So Kris Holm just opened applications for the 2016 Evolution of Balance Award and I will be submitting mine today. My plan is to ride the entire 800 mile Arizona Trail from Mexico to Utah starting next spring sometime (April or May?) Averaging 20-25 miles a day it will take about 35-40 days with a few rest/zero days. I think the elevation gain over the entire trail is about 90,000 ft or the same as the CO Trail but stretched out over 800 miles instead of 500 miles. Spring is the best time to do this trail due to water supply and weather. Summer is too hot and fall water starts disappearing. More info about the trail can be found here: http://www.aztrail.org/
I would love to get a few people to join me. I know it’s hard for “normal working people” to get this much time off of work/school so you don’t necessarily have to join me for the entire thing but as much as you can, maybe a week or two or all of it if you can! If anyone has any interest please let me know and I’ll add you to the maybe list. Yes it will be hard work but also probably one of your most rewarding things you’ve ever done. Let me know if you have any questions.
Oh and I might do this even if I don’t get the KH award. If I did somehow win, the money would be used to buy dry food supplies, pay for water re-supplies at certain spots and anything left over to cover some travel expenses. Here is a link about the award: http://evolutionofbalance.org/
Did I mention the trail goes thru the Grand Canyon?! Unfortunately the unicycles would have to be dismantled and carried through it but let me tell you how amazing the bottom of the canyon is that it would be totally worth it. There are also a few other wilderness areas that we would have to bypass as bikes/unicycles aren’t allowed. Please share this with anyone who might be interested.
I would likely be in for at least some of the southern Arizona sections. (I do have a work schedule to keep). I’m from the Tucson area. I’ve ridden pass #8 on the AZ trail a few times already and have a good bit of Muni experience the AZ terrain. I might also be able to coordinate some supplies / place to stay etc. for Southern AZ
I would recommend you post something with the Arizona Unicycling Club on Facebook. There a are a good number of strong muni riders there that might be up for this.
I’d consider it, but I won’t know until last minute.
So what is the trail like (riding-wise) and where did you get the 20-25 mile/day average? That’s about what I averaged when I hiked ~700 miles of the AT 2 years ago. I imagine you’ll be faster than that on just about anything bigger than a 24". Any idea of the total mileage for the non uni friendly sections?
Sounds like something I would like, but I definitely like long hard days in the saddle when I tour, at least on the bike. 25 miles a day seems a little light to me, but I haven’t done off-road muni touring. It could largely depend on the terrain difficulty. Not sure what wheel size would be appropriate either. My initial thought would be a 29er.
I’ll add you to the maybe list. Can you PM me your email and name?
I’m not sure what the trail is like but plan to ride a section or two of it in a few weeks so will let you know. I’m guessing there is a little bit of everything from smooth double track to rocky single track. There will be sections that are I rideable due to the terrain and rules for certain sections where wheels aren’t allowed (mainly the Grand Canyon section). Don’t know the exact Milage but will post here and in an email update when I do more research.
As for 20-25 miles per day, I came up with that as that is what I averaged on my solo trip on the Colorado trail. Might not seem like a lot but after you have a full pack on you and unicycle, riding for continuous days in a row, elevation gain and loss, food and rest breaks, set up and take down camp, plus groups are always a bit slower, I think this is the best Milage per day. Plus it’s not a race and I want people to enjoy the journey and have time to take photos and just enjoy being in nature.
I’m with Jamey on this: it is not road touring.
For this kind of trip with dirt road, elevation, some technical sections, all the gear, the camping, packing, pictures and maybe group aspect, I think 25 miles a day is a good estimation and won’t feel short (I had read fast and now notice Jamey saying the same)
Take a look at tarptent. For a muni tour I would probably go with something like this: https://www.tarptent.com/momentdw.html. The pro-trail is lighter, but it’s nice to have a roof over your head that’s tall enough to change clothes in if you’re going to be out for more than a week. I have a double rainbow for bicycle touring, and it’s just awesome. He uses silicone impregnated nylon, which is more durable than the silicone coated stuff you get from MSR and the like, and they pitch dry in the rain and quick (<2 minutes once you get good at it). Typically a cheap tarp would weigh more than most of these tents. I’ve seen plenty of bivy sacks heavier than them.
I’ve heard good things about tarptents. I’ve also been a cheap bastard though and have always gone with the cheapest tarps. I also hear good things about tyvek, which is probably the lightest option.
I also like the versatility. Assuming you have foliage around that is tall enough you can setup however. Standing space is totally doable, and a single tarp can even work or 2 people. The downside is if you find yourself out in the open, all you really have is a bivy. A lot of people also enjoy the privacy of tents over the openness of a tarp setup.
If rain/snow and wind aren’t a huge factor, nothing beats cowboy camping and keeping a tarp as backup.
There is of course a lot on the web about the AZT. Id like to post a link to a free topo map site (for most of the US including AZ) that you all might not know about. Link is below (zoomed into AZ Keep clicking the map to zoom in and eventually you get a topo)
Example zoomed in (topo of AZT pass 8 area on I-10 E of Tucson)
Also, from biking and muni riding around AZ for the last many years (although not strcutly on the AZT), I would expect terrain to be the following:
In general I would expect a lot of long stretches of hardpack and loose-over-hard, interspersed with sandy sections in dry creek beds (washes). There should also be a healthy amount of shorter rocky tech sections too.
In the higher elevations in the middle of the state (Flagstaff through the Mogollon Rim) there are a lot of pine forests and areas of clay soils that turn your tire into a unique piece of pottery if you ride them when wet. When dry they generally form a hardpack thats fairly fast).
Coming down off of the Mogollon Rim generally the terrain gets more rocky and the environment becomes a true desert (not a lot of shade, a lot of thorny cactus, drier). The terrain stays this way with significant rocky ups and downs over mountain ridges and through valleys until south of I-10 where it flattens out into a high desert grassland. Terrain remains generally hardpack, loose-over-hard, sandy.
Another thing to look into is a good trail guide. Something that gives elevation profiles, water source locations, campgrounds, and/or road crossings/resupply areas. A quick search shows there is an official one. I have no idea if it is any good, but if that information is available it makes planning much easier. Especially if you know there is a water source 5 miles away, you get away with carrying a fraction of the water (same goes for food and resupply points). Travelling light makes everything 100x more enjoyable.
So what would be a likely start date and direction? From what I’ve read, I assume you plan on going north bound in the spring. It looks like early to mid March is ideal, not too cold with enough water sources from snow melt. Was that your general idea?
I’m trying to find a way to free up my schedule come spring.