Kathy Simko's Arizona Trail Trek - Entry 7 - The Last Leg

by Kathy Tuesday, July 26th 2016

The last leg of my AZT adventure - Flagstaff to Utah- was both eventful and spectacular.  

On the morning of May 13th (Day 53), my two travelling companions and I, met up at the corner of Ponderosa Pkwy and Route 66 in Flagstaff and headed northward, stocked to the gills as our provisions needed to get us to Tusayan, AZ.  

May 13th is a somber day for me.  My father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on this date twenty years earlier and he was at the forefront of my mind as we hiked towards Buffalo Park.  We visited the gorgeous memorial bench for Dale Shewalter, the Father of the Arizona Trail.  It was the perfect thing to do.  The plaque describes how Dale's father turned him on to the magnificent natural beauty of Arizona.  My father, a stellar man of great integrity, did the same for me.  Reading this on this day was truly touching and appropriate, and really helped me on an emotionally tough day.

The view of Mt. Humphrey from my campsite

The stretch north of Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon is extremely dry.  There are no running creeks or streams; the best you can hope for is an occasional cattle tank.  Therefore, I had made arrangements with Flagstaff Kell to drop water for us at four designated locations: Aspen Corner, Cedar Ranch Junction, Moqui Station and Grandview Lookout.  There's about twenty miles between these points, so having water at them is of paramount importance.  Everything went smoothly except for the Cedar Ranch Junction drop - a mountain biker riding from Flag to the Grand Canyon took half my water (They left a note and a Cliff Bar)!  By the time I got there, I was already out of water and slightly dehydrated...I really needed that gallon, not only for the present situation, but for that evening (cooking) and the next day to get to the next water drop.  I was livid!  It took a while, but once I got hydrated and calmed down, I found a decent cattle tank about 1/3 of a mile off trail and filtered enough water to get me through.  I was still upset though - what if that cattle tank wasn't there, or, I was unable to find it?  But it was and I did.

Grandview fire lookout

Gary and Dinny were hell-bent for getting a hotel room in Tusayan, AZ, about eight miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, so we had been pushing the daily mileage a bit to make it happen (20 - 21 miles).  We arrived midday, they haggled on the price, got a good deal and we went to have pizza and beer while we waited for the room to be cleaned.  Everything was going well that evening, but at about 9pm, I got a splitting headache.  By 1am, I was vomiting violently and my head was still killing me.  In the morning, Dave Baker, Dave Boyd and his son, Austin, were there for our scheduled resupply and I still had a raging migraine headache.  It was clear I could not hike this day.  Gary and Dinny were anxious about their backcountry Grand Canyon permit situation and were antsy to go and get things sorted out.  They talked with Dave & Dave and the four of them put together a new resupply plan for themselves.  They said goodbye to me and set out for the Grand Canyon.  That was the last time I saw them "on the trail."  Once again, I was a solo thru-hiker...just like the way I started the AZT.

And once again, I was struggling and Dave & Dave were there to help me.  They brought me ginger ale, Saltine crackers and Excedrin for my stubborn headache.  Dave Boyd paid for another night in the hotel room.  I slept all day and by early evening was feeling a little better and could hold down Saltines and ginger ale.  Dave, Dave and Austin were in northern Arizona to resupply me AND partake in a hiking trip of their own, so they had a sweet base camp set up a couple of miles out of Tusayan.  That evening, Dave Baker picked me up at the hotel and took me to their camp where they cooked a gourmet vegan supper.  I ate, it was delicious and it stayed down...I was on the mend.  Dave dropped me off at the hotel and I slept like a log.  In the morning, I was feeling better, but still not able to backpack into the Grand Canyon, so they moved me to their base camp to rest one more day and get organized for the next leg of my journey while the three of them were off tackling an arduous day hike in the Grand Canyon.

The next morning, we were up at 5am to send me on my way.  Dave Boyd and Austin drove me to the trailhead and Dave treated everybody to a hearty and nutritious breakfast along the way.  I was back on the trail and heading to the Grand Canyon, about eight miles away.  The first thing I did was hustle to Mather Campground to find out if I, being an AZT thru-hiker, could secure a spot there if I were unable to get a backcountry permit at either Bright Angel or Cottonwood Campgrounds.  The answer was "Yes."  I then immediately hopped on the free shuttle to the Backcountry Information Center to try to procure a backcountry permit on short notice - I had a trick up my sleeve that I learned from Rob Jones...

Rob "Wild Vagabond" Jones is a great dude who Gary, Dinny and I met in the Superstition Mountains earlier.  Rob was hiking a 200-mile section with his buddy, "Salty Sue."  He was super cool, super knowledgeable about the natural history of Arizona and super helpful in terms of getting backcountry permits in the Grand Canyon.  Rob told us about the "stock site" at Bright Angel Campground - it's an extra campsite near the mule barn that the Park Service uses as an overflow campsite at Bright Angel Campground.  When I initially spoke with the Ranger at the Backcountry Information Center, she told me it would be a minimum of three days to get a site at Bright Angel Campground and I'd need to show up at 8:00am each morning to check.  There were no guarantees, even though I was an AZT thru-hiker.  So I played the Stock Site Card; she got on the phone to the Ranger at Bright Angel Campground and checked if the stock site was available.  It was that night.  I said, "I'll take it."  I paid my $18.00 fee, jumped back on the shuttle to the AZT Trailhead and began the steep descent on the South Kaibab Trail into the inner gorge of the Grand Canyon at 2pm.  I was thrilled!

Even though I've hiked in the Grand Canyon many times, it still took my breath away and I was fascinated by its enormous geology.  My hike down to the Colorado River was blissful due to the scenery and the fact that my body was holding up well after being sick.  Along the way, I came across a few hikers who were struggling badly on the ascent and one young man in particular was in serious trouble.  In fact, two women hiking together passed him, helped him all they could and then asked me if I could help him some more.  I told them I would do all I could for him.  When I reached "Logan" a very short time later, he was lying in the trail moaning and yelling for help.  He was long out of water and complained of leg cramps. I knew he was dehydrated and I acted quickly and assertively.  Although I was low on water, I gave him a liter of mine.  I told him to drink half of it immediately and take a salt capsule I gave him - he complied.  Then I gave him a Payday candy bar and four more salt capsules and told him to take one every hour on the hour.  That's all I could do for him.  He was attempting a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim run, but was grossly unprepared and kept making excuses about why things turned out this way.  I didn't say much - I just did what I could for him and sent him on his way.  It was getting late by now, and I wanted to get to my campsite at Bright Angel.

Ribbon Falls

I rolled into camp at about 7pm after a very busy day, and I was tired and hungry.  I immediately ate dinner and got organized for an early start in the morning; it was a gorgeous night so I bypassed the tent and slept well under the stars.  I was one of the first ones up and out in the morning headed up the North Kaibab Trail along the roaring Bright Angel Creek...simply spectacular.  As the day progressed, things got even better - I took the side trip to Ribbon Falls.  From the main trail, you can see a nice ribbon-like waterfall; however, that's only a small component of this majestic place.  When you hike all the way in, you enter a different world: The Emerald Rock Paradise!  I simply cannot verbalize what's going on here - look at my photos, or better yet, go there!

I steadily chugged up the trail, taking a lunch break directly across from Roaring Spring, which gushes out from the canyon wall - also amazing!  I topped out on the North Rim at 4pm, refilled all my water vessels and kept on hiking north.  I hiked until sunset and camped somewhere in the deserted forest, but still in Grand Canyon National Park, at mile 724.5.  The next day, en route to Crystal Spring, I hit the highest point on the Arizona Trail: ~9,200 ft.  I camped at Crystal Spring, which was truly crystal clear and situated in a magnificent meadow.  The only glitch in this day was that I got sick again during the night - apparently my stomach virus migrated down into my intestines...and I'll leave it at that.

Roaring Spring - North Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon

Despite having a rough night, I got up early and covered considerable ground, making it about one mile past Telephone Hill Trailhead.  It was incessantly windy and the temperature dropped quickly when the sun went down - I awoke in an ice-encrusted tent!  I let the sun rise and thaw the tent out; then, I let the sun dry the tent.  I met Dave Boyd at the Orderville Trailhead that afternoon for my last resupply.  Dave was extremely well-prepared and extremely helpful... as usual!  We said goodbye and I hiked another 1.4 miles before making camp in a beautiful forest I had all to myself.  When I woke up, I was fully aware that this was going to be my last full day on the trail, and quite frankly, I got the blues.  I didn't think that this ending part would affect me so much, but it did.  I just put my head down and hiked hard through the red sand and sage, covering 19.2 miles.  I made camp early because I wanted to relax and take in everything on this last night on the trail.  As I went to bed, I was acutely aware and pensive about what was happening.  All I could do was embrace it and be grateful.  Tomorrow, my AZT solo northbound thru-hike would come to a natural end. 

And that's exactly what happened.  I only had six miles to go.  When I popped over the last ridge I could see the end.  I took several deep breaths, started down the switchbacks and strolled into State Line Park at 10:15am on May 27th.  Gary and Dinny had finished the night before and they were hanging out with Dave Boyd at a picnic table - I snuck up on them because they weren't expecting me until noon.  We had a snack and then... went for a hike in Buckskin Gulch! 

Finishing the AZT

Sixty-seven total days; seven "0" days; and I could not have done it without the gracious help from Dave Baker and Dave Boyd.  You two are men of integrity and you taught me more than you know.  Thank you!

Activities | Trails | Trips

Kathy Simko's Arizona Trail Trek - Entry 6 - Cold & Wet In The North

by Kathy Wednesday, June 29th 2016

As we began the second half of the Mazatzal's, the weather turned wet and cold.  Cutting wind, rain and hail became part of the normal routine and we all started to feel and look ragged and trail-weary.  Furthermore, we hadn't had a shower or clean clothes for fifteen days..."EW!"  Swimming in a lake sure does help, but it's not the same as a hot, soapy shower!

The remote Mazatzal Mountains

Another challenging situation at this time was the condition of the trail, which was usually relatively easy and straight forward...until it got wet.  When that volcanic soil got wet, it transformed into dense, heavy, sticky clay that clung to our boots relentlessly.  Every few steps, each boot gained three inches of elevation, about two pounds of mass and made simple walking almost impossible.  Every four to six paces required a stop so that the thick layer of mud could be scraped off somewhat.  The elevated platform of my boots totally affected my gait and caused my knees and hips to ache, so it was important to stay on top of this situation.  Oh well, just another beautiful day and minor obstacle to overcome on the Arizona Trail!

Sticky heavy mud/clay!

Gary, Dinny and I REALLY needed a rest day, so we stayed focused and pushed on to Pine, AZ.  It was a cold rainy day, but the staff of "THAT Brewery & Pub" warmly welcomed this ragtag bunch of scraggly smelly thru-hikers and immediately set us up with some righteous pints of micro-brewed Arizona Trail Ale!  We also loved their Road Rash IPA!  The day just kept getting better - shortly after our arrival, the little rental cabin behind the pub became available and we rented it for two nights.  All of us were super needy when we reached Pine and we got everything we needed and wanted: great beer, delicious meals, hot showers, warm & dry beds, a laundry mat, a progressive market and some much needed REST.

Excellent pub in Pine, AZ

We departed Pine and by that evening we reached Webber Creek, the most beautiful campsite on the entire trip - flat soft ground in a thick pine forest next to a running creek.  It was a short stay though; a very early start the next morning was needed for the grueling ascent up and over the Mogollon Rim: 7,279ft. (mile 483.5).


It was absolutely gorgeous up on The Rim!  Big, healthy green Ponderosa Pine forests that gave way to huge grassy meadows, which often contained a running creek. We hiked through this scenario day after day and I often had to remind myself of where I actually was!

Looming Mogollon Rim

On Day 47 we found a wonderful campsite in the forest a couple miles away from Mormon Lake Village.  When we went to bed, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. We woke up to a thick carpet of fresh snow!  The soggy tents were quickly packed, we were very cold and decided to hike off the AZT a few miles to Mormon Lake Lodge for fresh hot omelettes and coffee.  The morning turned out to be clear, crisp and sunny and we had a tremendous meal at the lodge.  Then the weather changed...AGAIN!  As we left the warm cozy lodge in late morning, big black clouds were already getting themselves organized.  It was a slog-fest through the cold rain and sticky mud all day.  As this system dissipated, another huge one was rolling towards us, so we pulled up short and got the tents set up before everything got hammered with rain.  We holed up the rest of the day while it rained - at least all our gear and clothes were kept dry...and we had some beer from the store in Mormon Lake Village!  We were dealing with things, loving life on the AZT and knew everything was going to be fine (just cold and wet right now).

Still cold up north!  Near Mormon Lake

It didn't rain on us the next day, and we pushed hard to make up the miles that we had lost the day before - this effort put us at the beautiful Marshall Lake Trailhead area.  We walked into Flagstaff for two whole days of rest, food, beer and laundry.  Because we all had so much resupplying to do, we chose the Urban Route through Flag.  Gary and Dinny stayed at the adorable Du Beau Motel downtown and I stayed at my friend's home.  My friend, Kelly Nicholas, and I met last Spring when she was thru-hiking the AZT with her buddy, Nick.  I was backpacking with my buddy, Jen, and we all ended up camping together at Manning Camp atop the Rincons.  There was a big fire going, a little bit of whiskey flowing and tons of laughter!  That's how "Kell" and I became friends.

Activities | Trails | Trips

Kathy Simko's Arizona Trail Trek - Entry 5 - The Irony of the Black Hills & Even More Good People

by Kathy Monday, May 30th 2016

The Hobo Trio continued northward from American Flag Trailhead.  We learned from Marney that we were EFI'ers (Every freakin' inch).  We were extremely aware and diligent to walk every inch of the AZT, making sure not to cut corners and to go back and start exactly where we left off.  Late in the day on April 9th, we were resupplied at Tiger Mine Trailhead (mile 209.1) by Dave & Irene Baker and Dave & Debbie Boyd; per usual, they did a stellar job and we joked and laughed a lot. 

Heading into the Black Hills, we were about to be hit with a huge dose of irony...The Black Hills are beautiful, stark, dry and hot.  Travelers through this area usually prone to environmental issues related to heat: dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Not us!  We were pummeled by a gigantic freak Spring storm with excessive lightning.  Wave after wave, we took a direct hit.  The first two waves were manageable by donning our rain gear and marching on.  It even cleared out and we removed our rain gear.  Then, the big one came.  The wind started to howl, the temperature plummeted and a black wall of water with crashing lightning was rapidly heading straight for us.  Within thirty seconds, we made a collective decision to take shelter in a tent...my tent, because it was the largest and driest.  I kid you not, that Nemo Hornet 2 Person tent was up in about three minutes and the three of us and our backpacks were all stowed safely inside.  It was a tight fit, but the two vestibules really helped out with protecting the backpacks.  Luckily we were situated in the best possible location when this storm blew up - down in a gully for lightning protection, but on a bench for flash flood safety.  As we waited this wave out, the time between the flashes and the thunder was less than one second and the rain was coming down in sideways sheets.  After about 30 minutes, this wave passed on and Dinny and Gary had a 20 minute window to set up their tents.  Good thing, because it rained all night, wave after wave.  This exact scenario, and others like it, are precisely why I own this Nemo tent - when all hell breaks loose, I know I've got a large enough, reliable shelter, which is simple to set up.  

We pushed northward and reached the Freeman Rd. Trailhead on April 11th.  Via text messages, Royce Marion was back in action helping us out immensely!  She carved time out of her busy schedule and made a water, juice, potato chip and cookie drop for us in the cache box at Freeman Rd.  In her usual style, Royce went above and beyond and supplemented our goodies with hilarious personalized notes - this made our day! 

Cooling off in the Gila River

We filtered drinking water from a bee-infested stock tank, took a cool dip in the crisp Gila River and climbed through gorgeous desert canyons on our northward trek.  On April 16th (day 26), my sister Kim Noetzel, my super-cool nephew Noah Noetzel, and their beautiful border collie Zoe Marie met us at the Picket Post Trailhead four miles out of Superior, AZ where we had a motel room for a rest/laundry day.  All we asked for was a lift into Superior, but we received so much more!  They brought the house including WARM breakfast burritos and ICE COLD Hop Knot IPA's!  We inhaled all of it before we left for Superior!  In addition, Kim surprised us with fresh, moist delicious cakes from one of my favorite bakeries, "Nothing Bundt Cakes."  My birthday was coming up on April 20 and she acknowledged it awesomely.  Those individual creamy bundt cakes didn't stand a chance... 

Next up were the stunning Superstition Mountains.  I had never hiked in the eastern portion of this range and I was thoroughly impressed with its rugged beauty and unexpected diversity.  The Reavis Ranch area struck me with its charm and it was really cold at night (4,867 ft.)!  It took us about three days to navigate through this challenging range and then we finally caught a glimpse of Theodore Roosevelt Lake. 

Roosevelt Lake from above

When we arrived at Roosevelt Lake, the heat was on!  We were fried and eventually made our way to the Marina, where things got much better.  So good in fact, that we decided to take a rest day the next day and let the heat wave pass.  The Marina had a nice little store filled with all kinds of refreshments and a comfortable shady place to relax.  As the sun was setting, we headed out to find a campsite; we were told there was free camping near the lake just down the road, so we set out to find it.  Apparently, we missed the gravel road turn off and ended up in Cottonwood Cove, where several "No Camping" signs were posted.  As we were wandering around trying to locate the free campsite, a voice from an RV parked in an official parking area called out, "Do you guys need a place to camp?"  I immediately replied, "Yes!" 

That voice belonged to Jeff Brown, the Cottonwood Cove Host and trail crew personnel.  Jeff was very kind, interested in our AZT adventure and gave us permission to pitch our tents right there on prime real estate.  Moreover, he showed us the best place to go for a swim AND offered to drive us up the road to the showers!  We had an excellent rest day on our private beach - swimming, relaxing, eating and drinking.  Thanks Jeff Brown!  You were truly an AZT Trail Angel for us.  P.S. - Jeff also gave me a canister of stove fuel when I ran out! 

Campsite at Roosevelt Lake

Although we had a terrific time resting at Roosevelt Lake, the trail was calling and we knew it.  Even though it wasn't as hot as before, it was still going to be very warm, so we set our alarms for 3AM and boots were on the ground at 4AM the next morning - we had a lot of uphill hiking to do in the Four Peaks Wilderness.  

Rugged approach into Four Peaks Wilderness

The Four Peaks area was surprisingly stunning.  As we hiked higher and higher, two different local parties informed us that the place was loaded with black bears.  We did not see any bears and the trickiest part of the passage was water availability. We made it to the barely trickling Buckhorn Creek the first night and the next night needed to pre-filter water out of Pigeon Spring due to the plentiful small wiggly aquatic creatures who called this cement trough home. 

Four Peaks Wilderness

After the Four Peaks, we were resupplied at Sunflower by Dave Boyd, who, in addition to doing stellar work, was helpful, patient and kind.  As the wind was howling, the Hobo Trio headed for the Mazatzal Mountains. 

I had never been to the Mazatzal's; I had only heard stories about them.  I was thoroughly impressed with what I experienced here - they are big, beautiful, gnarly, rugged and REMOTE!  While we were hiking through, we met two great guys - Joe and Roger.  Joe is the out-going trail steward for this passage and Roger is the incoming trail steward; Joe was showing Roger the ropes and they were going to be there a couple of days grooming the AZT.  Roger had hiked the AZT and shared his bear encounter story with us.  Joe was extremely knowledgeable about mountain lions and taught us interesting facts about their behavior.  We chatted quite some time.  Joe said he was going home a day earlier than planned and graciously offered us his extra food - we gladly accepted it and it was delicious.  Thanks Joe!

Activities | Trails | Trips

Kathy Simko's Arizona Trail Trek - Entry 4 - More Good People

by Kathy Monday, May 16th 2016

On the morning of April 2nd, Dave Baker drove us back to the exact spot we exited the trail two days earlier.  Dave Boyd joined us as we cruised through the Rincon Mountains, camping at the beautiful Grass Shack site, which was equipped with a babbling brook.  The next day, we split off from Dave at Italian Spring and began a grueling descent along the North side of the Rincons.  This section took a toll on all of us and we camped about three miles short of our goal in Tanque Verde Canyon, which was flowing nicely.  We got up super early the next morning with high hopes to make up a few miles. 

April 4th was one of toughest days I've ever had hiking.  It was hot and we knew it would be.  Despite drinking six liters of water and supplementing it with electrolyte capsules, I struggled mightily all day. I had no energy in my body and no appetite.  Dinny and Gary did much better than I did, even though they're from England and I'm a native desert rat!  To add insult to injury, this passage ended with a punishing 1,000 ft. climb at the very end and then finally plunged into Molino Basin Campground in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Prior arrangements had been made, and my good friend Royce Marion was there for us when we staggered in after twelve hours of tough hiking.  She brought us treats: avocados, cold beer, fruit juices, salty potato chips and what have you.  This Trail Angel also went above and beyond the call of duty...she provided each of us a clean damp face cloth with a dab of peppermint soap in it!  What an unexpected, refreshing magnificent treat!  This kind and thoughtful act truly aided our recovery and we had a fabulous evening camping out in Molino Basin.  As you will see, Royce helps us immensely again higher on the mountain...

The always refreshing Hutch's Pool

The next day, we knew it was going to be really hot again AND we were aware of the monster day awaiting us the day after; therefore, we decided to pull up short and "rest" at Hutch's Pool.  Hutch's Pool is a spectacular swimming hole and I have been cliff jumping here since I was in the seventh grade.  We arrived in mid-afternoon while it was still warm and took a very refreshing dip, which re-energized us.  Boy, were we going to need energy...

The next morning, boots were on the ground at 5:30 sharp.  We needed to gain 4,139 ft. in 10.3 miles.  It was hot as well.  This climb truly challenged me, both physically and mentally - I felt like Rocky Balboa taking one huge hit after another and refusing to go down.  Gary and Dinny felt beat up, too.  In fact, Gary had a "heat episode" and barely made it to camp at Marshall Gulch that afternoon.  We got Gary hydrated with a salt capsule supplement and he was in bed at 6:30PM.  At this time, I received a text from Royce asking if we needed anything the next morning in Summerhaven.  I asked Gary and Dinny and a very faint voice from Gary's tent uttered, "Orange mango juice..."  You see, two days earlier at Molino Basin, Gary had orange mango juice from Royce and absolutely loved it.

Deer carcass on Oracle Ridge

The next morning, April 7th, we popped over the ridge into Summerhaven at 9AM and Royce was there for us with a warm meal: breakfast burritos stuffed with egg, potato and cheese...plus a nice selection of salsas!  We did not ask for this scrumptious surprise!  We devoured this delicious fare, washed it down with a big bottle of orange mango juice (Gary had three glasses) and then headed North down the backside of the Catalinas via the Oracle Ridge Trail.  I have phenomenal friends!

Early morning on Oracle Ridge

Even though it was a 3,365 ft. descent into the Oracle, AZ area, it was arduous - the steep grade covered with loose cantaloupe-sized stones made for weary legs and wobbly ankles.  A storm was moving in as well, so we pulled up little short and made camp on the ridge in a protective stand of trees.  Besides, the next day we had a short hike into Oracle for a rest day.  It rained during the night and I was tucked into my warm Mountain Hardwear sleeping bag in my dry Nemo tent, happy and content.

Dinny and Gary at the Chalet Village Motel in Oracle, AZ

Dinny and Gary had a reservation at the Chalet Village Motel in Oracle, AZ and invited me to stay with them.  Marney and her husband Jim own and operate the Chalet and have for almost thirty years.  We were about to be amazed... We called Marney from the High Jinks Ranch to give her a heads up we were about an hour away.  She picked us up at the Anerican Flag Trailhead, gave us cold bottles of water and was extremely pleasant.  As we drove to the Chalet, she offered to stop anywhere we needed.  Once at the Chalet, she showed us the free laundry facilities and provided us loaner clothes while we did our laundry.  She also had put a variety six-pack of Mexican beers in our refrigerator (on the house).  As we did our laundry and got all our gear re-organized, she checked in with us periodically to see if we needed anything, or, a lift to the store.  The rooms at the Chalet are clean, cozy and quirky and we had a fun and restful night.  In the morning, Marney brought fresh hot coffee to our room and asked when we wanted to leave for the trailhead!  She drove us back to the American Flag Trailhead and even stopped at the Dollar Store on the way so we could pick up some last minute items.  Marney is truly thru-hiker friendly and provides exemplary customer service with a positive and upbeat attitude at a very, very fair price.  I highly recommend Marney's Chalet Village Motel for thru-hikers and anyone else visiting and exploring the Oracle area.  Marney truly is a Trail Angel.

Inside the Chalet...

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The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!