The AZT Project: Seeing Arizona From Top to Bottom, One Section at a Time

At the beginning of 2020, as I was prepping for Oracle Rumble pretty much already knowing before the race that I wasn’t going to finish it, I came up with a sort of consolation project, but also a bigger one: I was going to cover the remaining miles I had left of the Arizona Trail in calendar year 2020. At that point I had done the Stagecoach 100 and Colossal Vail 50 (which is only 25 miles off the trail that you run in both directions, so it’s doubled), and I had the rest to do. I also felt like (in spite of living here for nearly my whole life), there is a lot of Arizona that I still haven’t seen, so this also seemed like a good way to work my way through some new places.

I told Kris about my idea and she gave it the thumbs-up. 

Well, that was January 2020 and we all know how things started going down when March rolled in. It’s sufficient to say that my plan got derailed. I did get in one solo trip (my first) backpacking in February, and to my surprise, I lucked out and picked one of the best trips to start with. Turns out that some of the passages closest to home here in the Phoenix area contain some of the best scenic views and rock formations of the entire trail that I’ve seen so far.

But with that said, as we started moving into summer and learned more about what we could do while still minimizing the risk of Covid, I started getting some AZT miles in. Did more backpacking that year than any before or since, but it was still overall much less than I’d hoped to do. And as 2020 drew to its tumultuous close, I lost a lot of impetus. 

In the years since then (as I write this in 2023), I’ve continued to work on it in fits and starts, but progress is going on, and I’m finally starting to see some stretches of continuous coverage in longer and longer lengths. It’s been slow going getting there, but it’s nice to feel a sense of progress.