After a year of wildfire closures and a pandemic, the Arizona National Scenic Trail is abuzz with activity. Springtime is a wonderful time to be outdoors, and hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians are finding their own adventures on the AZT this season. From talking with Trail Angels, Gateway Community representatives, and monitoring various social media platforms we can say this is the busiest season on the Arizona Trail ever. Lots of other records are being broken, too…including record heat in April – ouch!
Just a few days ago, Joe McConaughy (pictured above) set a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for a supported crossing of the AZT, completing the trail from Mexico to Utah in only 13 days, 3 hours, 21 minutes. That’s over 60 miles per day and 110,000 feet of vertical elevation gain. He was logging monster miles each day and meeting up with friends who had food, bed and massage waiting for him at random trailheads along the way. His FKT attempt was nearly thwarted by deep snow on the Kaibab Plateau but snow shoes and a pep talk got him back on the trail. You can learn more about Joe’s FKT through his blog online, and also through Instagram @thestring.bean.
We encourage you to share your Arizona Trail stories with us – whether you’re out for a day or all 800 miles. Remember, this is your trail.
Whose Land Are We On?
The Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) at the University of Arizona invites you to join them in exploring the Arizona Trail during the month of April while also recognizing the ancestral lands upon which we hike, run, pedal and ride. To participate in this wellness challenge and educational initiative, post a photo from your AZT adventure on Instagram, tag @uarizonanalsa, and share whose ancestral land you’re on. NALSA hopes to log a total of 800 miles with student and general public participation, and covering the entire Arizona Trail would be amazing. You can also log your information on this spreadsheet online. With 22 federally recognized Native American tribes in Arizona today, and tens of thousands of years of cultural history within the Grand Canyon State, it’s safe to say that every foot of the AZT is on native land. Understanding who has lived here is a wonderful way to connect with the land while honoring past, present and future generations. Need helping learning more about ancestral lands? There a smartphone app called Native Land that’s a good start, which includes various layers of cultural history based on your location. To dig deeper, check out the websites for each of Arizona’s tribes here. Within each of these independent websites, search under the Cultural Department pages and look for maps and information on ancestral lands. You may be surprised to learn that present-day locations of many tribes’ reservations are a tiny fraction of their historic homelands, and some are located far from their original territory. Follow @uarizonanalsa on Instagram for weekly updates on progress and to learn more. Warrior Hikers Hit the Trail
On March 31, two combat veterans from Arizona started their 800-mile journey along the Arizona Trail as part of the Warrior Hike program. The Arizona Trail Association has proudly partnered with Warrior Expeditions to provide outdoor therapy opportunities for veterans through long-distance hiking expeditions. Due to COVID-19, last year’s program was canceled so everyone was delighted to help two local vets hit the trail this spring after receiving their vaccinations. If you’re out on the AZT over the next two months, keep an eye out for Jared, a Marine Corps veteran from Tucson who served in Afghanistan from 2008-2012; and Paul, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq from 2002-2010. Trail Angels and volunteers from throughout Arizona are signed up to help the duo with transportation, a hot shower, a meal, and a friendly face when they arrive in gateway communities along the way. According to one recent Warrior Hiker, “The kindness of strangers along the Arizona Trail really restored my faith in humanity, and reminded me that it’s OK to trust people I don’t know. This has been an important part of my healing process.” New AZT Hats Keep You Looking and Feeling Cool
We just launched two new limited edition caps celebrating the Arizona Trail and they’re available for $25 each through our Online Store. Once these are gone, they’re gone for good. Choose from the Trailway Yellow & Brown cap and the Ranger Blue cap from our friends at Crown Trails Headwear. Both have full mesh backs to maximize airflow. ATA Members login to get a discount. Also, for a limited time, anyone purchasing $50 or more in AZT goods will get a Huppy Bar! We just got a fresh shipment of AZT Wild Mesquite Bars from Huppy Bar (handcrafted in Flagstaff) and are happy to share the love with online customers. Employment Opportunities
Saguaro National Park is gearing up for its summer season and they’re looking for youth ages 16-18 to participate in a summer Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). The YCC is an 8-week youth employment program for teenagers consisting of three main components: conservation work, environmental education, and outdoor recreation. Saguaro National Park will be selecting 10 crew members and 2 Youth Crew Leaders. The dates for the season are June 7 – July 30. Enrollees will be paid $12.15 hourly for 40 hours a week. The Park is accepting applications from April 1 – 30, and selections will be made by May 17. To apply, please visit Saguaro National Park’s website or stop by Saguaro National Park-East to pick up an application at the Visitor Center (3693 S. Old Spanish Trail, 85730). Wild Arizona, in partnership with the Coronado National Forest’s Douglas Ranger District, is also seeking corps members and leaders for its six-week summer residential Youth Conservation Corps program for Summer 2021. Wild Arizona seeks high school students who enjoy the outdoors and conservation and would like to get paid to work and live together with a crew of similarly aged people, camping and backpacking to remote areas in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeast Arizona, and learning the skills required to maintain and repair trails. The ideal crew member is at least 15 years of age at the start of the program and no older than 19 years old before completion of the program; is a current high school student or recent graduate; demonstrates leadership skills and/or responsibility; participates with extracurricular groups or volunteer organizations; likes working and living with people in close quarters for an extended period of time; enjoys spending time outdoors and is comfortable spending extended time in the backcountry and away from home; and wants to learn more about natural history and ecology. The program will run from June 13 to July 25, and applicants must be available for the entire program duration. Crew members will be compensated at the Arizona state minimum wage rate of $12 per hour, for a total of $480 per week, and upon completion of this program will receive 240 hours towards the Public Lands Corps hiring authority. Food and housing while in the program are provided at no cost. To learn more and to apply, please visit Wild Arizona’s YCC webpage.