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1st Day on AZTrail

I walked 44184 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 23 miles today.
Got picked up in Tucson at 5am. Started hiking at 9am. Super windy on Miller Peak.
Check out my current location on the map.

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Posted: 11:27 03-22-2012 772
AZ Trailhead

here we go!

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Posted: 11:26 03-22-2012 771
On the Trail
I've been saving texts on my phone each day but t-mobile has no coverage around here so the texts are waiting. Oh well. So, here's a recap of the first three days. You can check out my progress map at AZT page since my Spot has been working pretty well.

Saturday at about 9am, we started hiking to the Mexico border which is the start of the AZ Trail. We started north at about 9:30 and made it up the very rugged first 6 miles to the top of Miller Peak. The weather was nice and warm, but not hot. It was amazingly windy. Some pines broke not long before we walked past.
We wound up hiking about 20 miles, stopping shy of Parker Canyon Lake. This was farther than I had planned to go, but I felt terrific - no real pains, blisters, or soreness.
I'm saying "WE" because I'm hiking with a guy named Colton that I met online. His father is supporting us these few days and that has made the hike much more enjoyable at the beginning. We plan to hike together for a couple more days and then go on our own. Anyway, his Dad made us an awesome dutch oven elk meat loaf and biscuits for dinner! Great way to end the first day of hiking.

Yesterday, the big storm moved into the area right after we started hiking. We heard thunder, but at a distance and lucked out that didn't get close. We did get high winds, rain, and snow all day. It was quite an experience and the closest I've come to going hypothermic. When you see pics of my 'raingear' you'll know why. :-)
We made it about 16 miles to Canelo Pass where Colton's dad met us and drove into Patagonia to stay in a hotel since it continued to snow ad blow. Bought two pizzas at Velvet Elvis and stayed at Stage Stop hotel - the only spots in town. I got my money's worth in just my long shower at the hotel.

Today, I was hoping for the storm to blow over, but it hung around. Drove back to our stop point and hiked into the wind and rain again. Stayed with us aaaaaall day until we hit the road 2 miles from Patagonia when it just stopped! Gave us 45 minutes of hiking to dry out quite a bit. We're at the same hotel as last night, but the forecast is for much warmer and nicer weather tomorrow.

I'm hoping to stretch our distance tomorrow, but we'll see how it goes.

On the trail, I've met Phil from Florida on his way to Utah and moving just a bit slower than us. Also ran into a couple in a tent in the snow, but they are ahead of us on the trail now. At the trailhead on Saturday, I met Bill who's starting the trail next Friday on his 70th birthday!

Well, there you go. Hopefully, my cellphone posts will go out in the next day or two. Otherwise, I'll post the next chance.

Scout On
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Posted: 20:30 03-19-2012 770
Plane ride to Tucson was fine.
Dallas was all green flying in, but Tucson has roofs the color of sand and sand the color roofs. But, the 85 degrees sure feels nice!
I got a great tour of Tucson, including the university and Arizona Children's Association where my friend works. I love the architecture and character of the buildings here.
Tomorrow, I shop for food and repack it all to take on the trail. I'll also pack a box to send down the trail to pick up in a town a week or so from now. Well, that's the plan anyway.
Scout On
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Posted: 18:48 03-15-2012 769
Leaving on a Jet Plane...
Here We Go Don't know when I'll be back again, but I'm hoping it's by May 1st.

They say every journey begins with a single step, but this one begins with a couple long plane rides. I fly to Tucson via Dallas today to start my 800-mile Arizona Trail hike. A friend is picking me up at the airport and letting me stay with her family for two nights. Then, it's a 100-mile ride to the Mexico border and trailhead early Saturday (St. Patrick's Day!) morning to take that first step. I've found a hiking buddy to give me a ride and join me for the first 4 days or so and then we'll probably go our own ways.

So, after about 6 months of planning, purchasing, making, and practicing, it's time to actually start the adventure. My wife and son are off to school and I'm waiting for a good friend to give me a ride to the airport. The backpack is wrapped in plastic for the baggage destroyers mungers gorillas handlers to play with. I've got maps, water sources, and schedule sheets to go over a few more times on the plane.

It's been quite a few days with no posts on my blog here since I've been so focused on final preparations. For the next 6 weeks, I'll hopefully be posting from the trail so the posts will be short and mostly chronicling my hike. You can follow my progress at my AZ Trail page.

Scout On
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Posted: 7:23 03-15-2012 768
Trail Journal
I hiked 4 miles to Gander Mountain to pick up three 1-liter platypus water bags. They weigh about 5 ounces all together and take up very little space when rolled up. I'll have them as extra storage in case water is more scarce than I imagine and for a couple of looooong dry stretches.

I hiked over this frozen river and dropped a big snowball on it just for fun.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:52 03-05-2012 763
Week of Scouting
Attended Eagle ceremony on Sunday.
Attended troop meeting on Monday.
Gave out gift card and coupon on Wednesday.
Helped out at district roundtable on Thursday.
Completed a First Aid merit badge with a scout on Friday.
Saturday and Sunday, I'll be presenting Wilderness First Aid (yet again) to a dozen scouters.

If you're a hungry Scout in Salt Lake City, or just passing through, I hear you can get free Chipotle - see this post. Have one for me.

13 days until I leave for Arizona.
Scout On
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Posted: 15:52 03-02-2012 756
What I Really Do - AZ Trail
What they think I do

Click the image for a larger view.

Which one do you think of when you hear someone is hiking 800 miles across Arizona?

Scout On

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Posted: 13:26 02-28-2012 755
I Love It When...
hiking plans ... a plan comes together.
This weekend was a flurry of progress on final plans for my AZ Trail hike. Still a lot more to do, but big progress.

So, the actual plans for the hike are pretty much done. Now, I just have to actually do it. The rest of my To Do list are support things, like enabling my ability to blog from the trail, email subscribers to my updates, map tracking, and other fun stuff.
Oh yeah, we're supposed to get a foot of snow tomorrow so I'll be taking a few rest days from hiking.

I'm visiting a scout meeting tonight to tell them about my hike, show my gear, and promote the ScoutStrong Program.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:46 02-27-2012 754
2nd Quilt
myog sleeping quilt It may be too light for my AZ hike, but I expect it to be perfect for summer backpacking on the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. This sleeping quilt has only almost 1 inch of loft, but takes up a lot less space than my first quilt so it's tempting to try it earlier. I'll test it outside this weekend and see how warm I stay.

It's green rip-stop nylon and a bit shorter and skinnier than my first in an effort to reduce weight. It weighs 1lb. 15oz. I was hoping it would weigh less, but I think the insulation I used is heavier for the amount of loft - in other words, not as good as expected.

The quality of insulation is really key to a warm quilt with less weight. Down has the best loft to weight ratio, but messy to work with, expensive, and loses loft when moist.

insulated sleep system This synthetic insulation will maintain loft better when wet which makes me a bit more comfortable on a long trek. Hopefully, I'll never find out just how well it holds up. :-)

It only took me about 2 hours to make this quilt. Since it's mostly just long, straight stitches, there's not much to it. Keeping the many thick layers laying flat and in line is the most difficult part.

Fortunately, my neighbor had some extra brown yarn for the quilting laying around when I found out we had none. It's a good thing I'm leaving on my hike soon or I'd probably wind up making a third quilt somewhere between the first two in thickness.

Scout On

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Posted: 22:03 02-24-2012 753
DIY Pack
MYOG G4 Pack Yes, Mom, I made it myself!

With very little seam ripping and only two permanent alterations (mistakes), I've got my pack I plan to use for 2,000 miles this summer. It is a G4 pattern that I purchased online and sewed at home.

I've been hiking with the pack filled to about 24 pounds this past week and it carries just great. I've added cut pieces of 3/8inch foam pad to the shoulder straps and waistbelt instead of using socks and gloves for padding. I figured the extra 1.1oz. is worth the comfort, and it IS much more comfortable. I also just designed and made slip-on waistbelt pad extenders last night. These have a belt-wide strip of foam to cover my front hipbone that often gets bruised.

Here's more info:

lightweight backpack I made mine grey so it matches my quilt, hat, tent, and beard. ;-)
It seems to have plenty of room for my main gear and I've not used the side pockets yet. I expect to fill those with water during my Arizona hike in a couple weeks. My sleeping quilt gets stuffed in first to fill the bottom and raise the heavy stuff up a bit. I don't squish the quilt down too much, but use the weight of gear above it to compress it down.

I just have one section of a blue foam pad for the back. Most people use a foam pad for sleeping and fold it up to provide the pack structure here. I'm using an inflatable pad instead, but it's 72 inches and I need 78 or my feet are on the ground. So, I lay the pack under my feet and have plenty of insulation and comfort there.

There is quite a bit of stress on the pack where the shoulder straps and waistbelt connect to the pack since this is where all the weight hits. I've double bartacked those points and the material seems to be plenty strong to handle the stress. I guess we'll see as I make my way from Mexico to Utah next month.

G4 backpack
The top has a drawstring and two velcro strips to hold it shut. This top collar can also be extended up if you have a big load. But, be careful about overloading the pack - it's lightweight and should not have more than 25-30 pound load in it.
You can see how the pack top loads here. By packing sleeping gear first, you don't need to dig deep until it's time to set up camp. Keeping the daily needs, such as food, water, maps, hat, filter on top or in mesh pockets makes rest breaks easier to manage.

Oh, the two alterations I made?
  1. I attached the pack back and sides incorrectly which subtracted about 400 cubic inches of the bottom area.
  2. One seam on the collar faces out rather than in - I blame that one on the instructions, though.

Scout On
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Posted: 8:57 02-23-2012 752
busy week 2 Busy 2 Blog
This entire past week, I've been running back and forth, round and round, over and under. But, today I got to take a big breath and relax!
In a nutshell,

I emailed some scoutmasters in Arizona, letting them know about my hike plans for the Arizona Trail and how they and their scouts can join my ScoutStrong Challenge - you can too. A couple troops are hoping to hike with me somewhere along the trail. A scouter might let me stay at his cabin. And, another might help me reach the trailhead and hike the first few days with me.

Whenever I interact with folks in the Scouting community, I'm always amazed at how supportive and helpful they are. When presenting my Red Cross training, it usually takes 10 minutes to clean everything up and pack my car when I'm with Scouters versus the 30 minutes or more when it's just the general public. It's a high bar you all set for the rest of us to reach - keep it up!

Scout On
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Posted: 13:12 02-21-2012 750
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