Thursday, 20 May 2010

The last days on the AZT

After my rest day at the Grand Canyon where I basically did nothing else but get a permit and sit and read I eventually started the last leg of the AZT: The hike through the Grand Canyon and up to the Utah border. Luckily I got a permit for me and 2 hiking buddies which is not all that easy on a weekend. We all had a great breakfast (I actually felt sick afterwards from all the food and was not able to finish my portion....) and around lunch time started hiking. Just an easy 14 mile day and all downhill. But this turned out to be one of the most spectacular hikes I have done in all my life.

I had seen a lot of pictures of the Grand Canyon but I was still overwhelmed. The views, the temperature and the climate changed continously. The elevation difference between the rims and the canyon bottom is almost 2,000 meters... And it was also one of the most crowded trails I have ever seen in the US. Hundreds of hikers where out there and I could see loads of "casualties" limping along. The hike is really easy with lots of switchbacks and tap water everywhere but I spent a lot of time taking in the view.

Luckily I had a permit and could camp at Cottonwood campground at the valley bottom to enjoy the day. The next day it was an easy 2,000 meters up - right into the snow. I know you must be all tired of all that talk about snow, but there it was again. Snow, snow and more snow. The first 6 miles of trail where still sort of ok, but then I had to give in. I camped right in the middle of it and spent one of the coldest nights on the trail at 3,000 meters. The next day I could not find the trail in all that snow and had to roadwalk around it for 5 miles. I then tried again and was lucky - still snow, but manageable. The last days were pretty easy: All downhill to Utah and John, the Gentleman hiker had even cached water for me.

I got a bit sad on my last day - I did not want to stop hiking and start cycling. Also my hiking buddies Kimberlie and Colin who wanted to give me a ride to Page from the terminus had disappeared behind me. Sort of sad I hiked into the Stateline campground which is the Northern Terminus of the AZT at 7 pm on May 18th. And whom did I meet there? A mountain biker who had cycled the AZT! And guess where he was from? Germany! Like me he is more or less travelling constantly and his trail name is rather fittingly "Alpenzorro". He is blogging live from his trips and carries an impressive lightweight equipment for that. We chatted away half of the night and after all his stories I eventually came to the conclusion that cycling might not be that bad after all.

Buckskin gulch
Not knowing what had happened to Kimberlie and Colin I left early next morning to visit Buckskin Gulch, a Slot canyon on the way out. Very spectacular indeed. But then it was a 10 mile walk out to the highway. There were about 50 cars coming in, but none out. Half of the cars stopped for me, but they were all going the wrong way... Bad luck - but eventually the first car going out stopped: It was Kimberlie and Colin! So all went right in the end: I got a ride into Page, found a hotel, got my bicycle and received all my packages from the post office. Now I am off to cycling tomorrow....


eArThworm said...

Good job! Sorry about the snow, but all worked out in the end. Looking forward to reading your next adventure.

Colin Ibbotson said...

Glad we found you on that road from hell!