AZT a tidbit from the Judy Eidson

judy writes AZT a tidbit from the Judy Eidson 3-8 2008 to 3-21-2008

A trip of a life time! My husband gave me full support IF I found some one to go with. (knowing I would not, he felt safe of giving the go ahead, most people have not even heard of the AZT-az trail). I had finished off all BUT 260 miles of the 807 mile trip with either Colleen Hunt, Connie Simmons, June Storment or Nancy Vail, all of us in our 50’s. This was a broken record to these girls of completing the trip. Out of blue in Sept Connie Simmons came to me with a piece of paper from 1999 about doing this trip & said she would help me complete my dream. No questions asked I took it & ran with it, a surprise to my husband! My sis, loving nature & brother a backpacker were very encouraging. None of them were here to help out with actual trip but they had a bigger job of convincing a worrier which is my mother who also lives in Nebr why I was doing this & every thing would be fine. I now have time to complete my New Year’s Resolution which will help me physically with the trip the PF Chang ½ Marathon which was Jan 18, 2008. No convincing needed Connie, Nancy & Debbie Schmel started training with me in Oct. We finished with flying colors!

Now, the real challenge, the computer, maps, & the GPS. I had the software for Nat’l Geographic Topo’s & worked with it for a couple of years, but that was before Vista. Having to buy expensive cords to work with my Garmin emap GPS, many calls to support people from both Hewitt Packer, Nat’l Geographic & also the guru of the AZT Asst waypoints David Babcock, I was on my way, but still very frustrated I need to use my laptop because by that time I had most of my work on that system. Days before I left Nat’l Geographic called to work out the rest of the problems & hopefully for the northern AZT I will not need to spend this many hrs at it. A suggestion would be to check out the AZT maps that they now have made up to see if that would work for you, it would be a lot more expensive but less trouble. The good thing I feel I know the terrain & land marks very well as much time I spent working with them. The phone calls to stewards were very helpful. They gave out valuable info, thanks to Bernie Stalmann Passage 6, & for passage 13,14, John Rendall which was very knowledgeable on other passages too. Caching was must for this area, with a wet winter chances of us finding water in the dirt & cow tanks were more promising. I had e-mailed Buck Tilton from Backpacker Magazine on the best way to purify water from cow & dirt tanks, he suggested BOTH water filter & tablets. Our new filter did not show up by the time we left, which is the new MSR Hyperflow Filter so we only took tablets & filtered with bandana, coffee filters & cheese cloth. Once you see the tanks you see why all filters are needed. In southern Az there is not a lot of running springs or clear ponds. Another important tool was AZT Asst web page started to put out 3 different sources, 1 from Fred Gaudet, thru hikers log, Dave Hicks & the last which we did not have at the time is the data pages, use all sources! The books I used were helpful, Arizona Trail Official Guide & Crossing Arizona by Chris Townsend even though a few trails & info changed they were very useful. I will probably never meet Chis or the person he talks about frequently Jake but I’m truly fans of there’s.

Now the food, if you have not done trips like this before be prepared! 21 days of breakfast, snacks, suppers & keeping the daily quota to 1 to 2 lbs. My kitchen, & dining room was a sight- wish I would of taken a picture! My husband would come home from work, would look at the mess, listen to my daily struggle & would quietly go to his easy chair which was a good thing. After a couple of days I had every thing in baggies planned to a T, laid out & organized to put in my pack & shuttle bags. Then one night my cat Abbey, which had no intent to eat my food but I guess enjoyed listening to the bags rustle had bite holes or chewed into them. I had to cook & eat out of these bags, they could not have holes in them! I was close to tears. Off to the store for more freezer bags & repacking, no sympathy from my husband he stood up for the cat! By this time I wasn’t sleeping, would get up in the middle of the night look at maps, make up more list, etc. In the mean time Connie was doing calendars so everyone would have an idea where we would be, making up 2nd maps to give to spouses for rescue purposes, & sitting up lists what to share, & running to do errands for us. 10 days before leaving Nancy Vail announced she was able to get a leave from work & do the whole 3 weeks with us. It was an unsigned agreement we would do this trip “the AZ Trail Leisurely Way” Still working 40 hrs plus a week, had to yet prepare food, & pack & yet try to train on the Mts around the valley carrying her pack to try to physically get ready & make sure her old pack was prepared. I kept telling her it all has to do with attitude. I on the other hand had planned from changing from my external Jansport which I’ve had for 19 yrs to a new internal backpack, that’s what everyone is going to, so thought it would be a good think, wrong! The week before the trip I switched back to my Jansport. No matter what REI did to get the weight up higher it was resting way to low on my lower back especially when I tried to put in extra gallon’s of water for the 2 day dry camp. My shelf on my hips work well with my old pack. I can mount my tent & clothes on the top in a stuff sack, it made sense leave a good thing alone. FYI Jansport is excellent to work with, I’ve had zippers, rips, hip belt etc worked on from the past, never a question asked & did great work. Tension was building I couldn’t wait to get started, packing my backpack was much easier than expected, it weighted around 30 lbs.

The day finally arrived, it was such a great feeling to finally get started! I so enjoyed the smells, flowers, sounds, & scenery. The calming, relaxing feeling is something I can’t really explain, other than sometimes a brainless carefree feeling. But the days with no ribbons, cairns or trails was a different story. That’s where MR. Garmin & I had to go into 3rd gear. I can truly say we never once missed our trail or destination, those sleepless nights & being prepared paid off. The side trip we took up Palmer Wash because I got bored with the pipeline was fun. Connie went into her skit of the Wizard of Oz- If I only had a half of a brain I would go this way & then if I had a ½ brain I would follow Judy, so I guess I‘ll follow Judy. I could tell there was a bit of doubt when walking in sand & I know where to turn was a bit of stress for both of them. We came to a great tank filled with water & over flowing that we would of never found if we went the other way. The great sigh’s Nancy gave always caught our attention, but started to figure out it was more of a habit.

I felt like I packed most things well, the clothes did great until we had a shuttle & we were headed to Rincon Mts & traded my non gortex boots for gortex boots. My feet rebelled them, but expecting snow I switched to the sweaty, stinky, blistering rubbing boots! What was I thinking! Gortex has not been my friend in the past! Three nights before we were in a snow storm. Never thought twice, I put baggies on my feet slipped them in my boots walked them dry & they were happy campers.

Food again I did great until shuttle person came. I had an extra bag of candy & snacks, why I put them back into my suitcase to go home is beyond me- I know oz’s count but this is survival!! I was going thru my pack adding dry creamers to coffee, sugar anything to fill the empty whole feeling. At the end of the trip I was famished. Even after eating a full big meal my brain was not satisfied. I probably ate 3 times as much a day for a week before I could eat sensible again.

The accidents that happened was the typical ones. 4 out of 5 was falls, one burn. In our 1st aid kit we planned on the typical things with a small 1st aid book which did come in handy. The cell phone came in handy for the last fall for Connie so looked at it as part of the 1st aid. We had read before no real reason to take one because next to no cell sites, in our case that was incorrect. We were able to get one about every 3rd day, which we set up a distribution list so we could make 1 call that had Qwest phone message system & let everyone know we were fine & where we were located. Connie had trialed her cell phone out to see how long the batteries would last, we never got below ½ of power.

10 items that I really used & enjoying having with me:

1. Buff- used as my hat, headband, neck & ear warmer, very seldom did you see me with out it- thanks Yvonne

2. Croc’s- my tired feet rejoiced when I put them on, they were light weight

3. Therma rest chair, oh my weary back loved it, the oz’s it weighted does not count for the comfort it gave me

4. Water tablets, makes life easy & takes care of all the crud but expensive

5. Piddle pads, no messy toilet paper, during the day & worked for padding on my burnt foot so it wouldn’t rub up against my boots

6. Duc tape, used it for everything, especially for the small nicks you get(when band-aids don’t say on) & my gortex blisters

7. Bandana’s, – used to wipe sweat, wash, filter, sit on, etc

8. Swiss army knife, everything from pulling out the stickers on my legs, to opening a bottle of wine

9. GPS, there were times a map & compass didn’t do the trick

10. Baggies- to keep me organized

3 items I could of done without:

1. Gortex Boots- sweat to much

2. Silk liner- not cold enough

3. Hiking poles – I just as soon picked up a stick. although my hiking partners loved there’s. I will be taking mine to the northern AZT do to the Grand Canyon.

If you haven’t read Connie’s journal about the trip do so.

Next trip will start 4-26 to 5-22,2008 from Allan Lake to Utah Border, Nancy had to go back to work so Connie & I will push on & do 242miles. I have done 106 of these miles, but since Connie has not we decided if we can get permits in the Grand Canyon it would be nice for her to finish it too.

Shuttle- we could of done a different system but this worked out so wonderful! I can’t express how much it meant! Thank you again to all 3 husbands-David, Possum & Ronnie, Colleen Hunt for her repeated phone calls to help in anyway she could, Judy Bender working 60 hrs a week & still able to break away to help, Bob & Heather Lemons for the shuttle, steaks, beer & having a bed to sleep in, Mike Ginder my brother n law for keeping us informed on the weather, Connie’s mom Mary to give us her bright smile. All the phone calls to wish us good luck, to many to list.

Its not the destination it’s the Journey, this truly was a journey of a life time!

don’t for get to check out the gallory for pictures. j”

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