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Blisterfree - Sky Islands Traverse Journal - 2010

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Begins: Mar 24, 2010
Direction: Eastbound

Daily Summary
Date: Wed, Mar 24th, 2010
Start: Cochise Stronghold
End: Portal
Daily Distance: 520
Trip Distance: 520.0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 650
Journal Visits: 650
Guestbook Views: 12
Guestbook Entrys: 0

Sky Islands Traverse Map

(Click image for full size)

Pinaleno Mountains

Introducing the Sky Islands Traverse

The term "sky islands" refers to bold, forest-clad mountain ranges isolated from one another by expansive valleys of grassland or desert. In the arid basin and range country of southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico, these mountains receive sufficient rainfall and snow to support a wide diversity of flora and fauna whose habitat is elevation-dependent. Unable to migrate between "islands" due to the intervening desert "seas," many of these species have evolved in comparitive isolation, as on Darwin's Galapagos.

Besides being ecologically rare and uniquethe southernmost spruce-fir forest in the U.S. is found here, while many bird species more common to central America occur no farther norththe Sky Island ranges are also stunningly scenic and alluring, in many ways defining the very character of this region. While some ranges are well known, such as the popular Santa Catalinas outside Tucson, others like the Santa Teresa Mountains remain obscure and infrequently explored by the region's burgeoning human numbers, in no small part due to their physical ruggedness and difficult access.

In the spring of 2010, I set out on foot to explore as many of these unique Sky Islands as possible in one continuous journey, what might be called a "Sky Islands Traverse." Traveling for the most part unsupported, without the use of a vehicle, I journeyed a route of my own making along ten of the region's standout ranges and across the adjoining valleys, with an eye toward finding a rewarding adventure, a workable travel corridor, and a "repeatable experience"that is, a hike worth hiking again, and a trip worth sharing with the long-distance hiking community. Although the way was certainly rich with challenges, I found great potential in the route's layout and in the experience itself, and am eager for further exploration. More details of this Sky Islands Traverse, mile for mile arguably among the most scenic and biologically diverse long walks in the United States, are available at the following website:

Click the above link to view my photo-journal from the spring 2010 exploratory hike, as well as maps and a Google Earth KML file of the route's layout. And be sure to check out the interactive Google Map of the Sky Islands Traverse right here on! (Click the map link in the table at left, and select the MyTopo map layer for best data)

For more information about the greater Sky Island eco-region, and about the threats it faces from human encroachment and climate change, please visit the homepage of the Sky Island Alliance: In particular, the Alliance's "state of the Coronado" reports provide a wealth of information on the Sky Island ranges overseen by the Coronado National Forest, including all of those encountered on a journey along the SKIT.

- Brett blisterfree Tucker

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Sky Islands Traverse Pioneering Hike

As it sails from island to island on its own unique voyage, the 520 mile Sky Islands Traverse (SKIT) is intended to provide a continuous, unbroken journey on foot, one that highlights a majority of the regions standout ranges in a cohesive and compelling manner. The 70,000-square-mile Sky Island region of Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Old Mexico is said to contain perhaps two dozen of these island-like ranges; a veritable archipelago. By design, the SKIT remains entirely north of the Mexican border, on the ranges administered by the US Forest Service. Learn more:


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