We will be hiking sections of the Arizona Trail this year and are excited to share our videos with you. We’ve been busy going through our gear to make sure we have everything we need and purchasing anything that needs replacing. We’re looking forward to hiking someplace warm and hopefully dry.
With our upcoming trip on the Arizona Trail on our minds, we thought we would do a new Bucket List post – this time with both our perspectives. We will go through the list one place at a time, volunteering ours then commenting on the other.
Oliver’s #5: I would have put the Te Araoa on here until we watched the Hiking America videos of their thru. There were some beautiful days, but a lot more road walking than I thought, and also quite a bit of swampy stuff. I’m still traumatized by our Gros Morne Traverse thru-hike I guess! Now, I’d probably say the Colorado Trail. There’s a posting in Colorado Springs I may be eligible for in 5 years or so… (Swamps can be fun. – Cheryl)
Cheryl’s #5: The Florida Trail. While the road walks aren’t appealing to me, I like to celebrate when I complete hard things. The Florida Trail could involve a lot walking through swampy water (Hey, gators!), but it also has a lot of warm weather and plants that I would enjoy experiencing along the way. (Swampy… – Oliver)
Oliver’s #4: I’d probably put the Appalachian Trail here on the list. I am not as excited about it as some other trails, but there are parts of it I would love to see. Honestly, the busyness of the trail is probably the biggest turnoff for me, but I’d still give it a go if Cheryl wanted to do it. It wouldn’t be a hard sell. (See #2. – Cheryl)
Cheryl’s #4: Ozark Highlands Trail. Who wouldn’t want to spend time in the Ozark mountains? I have visited Arkansas and thought the area is beautiful. I wouldn’t mind spending some time hiking through it. (Or the Ouachita Trail? I wouldn’t object to either! – Oliver)
Oliver’s #3: The Arizona Trail. I’m really excited about our section hike in March. But despite the fact that I am very happy with the section we are doing, I REALLY want to see the Grand Canyon too! This isn’t the year for it though. (We will have to go back to do the Grand Canyon. – Cheryl)
Cheryl’s #3: The Wonderland Trail. It is a shorter thru-hike at 93 miles (150k) and one that needs to be done at a time of the year when there is not a lot of snow, but it checks the boxes for a manageable time commitment and beautiful mountain views. If we were to do this trail, we would need to win the “permit lottery” to camp in the backcountry. (For a short trail this would be lovely – Oliver)
Oliver’s #2: the Great Divide Trail. I’ve already hiked almost 2 sections of it, and I just love it. But I want to finish it, thru-hike it. It is without a doubt the best trail of its kind in Canada – 600 miles of Canadian Rockies, cutting right through the world famous Jasper and Banff, and those aren’t even the best parts! (So many trails. So little time. – Cheryl)
Cheryl’s #2: Appalachian Trail. Oliver has talked many times about the tree tunnels and lack of views on this trail, but the idea of really getting connected with the trail community and building a “tramily” really appeals to me. When discussing thru-hiking, this feels like a must do. (It’s my #4, so I’m in! – Oliver)
Oliver’s #1: The Pacific Crest Trail. Ever since encountering the movie, “Wild” it’s been on my mind, taking up space. I want to do it before I die, 100%. The clock is ticking though, and I know my body hasn’t been broken yet like many friends’ have, but it is wearing. I was talking to my boss’s boss last year and she said if I want to do it, do it – take unpaid leave if necessary, don’t wait until it’s too late. So I am hoping this may happen in the next few years as our kids graduate and move out.
Cheryl’s #1: We agree! Pacific Crest Trail would be my #1. It is an opportunity to connect with other hikers while getting to experience the vast mountain views. There are also enough towns along the way for resupplies and showers. The time needed to complete this hike would be a challenge though, so it must wait.
Oliver’s Honourable Mention: Since two of the Triple Crowns is on the list, I might as well add “why not the Continental Divide Trail?” It’s not NOT on the list… I think if we did the AT and the PCT, there would be a big draw to finish the Triple Crown… but it’s the longest of the three, it’s got the most road walking, and if we do the AZT and Colorado Trails, we will have already seen much of what it has to offer. So it would just be “to get the Triple Crown”.
Cheryl’s Honourable Mention: Te Araoa. It would be amazing to travel to New Zealand and thru hike, but the amount of money it would take to fly all the way there would be costly. Also, if we were to go to New Zealand, we are going to want to do more than just explore a trail, so there would be a lot of time and money involved in seeing as much as we can of what New Zealand has to offer. Also, I don’t want to do that much road walking. To me, a hike should be in the trees and not on paved roads.
After our go at the Gros Morne Traverses, we found ourselves a little worn out of rugged, wild, barely-there trails. Especially when said routes cross bogs and other such fun things. We began to talk about our next adventure, and how our current locale has a very long winter (even for Canada). Wouldn’t it be nice to get in an early season hike, before the snow melts? Not on snowshoes! Sorry, I have done a little winter camping, enough to know that ultralight and winter don’t mix well – at least not in Canada!
A unique quality to the military life is the end of fiscal year. At that point our annual leave rolls over to a new year, and all of a sudden we have more. Some people have attempted to “save” their annuals from one year until the end of fiscal, so they can add them to leave days borrowed from the next year to create a mega-trip. It worked out for us to do that this year! So with a big chunk of time available, we began to look for a “fair weather” destination.
We looked at the Pinhoti Trail, the first few hundred miles on the Appalachian Trail, the Florida Trail, Ozark Highlands, the Lone Star, and even the PCT up to San Jacinto. (There were more shorter trails too). But none of them sat quite right. I liked the idea of a desert hike over a forest hike where the leaves haven’t come out yet. So we looked again at the beginnings of the PCT and I also threw out a question on the Arizona Trail subreddit: what’s the best stretch of passages to do if you only have a couple weeks?
The answer was “Vail to Superior”. So we watched some videos. And some more. And it started growing on my hiking partner. Over Christmas break we pulled the trigger on some flights and now we are set! We will be on trail over Easter, enjoying the sunny days of Arizona! This will be our longest trip yet – our previous longest trip was 11 days of hiking on the Great Divide Trail. This one we will be on trail 16-18 days (I built in some flex into our plan, depending on how we are handling the altitude and such). The plan is to cover over 186 miles. Given the choice between this or a standard all-inclusive in Mexico like many friends and family like to do, we much prefer this plan!
But here’s the best part: previously we snapped a lot of pictures, but we never really did video. This time, we have invested in a little videography equipment, and my wonderful partner will get to put to use her long dormant cinematography skills (she used to have a vlog on YouTube a dozen years ago). So keep watch for video once we get on trail!