FKT: Derrick Lytle - Black Canyon Trail (AZ) - 2020-01-01

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 10h 19m 22s

I used my Coros Apex watch in ultra max mode to track the fkt. I used the start and stop gps points that the previous holder had. There were some minor changes to the trail since he did it and some mining detours as well. I slept at one point as I did this as a training activity. (report with photos & video)

Black Canyon Trail Solo Self Supported FKT
Full rivers, stolen food, and solitude. That’s the quick version of my day and a half on the BCT. Originally I was going to run San Tan Scramble on Jan 4th but after a couple of weeks abroad and not training as well as I should have I decided to hit the BCT self supported record. The previous record holder, Russell Corfman, did it backpacking style and I did it the same. Since this was essentially a training hike for future goals it felt right to do it this way. Anyways after a long flight back from South America I got home to Phoenix, made food drops along the way on the trail and packed up. My goal was to complete the trail in under 2 days just enjoying it casually to experience this unique area.

On Jan 31 friends @bslavin13 and @megslavin dropped me off near the GPS point that Russell had dropped on the northern end of the trail. Due to bad weather the roads were pretty bad to that spot so I hiked in an hour to the actual start point. At 10:40 am on Dec 31 2019 I started the Black Canyon trail going south. My first food caches was at Big Bug Trailhead about 11 miles away. Things went smooth to there. I found my food and water. Filled up and kept walking. I was on a good pace and felt great.

I hiked the rest of the day a a moderate pace. I passed the Hidden Mine trailhead at about sunset and stopped to make food and continued towards my next cache at Gloriana. I got to Gloriana, mile 32.7 according to my watch, and found my water jug there but my food cache gone. So I filled up with water and did another quick look around for the food and saw nothing. I started walking and about 100 feet down the trail I found the bag ripped open and food gone. Nature. Looked like some mice got in to it. Calorie wise I felt fine and I knew I was good to my next stop in Black Canyon City but if that bag was gone I’d need a plan b. As I rolled through miles in the dark I thought about my next food drop and what I would do if it was gone.

Pie and candy in Black Canyon was the only option I could think of so I kept moving. I crossed a stream at midnight to bring in the new year hiked a few more miles and called it for the day at around 130 am.
On Jan 1 I woke up and walked a few miles to my next food store and luckily it was all there. I made a meal and then carried on. Up to this point I hadn’t seen anyone on the trail but I saw two guys this morning. One flying a drone and one out doing a morning hike. Felt weird to speak after being alone.
My next drop was at Table Mesa, a mostly undeveloped trail head with camping and target shooting nearby. I felt great going there. Energy and spirits were high and then I got to the trail, about 50 miles in, and my food and water were missing. At this point I had 700ML of water left and 11 is miles to the Emery Henderson TH. I figured I could make it there on one bottle but also looked at other options. In the end I decided to go for it but as I passed the trail head I saw a few gallons of water stashed in a cactus plant. Most opened but one totally sealed up! They’d been there for a while so I felt fine taking it knowing that I wasn’t going to put someone in the same situation I was in. Luckily plan b was to filter water. I brought a small Sawyer filter and with all the rain recently the streams were full so I had an option there. This also meant that I made quite a few creek crossings during the time out there. I filled up and was one my way ready for the last marathon length segment.
Golden hour and sunset were incredible at this point. Wonderful trail, great scenery, and knowing the I would be done before midnight. I hiked to the Emery Henderson trailhead and used the restroom there and crossed the highway to the flattest most boring part of the trip. Flat double track next to a federal prison. Really boring to be honest but hey it was the final stretch!
I reached the highway following the GPX trail and found that my truck, parked at the end GPS spot placed by Russell, to be a mile away so I walked over there and stopped my watch at 34 hours 19 minutes and 22 seconds. I sat down, drank some water, and drove the 20 minutes home. Nap time.