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'Krissy & Friends' An Arizona Trail Adventure - Part One

Trail Butter Pro, Krissy Moehl, recently returned from a 200 mile expedition with friends on the Arizona Trail (AZT). Below Krissy & pals Kathleen Egan and Jenny Jurek share key takeaways from their 200-mile tour of the southern Arizona desert.

Stay tuned for updates from Krissy, Kathleen & Jenny as they team up again in the future to tackle the remaining 600 miles of the AZT.

The Deets:

AZT part 1 of 4 200 miles/800 miles total. 

Passages 1-13 from the Southern Terminus at border of Mexico thru Oracle AZ. 9.5 days trail time.

The story of how these three female 40-somethings ended up hiking a 200 mile section of the AZT spans decades. I’ve know Jenny Jurek and Kathleen Egan for 20 and 13 years respectively. To share the more immediate story, we did an interview on Ginger Runner Live on May 3, check it out to hear about the journey to the trail directly from our trio. 

The planning and preparation for this first section was made possible by a lengthy text stream primarily populated by Jenny and Kathleen while I closed on a home purchase, race directed the Chuckanut 50k and released the second edition of my book. March was a full month (understatement). Their thoughtful collaboration ensured all aspects of this long distance hike were taken care of. Shuttles, resupply boxes, water caches, specialized gear, you could draft a 'How To' book from our string of texts. On April 5 Kathleen & I flew from Seattle and Jenny landed from Denver at the exact same time, 10:52am. Our shuttle was a bit late so by the time we were actually hiking it was nearly 4pm. We made the most of the daylight hours and tested out our headlamps to arrive and set up our first camp near a porcelain bathtub in the middle of seemingly nowhere. 

It’d be easy to write a blow by blow of each day, but the takeaways feel much more precious. I asked my trail buddies for their favorite takeaways and I’m including mine too. More of the story is captured on the Ginger Runner Live interview, including the aftermath, and each of us have a highlight reel on our instagram accounts. 
Krissy - notes to future self. Things learned on part one to apply to part 2, 3 & 4.
  • Next time, no sunscreen. Instead I’ll wear sun protective clothing head to toe.
  • My favorite night was setting up camp just before sunset on Mount Mica. We found a flat spot and were able to set up our sleep systems and start cooking dinner before dark. For our next section I’d like a few evenings were we set up camp AND have dinner before sunset.
  • Morning hike time. I loved leaving camp together and easing into the hiking pace sharing our morning caffeinated energy in chatter. 
  • More calories. Thank goodness for the heartiness of Trail Butter, both the Squeeze Packs and the new Granola. 10 days in a row the TB Granola kicked of my morning hit of calories. The packets were easy to slurp down or add to a tortilla with plantain chips. I love Trail Butter so much that I ended up sharing with other hikers! Note to self - bring plenty for myself and to share. My three meals a day were filling, but I need to up my mid day snack game.

Kathleen- An initial sampler of the Arizona Trail that left us looking forward to more in the Fall.  Some of the highlights from this section included:
  • Flora and Fauna: The trail led us thru desert valleys, mountains, forests, rugged terrain, steep climbs and prominent ridge lines. The land was a surreal mix of varied plants, especially cactus, and cool wildlife that included a Gila Monster, Coatimundi, and an angry Rattlesnake.  A landscape as different as could be compared to our usual Pacific Northwest trails.  
  • People: Trail Angels and hikers alike. There were random acts of kindness from strangers that provided transportation, showers and great conversation. We also met a smattering of wonderful trail characters along the way. The generosity and kindness of the people is what makes these hikes so unique and magical. 
  • Provisions: I left the stove behind and instead cold soaked my food. Some of my favorites were refried beans and rice with Fritos, garlic butter mashed potatoes with mushrooms and tuna, seaweed ramen soup and overnight oats for breakfast.  Trail snacks included mushroom crisps, Fritos, and of course, Trail Butter. Trail Butter was the most versatile of my snacks and is the perfect combination of sweet, salty and full of protein. Trail Butter was such an easy source of solid nutrition without the inevitable fade of sugar products. And so tasty when stirred into soup, or oatmeal, or spread on a tortilla.

Jenny - Cold soaking and hiker apps
  • When backpacking in the Arizona desert, I had a hard time eating in the dry heat! All of my normal snacks like trail mix and chips were too dry for me. Thankfully the Trailbutter lil squeeze packs are liquid enough and went down super easy! I was grateful for all the calories in sweet and savory flavors!  They are way more than just a nut butter, the delicate balance of wholesome ingredients worked awesome for me! The lil squeeze sample pack was so convenient because I could send different flavors in my mail drops! Also the granola packs were the perfect size for mail drops and daily breakfast rations! It was great to add to my overnight oats to give them some crunch and extra calories!
  • Thru hiking apps are super helpful and it was awesome to have multiple different apps amongst us to work together. I also printed out the data book pages which I like to use even though it's very low tech! I primarily used Gaia, while Kathleen and Krissy referenced FarOut. Because Kathleen has a Samsung and Krissy and iPhone even their data varied. Triangulating between our 3 sources worked great!
  • I tried to go super ultra light so I could keep up with Krissy and Kathleen and I left most luxuries behind. But one thing I did bring were EVA flip flops and I'm so glad I did! It was such a joy to air out the feet and take off the shoes at night and in town!
  • Finally, I also learned to be prepared for anything, including allergies! Next time I will bring allergy meds and nasal sprays! 

Self-supported hiking is an incredible way to travel. We took stabs at going light and whittling down gear to the absolute necessities, well, and a few luxury items. We intend to continue this route in two to three more sections over the next couple of years, taking these early pearls forward and continuing to learn.

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