Q&A: Sirena Dufault Nears End of 817-Mile Arizona Trail Hike

Sirena Dufault at the Mazatzal Wilderness | Courtesy of Sirena Dufault

Sirena Dufault at the Mazatzal Wilderness | Courtesy of Sirena Dufault

Back in March, we told you about Sirena Dufault, who’s hiking the entire 817-mile Arizona Trail to raise awareness and funding for the Arizona Trail Association, where she is a volunteer. Dufault is nearing the end of her hike now, and we recently caught up with her via email to see how the trek was going. To see Dufault’s updates on her progress, check out her blog, and to contribute to the ATA, visit this link.

 

What have been the highlights of your trek so far?
That’s a tough question, because there have been so many breathtaking moments! But I’ll give it a go:
  • Hiking through the “sky island” ranges in Southern Arizona, where you go from prickly pear to ponderosa pines and back down again, often through wonderful rock formations. Tough because of the elevation gain, but worth every step.
  • The solitude of hiking for days without seeing another person.
  • Finding perfect camping spots with a view of the spectacular Arizona sunset and sunrise.
  • Seeing people’s eyes light up when sharing my favorite places on the public hikes and backpacking trips.
  • Backpacking through the rugged and remote Mazatzal Wilderness: over 60 miles of trail between vehicle access points, with some of the most wonderful geology, camps and views on the whole trail.
  • The women’s backpacking trip was such a wonderful experience: I had nine women and a mini-donkey along for three days from Mormon Lake to just south of Flagstaff. It was a fantastic group, and there were a lot of laughs.
  • When I hiked the Arizona Trail in sections in 2008-09, there were quite a few pieces that had not yet been built and others that have been rerouted. It’s been fun to see the new trail! Also, there has been a tremendous amount of work to rehab parts of the trail that have been damaged by fires. All of the improvements I’ve seen cost money, which is why it’s so important to me to raise the $20,000 for the trail.

 

What challenges have you faced that you might not have expected before you started?
The main challenge of this trek is the continued intensity without a real break. In two months, I have had only one or two real days off where I didn’t have an event, interviews, promotion, planning or writing to catch up on.

 

Overall, has the journey been easier or harder than you anticipated?
The journey has been about as tough as I’d expected. I knew I was committing to a lot by not only hiking the trail, but having events and public hikes and backpacking trips along the way. It’s been exhausting at times, but worth every bit of effort.

 

How has the turnout and reception been at the stops along the trail?
It’s been wonderful! All of the gateway community events have been well-attended, enjoyable evenings with great music, food and Arizona Trail Ale. It’s been great to have hikers, bikers and equestrians at the events sharing their love for the trail.

 

What parts of the trek are still to come? Are there particular parts that you’re looking forward to?
I have two weeks left to hike from Flagstaff to the Utah border, about 200 miles. The Grand Canyon is the crown jewel of the Arizona Trail and my favorite place in the world. I’ve hiked rim to rim many times, but it will be such an accomplishment to arrive having walked from Mexico! I can hardly wait to hike down to the Colorado River and relax at the boat beach. I work on the river as a guide in the summertime for Arizona River Runners and will be starting my river season shortly after my trek.

Also, the last passage into the Utah border is one of my favorites; it’s a striking transition from the forested Kaibab Plateau to the colorful sandstone formations of Utah. Then it’s over to the town of Page for my big finale celebration!

It has been a dream of mine to thru-hike the Arizona Trail since 2007 and I am so grateful to have not only this experience, but to also be able to share it with so many other people. It’s been wonderful to educate folks about this amazing resource that links deserts, mountains, canyons, communities and people across the state. Hope to see you on the Arizona Trail!

4 Comments

Filed under Et Cetera, Hiking, Make a Difference, Q&A

4 responses to “Q&A: Sirena Dufault Nears End of 817-Mile Arizona Trail Hike

  1. Michael

    Would like to find out about the landing of this hike and other info in doing a az trail thru hime

  2. Sirena, you are a true inspiration to all. It was a pleasure reading about your hiking adventures – and I hope to hear more from you in the future.

  3. Reblogged this on Sirena's Wanderings and commented:
    Here’s a Q&A that I did recently for Arizona Highways about the Arizona Trail Trek. The hike has been amazing- I’ll be finishing the trail on Saturday the 31st at the Utah border!! That night, I’m going into Page for a finale celebration from 6-9 pm at Sanderson’s Into the Grand- 148 6th Ave, Page (928) 660-8593. I’ll get to the rest of the blog updates once I return home. It’s been an amazing journey- thanks to all who have participated, donated, and followed along!! See you on the Arizona Trail!!

  4. Pingback: New Grand Canyon Exhibit Highlights the Arizona Trail | Arizona Highways

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