus, the mountains, and the deserts of Arizona.

It was now time to hibernate, as our autumn was fully completed, leaving us with our personal winters to digest fully that which was undertaken.

At Montezuma Pass the Border Patrol said they knew we were coming. We had tripped some vibrational ground sensors, which then allowed their radar to watch us descend the mountain. However, we were cleared and officially approved to approach no mans land at the end of the Yaqui Ridge Trail at Monument 102. Our ending is only the beginning to new adventures upon the ever expanding horizon of living a True Life with an open mind and an open heart. Here lies the Secret for seeing the beauty in All things Great and Small.



  1. Thank you for sharing your story and journey. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it in one sitting. You have some gorgeous photographs! Thank you for sharing this with the world. Thank you for some insight; we would love to complete this journey as well! Safe travels.

    1. Thank you very much Bink. It's as if the excitement itself is a lure or is alluring to hook our attention so that Nature herself can reel us fully In to have our own personal and real and authentic experience that can make us feel more alive than we have ever felt before.

  2. Beautiful photos and great post, thank you so much for sharing. Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

    1. Thank you Linda.... We are headed up to Minnesota and Wisconsin next to hike the Ice Age Trail. We are looking forward to exploring new environments.

  3. I LOVED reading your blog! I am researching the trail as much as possible, so reading blogs like yours really helps. Planning on a solo trek on the AZT next spring. Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing.

    1. To be fully immersed outdoors in Nature then becomes the gateway to the inner door to our deep and personal inner nature. I am sure you will have the time of your life Jamie.

  4. Ben,

    My partner and I have been using your photo collection as a virtual tour and prep for our upcoming September trip SOBO on the AZT. We are well into our preparation for the trip, but would love to here how you and your partner prepared yourselves (in terms of pack list, food, water, training, permits etc.)

    We are planning on leaving mid Sept. from the northern terminus, heading SOBO. We want to average 15 miles/day for the first two or three weeks with the potential to pick it up to 20 miles/day if we need to. We are planning to dehydrate all of our food beforehand and mail drop along the way. We would like to minimize our trips to town, unless it is for a resupply. We want to try and spend our zero-days out on the trail. We have only two definitive town days planned, Flagstaff and Tuscon, but we would love to hear from you about other places you absolutely recommend we hit along the way. How did you find simply using your smart phones for guiding? Did you need a GPS? Were there any particularly worrying sections for water for you? How about trail ambiguity?

    Thank you in advance for your time and friendly advice,

    1. Hi Tait... for Stacey and I... we just needed to get permits for one night in the grand canyon when we arrived at the north rim from the backcountry office.... just be sure to arrive before October 1st.... because i believe the north rim officially closes after that date... at least the offices and resort do. For Saugaro National Park... we just hiked across it in one day without camping in it... and so we didn't require a permit for that portion of the trail. We also didn't see anybody at all within the park or at the ranger station on top when we went through there.

      We actually had two major storms come through... one when we arrived in Flagstaff... so we were able to take two nights off to let it pass on through. The other was a tropical depression. The timing was perfect too coming down from the Four Peaks Wilderness to lake Roosevelt. We ended up hitching easily to Globe to spend two nights out of the pouring rain at a motel there. Otherwise, we just walked in and out of towns to resupply on the same day we entered them. So we also therefore didn't have to send any packages ahead.

      Using maps on the smart phone works really well for us. We keep the phone on airplane mode to save on the battery use and then turn it off at night. Usually this allows us to get from town to town without running the battery dry... but we had a battery charger that we could use if it was necessary to charge the phone. We didn't use a gps on the trip, although the phone could be used as one. But it wasn't necessary for us. We are good navigators... so route finding was not an issue. That said, another hiker we knew on the trail got lost often.... so the experience is different for everyone.

      Water wasn't an issue for us.... plus we don't carry a stove, so we never had to carry more than four liters... and we never ever really needed that much. Often two liters was enough... but again, that was us. Another hiker often carried twice as much water as we did.... so we are not a reliable gauge to follow suite upon.

      Hey, there was an all you can eat breakfast in Tusayan at a mexican restaurant. Mormon Lake had a great restaurant open when we hiked through there. Pine has a great hiker friendly brewery. Know that Vail has a walgreens that you can resupply out of. Its five miles off the trail and the manager of Colossal Caves or the ranch may be willing to drive you there and back if he is available. Summerhaven has a small store... but it is pricey, but it would be easy to carry food from Oracle to your exit point in Tuscon. The restaurant up there shouldn't be missed though. Had breakfast up there.

      There will be a few junctions or places where you will have to consult your maps as to where to turn... but overall, its pretty well marked. The mazatszals are a little bit brushy in some spots, so expect to get scratched up a bit... but its fun overall. That said, people experience the trail in so many differing ways. Just be sure that you enjoy your self and the trail will ease up on you. We have a lot of experience, and so for us, its just another beautiful trail that allows for us to explore Nature. Know that you are going at a good time of year too. Its never was too hot or too cold for us in September or October.

      As for gear... try to figure out to go as light as you can. There are so many ways to do it. Here is Stacey's basic gear list. Happy Trails Tait.

    2. If you need any advice for Flagstaff, let me know. I've lived here for 13 years. We are avid hikers and love this city. Good luck

  5. Bern: A magnificent, inspirational record of the wonderful Arizona Trail journey you and Stacey undertook. Incredible beauty in your photos, and also such gentleness - a reminder. Thank you so much for recalling Arizona to me in such a wonderful way. Catrien in Japan.

    1. Thank you Catrien. It is really interesting to be reminded of the feelings behind this trip versus where we are at right now. We just completed walking 1100 miles across Wisconsin on the Ice Age Trail. Many corn fields and deciduous forests along our Way. The southwest is truly magical with so much diversity and niches to explore. The mountains of Colorado are calling to me now. Wishing you a wonderful summer season.


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