Over the next two months, the world can join Fountain Hills Eagle Scout and Arizona State University graduate, Jacob Eberspacher in hiking and backpacking the 803-mile Arizona National Scenic Trail.
A recent graduate from the School of Sustainability at ASU, Eberspacher said he hopes to highlight ways to further reduce impact while on the trail and bring awareness to how humans are changing the natural world as he virtually brings everyone along on his hike.
Although I am doing this 803-mile hike by myself, you can monitor my progress through occasional videos and bi-weekly updates on my Facebook page, ‘Trail Time,’and my Instagram page @TrailTime.Jake,” Eberspacher said. “Upon my return from my hike, I will be sharing my story via video on my YouTube channel of the same name, ‘Trail Time.’
“Although full videos from the trail will not be posted until I return, I encourage you to visit and subscribe to my channel, so you know when I start posting videos from my expedition. I have several videos that feature some of the gems of our state and give information on respecting and appreciating our natural resources.”
Eberspacher began his journey on Sept. 20 and, leading up to the trek, said he found himself trying to plan for every want, need and contingency.
“While on my hike, I am focusing on reducing the amount of impact I have on this planet,” Eberspacher said. “By focusing on reducing plastic waste and fueling my body only with plant proteins, I hope to show that it is completely possible to reduce one’s impact very easily, even when undertaking a journey such as this. It just takes a bit of forethought.”
Eberspacher was brought up in Boy Scout Troop 343 here in Fountain Hills and attained the rank of Eagle Scout at age 15.
“Because of my travels and experiences as a Boy Scout, I have a deep respect and appreciation for the natural diversity in this state,” he added. “I feel strongly that it should be preserved to be appreciated by generations to come. As I travel through the plethora of biomes that the Arizona Trail crosses, I aim to share a bit from my unique perspective in hopes that I might teach people a thing or two about why they should care about our natural areas. If you have no relationship with our natural areas, how will you care about them?”
As Eberspacher outlines it, the Arizona Trail was first dreamed up by a Flagstaff teacher named Dale Shewalter in the 1970s. Shewalter completed the first proposed route from the Mexico/U.S. border in Nogales to Fredonia on the Utah/Arizona border in 1985 and began promoting it that same year.
“In 1994, the Arizona Trail Association, a group that still curates the trail to this day, stepped into the picture,” Eberspacher explained. “They brought together many passionate outdoorspeople throughout the state to serve as a collective voice for the trail and upkeep the many miles across our diverse state. This trail combines some of the most rugged, wild and iconic parts of our wonderful state and allows one to experience it as a contiguous experience.”
Eberspacher said the Arizona Trail was added to the same echelon as the legendary Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails as a National Scenic Trail on March 30, 2009. It was completed on December 16, 2011.
As the days tick by, I find myself restless at night pondering questions as dire as, ‘where will the water be? These monsoons haven’t been great this year,’ to the dreamy, ‘What spots will I be able to see the night sky the best?’” Eberspacher said. “My body and mind are overtaken with bouts of fear that always resolve themselves in a hopeful smile accompanied by daydreams of what is to come.”