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Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist

Stories by Ted

As I have aged and continue to hike solo, I have become a little anxious about crossing paths with a bear somewhere off the beaten path. My concerns may be unfounded but I feel like I am due.

What’s your story? We all have one, actually many. This summer is the perfect time to share your story at your favorite library because the theme for the State’s summer reading program is a Universe of Stories.

Progressively increasing pain in your legs is one thing but on a four-day solo backpacking trip through West Clear Creek, any little pain can assume a high degree of significance. This 40 mile cross-country trek in central Arizona involves floating a dozen ponds, negotiating cliffs and bushwhacking.

As I listened to the Park Ranger speak about the early explorers who came here in the 19th century, he cited a conversation they had. One asked, “Is that stream good for fishing?” The other answered, “No, it’s a dirty devil.”

Juan Bautista de Anza hiked from Tubac, AZ to San Francisco, CA in 1775. That’s quite a hike, especially back then. He followed stream courses such as the Santa Cruz and Gila Rivers, when possible.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist April 17, 2019

The speaker from Indiana said he had hiked extensively in Arizona but had yet to encounter a rattlesnake. Odd, I thought. I haven’t seen hundreds but I can’t imaging hiking across the Southwest and not seeing a rattlesnake from time to time.

As the tour guide for my parents hiking into Havasupai Canyon, I wanted to get it right. My Mom had never backpacked and my Dad had not done so for many years.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist March 22, 2019
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Trail confusion is annoying at best, dangerous at worst. Hiking out of Kartchner Caverns State Park into the Whetstone Mountains, I experienced significant trail confusion.

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Timing is critical. March is a time of transition. It could be over 100 degrees in the desert. Yet, it could also be snow-packed above 7,000 feet.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist February 22, 2019

Just as some in our group turned back from reaching the summit of Mt. Wilson, north of Sedona, the glorious views began to open up. Sedona is always scenic but with snow on those red rocks, the affect is enchanting. The view of the San Francisco Peaks was impressive. The breeze sent a constant supply of snowflakes into the air to sparkle all around us. Breathtaking.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist February 6, 2019

As the older brother, I always set the pace on our hikes. Like our Dad, who was always at the head of the pack, I was always in front of my little brother, until my sophomore year in high school, his freshman year. How humiliating!

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist January 23, 2019

Hiking through the wild and wooly Mazatzal Wilderness in January involved a number of challenges, not the least of which was route finding. When you hike off the beaten path, it comes as no surprise, really, when you lose the trail.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist January 9, 2019

Made any New Year’s resolutions in the context of hiking? Looking back over 2018, see anything to celebrate related to hiking? How about something you’d wish was better from 2018 and you have resolved to make a change to see that improvement become a reality in 2019?

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist December 26, 2018

After a fitful night’s sleep, we discussed our options.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist December 13, 2018
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I suppose, if you had no idea that an escaped convict was on the loose where you were planning to hike alone for four days, you might just be considered unlucky when he walked into your wilderness camp. But knowing it and going on as originally planned, makes words like dumb come to mind.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist November 28, 2018

“Warning, warning, escaped convict ahead. Danger, danger, do not proceed. Do not pack, do not collect your gear.”

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist November 28, 2018
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Remember John Denver singing, “Leaving on a jet plane …?” I can count the number of times I’ve traveled to a hike via a jet plane on one hand. Perhaps you’ve done so more often. It comes down to what you have more of, time or money.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist November 15, 2018
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Things go bump in the night, right? Perhaps that’s why headlamps were much in use when I got to the trailhead at 5 a.m.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist October 31, 2018

Fall, for many is their favorite time of year. Hiking where fall colors are on display in grand style, such as in the vicinity of Mt. Elbert, Colorado, is unforgettable. On my first trip there, I thought I was being given a glimpse of heaven.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist October 17, 2018
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First impressions of Hesperus Mountain, Colorado, are powerful. The first thing I thought when I spotted Hesperus for the first time was that it was the most beautiful mountain I had ever seen. I will never forget its contrasting bands of color, its perfect shape, its setting with a clear blue sky, patches of snow and wildflowers.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist October 3, 2018
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This is my favorite alpine hike. First, it is an excellent training hike for more serious alpine treks such as Mt. Whitney. ...

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist September 19, 2018
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I feel a change in the weather coming, signaling the end of summer. However, autumn is still many weeks away, especially across the Southwest.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist September 5, 2018
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I thought, “Nobody likes a quitter,” when Mark told me he was quitting. I yelled into his face, “You can do this,” knowing we only had a quarter of a mile to go to reach the summit. Sure the winds were howling and visibility was zero, but when the goin’ gets tough, the tough get going’, right? Mark was ill-equipped for the hike.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist August 26, 2018
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Hiking beyond timberline involves a greater probability of exposure to high winds, heavy rain, lightning and snow any time.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist August 8, 2018
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It’s not that easy to hike above 7,000 feet in elevation within Yavapai County.

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If you were to nominate any of the many trails in Arizona as a potential classic, the High Line Trail would have to be high on the list.

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Back in the ‘70s we hiked through the old fruit orchard at the mouth of the Canyon and picked apples in the fall. We’ve hiked here a dozen times, mostly on day hikes. I’ve hiked through once in each direction. Each through-hike was quite different.

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West Fork near Sedona is heavily managed. Due to its popularity, the Forest Service has contracted out its management to Recreation Resource Management Inc. Therefore, if you have an interagency annual pass, it is not accepted. Neither is the Red Rock Pass.

Aravaipa Canyon is a linear oasis on the edge of the Sonoran Desert.

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Riparian environments are distinct from adjacent uplands.

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Two hikers expressed concern, maybe alarm, over the apparent demise of their beloved Iron King Trail. When a new housing development gets plopped down in the middle of a trail you frequently utilize, such concern is understandable. So, one damp day I decided to check it out.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist April 19, 2018

The Southwest has its share of strangely amazing hikes like the Wonderland of Rocks and the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert.

The best spring wildflower displays I have consistently enjoyed over the past 50 years of hiking in Arizona have been in the Superstitions.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist March 22, 2018

Back in the early ‘80s I ended up here on a rock climbing trip, but never hiked here until recently. Two aspects immediately caught my attention, the unique terrain and the unique people.

The most glorious display of wildflowers I have ever seen was in McDowell Mountain Park on the Scenic Trail.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist February 21, 2018
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Claudia asked, “Why hike in the desert?” Like any nature lover, she associates a more positive outdoor experience with green landscapes because they foster a feeling of refreshment. Where there is greenery, there is also water: creeks, fountains, lakes, or waterfalls.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist February 8, 2018
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What does drought sound like? “Crunch, crunch” over the pine needles hiking in Grapevine Canyon, site of the Goodwin Fire. I wanted to return “to the black” and see if any water flowed there. It’s my New Year’s tradition: hiking.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist January 24, 2018

Sheila asked, “Do you have any hikes for old people?” Since I am no spring chicken, I thought all the hikes in my Southwest directory on CD were for “old people.”

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist January 11, 2018
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As we reached the Rim, on our hike up Bright Angel Trail, we overheard numerous people expressing their impressions of the Grand Canyon.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist December 28, 2017

I still prefer to drive with a standard transmission. Hiking on a trail is more like driving an automatic while cross-country hiking is reminiscent of driving with a stick shift, requiring greater concentration.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist December 13, 2017

Most people hike in the Grand Canyon during the summer. That’s how I started back in May 1973.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist November 29, 2017
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What’s your favorite hike,” asked the young man as we walked down the trail. This is a common approach to identifying potentially likeable hikes, yet how can my favorite hike become your favorite hike?

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist November 15, 2017

Our borderlands offer some of the best hiking anywhere with rugged canyons and challenging peaks.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist November 2, 2017

In the book, “Walking Distance: Extraordinary Hikes for Ordinary People” by Robert and Martha Manning, we find a wealth of information and encouragement to “hit the trail.”

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist October 19, 2017
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She asked, “How do you decide where to hike next?” As Robert Frost wrote, “The path less traveled.”

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist October 4, 2017

Talking to a newcomer to Arizona about ideas for hiking destinations, she expressed a preference for hiking “off the beaten path.” I understand her dilemma, “Where can I hike without running into hordes of people, yet hike somewhere that’s notable?”

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist September 21, 2017
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Confession is good for the soul. As a hiker, I try to start off on the right foot.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist September 7, 2017

Feedback from my last column included the question I always get from women about hiking solo: “How can I feel safe hiking solo?” My usual answer is, “Hike with a gun or a big dog.”

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist August 24, 2017

The radio announcer said, “Wherever you are hanging out today, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., we’d love to connect with you.” Hiking is not like that. It’s a “boots on the ground” shared experience, not a virtual connection.

By Ted Johnson, Courier Columnist August 10, 2017

Do you ponder as you wander? Or, is hiking for you nothing more than pounding ground to get from point A to point B?