The Arizona Trail is a National Scenic Trail from Mexico to Utah that traverses the whole north-south length of the U.S. state of Arizona. (From Google Maps)
Last Sunday, TTR held a run on the Arizona Trail. The idea was for it to be a 50k, but I decided to run 20-25 miles just so the run director didn't have to wait any longer for me. I knew I would be slower than the group I was running with. We started at a pullout on Highway 83. It was cold and cloudy, but the weather forecast said we would have a high of 75.
I wore a bright orange shirt because there were hunters on the trail most days. I was the only one who wore one. The majority wore white. I felt I needed to be safe. I'm not going to trust a hunter to not shoot me. I actually had to tell a hunter where I was because they still couldn't see me! Had a few shots fired in my direction actually...
I started a few seconds late because someone brought a dog and I had to say hi (of course, dogs are the cutest). :)
We ran up a dirt road and then up a hill. Suddenly, they all came running back at me. Runner Stampede! Wrong way apparently. So, we took the AZ Trail and got back on course. I kept up with the group for a little while, then they all left me in the dust. But that's alright, I got used to rounding up the group in the back...I make sure there are not any stragglers. ;)
|Most of the group up ahead on the AZT.|
|Showing off my bright orange shirt. Had to make sure the hunters|
could see me!
As usual, the views and the trails were amazing! The trails we were supposed to be on were pretty straight forward, but there were many turns. If I didn't have my map that was provided at the start, I would definitely be lost out there. Thankfully, having a background in archaeology gave me an excellent map reading ability. I never stopped for more than a few minutes to find my bearings. One of my rules is to never go down a trail that I am not sure is correct. If I'm not sure, I look out ahead to see if there are any other runners on that trail, I study the map like crazy and look for clues in the elevation (like a hill or a mountain), or I look for running shoe prints. The shoe prints helped me out on this one for sure! The other trails were barren and caked hard with mud. But the trails we were all running on were softer and had shoe prints. Just something to keep in mind if you are turned around on a trail. :)
|Everything is so beautiful out here! Mt. Wrightson is off to the left of this photo; the one topped with some snow. :)|
|Another shot of the rolling hills in the Santa Rita's.|
|A fox crossed my path here! But I couldn't whip out my GoPro fast enough....|
About 2 hours into my run, I made a turn around a hill. And as I was rounding the corner, I heard a gunshot that echoed though-out the entire canyon. It was pretty close too. Not sure how close, but close enough that I stopped and almost dropped to the ground. I froze, listening for something, anything, that would indicate that it would happen again. Silence.
So I started slowing jogging towards the next turnoff. Then another gunshot! WTF! I was started to get annoyed that I wore this obscenely bright orange shirt for nothing. Seriously? Why can't they see me!?! I started to yell. "Hey!....HEY!"
"I'm running here!!!"
I spied two hunting dogs on the hill next to me and my eyes traveled along the rest of the hill to find their owner. Finally, I found him and we waved at each other. I rolled my eyes. I can't believe people are allowed to hunt on major public trails. ESPECIALLY THE ARIZONA TRAIL. People are on this all the time!!
|Only 79 miles to Mexico!! Let's go! ;)|
Eventually, I made it to the Kentucky Camp gate. This is where I found the sign above. Run downhill and you are right in Kentucky Camp. This is where the headquarters for the OP 50 are. I'll be back here in early March for that race. :)
Kentucky Camp was built over 100 years ago as the headquarters for the Santa Rita Water and Mining Company. They were mining the placer gold deposits. After the mining company left, it became a ranch for awhile. And after that, the Coronado National Forest purchased it. They now try to preserve and interpret the site with volunteers. You can rent the cabin (for sleeping) and headquarters (day-use) building if you are ever interested in visiting. :)
I was a little confused about where the water would be at Kentucky Camp. I was thinking there would be someone waiting with water. But when I got there, no one was around and I was alone. It was a little eerie for sure. There was definitely aid at AS 46 but I wasn't going that far today. I couldn't find anyone, finally figuring out that water would be here from a spigot or something. Well, I could not find that either, so I left with the water I had. Thankfully, I had a brought a lot to begin with since I thought it would be hot. And it lasted me all the way back to the car. Perfect.
|The remnants of an old building and an old car at Kentucky Camp.|
|The headquarters building at Kentucky Camp.|
Thinking back on it, I have completed a few passages of the AZT. I would love to complete the entire AZT one day, in either segments or all at once. I am hopefully going to start volunteering with them soon. If you are interested in learning more about the AZT, here is the website: http://www.aztrail.org/.
I'll try to get out on the Arizona Trail more often so I can tell you more about it. :) So far, I love every passage that I've been on!