SaddleBrooke Hiking Club members Seana Kobak and Beth Jones met each other on a hike with the club. An adventure hike to Mt. Lemmon cemented their friendship. They then traveled and hiked together on the club’s fall trip to Durango last year and continued from there for their first backpack in the Canyonlands and further hiking in the Moab region. Thus, they discovered a shared passion for hiking and backpacking.
Before moving to SaddleBrooke full time, Seana backpacked over five years in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. Beth developed her passion for long distance hiking by completing all of the trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park three times. In 2018, she was listed as the 17th woman to ever accomplish this feat.
After doing some trial backpacks on the Arizona Trail, Seana and Beth got the bug to walk the entire trail, and they completed it in nine months and fifteen days. Fellow SaddleBrooke hikers Linda Eglin, Phil McNamee, Ray Peale, Elisabeth Wheeler, and Michael Hovan joined them on certain segments of the trail. They both enjoy encouragement and support from their husbands for their backpacking trips.
The toughest parts of the Arizona Trail for them were the mountainous areas of the Mazatzals and the Superstitions. They opted to backpack these passages hiking sixteen to nineteen miles per day, with steep ascents and descents, in order to beat upcoming heat waves. On one passage, it was challenging to find a flat area, so they set up their tents on the side of a hill in deep grass. Although they sought high altitudes for warm summer days, there were a few trips where they experienced temperatures in the mid-nineties. Most of the time, they either staged water or planned car-staging to resupply water. They did use a couple of “questionable” water sources (cattle troughs, muddy lakes and rivers, and mosquito infested springs) that made them extremely grateful for both their Sawyer water filters and the ability to close their eyes so as not to see the color of the water they were drinking.
The best advice they give to other hikers is “be open to hiking the Arizona Trail.” Don’t let 800 miles scare you. It can be done as day hikes as well as backpacks. It is important to remain flexible, especially when it comes to changes in the weather. Their GPS kept them on track, except when they became distracted by lively conversation and laughter and forgot to look at their device. Laughter was their best gift especially on the last eight miles of a hike when their legs were shot. Communicating and understanding one another was also key.
Seana and Beth enjoyed their Arizona Trail Adventure so much that now they are planning their next long-distance trek. Congratulations to unstoppable Seana Kobak and Beth Jones!