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DWTH Day 1: Bonus Miles to the Connector Trail

DWTH Day 1: Bonus Miles to the Connector Trail

Stats

👣 Miles: 6.05

📈 Elevation Gain: 1,503 ft

📉 Elevation Loss: 466 ft

Overall Weather: Sunny, Warm

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Storing the Van 🚐

We started our day off at an RV Storage facility. We used this same one to store our van for the GET, so we hope it works well again. 🤞

Storing a van always takes more time than you think. We had quite the chore list to accomplish:

  • Drain the fresh water tank
  • Empty the sink gray tank
  • Bag up our composting toilet solids
  • Empty composting toilet liquids bin
  • Turn off our electrical system
  • Turn off our propane system 
  • Treat the countertop 
  • Throw out all trash and any questionable food
  • Cover all windows
  • Close air vents
  • Cover bed
  • Make mouse booby traps everywhere mostly with dryer sheets, anti-mouse smell packets, and blinky things. 

We managed to get all that done by just after 11 when we got an Uber to Shiny and Half Double’s house in Tucson. 

To the Trail! 🎒

We brought any food that was in good shape but couldn’t eat to Shiny and Half Double’s house. 

When we handed it to Half Double, he smiled and said, “It’s just like a hiker box, but with good food!”

Half Double kindly offered to drive us to the trailhead we selected. 

Along the way, we talked about gear and trails. We got new headlamps for this trail and hadn’t fully tested them yet. Luckily, as soon as we mentioned it, Half Double said he got the same one a few months ago and loved it!

Half Double dropped us off and we took an extra minute to move some things around in our packs. 

Approach Miles

We decided a few things when we looked at the beginning of the Desert Winter Thru-Hike. 

First: We knew we wanted to connect our steps between the Arizona Trail (AZT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Thus, we’ll add the connector trails on either end adding roughly 60ish miles total. 

A little context: both Karma and I have already hiked the PCT, the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT), the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), the Grand Enchantment Trail (GET), and the AZT. Therefore, by adding some extra miles, we’ll connect those steps over the last decade for Karma and 12 years for me. 😁

Second, we didn’t feel like starting with an out and back just to tag the AZT. So, we decided to start in Sabino Canyon and hike up to the AZT. That gives us 6.4 glorious, relatively easy AZT miles to the start of the bonus connector miles. 

Yes, I know that’s a mouthful. To make it simple, we’re calling these “approach miles.”

Sabino Canyon Trailhead

A couple standing next to the Sabino Canyon Crawler.
Sabino Canyon Crawler

We also decided that if there was room on the Sabino Canyon Crawler, we’d save ourselves some miles and start at the last shuttle stop. 

Since spots were still available for the 1:30 pm shuttle, we hopped on and enjoyed a narrated 25-minute ride mostly uphill. While I think I could have written them a better script, I enjoyed the variation of topics ranging from plant life, geology, wildlife, and cultural history. I found the warning about mountain lions rather comical. 

All in all, it was an entertaining way to see a new area.  I definitely recommend it if you’re in the Tucson area or want to be outside with someone who can’t hike as far.

Desert Canyon Hiking and the Familiar AZT

View down Sabino Canyon near Tuscon, Arizona
View Down Sabino Canyon

Karma and I enjoyed the manicured trail as a good warm-up afternoon. We’re both a little out of shape, so it’s nice to start with familiar territory. 

Sabino Canyon had a beautiful array of saguaros, paleo verde trees, velvet mesquites, and many others. 

We had to stop and talk to several day hikers doing a loop trail to from Seven Falls. While they all had good intentions, when we stepped aside for them to pass, they stopped right in front of us, blocking the trail to talk. Huge pet peeve. We can chat…after we pass each other. 

They all seemed fascinated that we would want to sleep outside in January. Since everyone was in shorts and shirts, we didn’t understand their reluctance. 🤷🏼‍♀️

The AZT miles felt good and familiar although some nondescript.  We remembered a particular stream crossing once we got to it. This time, we hopped right across. Last time in February of 2019, we were one to mid-thigh deep crossing it and we had to find another spot to cross.

Camp 🏕️

A tent amongst desert oaks and canyon walls.
Camp

We found a spot off trail to camp and remembered that we forgot to clean the bird poop off of our tarp from when we used it in North Dakota. Oops!

Since it’s a winter thru-hike, we’re still adjusting to the shorter days. Thankfully, they’ll only get longer.  However, in the near future, we might do some short days to warm up and figure out our rhythm.