Arizona Trail for Fibromyalgia

800 miles across Arizona to raise awareness for Fibromyalgia

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Happy New Year!

Posted by aztrail4fms on January 3, 2010 at 11:31 AM Comments comments (3)
This is the two-year anniversary of this website- thanks so much to all my readers!!

I had hoped to end the year with one last big hike. But, as I was getting my hiking gear together, I heard moans and groans coming from the bedroom. My husband, Brian, was really sick. I couldn?t leave him alone all day as sick as he was, so instead I stayed home and tended to him. Rather than a triplog from my latest hike, I thought for this entry I would instead take the time to reflect on the past year in hiking:


And what a year it has been. At the beginning of the year, I was still hurting from a fall I took in the Four Peaks that wrenched my knee. After that healed, I climbed Baboquivari, my first mountain requiring climbing gear, in March. I don?t think I have ever been so scared and so elated at the same time. It was my first outdoor climb; I had previously only climbed in the gym. I was really lucky to have such a great group, led by Dave Baker, to encourage me up the mountain. Here?s a great shot Dave got of me on the second climbing pitch.



The day after my Babo climb, I resumed my section hike on the Arizona Trail to finish out the remaining 200 miles. I hiked from Superior to Pine and cleaned up some areas I had skipped the previous year. My dad came out from Chicago one last time to shuttle me around and provide support for the last leg of my hike. I did an alternate route on the AZT Passage 37 to get from Grandview Fire Tower to the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon. As a result, I got to spend five days in the Canyon hiking the SK to Grandview on the Tonto Trail, instead of 23 miles through ponderosa pines with no views. It was my first taste of travel outside the corridor trails- I am hooked!



I left the passage near Oracle for last so that friends of mine could hike the final 9 miles with me. The final 9 miles were hiked on Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, May 12. It was a fitting end to my 800-mile hike to raise awareness for Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition that I have had for 13 years. There was a group of eight hikers, including my non-hiking husband, for the final miles. Champagne and strawberries were enjoyed at the American Flag Trailhead. Almost two years to the day before, I had gone on a hike up the Cody Trail and looked at the big, metal Arizona Trail sign and wondered, ?Maybe I could do some of this Arizona Trail- I wonder what the logistics are?? That question led to nine months of planning, and 13 months of hiking, piece by piece, until I accomplished my goal. What a feeling!



Great highs are often accompanied by a lull, which is what I felt like my summer was. I had finished my big goal, and it is way too hot to hike in most areas of Tucson in the summertime. So I spent the summer trying to get a respite from the heat and stay active while avoiding getting hit by monsoon storms. I went on one memorable camping trip to the Pinalenos, to escape the heat and scout the Grand Enchantment Trail in the area. The Grand Enchantment Trail goes 700 miles from Phoenix to Albuquerque, and is my next big trail that I plan on section hiking. I also stayed active this summer by going on night hikes, which yielded many rattlesnake encounters, but made for some great pictures:



This summer, I started volunteering at the Wildlife Rehab Center, which has been an amazing experience. We mostly have birds of all sizes- from hummingbirds to Harris Hawks. We occasionally get mammals as well; I have seen skunks, squirrels, and even bobcats. What a treat to be able to see these animals and birds up close! Here?s a picture of one of my favorite current residents, a young roadrunner that I have fed since he was hatched. He will eventually become an educational animal, because it wouldn?t do to have him hopping up on people?s shoulders and begging for food in the wild?



The lull of the summer ended with the Arizona Trail Association?s yearly Rendezvous in Mormon Lake at the end of September. I was invited to be the speaker for the first evening, and I really enjoyed being able to share my journey with a room of AZT enthusiasts. I spent a week in the Flagstaff area, and got to hike the Humphreys Summit Trail to the highest point in Arizona at 12,637 ft. I explored the Inner Basin as well.



I also returned to one of my favorite places on the Arizona Trail, multicolored sandstone cliffs north of Marshall Lake. To get to these cliffs, take the Sandy Saddle trail from Canyon View Campground to the Arizona Trail and go south.



After the Rendezvous and hiking in Flagstaff, I hiked down to the Trail Crew Bunkhouse at the Grand Canyon to do a week?s worth of volunteer work with the Grand Canyon Hikers and Backpackers Association cleaning up the area near the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch. What a wonderful experience! The group from the GCHBA was a friendly, hardworking bunch, and the 12 of us got along very well for having to all sleep in one house. (I had been worried, because you know what happens on reality TV when you put 12 people in close quarters?)  Waking up each morning on the sleeping porch of the bunkhouse with the Canyon all around was exquisite. Then on my hike out I saw the most unbelievable double rainbow over O?Neill Butte.



In October, my brother Shawn came out to visit and my husband and I took him to Las Vegas. While they were gambling, I snuck out to one of my favorite places- the Valley of Fire State Park, about an hour?s drive from the Strip. I spent the day hiking off-trail, exploring the colorful slot canyons and interesting rock formations.



In October, I launched my new blog, so much of the rest of the year has been documented on that website. December was a quiet month, I rolled my ankle a couple of weeks back and have been taking it easy to let it heal.

I want to end this retrospective by thanking all the people who have followed my journeys via this website. I really enjoy your comments and hope to share many more adventures with you in the upcoming year. To receive updates on my new blog, Sirena's Wanderings, please subscribe at www.desertsirena.wordpress.com.

Happy New Year!

Arizona Trail for Fibromyalgia talk at Speedway Summit Hut in January!

Posted by aztrail4fms on December 21, 2009 at 9:41 AM Comments comments (0)
I am excited to announce that I will be doing a talk about my Arizona Trail hike on Thursday, January 14th at 8 pm at Summit Hut- 5045 E. Speedway Blvd. in Tucson. Hope to see some of you there! And for the Phoenix contingent- I am currently working on a date to come up to REI in the near future.

I also went on a hike this week in the Tortolitas and you can read about it here: http://wp.me/pFUf6-1A

My new blog

Posted by aztrail4fms on November 13, 2009 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)
For those of you interested in continuing to follow my adventures, I have a new blog at http://desertsirena.wordpress.com/

I hope you will come check it out- my first entry is about the week I recently spent volunteering at the Grand Canyon, along with pictures and videos.


Upper Ribbon Falls

My new blog

Posted by aztrail4fms on November 13, 2009 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)
For those of you interested in continuing to follow my adventures, I have a new blog at http://desertsirena.wordpress.com/

I hope you will come check it out- my first entry is about the week I recently spent volunteering at the Grand Canyon, along with pictures and videos.


Upper Ribbon Falls

Grand Canyon update

Posted by aztrail4fms on August 24, 2009 at 9:18 PM Comments comments (0)
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I have posted journals from 4-26 to 5-1 covering my hike from the South Kaibab to Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon for my alternate route for Passage 37- Grand Canyon South. (starts on archived entry page #3 or click here)

 

 

I have some exciting news: this October I will be joining a volunteer crew to work for a week at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It will be a lot of work, clearing drainages and doing other maintenance, but what a setting! We will have a day off to go exploring- I am really looking forward to it. The summer has been passing slowly, but I have been enjoying my new volunteer position at the NW Wildlife Rehab Center. I get to work with all different kinds of birds- tiny hummingbirds, songbirds, owls and hawks of all sizes. We also have bunnies and the occasional squirrel or skunk. One of my favorites there is a group of baby roadrunners that were hatched two weeks ago. I posted a video of them at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Evyk6zcIc9A It is such a treat to be able to see and interact with all these animals.


 

            Baby Harris Hawk

 

Thank You

Posted by aztrail4fms on August 8, 2009 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)
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Newest journals posted are from 4-21 to 4-24 (archive page 2)


I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have helped me during my Arizona Trail planning and hike. I hiked alone most of the time, but so   many people helped me to achieve my dream. So (in no particular order) thank you to: Dave Hicks, Executive Director of the Arizona Trail Association, for always answering my questions and for arranging the group that hiked the first passage of the trail with me. It was a fantastic way to start my journey and thank you to Richard Corbett, Terry Woolston, and David Baker for being a part of it. David Baker, owner of Summit Hut, has been a fantastic sponsor and always took time to answer my questions about the trail. He also took me on my first mountain climbing trip this year on Baboquivari Peak. Thanks Dave, I still can't believe I did that! Thanks also go to Frank Camp, who was a great help with my sponsorship with Summit Hut.

 

Thanks to the Sandy Bennett at the National Fibromyalgia Association for all your help in the planning stages and for including me in your newsletter. Also many thanks to Randy Wold. I will be still collecting donations for the NFA, for another month, two tops, so if you haven't donated yet, please either go to my homepage at www.aztrail4fms.org or donate to the NFA directly with Arizona Trail for Fibromyalgia in the memo on the check.

 

Thank you to my Crazies, the Arizona Trail building crew I work with. You were there to help me plan and to hear my stories. They are some amazing people and I feel lucky to be one of the Crazies. Lee Allen, leader of the Crazies, bushwacked the Las Colinas segment with me in one very long hot afternoon. He and his wife Jan helped me out with shuttles and were also there to hike the final 9 miles with me. Bernie Stalmann was a wealth of information on Southern Arizona and drove us to Montezuma Pass to begin the Arizona Trail. Laddie Cox, hit and run crew leader, knew where all the tough spots would be and always had great advice on how to get through them. He also generously helped with a long shuttle in the Superstitions. Larry Schnebly, 80 years young and still trailbuilding, thank you for your encouraging and uplifting e-mails. Mark Bleisch along with his wife, Linda did a couple of dayhikes with me in the Las Cienegas and Rincon Valley. Mark also helped me out with an epic shuttle in the Superstitions and hiked the final 9 miles with me. Tom Kimmel, sawyer extraordinaire, was also along for the final 9 miles.

 

Thank you to all the trail stewards for answering my endless questions. Several trail stewards went above and beyond and helped me with shuttles or cached water for me. Thank you Zay Hartigan, for your informative shuttle through the Canelos and for having such a great website for your passage. Thanks to John Rendall for all your trail info and for helping me through the unbuilt part of the White Canyon passage. Thanks to Fred Gaudet for the water charts and the databook. Thanks to Cindy and Lou Hoover for lunch in Pine, shuttling me around the Mogollon Rim, and caching water for me in the Happy Jack passage. Thanks to Gay and Gary Hohner for their help in navigating the San Francisco Peaks bushwhack. Thank you to Li Brannfors for your wonderful GPS and TOPO! files. They were a lot of help! And thanks to Michael Carr for putting together such a great information packet for your passage. In addition to the stewards, I met some other fantastic people through the Arizona Trail Association. Thanks to Terri Gay for braving the 4 Peaks with me, sharing all your experience and for being a great support through my hike- I'm so glad we finally got to finish a trip together! Judy Eidson of www.hikengirls.com, thank you for showing me that there is a "leisurely way" to do the Arizona Trail (and cache wine while you're at it)! Thanks to Dave Babcock and Larry Snead for taking my calls, even on Easter, about where the new singletrack was in Alamo Canyon.

 

I was so fortunate to have great sponsors. In addition to Summit Hut, thank you to my other sponsors: Bumble Bar donated 150 super-tasty bars and the best endorsement I can think of is that after eating Bumble Bars on every trip, I still enjoy eating them! There are lots of different flavors to keep things interesting. Another thing I took on every trip was Monavie packets, generously donated for my hike. I think these are delicious, and they are loaded with berries and antioxidants. Tucson Hikers was also a sponsor. Deb Kortyna donated heavenly Reflexology treatments. I can't think of a better thing for a hiker than an hour-long massage concentrated on the feet.

 

Thank you to my massage clients for being flexible with your schedules and for the encouraging words. A special thanks goes to Linda Tarason, who was a great listener and also hooked me up with Bonnie Henry from the AZ Daily Star. I must also mention Angie Edge, my dear friend who I trade massage with. She often went out of her way to make room in her schedule for me. She has been my massage therapist since shortly after my accident and has seen me when my fibromyalgia was at its worst. She is part of the reason I am able to manage my fibromyalgia so well and I am grateful that we trade massage!

 

I want to thank Jeff Harris and Christy Snow and my full moon women's circle. What an amazing group of women, it is always such a delight to spend my full moons with you all.

 

And now, for my family. Anyone who has followed my story knows that my dad, Budh Prakash Rana, has come out from Chicago several times to be my support crew. He's shuttled me around, taken me to tasty restaurants after coming out of the backcountry, and spent too many hours to count talking about the Arizona Trail with me. He has always been 100% behind me ever since I started planning this hike and I am so lucky to have had his help. He'd drop me off, and I'd go on my adventure and he'd go on his and we always had pictures to show each other at the end. My dad jokes that while I've seen the Arizona Trail, he's seen all over Arizona and Southern Utah. I treasure the time we've been able to spend together. My mom, even though the whole idea of me hiking across Arizona scared her to death, came out twice to keep me and my dad company. She hiked with me near Mormon Lake and impressed me by hiking a 12-mile day. Sanjay, my brother, hiked rim to rim in the Grand Canyon with me- one of my favorite trips of the whole trail! And for my other brother Shawn- well, he didn't come out to Arizona, but hiking isn't really his thing. Nevertheless he was also supportive, but from afar. Not only do I have a great family, but I also am blessed with an amazingly supportive husband, Brian. How lucky am I? Brian, from the beginning, was really hesitant about me doing this hike alone. From fears of bears or crazy people or dangerous snakes and scorpions, he was usually on-edge when I was gone, yet he never suggested that I quit. Not only that, when I was having a difficult time with the trail, or I questioned if I would be able to finish, he always knew how to make me feel better.

 

Last but absolutely not least, thank you to all the people who have followed my story on my website, MySpace, and Trailjournals.com and to all who have so generously donated to the National Fibromyalgia Association. It was so awesome to be able to share my journey with you and hear your stories. I really enjoyed all the uplifting guestbook signatures and e-mails while I was on my hike.

 

I am so fortunate that when I decided to hike the Arizona Trail, there were people at every turn to answer my questions, help with logistics, and listen to me endlessly talk about my plans. It has been the experience of a lifetime.

Thank You

Posted by aztrail4fms on August 8, 2009 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)
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Newest journals posted are from 4-21 to 4-24 (archive page 2)


I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have helped me during my Arizona Trail planning and hike. I hiked alone most of the time, but so   many people helped me to achieve my dream. So (in no particular order) thank you to: Dave Hicks, Executive Director of the Arizona Trail Association, for always answering my questions and for arranging the group that hiked the first passage of the trail with me. It was a fantastic way to start my journey and thank you to Richard Corbett, Terry Woolston, and David Baker for being a part of it. David Baker, owner of Summit Hut, has been a fantastic sponsor and always took time to answer my questions about the trail. He also took me on my first mountain climbing trip this year on Baboquivari Peak. Thanks Dave, I still can?t believe I did that! Thanks also go to Frank Camp, who was a great help with my sponsorship with Summit Hut.

 

Thanks to the Sandy Bennett at the National Fibromyalgia Association for all your help in the planning stages and for including me in your newsletter. Also many thanks to Randy Wold. I will be still collecting donations for the NFA, for another month, two tops, so if you haven?t donated yet, please either go to my homepage at www.aztrail4fms.org or donate to the NFA directly with Arizona Trail for Fibromyalgia in the memo on the check.

 

Thank you to my Crazies, the Arizona Trail building crew I work with. You were there to help me plan and to hear my stories. They are some amazing people and I feel lucky to be one of the Crazies. Lee Allen, leader of the Crazies, bushwacked the Las Colinas segment with me in one very long hot afternoon. He and his wife Jan helped me out with shuttles and were also there to hike the final 9 miles with me. Bernie Stalmann was a wealth of information on Southern Arizona and drove us to Montezuma Pass to begin the Arizona Trail. Laddie Cox, hit and run crew leader, knew where all the tough spots would be and always had great advice on how to get through them. He also generously helped with a long shuttle in the Superstitions. Larry Schnebly, 80 years young and still trailbuilding, thank you for your encouraging and uplifting e-mails. Mark Bleisch along with his wife, Linda did a couple of dayhikes with me in the Las Cienegas and Rincon Valley. Mark also helped me out with an epic shuttle in the Superstitions and hiked the final 9 miles with me. Tom Kimmel, sawyer extraordinaire, was also along for the final 9 miles.

 

Thank you to all the trail stewards for answering my endless questions. Several trail stewards went above and beyond and helped me with shuttles or cached water for me. Thank you Zay Hartigan, for your informative shuttle through the Canelos and for having such a great website for your passage. Thanks to John Rendall for all your trail info and for helping me through the unbuilt part of the White Canyon passage. Thanks to Fred Gaudet for the water charts and the databook. Thanks to Cindy and Lou Hoover for lunch in Pine, shuttling me around the Mogollon Rim, and caching water for me in the Happy Jack passage. Thanks to Gay and Gary Hohner for their help in navigating the San Francisco Peaks bushwhack. Thank you to Li Brannfors for your wonderful GPS and TOPO! files. They were a lot of help! And thanks to Michael Carr for putting together such a great information packet for your passage. In addition to the stewards, I met some other fantastic people through the Arizona Trail Association. Thanks to Terri Gay for braving the 4 Peaks with me, sharing all your experience and for being a great support through my hike- I?m so glad we finally got to finish a trip together! Judy Eidson of www.hikengirls.com, thank you for showing me that there is a ?leisurely way? to do the Arizona Trail (and cache wine while you?re at it)! Thanks to Dave Babcock and Larry Snead for taking my calls, even on Easter, about where the new singletrack was in Alamo Canyon.

 

I was so fortunate to have great sponsors. In addition to Summit Hut, thank you to my other sponsors: Bumble Bar donated 150 super-tasty bars and the best endorsement I can think of is that after eating Bumble Bars on every trip, I still enjoy eating them! There are lots of different flavors to keep things interesting. Another thing I took on every trip was Monavie packets, generously donated for my hike. I think these are delicious, and they are loaded with berries and antioxidants. Tucson Hikers was also a sponsor. Deb Kortyna donated heavenly Reflexology treatments. I can?t think of a better thing for a hiker than an hour-long massage concentrated on the feet.

 

Thank you to my massage clients for being flexible with your schedules and for the encouraging words. A special thanks goes to Linda Tarason, who was a great listener and also hooked me up with Bonnie Henry from the AZ Daily Star. I must also mention Angie Edge, my dear friend who I trade massage with. She often went out of her way to make room in her schedule for me. She has been my massage therapist since shortly after my accident and has seen me when my fibromyalgia was at its worst. She is part of the reason I am able to manage my fibromyalgia so well and I am grateful that we trade massage!

 

I want to thank Jeff Harris and Christy Snow and my full moon women?s circle. What an amazing group of women, it is always such a delight to spend my full moons with you all.

 

And now, for my family. Anyone who has followed my story knows that my dad, Budh Prakash Rana, has come out from Chicago several times to be my support crew. He?s shuttled me around, taken me to tasty restaurants after coming out of the backcountry, and spent too many hours to count talking about the Arizona Trail with me. He has always been 100% behind me ever since I started planning this hike and I am so lucky to have had his help. He?d drop me off, and I?d go on my adventure and he?d go on his and we always had pictures to show each other at the end. My dad jokes that while I?ve seen the Arizona Trail, he?s seen all over Arizona and Southern Utah. I treasure the time we?ve been able to spend together. My mom, even though the whole idea of me hiking across Arizona scared her to death, came out twice to keep me and my dad company. She hiked with me near Mormon Lake and impressed me by hiking a 12-mile day. Sanjay, my brother, hiked rim to rim in the Grand Canyon with me- one of my favorite trips of the whole trail! And for my other brother Shawn- well, he didn?t come out to Arizona, but hiking isn?t really his thing. Nevertheless he was also supportive, but from afar. Not only do I have a great family, but I also am blessed with an amazingly supportive husband, Brian. How lucky am I? Brian, from the beginning, was really hesitant about me doing this hike alone. From fears of bears or crazy people or dangerous snakes and scorpions, he was usually on-edge when I was gone, yet he never suggested that I quit. Not only that, when I was having a difficult time with the trail, or I questioned if I would be able to finish, he always knew how to make me feel better.

 

Last but absolutely not least, thank you to all the people who have followed my story on my website, MySpace, and Trailjournals.com and to all who have so generously donated to the National Fibromyalgia Association. It was so awesome to be able to share my journey with you and hear your stories. I really enjoyed all the uplifting guestbook signatures and e-mails while I was on my hike.

 

I am so fortunate that when I decided to hike the Arizona Trail, there were people at every turn to answer my questions, help with logistics, and listen to me endlessly talk about my plans. It has been the experience of a lifetime.

Updates

Posted by aztrail4fms on July 24, 2009 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)
I have posted journals, pictures and video from 4-16 to 4-19 (go to archived entries page 2) and journals from 9-29 to 10-1 from 2008 (archived page 6)

Thanks for reading!

Updates

Posted by aztrail4fms on July 24, 2009 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)
I have posted journals, pictures and video from 4-16 to 4-19 from Pine to the East Verde River (go to archived entries page 2) and journals from 9-29 to 10-1 2008 from the Coconino Rim and Babbitt Ranch (archived page 6)

Thanks for reading!

Summertime plans

Posted by aztrail4fms on July 10, 2009 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Now that it has been a month and a half since I finished the trail, I feel like I?ve finally begun to realize that my Arizona Trail adventure is over. Now for The Question: What to do now? Brian and I recently returned from a trip to visit family in Chicago and Michigan. We were hoping to get out of the heat, but instead Tucson had lower than average temps while in the Midwest, it was 90 degrees with 90% humidity. Oh well. We dealt with the heat by spending a lot of time at lakes and pools. That was fun- I don?t get to hang out at lakes much in southern AZ. I went kayaking for the first time, and can?t wait to go again. It was really nice to visit family, but not in the least bit relaxing. I got to meet my 6-month old nephew Devin for the first time. My brother is the first one out of us three kids to have children, which of course brought the question from everyone: So, when are YOU going to have children, Sirena? I no longer have my excuse that I am hiking across Arizona?

 

Well, its summertime and monsoon season in Tucson, so that severely limits my hiking/backpacking possibilities. So, I have to find other ways to amuse myself for the summer. I began volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation center near my house. I took in a finch that my cat had gotten a hold of to the rehab center last month and got a tour of the place. It is run by a couple that has turned their house into a rehab center. There were all kinds of owls, hawks, and other birds held in numerous aviaries and also an area for small mammals. I am excited to be able to help these animals get better so they can get back into the wild. Another project I am looking forward to is that I have signed up to be on a committee that will be writing the new Arizona Trail Guidebook. I cursed the current guidebook many times on my hike for being out-of-date, vague, and the maps were terrible. I hope we will be able to produce a guidebook that is easy to use, helpful, and informative. I will also be continuing to volunteer trailbuilding on the Arizona Trail with the Crazies for my third summer in a row.

 

So, what have I been scheming for when it finally cools down again? I decided that I would like to hike the entire Tonto Trail in the Grand Canyon. I hiked from South Kaibab to Grandview in April as an alternate route for Passage 37 and had one of the best backpacking trips I?ve ever had. It was my first foray off the corridor trails in the Canyon and I loved the fact that there were so few people and that I could camp wherever I wanted. Those journals will be posted soon. In October, I will do another piece of the Tonto, and I plan to go back to the Canyon once in spring and once in fall till I have completed the Tonto trail. Other than the Tonto trail- once the monsoons are over, the options for exploration are endless. I look forward to revisiting the White Canyon Wilderness, one of my favorite parts of the Arizona Trail, as well as finding new parts of Arizona to fall in love with.

 

Still filling in the journal- I posted journals from April 14-15 and there are two in the archived entries for March 11 and April 8.


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