San Francisco Circum-ambulation
Circumnavigation of the San Francisco Peaks
and Musings about the Life Zones of C. Hart Merriam
October 3 - 6, 2015

Text and photos © copyright by Rob Jones

Co-participants: solo backpack

Total Trail Miles –> 40 miles. Total ERM = 56.
camera: Panasonic DMC-FS19

Star Trek Aspen
Star Trek Aspen
(lense zoomed w. open shutter)

Aspen Gold, Day 2
Aspen Gold, Day 2
(Click the image for the full-size image)
Aspen Lane along the Waterline Trail - Day 1
Aspen Lane along the Waterline Trail - Day 1
(Click the image for the full-size image)

On the AZT to Alfa Fia Tank, Day 3
On the AZT to Alfa Fia Tank, Day 3
(Click the image for the full-size image)
Color shows through the Schultz Fire ghost trees, Day 1
Color shows through the Schultz Fire ghost trees, Day 1
(Click the image for the full-size image)

multicolor Aspen
multicolor Aspen

Movie - Aspen and peaks - Day 1 - 9 MB
Movie - Aspen and peaks - Day 1 - 9 MB
(Click the image to see the short video)

"Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." - Kenneth Boulding noted this decades ago


Summary: This is the tale of a four day, three night circumnavigation, a circum-ambulation, around San Francisco Mountain - commonly referred to as the San Francisco Peaks in the Coconino National Forest of Northern Arizona. The trail distance was about 40 miles total, and made use of existing closed roads, trails (including a 19-mile chunk of the Arizona Trail (AZT), a National Scenic Trail), and a short piece of an open forest road. The route included: Starting at Schultz Tank TH, Waterline Road (closed) to the Bear Jaw Trail, Bear Jaw to FR 418, 418 to the AZT, and the AZT back to Schultz Tank.

     ERM = Energy Required Miles. A mile is added for every 500' elevation gain or loss. It's a very serviceable method of estimating energy required miles. ERM was initially used in Trails of the Tetons (long out of print) by Paul Petzold, founder of NOLS. It's a wonderfully useful concept and application. Add one mile for each 500' up AND down to distance = ERM. I use ERMs to calculate what the actual day is like. It's a very serviceable method of estimating energy required miles. Remember, however, that the ERMs are estimates because they depend on GPS satellite coverage and math functions.
     Using ERMs does not account for the 'texture' of the route or trail - that is, rocky, boulders, no trail, slimy mud, etc., yet does help approximate the route.

Map - Mazatzal Divide, AZT passages 23 & 24, 43 miles
Map - Circum-ambulation of the San Francisco Peaks, 40 miles
(Click the image to see the map)

for a full-resolution map, click here. Caution - do not use this map or gps track for navigating the route.

Right Click (then save this file: "save link as..." in most browsers) on this Download link to get the GPX file from my GPS - you can then open it in your mapping software. Note - that's a Right Click on this link. You will get the track for your software shown in the map above.


     San Francisco Mountain: San Francisco Mountain dominates our circum-ambulation around this Arizona high point, the only stratovolcano in Arizona. Mt. Rainier is another stratovolcano, a cone-shaped volcano. Commonly called the San Francisco Peaks, Mt. Humphrey is the highest point in Arizona. The extruded igneous rock of San Francisco Mountain is composed of layers of rhyolite and volcanic ash and is in the Eastern part of the San Francisco Volcanic Field, which may sit above a hot spot stretching from the town of Williams to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Some 600 mostly cinder cone volcanoes range across the field. Theories involving plate tectonics hold that the North American plate is moving West above a hot spot in the core, and geologists estimate that the volcanic field is 6 million years old on the Williams side to the latest eruption at Sunset Crater in 1064 AD. San Francisco Mountain holds a prominent position in the stories and culture of many area Native American nations and is considered by many to be the preeminent mountain on the Colorado Plateau. For us, it's a fine center piece for a circum-ambulation.

     The AZT, Arizona National Scenic Trail: Flagstaff's own Dale Shelwalter, a fifth-grade schoolteacher, walked what would become the AZT in 1985, after spending several years piloting trail sections. The first section of the AZT was dedicated in 1988, starting from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and running for 54 miles toward Utah. Other segments followed, and the AZT was officially completed in 2011, 26 years after Dale pioneered the route and one year after he died. Numerous public land agencies (e.g., the NPS, FS, BLM) and volunteer groups and individuals made the AZT a reality, starting with Dale's vision. The need for trail and easement work are continuous along the 800 mile AZT, which travels through almost all C. Hart Merriam's life zones as it rambles from the Mexico border to Utah.
     Be sure to check the Arizona Trail Association web site for a current report about water sources before you go.

San Francisco Circum-ambulation, Prelim Photos

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wSFPeaks-2015-day0-1  Inner Basin.jpg (688612 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day0-1 Inner Basin.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day0-2  Inner Basin.jpg (240195 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day0-2 Inner Basin.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day0-3  cache.jpg (600636 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day0-3 cache.jpg

     Prelim: placement of water caches.
     Driving partly around the Peaks, I hike in water caches off FR 418 (FR is Forest Road), Aspen Corner, and up from Lockett Meadow to the Waterline - Inner Basin junction, preparing for a three night, four day jaunt through color country. Yes, the Aspen are in full Fall bloom. I enjoy nearly 5 miles of hiking to prepare for the circumnavigation.
     It's growing cold in the high route around San Francisco Mountain, with a freeze warning issued for the Flagstaff area. It's time to take the heavy, super fluffy sleeping bag.
     Now, I'm wondering if the beer that I stashed with the water will freeze, oh no.

San Francisco Circum-ambulation, Day 1 Photos

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wSFPeaks-2015-day1-1  Schultz Burn.jpg (354887 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-1 Schultz Burn.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-2  Schultz Burn.jpg (598774 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-2 Schultz Burn.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-3 Waterlne tunnel.jpg (367420 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-3 Waterlne tunnel.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-4  Waterline tunnel.jpg (360780 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-4 Waterline tunnel.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-5  Color rises through burn.jpg (676520 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-5 Color rises through burn.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-6  Aspen lane.jpg (359844 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-6 Aspen lane.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-7  rising gold.jpg (493526 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-7 rising gold.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-8  Aspen lane.jpg (335116 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-8 Aspen lane.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-9  Aspen lane.jpg (357936 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-9 Aspen lane.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-10  What peak.jpg (384124 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-10 What peak.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-11  Aspen glow.jpg (541765 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-11 Aspen glow.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-12  Aspen fringe.jpg (442272 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day1-12 Aspen fringe.jpg

     Day 1. Blazing Aspen. To Waterline - Inner Basin junction: 9.4 miles. ERM = 12.4. Camp @ 9400'.
     The glowing Aspen form a deluxe foreground to the peaks of San Francisco Mountain, including Mt. Humphrey, the Arizona high point. What peaks? The Aspen blaze takes visual priority, and little else is seen.
     I've hiked the long ramp of the Waterline Trail into yellow splendor. It's the (closed) maintenance road to the wells and springs in the Inner Basin that are part of the City of Flagstaff water supply. And, the first two thirds of today is through the 2010 Schultz Burn, open to the sun and wind, and not the most scenic part of this adventure. However, one does get a ranging view of the cinder cones of the Eastern part of the San Francisco Volcanic Field.
     Arriving at the first water cache, I meet a throng of leaf-peepers coming up from Lockett Meadow, so numerous that there are parking restrictions down below. Yikes. As the afternoon lengthens, the flow of gawkers slows yet hikes faster. The temperature starts to drop and I seek the last bits of low-angle sunlight, squeezing the meager heat from the rays. And, the Aspen display continues. It's time for more feeble attempts to photograph this natural exhibition. Photos just don't capture the splendor of the golden Aspen. So, I stroll a ways into the Inner Basin.
     I find decent camping and an arch of Aspen down the old access road below the Jack Smith well and the snow survey shack. No camping is permitted in the Inner Basin.
     Eric, soon to be working at the Arizona Snow Bowl, arrives to camp from Lockett Meadow. The crowd dwindles, then disappears, the wind calms and all is well.
     The beer is a little cold, given ambient conditions, yet the down jacket over a few other layers and a wool hat make it quite pleasant.

San Francisco Circum-ambulation, Day 2 Photos

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wSFPeaks-2015-day2-1  Camp 1.jpg (449827 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-1 Camp 1.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-2  Morning Gold.jpg (493684 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-2 Morning Gold.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-3  Jack Smith spring.jpg (429304 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-3 Jack Smith spring.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-4  Storm lowers.jpg (455297 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-4 Storm lowers.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-5  Clouds-Aspens bloom.jpg (500784 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-5 Clouds-Aspens bloom.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-6  Rows of yellow.jpg (496445 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-6 Rows of yellow.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-7  Bear Jaw Jct.jpg (606563 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-7 Bear Jaw Jct.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-8  On the Bear Jaw.jpg (610573 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-8 On the Bear Jaw.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-9  limited visibility.jpg (233191 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-9 limited visibility.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-10  Potato Tank.jpg (392586 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-10 Potato Tank.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-11  Hang Fish.jpg (288748 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-11 Hang Fish.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-12  Hang Fish.jpg (371144 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-12 Hang Fish.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-13  Reel.jpg (392238 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-13 Reel.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-14  Camp 2.jpg (560481 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-14 Camp 2.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-15  Hang Fish Down.jpg (844557 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day2-15 Hang Fish Down.jpg

     Day 2. Hang Fish. AZT Linkage. To the Arizona Trail: 9 miles. ERM = 16. Camp @ 8400'
     The rain zips horizontally over tiny Potato Tank, propelled by a leaf-stripping wind. I'm hiding behind a row of Ponderosa Pines, attempting to avoid the worst of the rain. The storm subsides some, yet appears long term, so I start out again in what is now a drizzle.
     It is a cool start this morning, and I can see my breath when the penetrating wind pauses. Clouds obscure the yellow ramp leading up to Fremont Peak and generally make a nuisance of themselves all day.
     My four clothing layers at the start of today's hiking are down to two by the time I've hiked the three miles to the Waterline-Bear Jaw junction at 9700'. Windrows of bright yellow Aspen leaves border the trail as I head toward the Abineau-Bear Jaw trailhead. I meet Jen and Rick, who are hiking this loop.
     I snack under a stately Ponderosa as the first sprinkles arrive. The main storm today cranks in during the 2.5 mile road walk on FR 418 to where the circumnavigation route joins the Arizona Trail, AZT.
     From here, it's not far to water cache #2, where I speedily set up camp - thinking another storm pulse will soon arrive. Looking for a camp spot, I see a hand winch screwed to a tree with a cable running from the winch through the trees. Following along below the cable, I find a barrel decorated as a fish suspended high in a tree. Hang fish. Most curious. I later learn that this is a geocache, and a superbly constructed and hidden one too.
     It never warms, as pulses of wind and dark clouds fly along the AZT. So, I eat dinner and slide into the fluffy bag. I'll make more journal notes from there, and enjoy a prolonged examination of my eye lids.

San Francisco Circum-ambulation, Day 3 Photos

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wSFPeaks-2015-day3-1  AZT umbrella.jpg (533801 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-1 AZT umbrella.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-2  Hart Prarie.jpg (218818 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-2 Hart Prarie.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-3  along the AZT.jpg (388436 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-3 along the AZT.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-4  cloudy on the AZT.jpg (454044 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-4 cloudy on the AZT.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-5  lowering snow level.jpg (405622 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-5 lowering snow level.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-6  scenic AZT.jpg (600200 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-6 scenic AZT.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-7  Alfa Fia area.jpg (375652 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-7 Alfa Fia area.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-8  Alfa Fia and peaks.jpg (258069 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-8 Alfa Fia and peaks.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-9  Fall ferns.jpg (299934 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day3-9 Fall ferns.jpg

     Day 3. Elk Utterances and stormy squalls. Hypothermia City? To Alfa Fia Tank and water cache #3: 7 miles, ERM = 11. Camp @ 8750'.
     The raw rain thunders between the trees, driven by a 30 MPH cold wind. I'm hiding beneath an angled fir, using my umbrella as a shield from the stream of rain coursing around the trunk and driven between the trees. Still, I'm getting leakage off the pack cover and down my leg, and I'm becoming more and more wet. Yikes - it's hypothermia city on the AZT.
     The day starts with the utterances of Elk. Low volume talking, not the riveting, haunting bugling of bulls, yet more the chit chat of cows and this year's youngsters.
     At morning, the sky dribble continues intermittently. And I wait awhile, thinking that the sun will show itself. Miraculously it does during morning cocoa, then more dribble hurries me to get on the trail, where I successfully brandish the trusty umbrella. The stroll through the dark forest is lovely until the pounding sets in. I would be OK if not for the horizontal nature of the rain when I leave the dense tree cover and enter the edge of the meadows near Bismark Lake.
     Back on the trail after the horizontal pummeling, I'm galloping along at full walking speed, wanting to get into the TarpTent before the next onslaught, and to warm up too.
     I meet the only hiker of the day, anxiously walking along in a shirt and carrying a water bottle. "I need help," he reports, "I've lost the trail and I don't want to hike to Mexico." He had walked in via the Aspen Trail, and missed the turn of the loop, yet noticed the AZT signs designating the mileage to Mexico, to Utah. A few questions and a bit of redirection and he heads off toward the trailhead and I continue to gallop along the AZT toward where warm fingers reign.
     Amazingly, this time the rain holds until I reach the Alfa Fia Tank area and set up camp. After I finish warming in the fluffy bag, I venture out to explore this Aspen dotted corner of Hart's Prairie. Delightful. The colors are rich and I determine that one could use the tank as a water source if needed (assuming the water is treated prior to use).
     I'd have a good photo of the Peaks, but for the cloud bank, which smothers everything above about 10,000 feet. Perhaps the clouds will act like a lid tonight, preventing heat loss? Those clouds might be good for something after all. Later, I learn that it's snowing at about the 11,000 foot level of the Peaks. Yikes.
     I'd planned a modest day today so that I could search for and investigate Little Spring and the C. Hart Merriam Base Camp historic site. Yet, the hypothermic conditions prompted me to head straight for the next planned camp. I returned on a separate day hike and located the spring and base camp (see the map and the subsection of this report).

San Francisco Circum-ambulation, Day 4 Photos

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wSFPeaks-2015-day4-1  Umbrella way.jpg (530080 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day4-1 Umbrella way.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day4-2  AZT junction.jpg (574639 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day4-2 AZT junction.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-day4-3  Elk rub.jpg (616566 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-day4-3 Elk rub.jpg

     Day 4. All Quiet on The AZT. Obnubilation. To Schultz Tank Trailhead, completing the circum-ambulation: 12.5 miles, ERM = 16.5. Total miles (from GPS) = 38 + 2 to Merriam's Base Camp. Total ERM = 56.
     The clouds, I'm walking in the clouds capping the San Francisco Peaks. Mystically foggy. Obnubilation - "darken, dim, to cover as with a cloud" says the dictionary. The medical dictionary talks about mental cloudiness and torpidity. The primary definition reigns today, not the way politicians obnubilate issues through talking points that obscure the truth. It's a dark start. Yet, my mind is clear and walking through the clouds adds a mystical, meditational component to the circum-ambulation. It is quiet, it rains some but not hard. I don't see anyone until I'm back at Schultz Tank. All quiet on the AZT, indeed.
     Driving home, the clouds part briefly and I see snow on the Peaks. It's been a somewhat chilly circum-ambulation of the San Francisco Peaks.

     Possible water sources for self-contained hikers:
     listed for a counter-clockwise loop starting at Schultz Tank; none are perennial:
     1. spigot at Jack Smith Spring - junction of Waterline and Inner Basin Trail (check with Flagstaff Water Department, springs in Inner Basin are captured and not available to hikers).
     2. Potato Tank along FR 418
     3. Little Spring - 1.5 trail miles South of FR 418 and West 0.8 miles from the AZT, near C. Hart Merriam Base Camp (historic; see map).
     4. Alfa Fia Tank (off Aspen Corner area)
     5. Schultz Tank

     If the tank water is turbid, you may need to use alum and a collapsible bucket to clarify the water prior to treating it.

A summary about how to use alum to clarify water prior to treating it can be found here.

     Getting there, circum-ambulation:
     I started and ended at Schultz Tank TH.
     From Flagstaff – Take route 180 Northwest, toward the Grand Canyon, away from town. At about 0.2 of a mile south of mile marker 219, turn right (North) onto Schultz Pass Road (also known as FR 420). Follow FR 420 for about five bumpy miles, and on your right you will see a parking area and signs for the Arizona Trail. Walk back to the road from which you entered the parking area and then East on it for about 0.1 mile, turn North onto the Waterline Road, which is soon closed to vehicles by a metal gate.

Merriam Musings

C. Hart Merriam Base Camp and Little Spring

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wSFPeaks-2015-merriam1  little spring.jpg (260448 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-merriam1 little spring.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-merriam2  landmark.jpg (230239 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-merriam2 landmark.jpg

wSFPeaks-2015-merriam3  base camp.jpg (182359 bytes)

wSFPeaks-2015-merriam3 base camp.jpg

     One can day hike to the C. Hart Merriam Base Camp at Little Spring. It's a short jaunt of less than a mile from the Arizona Trail, not far from where it crosses Forest Road 418, yet large in the science realm. Merriam reported about his journey to Little Springs, "After spending three days in outfitting (at Flagstaff), we proceeded to Little Spring, at the north base of San Francisco Mountain, and pitched our tents in a grove of aspens and pines, on a knoll just northwest of the spring, at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,250 feet). This was our base camp for two months (August and September 1889), and from it numerous side-trips were made into the surrounding country."
     As scientists and area nature lovers know, Dr. Clinton Hart Merriam, America's first bio-ecologist, established the Life Zone concept in 1889 on the San Francisco Mountain of Arizona. When he was sixteen years old, Merriam accompanied the 1872 Hayden Survey to Yellowstone, and was the founder and first chief of the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, now the Fish and Wildlife Service. Merriam was the first to advance and define the Life Zone concept in scientific terms. In his report on the San Francisco Mountain region (1890) he concluded that forms of life are dependent upon altitude zones, and the designation of a region or zone by the presence of animals and plants not found in other zones. Because temperatures on North slopes differ from those with Southern exposure, life zones do not run on arbitrary contours. Latitude, the distance from the equator, is also important in determining climate. This combination of altitude, exposure, and latitude (climate) is basic in the ecology that governs the existing distribution of plants and animal indigenous to the various regions.
     Merriam's concept was fundamental in the development of the science of ecology, and is one of the most important modern generalizations in biology. As America's first bio-ecologist, Merriam ranks in the top tier of American scientists. His "laws of temperature" establishing life zones and life distribution were fundamental to the Life Zone concept.
     Merriam divided the region into seven "life zones" because of differences in their biology (resident plants and animals). Merriam's premise was that temperature was the largest controlling factor in these life zones. Starting from the top of San Francisco Mountain to the lower Painted Desert, he named these zones: (1) Alpine, (2) Sub-alpine, (3) Hudsonian or Spruce, (4) Canadian, (5) Neutral or Pine, (6) Pińon, and (7) Desert.
     The Merriam (wild) Turkey and the Merriam Elk (now extinct - due to livestock overgrazing and market hunting) were named for him, Clinton Hart Merriam. Rocky Mountain Elk were introduced in Northern Arizona in 1913 from Yellowstone National Park and are the Elk you see today when wandering around San Francisco Mountain.
     From the NAU website I learned that the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research at NAU is helping to create the scientific knowledge and understanding needed to address significant environmental challenges, including climate change and biodiversity loss. C. Hart would be troubled by our inadequate response to climate change, yet a happy scientist that others are pursuing the generalizations he formed while working out of the Merriam Base Camp along what is now the Arizona Trail.

     Getting there, day hike to the C. Hart Merriam Base Camp:
     Driving Northwest from Flagstaff, follow hwy 180 toward the Grand Canyon. At 0.2 of a mile North of mile marker 235, turn right (East) onto FR 151. Follow FR 151 for 1.6 miles, then turn left onto FR 418 and drive 1.1 miles, where you will see the carsonite AZT signs on both sides of the road. Hike South on the AZT for 1.5 miles. The AZT crosses an abandoned forest road, one of many so log your distance. Hike 0.8 miles West down this road, stepping over several down trees to Little Spring and the Base Camp. You'll see a high fence around the spring area. If you have the ATZ smartphone app, enable your phone GPS and you can see where the (unmarked) turn is to Little Spring, and where it is on the map.
     If you use a GPS and/or know how to read a topo map - look in the upper right hand margin outside the map posted above and you will see GPS coordinates for the turn to Little Spring off the AZT, and a waypoint for Little Spring. These UTM data use NAD27 datum.
     This is arguably one of the most gorgeous sections of the AZT, and you may want to extend your hike along the AZT to Bismark Lake or to Aspen Corner. See the Arizona Trail Association ( for a smartphone app that is free for the ATZ section of this trip (you can find it on google play).

Drop over Gold
Drop over Gold
click the image for a larger view

     *ERM: Energy Required Miles, are there data to support this mileage adjustment?
     Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education and Leadership
     Petzoldt first proposed his theory in his 1976 book “Teton Trails” to help backpackers plan trips and calculate their energy needs on mountain trails. “Petzoldt defined one energy mile as the energy required to walk one mile on the flat. He recommended adding two energy miles for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain, so a person hiking one mile and 1,000 feet upward would use the equivalent of three energy miles,” Phipps said.
     Petzoldt’s energy mile theory was just a reflection of the mountaineer’s “gut feeling,” Phipps said. The theory had never been tested in a laboratory before the study began in WCU’s Exercise Physiology Laboratory in the spring of 2010, Phipps said.
     To determine the validity of the theory, the study measured the energy cost and perceived exertion for walking on flat ground, with and without a 44.5-pound backpack, and up an elevation gain of 1,000 feet, with and without the backpack, through the collection of metabolic data, Phipps said.
     Twenty-four student, faculty and staff volunteers, including 12 males and 12 females, went through four testing sessions as the research continued into fall semester of 2010. The study results showed that the additional energy cost for ascending 1,000 feet ranged from 1.34 to 2.02 energy mile equivalents, for an average of about 1.6 miles, compared to Petzoldt’s use of two energy miles for each 1,000 feet. The range revealed by the study was due to the “hikers” personal weight differences, Phipps said. “It is remarkable that Petzoldt’s energy mile theory is so close to the actual energy cost measured during our study,” Phipps said. “In the field of outdoor education, it’s important for leaders to include an estimation of energy requirements during the planning of hiking trips.”
     Phipps said the energy required for hiking up steep mountain trails would vary for individuals and groups, and the variables of the trail would also factor in, but he recommends that backpackers stick with Petzoldt’s idea of adding two energy miles for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain when planning trips.
     The Validity of Petzoldt's Energy Mile Theory, 2010
Authors: Maridy McNeff Troy, Maurice L. Phipps
Publication: Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership

Links and books:

Arizona Trail Association - trail and water conditions; maps of some of this hike

A summary about how to use alum to clarify water prior to treating it can be found here.

Mazatzal Meandering: Doll Baby TH to The East Verde River, along bits of the Arizona Trail, looping back on the Mazatzal Divide Trail (2014 trip report)

Ambling Arizona Trail: Mazatzal Divide - Arizona Trail Passages 23 & 24; Mount Peeley TH to Doll Baby TH (2015 trip report)

Bill McKibben – suggested books include: Maybe One, Eaarth, The End of Nature


Map - Mazatzal Divide, AZT passages 23 & 24, 43 miles
Map - Circum-ambulation of the San Francisco Peaks, 40 miles
(Click the image to see the map)

for a full-resolution map, click here. Caution - do not use this map or gps track for navigating the route.

Right Click (then save this file: "save link as..." in most browsers) on this Download link to get the GPX file from my GPS - you can then open it in your mapping software. Note - that's a Right Click on this link. You will get the track for your software shown in the map above.

Related Sites:

Scenic Toilets of Inner Earth: Scenic Scatology of the Wilderness Vagabond

We Are Breeding Ourselves to Extinction (click here for full article, pdf)

More Truth Than Joke:

Abbey and walking
Abbey and walking
(Click the image for the full-size image)

The Afterlife
The Afterlife
(Click the image for the full-size image)

Birth control analogy
Birth control analogy
(Click the image for the full-size image)

corporate welfare, teapublicans
corporate welfare, teapublicans
(Click the image for the answer)

corporate welfare - you're supporting it
corporate welfare - you're supporting it
(Click the image for the full-size image)

"The greatest challenge we face in America today is to stop the buying and selling of our poltiicians and political process by corporations and the rich." - Bill Moyers

no chance to change the climate
no chance to change the climate
(Click the image for the full-size image)

Wild Vagabond Main   Trip Report Index   Caveat