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The Arizona Trail FKT attempt + section hike (600mi)

*Disclaimer: This article is not a description on how you should hike the AZT, it is just a personal reflection of the hike I did.*

Pre AZT – Buckskin Gulch

I decided to fly into Page from Phoenix and hitch to White House Camp Ground where I can start hiking down the Paria River to where it confluences with the Buckskin Gulch slot canyon. The Buckskin gulch is a truly specatular canyon which is also part of the Hayduke Trail and caught my attention from the point when I heard about it from the first time. Since I was there, I thought „why not“. The route is kind of challenging, I was not thinking that there will be so much mud and water in it! I waded thru chest high pools full of mud water several times which was „fun“ but not the best idea in terms of breaking a record. However in retrospective the Buckskin was the best day on the whole trip an d I know I will be back for more someday.

 

It took me 9 hours from Whitehouse to Wirepass. Including a small detour (yes I got lost in a slot canyon) I did not stop a lot. Better plan a full day. Or even 2 days. The route is about 24 miles long. There is no drinking water in the Canyon. I brought 6 Liters, half of it for the night and start of the AZT the next day. There is no water at Whitehouse nor at Stateline. However I could have gotten water from campers at both I suppose. But who knows if there are people beforehand?

 

The FKT attempt

I started at the Stateline Campground on Oct. 1 and went southbound from there. It started to rain in the first night and never really stopped. I wanted to quit on day 2, continued and got an injury which I thought at first is from overuse but as I found out later was likely caused by an irritation I got from my shoes (both legs) after I got them really messed up the day before at my approach to the northern terminus thru the Buckskin Gulch slot Canyon from White House CG. I hiked down to Flagstaff in big pain and realized there, I had to pull the plug on the FKT. I changed shoes, let the injury heal + a storm move over and continued at a more sustainable pace. Overall It feels I just did not have a good  window to attempt it.

 

The Hike

After realizing I can no longer work on my goal I was kind of unmotivated to go on, the monotony of northern Arizona was not a big motivator either. There where still storms coming thru which forced me to stay somewhere indoors or in my tent a lot so I knew I will not make it to the mexican border in time to catch my flight. I did not want to move the flight back because overall I was just not super motivated by the route and the fact of the „failed“ fkt. I actually wanted to move out earlier but could not get a flight. So I made the best out of it and hiked on till I reached the Highway after the Santa Catalina mountains from where I hitched in Tucson.

 

Soltitude

Great! The AZT does not see a lot of hikers, but it is increasing. Be prepaired for not seeing anybody for days and to camp alone.

 

Campspots

There are flat spots everywhere! Just make sure there is nothing on the ground which can puncture your mattress. I went 600 miles without puncturing my neo air. So If you are careful an air matress is fine I would say. Generally speaking, there is a lot of stuff out there that wants and will puncture yourself and your gear!

 

Wildlife

I saw elk, deer, tarantulas, a wolf spider, 4 rattlers (2 alive, 2 dead), havalinas, hares, birds and coyotes. Falling asleep in the desert with the sound of coyotes was the coolest, almost spiritual experience. I saw bear scat and prints in the Mazatzals but no bear itself. There was also cattle, but far less than I had anticipated.

 

Water
October 2018 was the wettest year on record in Arizona I have heared. So it was basically everywhere. Springs, rock pools, creeks were my main supplies for my drinking water. In between natural sources I took water from caches which are stocked by trail angels or other hikers. I personally would not make the effort to cache water before. If I would, I suggest to bring a couple of extra gallons for public use. Write your name and a „public after ….“ date on it in case you can not make it to the cache, so people know it is free. Carry out empty gallons! I imagine in dry years the water situation is pretty miserable. Bring a working filter and drinking powder to cover the gross taste.
I used the BeFree Filter with a 1L bottle. As backup I had AquaMira drops refilled in minidropper bottles.

 

Resupply
Fairly easy I would say, I did the route without a stove, so I mostly ate, tortillas, refried beans, cheese, crackers, chips, gummis, fresh fruit & vegetables, nuts and all kinds and forms of chocolate. Going my pace I never carried more than 4 days of food. I did send boxes to: THAT Brewery in Pine, P.O. in Superior, Mt. Lemmon (not really necessary) and Patagonia.
All I carried as „kitchen“ is a spork and a plastic container for cold soaking.
I always charged my electronic devices while having a meal somewhere.

 

Navigation
I did the whole route with the GutHook App on my iphone 5. I did not carry any backup. The route itself is fairly well marked. Sometimes you have to look around a bit but I never got lost in that sense.

 

Gear

My baseweight was about 3.5 Kilo. I used a Palante Simple Pack, Cumulus Quilt 150, Cocoon silk liner, TAR Neo Air R, Zpacks Hexamid Solo, one pole, 7 stakes, polycro groundsheet, Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket, Montane merino long sleeve, La Sportiva Hail Rainjacket, umbrella, Montane Windpants, thin merino Gloves, Fleece Hat, BeFree Waterfilter 1L, iPhone5, 10000mah Anker power bank, Anker quick charge wall charger + cables. Do not bring a white shirt 😉

I want to thank all the kind people I have met during the hike!

Pictures
All pictures can be found here

 

Anything else? Feel free to ask me Qs in the comments!

Arizona Trail FKT live tracking

The tracker will go live on Oct. 1 or 2 depending when I reach the Stateline Campground trailhead.
It will automatically send my location to the site in 5 minute intervalls.

 


If there is no map displayed above, please use this link:
Spot map

Arizona Trail fastest known time attempt

 

About the AZT

The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a complete non-motorized path, stretching 800 diverse miles across Arizona. It links deserts, mountains, canyons, forests, communities and people.

 

With great respect for the current record holder Heather Anderson and all who came before, I would like to announce my intention on attempting to better the current self supported fastest known time (fkt) of 19d:17h:9min on the 800 mile long Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT) on foot. I will start at the monument at Stateline Campground and will be going southbound to the Mexican border.

I will not have anyone following, or otherwise meeting me in prearranged manner to give me support. I plan to do this carrying all of my food, equipment, and water between resupply towns, which I will walk into and out to pick up mailed food boxes or purchasing food. I will not be getting in a vehicle for any reason during this attempt, if I do it means the attempt is off. I will be following the official AZT route. I will carry a Spot tracker for verification as document the attempt by video and photo and will occasionally post on my Instagram (depending on service/battery life) @matthiaskodym.

My main goal is to experience the AZT in exposing myself to the trail as much as I can, If I notice I can not hold the pace my main goal is to finish the journey from Utah to Mexico on the AZT.

Trans Pyrenea August 2018 (HRP/GR10/GR11)

*Disclaimer: This article is not a description on how you should hike the HRP, it is just a personal reflection of the hike I did.*

I just completed a hike from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea crossing the Pyrenees, a hike I wanted to do for a long time and finally could be realised. I mainly used one of the HRP (Haute Route Pyrenea) routes which are running between the GR10 on the French side and the GR11 on Spanish territory. The HRP is kind of more direct line which runs mostly over higher grounds than the two GRs. However the HRP is not a fixed, marked route, there are infact many options you can choose from and different guidebooks describe different HRP versions. One thing I loved about this hike! You look at the map, make sure that the weather will be ok for the route that looks appealing to you and than you go for it. The HRP routes are not marked as such, sometimes it uses existing trails, sometimes there are no trails but what I found is that there are a good amount of cairns to follow even this makes not always sense. The guidebook (Cicerone) speaks of somewhat like 45 days for the full crossing without off days. I kind of squeezed the trip in between two working appointments, so I hiked it in 20 days without rest days. This is a pace that most people would not enjoy and it took me around 12 hours (some days more) of hiking and a fair bit of running each day to make it in that frame which did not leave me any time for sidetrips. I am not a big peakbagger anyway, but there is a lot to explore out there, so plan in some extra days if you can. However I was focused on the crossing from Ocean to Sea primarily and liked the rhythm of having to hike all day every day to achieve that. There was not a single day on the whole crossing which I did not like, this is some splendid terrain, I tell you. But the views and scenery are hard to earn in long steep climbs and downs, be prepared and go as light as you can! Most people carry way too much and heavy stuff up and down these passes.

I really really enjoyed this route, the theme of it crossing from Ocean to Seathrough a very beautiful mountain range, no permits, not a lot of restrictions, reasonable amount of people, resupply options, the cultural aspects, no mosquitos, first class campsites, there was really no downer for me on this hike. I can recommend it to anyone who is seeking for a challenging hike and if you are not sure about the HRP, do a section hike or one of the GRs. They are great!  Need to go back!

Stats
The HRP is somewhere between 800 to 850 kilometers in length and climbs about 50.000 meters in ascent. I averaged about 42 kilometes a day with about 2500m of climbing over 20 days without restdays. My shortest day was 30 km, my longest about 65 km. I slept about 13 nights under my tarp, 2 under the stars and the rest indoors.

Terrain
Living and training in the Austrian Alps the HRP did not hold any surprises when it comes to terrain, overall speaking the HRP has some very technical and steep in both uphill and downhill parts. You have loose fields of scree, large and long boulderfields and occasional snow to traverse. I walked W to E which is the direction also the Cicerone guide is written and the direction I would recommend for various reasons. First the Basque Country is somewhat like rolling hills which are not technical, the other direction is harder I would say to beginn with. The sun. Starting W you are facing the morning sun which is nicer than to stare all day long into the evening sun which happends if you  start E and go W.

Water
Water is everywhere, so are sheep, cows, horses, goats and other animals. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to have some kind of water treatment. Speaking of animals, there are also herding dogs, which might bark at you. I never felt harmed by one. Stand your ground and talk calmly to them. Sheep herders are normally never far away from the dogs. I used the Katadyn BeFree and the fact that I did not get sick shows that it works. However the Hydrapak bottle started leaking but I could fix that via ducttape. I did not carry  any chemical treatment. I never carried more than 1 liter of water.

Resupply
Fairly easy I would say, I did the route without a stove, so I mostly ate bread, tortillas, cheese, crackers, chips, gummis, fresh fruit & vegetables, nuts and all kinds and forms of chocolate. Every now and then I visited a refuge for a beer, coffee & omlette. Going my pace I never carried more than 2.5 days of food.I did not send any boxes. Prices in refuges: Cheese Sandwich €4, Beer €3, Omlette €7, Snickers €2;
The towns along the HRP mostly have small markets where you can get the resupply. All I carried as „kitchen“ is one mini plastic fork.
I always charged my electronic devices while having a meal somewhere. Some refugios have outlets some do not.

Navigation
I did the whole route with the Gaia Pro App on my iphone 5. The pro version allows you to save the offline IGN Maps of Spain and France + I added the gpx tracks of the GR10/11 and several HRP routes in addtion. Worked perfect. Fog, Rain, Forest..never a problem. I also had the HRP pocket guide (google it, thanks Paul for putting it together) on the phone which I sometimes read but never really used for navigation. The GR trails are very well marked by a white and red stripe painted to rocks or trees.

Gear

Palante Simple Pack, Cumulus Quilt 150, TAR Neo Air R, SMD Gatewood Cape Tarp, Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket, La Sportiva Hail Rainjacket, Montane Windpants, Merino Gloves, Fleece Hat, BeFree Waterfilter;

Anything else? Feel free to ask me Qs in the comments!

Pictures
All pictures can be found ->here<-
My camera broke on day one so I had only my smartphone to take pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 


											

100 miles of Istria 2018-Blue 110Km: Learning from DNF

My experiences with 100 Miles of Istria  date back to 2013. That year I ran my second race in the 100km range together with my friend Anders which I hiked most of the PCT in 2011 with. We finished in somewhat like over 18 hours. I came back in 2015, this time I wanted the full Istria experience. I entered the 100 mile race. I failed. I tried again in 2016 and finished the whole thing in under 24 hours. One year later I failed the same distance again. Now on to this years race, the blue course, from Lovran to…Groznjan.

 

Having had some good race experiences in 2017 one thing was sure. I did not want to „just“ finish this race, I wanted to know how fast I can finish this race. I wanted to race and I did just that from the beginning. This is not very smart and I know that. Not at that distance and not this early in the year with some key training sessions missing because of this and that but mostly because of a long winter in the Alps.

The start from Lovran is relentless. From sealevel up to the highest point on Mt. Vojak in 1300 vertical meters. Road, stairs, trail, snow, mud, water until the treeline is behind and a windy, rocky ridge is leading to the summit where the course drops down into the first aid station. I know the downhill pretty well, on the 100 mile course you have allready more than 30km in the legs, so it was nice to run it on relatively fresh legs this time. The snow and mud however did it not make too easy.
For the first time I have noticed that it was a bad Idea to run with a smaller, lighter headlamp. Because of the dim light I had to focus too much on not missing the course markings. Also it was obvious that the dim light is making me more sleepy than the light from my Lupine lamp. However that was the situation for now and I had to deal with it for the next 5 hours.

The night was cold again, last year I did not take the time to dress, so my DNF was a result of needing to much energy to keep my body temperature. This year I learned and dressed aproppriate to the temperature which was just around freezing. I noticed some changes in the course, I have some favourite parts on the course which I was looking forward to like the technical part before  CP2 in Brgudac which was rerouted over wide forest track. After the aid station we went up a part of that downhill and turned west later. I loved the technical sections which broke up the monotony and fast running from the forest roads. I passed more and more runners from the 100 mile course, occasionally some words of motivation where shared along the way. We were all together in the deep, dark, cold and muddy forest looking for our limits. If only we could bottle that energy and turn it into something usefull!

My mental game was not very strong and I asked myself questions which you should not ask yourself especially not during a race of that kind. I noticed that my focus is not 100% where it should be. I tend to get bored on sections where you don´t have to focus on the terrain. I always looked forward to the technical parts of the course so the downhill into Buzet was something I was very happy about.

 

 

By the time I reached Buzet (km60) the sun was allready out and a bright blue day was awakening. I missed my prefered split time for Buzet by about 20mins, but I knew that this time goal was illusional. I felt good running into the big sports hall where I picked up my drop bag and got assisted by Evelyne who ran a faboulus race at the 70k  which was about to start from Buzet later. But I noticed that I had problems talking to her. I felt like drunk, which could be a result of dehydration. So I took care of that. Because of the cold temperatures and my „in and out“ aid station strategy, I did not take care enough about my fluid intake. Which was of course the next big mistake. However I noticed it now and downed some liquids, grabbed some gels, changed into a lighter shirt, dropped the headlamp for a lighter one and went out again.

I felt the effort, but was still able to run and not overly concerned in not making it. The next stretch was the longest without an aid station. 19 Kilometers where I did not see a soul expect some of the crew from the race. At this point of the race I was in a mental state where time and distance as such did not matter anymore. I was just focused on getting one foot in front of the other, trying not to stumble and fall over roots and rocks on the trail. I was looking forward to meet my parents at the next aid station which where willing to crew me from there. My parents allready where awaiting me, we chatted a little bit, which was kind of uplifting. I drank and took care of my nutrition and made my way towards the course. When I entered the CP the runner in 5th position just left. I kind of knew that I might not catch him, so I took some more time. When I left, a young Norwegian runner just entered. We talked a few words. I think he followed me also in the descent into Buzet but he held back, saving energy. A smart man.

At that point I had no idea nor initial thoughts of quitting at the next CP 11 km later. I left before him but soon noticed that he caught up, I did not care too much I did not speed up or anything. I just tried to keep moving steady. Just before Groznjan he made the move and overtook me and from that moment I noticed that my stride is not there anymore. I was just able to shuffle my legs back and forth. My hamstrings got completly tight down over my knees into the calfs. I just had wooden sticks instead of legs from one minute to the other. I know the feeling of running on stiff or hurting legs, but this was different. I immediatly started walking, I grabbed a gel and a salt capsule and downed that with my left water supplies. I walked about 300 meters and tried to start running again. I could not. Entering the aid station I told my parents that this is it. I am going to quit.

They remembered me of my race last year  where similar problems occurred. I told them before the race they should not let me quit too fast, instead I should take my time, sit down, rest my legs up high, eat & drink. So I did that, I tried all kinds of thins to get me going again, but with the resting my temperature also dropped and I fell into a kind of shivering. I got really cold even the sun was out. I stood up, which was very hard with stiff legs and tried to get into a running stride again. After a couple of meters I returned and realised that it was over. Which was hard, because I really wanted that top ten finish. I felt not overly tired nor weak, my legs where just unable to move.

I have failed to cross that finish line again but gave all that I had that day. Racing and and going for a finish are totally different approaches. In this sport both are very hard in their own unique way. I dont want to loose my passion for this sport in taking approaches I did not enter it for. I am personally not very competitive. I think faster times and therefore higher goals evolve with training and experience. For now I go back to the basics. Taking the slow, controlled and hopefully progressive route up the mountain.

Thanks to the ambitious support of the volounteers along the way, to Alen and his crew for putting on a great trail running event again and congrats to all the finishers and limit seekers out there. Keep it up!

Link to my gps log

 

Reisebericht Kanaren Jänner 2018

Mein Reisebericht auf Bergwelten.com

Alle Fotos: Facebook Album