First Day on the Arizona Trail

Date : February 18, 2020

Miles: 1 – 8.3

I arrived in Arizona a couple days ago, and have been staying with Tim’s parents, who moved down here a couple years ago and have graciously offered to host me and drive me to the trailhead this morning. As an aside, I’ve decided that I could totally buy a golf cart and move to a retirement community in Arizona. That could definitely be my jam.

At any rate, this morning Tim’s parents drove me to the Montezuma Pass trailhead. It was a 6 hour round trip for them, and Gayle baked me some cookies to take with me. I am very appreciative of their support. Thank you Tim and Gayle!

Montezuma Pass is not the beginning of the trail, but it’s the southern-most accessible spot. There is a trail from there that takes you to the southern terminus. I hiked on down at about 11:30 am, tagged the border monument, then started heading North!

Hola southern monument.

The first thing the trail does is gain about 2,600 feet, up to a little over 9,000 feet. It’s been a long time since I’ve been much past sea level, so I struggled. Hard. The first few miles were the toughest, as it took me quite a while to adjust to the heat and find a rhythm. I finally settled into a pace that was one level above standstill and turtled my way up to Miller Peak.

On the way up!

The uphill climb took me longer than I anticipated, but I figured I would make up for it on the downhill side. Nope! There was a good bit of snow on the north side of Miller Peak. It was pretty icy because of the number of people who have already tramped it down, so I turtled my way down as well.


After filling up my water bottles from a spring running through a bathtub in the middle of the woods (because why wouldn’t there be a bathtub in the woods), I continued on a little ways to find a camp spot. It was dark, cold and windy by the time I found one, so I set up as fast as I could, shoved some ramen in my face, and bundled up in my base layers, mid layers, all the layers, puffy jacket, gloves and quilt. Luckily I managed to find the one spot that seemed to be largely out of the wind, so I warmed up pretty quickly.

Being the first night camping by myself, I didn’t sleep very well. I woke up at every sound. Earlier, I had read someone’s note on the Guthook trail navigation app saying that they had been visited at a nearby campsite by a couple border-crossers who wanted to camp there. They were later visited by border patrol. So I was a little nervous that there would be a repeat incident, and I kept my pepper spray close. The night passed by uneventfully, however. It was actually the quietest night I’ve ever spent on trail.

16 Replies to “First Day on the Arizona Trail”

    1. Yay! I’m happy to see you are out on the trails again..
      Thanks for blogging!
      Safe trails to you.. I hope you have lots of angels along the way.

  1. That is my home state, I am sure you will find it interesting. The desert can be beautiful and dangerous at the same time. I have climbed most of the Arizona mountains. The trail was not there when I lived in Arizona. I am excited to enjoy your adventures in my home state. The sunsets are fantastic! Have fun be safe. Love you. Richards

  2. Patagonia is our “base camp” for birding. We’ve gone there and stayed a week or so for 4 of the last 5 years. Also in Brown Canyon twice, right below Boboquiveri Peak. Then we usually go camping and birding in the Chiricahua’s. We’ve been in Patagonia when their community choir did a first performance of a piece Paul McCartney wrote. And piano students from the University toured small towns in AZ and played– an excellent indoor small venue right on main street. We need to stay in a different place this year because a copper mining road is slated to go right through the cabins where we’ve stayed previously. ENjOY, Be Safe. Looking forward to your wonderful writing and pictures.

  3. Been praying for you. Couldn’t help but think about you as I was sitting in my living room, working on a sewing project, with the fire place going, and listening to the rain hitting the aluminum porch roof – sounded like frickin’ Niagra Falls. And not only did it rain in a torrential downpour, it broke the old record set back in about 1945 for the highest rainfall in one day. I think it was 1-1/2 inch. But, you are in luck – the rain has subsided and the temperature in going back up, and next week it should be in the 80’s. So trudge on, Baby Girl – trudge on. XOXOX Tim & Gayle

    1. I would really like that fireplace right about now! It’s colder than I expected out here. Just gotta keep moving. Looking forward to those warmer temps! Love you guys!

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