Arizona Trail Unsupported Yo-Yo FKT Intentions
I have a lot of miles planned on many trails over the next two-ish years, and I’m really excited to announce that they will begin early in Spring 2019 on the Arizona Trail. The AZT runs nearly 800 miles from the Mexican border near Coronado National Memorial to the Utah border in the Kaibab plateau. This rather difficult trail traverses various high desert ranges in central AZ including the Mazatal Mountains and San Francisco Peaks. It also does a rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon which I am very excited about.
Since this is going to be the only hiking I will do between finishing the PCT in August 2018 and some more hikes I have planned beginning in August 2019, I’ve decided to double up my miles and yo-yo the trail. A yo-yo simply means I’ll be hiking the entire trail NOBO and immediately turn around and hike it back SOBO, all in one go. I want to get as much as I can out of my AZT experience this year, and doing it twice seems like the best way to do that.
Now, being the ambitious hiker that I am, upon deciding to go ahead with the yo-yo I did a little research on the history of AZT yo-yo’s (who’s done it, how long it took them). It turns out only three people have ever actually yo-yo’d this trail. In 2015, Team Ultra Pedestrian (Ras and Kathy Vaughn) completed the first ever yo-yo of the AZT; it took them 93 days. Just a few weeks ago, Karts (Art Huseonica) finished his yo-yo of the AZT, becoming the oldest person to do so. I just want to say that Ultra Pedestrian and Karts are awesome, incredible hikers, and studying their yo-yo’s has already helped me with my plans so much, and given me the confidence to really feel like I can go for this.
So, knowing that the self-supported yo-yo FKT currently sits at 93 days, I have decided to try to break it. I am confident that I have the ability to do so, and in order to really push myself and see how much I can accomplish, I have set a goal of 50-days for myself. Doing this will be incredibly difficult, and the most intense hiking I will have ever taken upon myself. But the offseason has bred a fierce desire in me to go for this. Every day I think about it, getting more and more eager to get on trail. I want I make clear that I know I haven’t done anything yet. Right now I have never walked a mile on the AZT, much less established any sort of record. I’m ready to go for this, knowing full well that I will have to earn the hell out of it, as any FKT is earned.
In order to properly establish an unsupported FKT I will need to follow a few important guidelines to ensure I actually yo-yo the trail in whatever time it takes me to do so.
First, I will be carrying a SPOT tracking device. I’ve always carried a SPOT on past thru hikes but that was only as a matter of safety in case of emergencies. On this hike I will be checking in on my SPOT twice a day and make the tracking information public in order to verify that I am actually where I claim to be. I will share where that tracking info can be found shortly before I begin the hike.
Second, the word self-supported is very important. There are supported, self-supported, and unsupported FKT’s, and the differences matter. Self-supported means I cannot receive any assistance from anyone. I need to carry everything that I need, walk the entire way, and supply my own resupplies by sending them ahead of time. To ensure that I meet these guidelines, I will not be accepting any hitches for the entire duration of my hike. Even to get in and out of town, a hitch I gladly have taken in the past and will in the future. This time I will walk in and out of towns to leave no doubt that I walk the entire way. I will pre-ship most of my supplies, relying on buying them at stores for whatever else I may need.
So that’s just about it. On February 28, 2019 (I always start thru hikes on a Thursday), hopefully pretty early in the day, I will hike North from the Southern terminus of the Arizona Trail. To achieve my goal, I will need to get back to that same terminus 50 days later, April 16. If I am successful, and if nobody has hiked an even faster yo-yo before then (certainly a possibility), then I will have set a self-supported FKT. I still have some planning and preparation to do in the weeks leading up to this, but I’m already feeling pretty ready and confident. I don’t know if I will achieve my goal or not. That scares me, just as I was scared the first time I set foot on a thru hike, not knowing if I would even finish. But my excitement far outweighs my nerves. No matter what, I’m going to get to spend a couple weeks on trail. Doing what I was born to do. Exploring the wild desert of Arizona, a place I’m so eager to discover. Getting to be my truest self once again. That alone will make this experience worth it, no matter how many days it takes me.
I invite anyone and everyone to follow my progress on this adventure here on this blog, as well as on my Instagram.