Getting Enchanted: The Grand Enchantment Trail
Prepare for Enchantment
Packing all of my worldly possessions into the trunk of my Kia Optima, I have been experiencing what Tyler Durden would call “Cigarette Burns” of images of the Southwest. After a few trips out to the National Parks in Utah and a thru-hike of the Arizona Trail in 2016, I am enamored by the dreamscapes of hoodoos and red rock, saguaros and sunsets. Stepping foot on to the Grand Enchantment Trail tomorrow with Forty2(@takeatrek) and Capt. Stubing(@Capt_stubing), ready to dissolve into the lifestyle of thru-hiking with some fellow hiker-trash.
The Grand Enchantment Trail (GET) is a 770+ mile trail that runs West to East from Phoenix, AZ to Albuquerque, NM. The GET traverses 14 mountains ranges between the two termini, as much as one’s mind might immediately envision vast barren desert inhabited by rattlesnakes, scorpions and saguaro cacti. The highest elevation being 10,770 ft, Mogollon Baldy. With nearly a third, 270 miles, of the trail beneath forest cover. This trail will offer an array of diverse aesthetic beauty between flora, fauna and landscape. Brett Tucker has compiled an incredible collection of information about the GET which can be found here.
Why the GET?
The GET has some unique qualities that have created a pull towards a thru-hike this April. I have thru’d a few other trails(PCT 15, Arizona Trail 16, AT 17) and I really enjoyed a smaller hike after spending 5 months on the PCT in 2015. Not that distance or time really has too much to do with the love I’ve found for the Southwest desert on the Arizona Trail the following year.
The GET is unique in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan, which are considered “wet deserts”, getting more rain than any other deserts in the US. This means that a variety of rare species of animals and plants will be present in these uncommon conditions. The GET is also a route as opposed a National Scenic Trail, conceptualized by Brett Tucker, that has been put together using existing trail systems, 4wd roads, 2wd roads and some cross country navigation. A more remote experience is to be expected on this trail and after being a part of the herd on the PCT and AT, I am excited to feel the serenity that comes with knowing solitude in the backcountry.
The challenges that come with hiking in the less hospitable climate of the desert are compensated with starry nights and sunrises that set the sky on fire. The Grand Enchantment Trail offers a route though some less travelled terrain that is sure to inspire feelings of bliss and wonder. The scenic and serene beauty of the SW backcountry inevitably puts the every day thoughts on mute and leaves room for peace in the present.
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