Trail Butter Pro, Krissy Moehl, along with her 2 best adventure pals recently completed part two of their Arizona Trail adventure. The ladies began this expedition in 2022 with the completion of the first 200 miles of the 800 trail.
This past April, they set back out to cover the next 200 miles. Below you'll find Krissy's account of the trip.
AZT part 2 of 4 (or 5).
This trip 180 miles.
~385 of ~800 miles total.
Passages 14 – 21: northbound from Hwy 77 crossing in Oracle, AZ to Hwy 87 crossing in Sunflower, AZ. 11 days trail time.
I’m proud of our trail crew. Three middle-aged women (I can’t believe that applies to any of us let alone all of us) finagling many life logistics to create an 11-day block of time to hike the second section of our group project – The Arizona Trail (AZT).
Part One while full of the initial logistics was relatively easy to make happen. We had excitement and therefore momentum; with the inertia of that ‘first time’ energy we found ourselves almost magically transported to the southern border. Don’t read that literally. We had a lot of travel details to figure out and a lot of gear to streamline in order to travel light so we could cover ground. I’m calling out the momentum created any time there is excitement and curiosity for the first, well, anything.
I ran the 800 meter in middle school and high school track. I also ran track in college, but only raced a handful of times. The 800 meter is arguably the most mentally tough event (other than steeple chase, mad respect there), you know when you line up it’s basically all out for a half mile, but mentally, thanks to coaching, I intended some strategy. The first 200 meters would flash by in a blur, in fact I remember rounding the first bend before taking my first breath. The surge off a start line carries you. The second 200 meters was about breathing and finding pace, just below threshold, but something you could sustain. Not super exciting, but you have to get through. The second 200 meters was also where you could blow the whole race by going too hard. The third 200 meters - start of the second lap and final lap - always felt the hardest. Breathing was definitely labored by then, some runners would start their kick early, and mentally most tried to hang on for the final 200 meters. The fourth and final 200 meters was either pure agony or pure thrill, either way anything that was left in the tank would be poured into our legs and on to the track.
The second and third sections of the Arizona Trail project, I anticipate, will be the hardest for our trail pack of three to make happen. That is why I am so proud of us. We surged into the second part and have seriously committed to this project by making it happen just a year later. Because we reconvened this past April, we are now roughly half way through the 800-mile trail! We talked about returning for part 2, fall of 2022, but we didn’t have the time or headspace to fit in the trip between our different life situations.
As spring rolled around I knew we had to make it happen or all momentum would have high potential of being lost. I booked a flight (because my period cycle tracking app told me it was a good day to book travel, go figure), sent the receipt (and a screen shot of the app note) to Kathleen and Jenny and they sent their itineraries back within 24 hrs.
Thankfully, all of the energy we put into planning the first leg in 2022 allowed packing and prepping to be a bit easier. In fact, instead of months in advance like the first trip, we cruised a bit and pulled together a lot of the logistics in the final weeks. We each have different strengths when it comes to our time prepping for and on the trail. When it comes to trail logistics Kathleen has the greatest understanding of trail life, trail angels, trail magic and what to anticipate. She’s got a knack for knowing the exact pieces to have planned in advance, like shuttles and mail resupply addresses, and also knows the times to let magic work its way in to the trail experience. Jenny and I took a stab at daily mileage plans and reading up on water access points and figured out what was a realistic and relatively easy final point to be able to find a ride back to the airport at the end of the trip. Part two we hiked highway to highway.
The quick notes summary from section two:
- Learning from the first section I brought a ton more calories and made sure to eat more than I shared of my Trail Butter stash.
- We figured out on this trip that 17-20 mile days were really our jam, especially with the bigger water carries, longer stints between towns, and the desire to have some chill trail side time as opposed to walking sun up to sun down.
- We got to meet and chat with a bunch more hikers on this section.
- We called in trail visits and loved the added energy! Gavin McKenzie made a huge effort with a long drive, a 7 mile run in carrying fruit, bubbly waters, filtered water and Cheetos. Only to run back out and return drive that same night.
- Trail time is as tough as it is chill. All you have to do is wake with the sun. Walk, eat, find water, carry weight and find a flat spot to sleep. You get to worry about the basics, most essential bits of life. And doing that 24/7 for 11 days is also tough.
- Cowgirl camping was a highlight! But it was initially hard earned. On our longest day of hiking this trip we hiked by headlamp into the gorgeous Superstition Wilderness. Hiker hunger and monster sleepies made pushing through those final evening miles mentally harder. When we realized we’d passed the last flat spots for a couple of miles spirits dipped. Then we started scanning for trail side flat-ish spots. Kathleen’s elation for sleeping under the stars more than made up for the grump-factor I was feeling and we opted to try cowgirl camping. It ended up being the best night of sleep thus far, even though Jenny slept on the trail and our backpacks under our feet is what kept us from sliding downhill. The rewarding sunrise illuminating the high ridgelines above us coupled with hot coffee trailside the next morning made it a trip favorite and we made sure to do it again with all of our spirits psyched.
- We have a team name. On one of our longer dirt road walking days Jenny caught up to Kathleen and I. We all pulled out our ear buds and she started the conversation with, “What do you two think about Mullet Train as a team name? Business in the front and party in the back.” We loved it and laughed through the initial Kathleen logistics master and Jenny chill party timer in the back. As we thought through it more we realized we all have a bit of business and party and that is why this team gels so well. We can pick up for each other, ask for help and talk through ideas and situations to find outcomes that work for all of us. We noticed that there are a lot of solo hikers on the trail and to have our team of three intending on and committing to completing the entire trail in 3-5 years, feels like another reason to be proud of us.
To wrap our highway side finish, Kathleen’s friend Gavin Ertl, someone she met while hiking the PNT in 2021, scooped us up from the hot sun, filled us with cold beverages on the drive to showers, a massive lunch and ride to the airport. The logistics of finishing this section on the same day as our flights would have been doable but tricky. Kathleen reaching out and Gavin jumping in, let’s just say a fellow hiker knows and loves to pay trail magic forward. Something on my to do list for PCTers this summer.
Our total trail mileage now lands us closer to Phoenix and Flagstaff and we are really enjoying Trail Magic and having others join us for some miles. We’ve started a list of those that live locally in hopes of sharing more of the trail in our remaining trips. And we encourage trail side visits from any that enjoy sharing in the hiker experience. We are already excited to plan our final trip and mostly the celebratory night in Vegas, but there are at least one or two more before then.