Out and Back… walking across Arizona

Hello Fellow Hikers,

The freedom of a long nature filled journey has never been greater in my mind as I hunch over the all too familiar computer keyboard and mouse while three monitors filled with spreadsheets ring my head like a catchers mitt cradles a baseball.  In between the ever pulsing demands of the workday I forever slip into a fantasyland of YouTube….. watching endless videos of carefree hikers summit mountains and cross fields of green flowing grasslands. These are the adventurers of our day, the AT hikers, the PCT’er and the CDT gods pacing ever closer to the glory of a triple crown.

Not me though… I am stuck here….. I have kids… a mortgage….utilities bills…car repairs to schedule… and a job with clients that would never let me out of their sight, call, text or email for 24 hours. I have to be here, bravely answering the many issues and problems of the day. My family and my world would sink into ruin if I did not suffer and sacrifice here at this desk. Leaning back far in my desk chair…. I thought to myself, there must be a way….. there must be something I can do….

A year back now, rather then spending my weekends driving a little cart and smacking a white ball down an alleyway of trees in the hope of impressing my scratch golfing office partner, I decided to start a new meaningful venture, something of a real accomplishment, my own thru hike. Not like the 5 – month – long hiking demons of Mt Washington and Whitney, but a thru hike of day hikes. The ultimate section hike.

Now, not a lot of people know that we here in Arizona actually have a nationally recognized long distance scenic hiking trail called the Arizona Trail. An 800 mile continuous trail from the Mexican border to the south right through the center of the state to the Utah border up north. Once I discovered this fact on the internet, my new goal became clear. I will take on this Arizona Trail……  one day at a time, every chance I get, until I have completed all 800 miles….  Perfect, right……….

But wait….. Hiking out is one thing, but as mainly a solo hiker, how would I get back to the car and be home before dinner? That’s easy, out and back. I will find the trail, park the car, hike out so many miles and then turn back. So I had to make a commitment to myself. I will do this trail, not just once, but actually twice……Everyone thought I was crazy….1600 miles…. out and back….. NOBO and SOBO…… North Bound and South Bound. Why would one do such a thing…

So this is my journey….. and a record of every hike it took.

Jim Toel