The hills above Patagonia

This view along the Arizona trail near Patagonia, AZ.
The view along the Arizona trail near Patagonia, AZ.

On 3/6/20 we hiked 12 miles to Arizona Trail mile 64 and camped near the Walker Basin Trailhead.

We started the day with a stop at the Gathering Grounds Cafe for an excellent breakfast and then picked up a few sandwiches to go from the Ovens if Patagonia before we hiked out of town.

The hike was all road-walking in one way or another, starting on paved roads, then unpaved, then narrow one-lane Jeep roads. We saw very few cars and none the last six miles. Very pretty scenery as we climbed into the hills above Patagonia.


Onward to Patagonia, AZ

On 3/4/20 we hiked 14 miles to Arizona Trail mile 42 and camped near Red Bank Well.

Our fourth day on the Arizona Trail started cold with frozen shoes but sunny skies warmed things up pretty quickly. The hiking was fairly easy contouring the rolling Canelo Hills East, but of course muddy from the previous day’s rain. We transitioned to the Canelo Hills West and the trail and vegetation dried out.

While hiking, I spotted seven ring tailed cats, the state animal of Arizona. First sighting was a group of six crossing the trail, then later a single ringtail. It is not really a cat, but is related to the raccoon and coatimundi.

On 3/5/20 we hiked 10 miles to Arizona Trail mile 52 and camped near Patagonia, AZ at the Patagonia RV Park.

We woke to clear skies and eagerly hiked the last 10 miles into the small town of Patagonia, AZ. We are tent camping at the RV park and are clean, laundered, and fed. We also bought our next 5 days of food at the market.


Sunnyside Canyon

On our third morning on the Arizona Trail fresh snow covered the forest and our tent in Sunnyside Canyon. Packing up cold wet gear is never fun. It rained and drizzled most of the day. We were prepared and stayed relatively warm despite temperatures mostly in the 40’s, but hard not to get soaked spending all day hiking in the rain.

We hiked 12 miles to AZT mile 28.


A Snowy Decent from Miller Peak

We awoke at our chilly campsite high on Miller Peak for our second day on the Arizona Trail. After about a half mile of hiking we ran into snow covering the trail just north of the trail junction to Miller Peak. It was about 8 am, so the snow was still frozen pretty hard from the cold night. Fortunately many hikers had worn a path through the mile or so of snow. The hiking was slow but only slightly difficult, even without any snow gear.

After we passed the snowy section it was down down down as the Arizona Trail dropped about 3,000 feet into Sunnyside Canyon where we camped for the night.

On day two we hiked 10 miles to AZT mile 16.


We are off to hike the Arizona Trail

On Sunday we started hiking the 800 mile Arizona Trail. Our plans are to spend the next two months walking across Arizona.

The Arizona Trail begins at the Mexican border south of the Arizona town of Sierra Vista. There is no road access to the start of the Arizona Trail so you have to hike in either 2.4 miles from the Coronado National Monument visitor center on the Joe’s Canyon Trail or drive on a dirt road to the Montezuma Pass Trailhead and backtrack 1.9 miles to the Mexican border.

We decided to take the Joe’s Canyon trail from the visitor’s center, but in hindsight it probably would have been better to use the Montezuma Pass Trailhead. Joe’s Canyon was a lovely hike but involved a 1,300 foot climb. Then the Arizona Trail climbs 3,200 feet in the first 6.4 miles.

After about 4,100 feet of climbing for the day and just under six miles of official Arizona Trail miles we were pretty tuckered out when we spotted a campsite where we spent our first chilly windy night.


Arrival in Saint Jean Pied de Port

We have arrived in the small French village of Saint Jean Pied de Port (SJPDP) after a train ride from Paris.

The high speed TGV train was a pretty amazing trip, often traveling at 300 kilometers per hour (about 186 mph). The 770 kilometer trip from Paris to Bayonne, France was just under four hours.

In Bayonne we changed to a smaller regional train that was packed standing room only with Camino pilgrims for the hour long ride to SJPDP.

Once in SJPDP we checked in at the Pilgrim Office, received our “Credencial del Peregrino” and are all set to begin walking over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain tomorrow.