Arizona Trail Day 1: wondrous Kaibab



I wake in the pre-dawn darkness in our motel feeling incredible- yesterday started with a 2:45 a.m. flight out of Anchorage, and by the time evening rolled around and I was eating thai food with Matthew, Jessica and CJ in Page, Arizona I was loopy from the long day of travel on one hour of sleep. I put myself to bed at 9pm and now the desert sun is rising and I feel so, so good, and so happy to be back in the land of light. Not just any desert light but the light of red rock country- high, clear, full of liquid gold. I don’t spend winters in the desert anymore- this year I moved my home base to Alaska- but I love the desert- all the deserts of north america and their different tenors of light- with every cell in my body. I want to visit them all in turn, in their seasons, until I die. I want to nap beneath their juniper trees, their cottonwoods, their palo verdes. I want to smell their creosote and their sagebrush after the rain. I want to walk the sucking mud of their washes after they run, and watch their dry riverbeds ressurect themselves after a storm. And the light, I don’t know what it is about the light, the light is full of music and words, it is every color, it is a living thing. The light is souls, set free at last. Thousands of souls. All of our souls.

Jessica and CJ, some wonderful outdoors queers, drove here from Bishop, California yesterday, and Matthew is my queer bush pilot friend from Anchorage. CJ’s gonna drop us off at the northern terminus of the AZT this morning, which is incredibly generous, before heading back west. We’re so jazzed to be here, to be starting this long walk where, for 800 miles, we will make meaning from our basic needs, and forget everything else.

I haven’t hiked a trail this long, or this straightforward, in a few years. There won’t be much in the way of navigation or problem solving, so I brought lots of audiobooks to keep me entertained. As for the length- I think I can still do it? I had a month to train, I think I did an ok job. We’ll see.

It’s cold on the Kaibab plateau. I remember the start from the hayduke, which follows the AZT here for a few days. This summer has been bonkers rainy in AZ, like unprecedented rain. That makes this a very good season to hike what is usually a pretty dry trail. We’ve got five days of food to make it to the south rim of the grand canyon. We snap a few photos and we’re off.

This trail is so flat. And so clear of debris. Juniper forest, cold sunshine, sparkly red dirt. It’s maybe 45 degrees? One wildlife guzzler, then two, then three. Green water, clear as long as you put your bottle beneath the floaties. By afternoon my body is singing, but quietly enough that I can ignore it. I can definitely do this. Matthew and Jessica feel good too.

Lunch is in the bright dirt in a cold wind. Camp is in a clearing among burnt trees, the moon rising above their blackened boughs. The temperature plumets. We cook dinner in our sleeping bags. The dark comes at 6 pm, and the days will only get shorter. I am so happy to be here.

I’m using this AZT blog to raise funds for Trans Queer Pueblo, a rad org that provides funds to trans and queer people seeking asylum and/or in immigration detention along the US/Mexico border. Here is the fundraiser- it was at about $9k when I first posted it, let’s see if we can reach their $15k goal! For every $150 raised, I’ll post another blog post. And thank you! 🤗