About the Author, Lynne DavidsonAn avid traveler and enthusiastic backpacker, Lynne seeks to combine both passions by saving up her free airline miles, and then searching for trails to hike around the world. Becoming a (mostly) solo hiker/backpacker a little late in life, Lynne is a 61-year old grandma who finds that solitude on a trail feeds her soul in a way nothing else really can. After thru-hiking a big chunk of the PCT in 2015, Lynne opted to leave a more lucrative career, in order to have summers & holidays off by working at a local middle school — thus enabling her more time on trails. For Lynne, time spent earning mountain views will always trump time spent earning money. Find her on Instagram @lostinthewilds, or on her blog, Lost in the Wilds.
It’s only January, but I am already searching for my first backpacking trek of 2019. At age 61 now, I have been hiking & backpacking solo since I was 55. My yearning for the solitude of the wilderness combined with my passion for travel, has meant that in these past six years, I’ve been fortunate to hike in Cuba, Peru, Romania, Patagonia, Nepal, Slovakia, and Mont Blanc.

Backing in the Tetras Mountains of Slovakia, 2016

There’s something about backpacking that just feeds my soul in a way nothing else quite can, so winter is barely underway here in Oregon, and I’m already prepping for my spring escape!
A little background: In 2015, I was offered a modest severance pay to voluntarily resign from my position at a struggling community college. With those funds to carry me through the summer months, I suddenly decided to backpack some 1,200 miles of the PCT beginning in my home state of Oregon, which thus began a joyful trajectory of long-distance trekking for me.
After three months on the PCT that summer, I had ample opportunities for soul-searching, and when I returned home, decided to leave the more lucrative office management career I’d created, and instead begin working as an Instructional Assistant in a local school district — which turned out to be not only more personally rewarding work, but simultaneously provides me with holidays and breaks and thus numerous opportunities throughout the year, to pursue hiking trails.
Having been diagnosed with a severe form of Raynaud’s Phenomenon, I have discovered that backpacking in cold, wet conditions is not only unpleasant, but for me, can bring about nausea, faint-headedness and the need to be horizontal for 20-30 minutes until blood flow resumes normally. Obviously then, I’m ever on the hunt for trails where sunshine and heat are more likely to prevail.

In my happy place, on the PCT, 2015.

I should add that while my income is meager, I am able to accumulate free airline miles over time, by taking advantage of various credit card promotions, and in this way, have been able to enjoy international as well as domestic hiking trips. Living out of my backpack, sleeping in my tent is a low-cost way to experience other cultures, meet new people and see more of this big, beautiful world.

Crossing a bridge on a trail in Patagonia, 2014.

For my upcoming week-long spring break, I had been looking at three different options that meet my criteria for warmth & sunshine in March: the Death Valley Traverse in California, the Lone Star Hiking Trail (LST) in Texas and the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT) in Arizona.
I logged onto my Skyscanner account to sign up for fare alerts to be notified if flights to any of those three trailheads should fall within my free mile budget. Then, I began doing further research on each trail and learned that:
1) The Death Valley Traverse is completely waterless, so the first day of my week’s trek would have to be spent driving through the desert in a rental car, storing caches of water, and hoping other hikers didn’t drink them first. That didn’t sound like a fun first day to me.
2) I spoke with an experienced thru-hiker in Houston, who has attempted the LST in her backyard on several occasions, but has turned back each time due to severe thunderstorms or miles & miles of mud/swampy conditions. While I enjoy a challenge, if I have only a week to be on a trail, I’d rather that time be spent walking as many miles as possible each day vs. slogging & backtracking & logging only short distances each day due to miles of swampy mud.
3) Around this same time, airfare to Tucson popped up within my free mileage range, so BINGO! It looks like I’ll be hiking a portion of the AZT in the spring!

I have the AZT guidebook now, have downloaded the Guthooks app onto my phone and have printed out the maps. Now, it’s time to start figuring out my resupply strategies, water sources and shuttle options to get to/from the trail! Woo hoo! The cold & dreary winter days of the Pacific Northwest have just grown a little brighter & warmer for me as I look forward to this upcoming trip!!