Waouw, that is it! I am about to leave the US after a well used 90 days visa The past weeks somehow cut me off my writing as I focused all my energy on the outer journey. Firstly to fight the unusual - and therefore unexpected - very cold and windy weather, secondly to cover extensive ground and beat the tic=tac of my visa slowly running out. On top of that, my mind has been very busy with anticipating the logistics of transitioning between two worlds, going from cycling to hiking to cycling and a bunch of gears needing replacement. No much room left for creativity. Nonetheless I managed to really enjoy the very unique places I went through and the unforgettable experiences I lived.
It started with a crazy adventurous cycling itinerary of my own across Southern Utah’s most dramatic and jaw-dropping landscape. From paved backroads to mountain bike trails with some sandy washboardy dirt roads in the middle, I made my way through this remote and rugged beautiful country. To name some of the highlights I connected Fifth Water hot springs with the Nine Mile Canyon, the San Rafael Swell, Goblin State park, Capitol Reef NP’s backside, the Hell’s Backbone and Grand Staircase Escalante’s Storm Mountain, progressively getting used to the desert and the lack of water. The initial plan was to shoot straight down onto the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and carry my bike across it - wheels cannot touch ground below the rims. Despite it being a very appealing idea, the logistics of it and the very cold temperatures (-15C) made me be reasonable - for once - and ride around it. I still made the detour to get a glimpse of this grandiose natural feature from its south rim and with a quick day hike down its steep cliffs before saying goodbye to my bike and walk out of Flagstaff.
I had been contemplating the possibility of hiking a section of the Arizona Trail for a while but struggled with what to do with my bike until synchronicity lined it up perfectly for me, thanks to some more amazingly kind human beings. Both my body and mind were really happy to transition to the walking speed even if I only had two and a half weeks to cover the 680km to Tucson where I would reunite with my wheels and hurry up across the Mexican border before running into problems with the US immigration, which is probably not a good idea.
The desert has its own very particular energy and usually people love or hate it. I am from the first group and was really looking forward to wander through it despite the hassle of finding and carrying water. In this landscape one does not roam as he is pleased but calculate everything from one water source to the next one. The other obstacle to long hiking days was the shorter amount of daylight. It feels like the Arctic’s midnight sun was yesterday but it is not. Sun rises just before 7 and sets just after 5, offering roughly 12h of non-darkness, including dusk and dawn gloomy hours. But everything can be looked at from different view angles and in this situation it offered me the opportunity to daily contemplate gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Without really intending it, I often happened to be hiking along ridges at those times making it even more scenic. The very bright ascending and then full moon allowed easy evening walk with fairy atmosphere while traversing burnt forests before cowboy camping under the stars in the desert’s solitude and silence broken only by the crackling of the fire and the coyotes howling in the distance. With harsh sun, countless cacti, rocky-dusty terrain, blue sky, ocher earth, brutal climbs and spiky everything, the Arizona Trail delivered more magic that I fantasized and that can only be lived on foot. If I had to imagine myself some regrets it would be the lack of wildlife encounters. I did not have the chance the meet at rattlesnake this time or even better, the rare and mysterious ‘Gila Monster". However I saw numerous tarantulas, birds, rabbits and a family of Javelinas, a local small pig. But most importantly, I again and again met some incredibly kind people offering support to the hikers, stashing water , providing rides to towns for resupply and much more. The hiking community call them ‘Trail Angels’ and angels they are. Whatever once can say against the US politics and some american cliches it should be reminded that there are thousands of good people out there and we have much to learn from their genuine hospitality.
After stepping over the 10.000km mark into my trip and completing this little stroll along the AZT on time, it is time to cross my 38th parallel, the second country border or just to complete the next pedal stroke!
Tramping, cycling, running, skiing, travelling, I keep exploring this amazing planet we live on. The following texts give an insight of my various wanderings. From poetry to trip reports or thoughts on particular subjects, this pages try to reflect how I travel through this modern world.