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  • Desert hiker’s holiday takes him on 192 mile trek across northern England

    Mar 11, 2013 | Read More News
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    Pima County trails guru Steve Anderson is a man who lives his work.

    He so enjoys trails and long-distance hikes that he spent more than two weeks in September on a 192-mile hike that spanned the United Kingdom coast to coast.

    “I would walk or ride trails 24 hours a day if I could,” Anderson said, only half joking.

    In part, Anderson took the trip as a way to continue his recovery from a stroke in 2008 that left him unable to talk.

    The planning division manager is almost all the way back from that. But he wanted to challenge himself with the hike he’s coveted for the past 10 years.

    The famous Coast to Coast Walk runs through three English national parks, crossing a scenic landscape of mountains, lakes and wild moors in the north of England. It also picked up some visibility when writer Alfred Wainwright published a pictorial guide of his hike in 1972.

    Anderson’s arduous trek over 15 days began with him dipping his boots in the Irish Sea at St. Bees and ended with the same tradition at Robin Hoods Bay in North Yorkshire. And yes, Anderson prepared for it by hiking 7 miles at Tumamoc Hill every Saturday and then 12 miles every Sunday at Saguaro National Park - in the summer heat, no less.

    He needed the training. He described the first three days as “hand-over-fist climbing through mud” on trails that aren’t maintained. Not quite what the guidebooks described, but worth it, nonetheless, he reports.

    And no, he couldn’t entirely escape the work mode, since the steward of our local trails was always on the lookout for ideas. What did he discover? They had some neat gates and crossings that he thinks might be nice on the Arizona Trail someday. He also liked the rock paths he encountered, which could prove helpful on the corners of our trails that take a lot of abuse. On the other hand, we do signage better. And we do sustainability better: One steep trail had a stream running through it, while in other places, the trails were boggy and rocky.

    But don’t feel too badly for him.

    At the end of each day’s hike, which ranged from 10 miles to 21 miles, he would arrive at a picturesque village where he’d check into a friendly country hotel or a 16th century farmhouse in a scenic hamlet. Plus, he met many interesting people.

    Next up: He hopes someday to do the 817 mile Arizona Trail and the Inca Trail in Peru.

    But for now, he’s OK with giving the hiking boots a short reprieve.