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Kanab is a great place to end a hike! We had a fantastic gourmet meal at Sego, and cleaned up at a nice hotel. Toilets! Hot water! Clean clothes! What luxury!
We needed to retrieve the spent water caches between Kanab and the North Rim, so spent part of the day driving. (Driving means sitting, which felt weird, but good.)
There were some short stretches of trail we had skipped on our journey north, so we went and finished with those. We hiked from Tusayan to the S Kaibab Trailhead, and the urban trail in Flagstaff. Nice to cover the miles without the backpacks, and without the urge to 'get the miles done' that we've had during the trip.
We're home now. Yeahbut is working on the photos, which will eventually get posted here. We probably have about 1000 between us, so have patience!
A few comments as I look back on the trip...
Although it is only 800 miles, this trail is not an 'easy' long-distance trip. The trail tread can be rough, brushy, poorly marked, and difficult to follow. Water carries add a special kind of stress to the hike. Sky Islands, while beautiful and fun, add a good bit of up and down. If you want to try out long-distance hiking for the first time, I would not recommend this trail.
The phone app is worth buying. Not only are the maps, distance, and waypoint info helpful, it has a 'trail register' to allow hikers to input information. For example, if I wanted to know about a certain water source, the register might say that hiker A found 'good, clear water flowing on 5/2'. This feature made planning the daily hiking much easier. The app only failed me 2 times. In the Catalinas, it could not tell location or distances above Romero Pass. Other hikers had encountered the same problem there, perhaps because of all the astronomy and communication equipment up on Mt Lemmon. On the Highline Trail near Pine, new trail tread had been constructed, but the app had not been updated. We followed the app, over crappy old tread, as there was no signage to indicate the correct way to go.
We cached water from Flagstaff to Utah. In the past, we rented a car in Flag to do this. A car can be rented at the Train Depot in the downtown area. The dirt roads where one might put a cache are OK for a passenger car (if the road is dry). If you are planning this hike and want info on where to cache, contact me at email@example.com. From Oracle to Superior, we used available water and carried heavy (4-6 liters each, depending on the heat and the distance to the next water source). As the AZTA says, do not depend on the water caches, and never pass up a water source (water is water, no matter how gross it looks!).
Food: we went cookless for the whole trip. Originally, I planned to cook when we reached the cooler sections, but Yeahbut and I decided it was much nicer not to fuss with cooking. The weight savings (no stove, fuel, pots, etc) meant we could go a bit heavier with the food sometimes. We'd take deli sandwiches out of town, or something else that appealed. Pringles really tasted good...at 1100 calories in a can, it had the right mix of fat and salt to match our cravings!
Gear: we used a tent. Too many prior encounters with bugs, scorpions, etc to want to deal with it. I took a 20-degree quilt, Yeahbut a 15-degree bag. I was a bit cold a couple of nights, and slept in my down jacket as well as the quilt. We were both happy with our choices. Yes, we did carry rain gear; it doesn't rain much in Arizona, but when it does, it can be pretty wild!
In the end, we both enjoyed this hike, perhaps more than some of our other hikes. The Sonoran desert is a very special place to us. And we rarely saw anyone on the trail, which we loved. If you hike the PCT, JMT, AT...you will see people all the time. The quiet solitary peace of the Arizona Trail is a special gift to hikers.