An AZT Amble

The only thing better than the excitement and anticipation of venturing into the wild is sharing it with a friend that feels the same way.

Last summer during my cross country move to the east coast, my friend Katie (trail name Raven) and I stopped in Flagstaff to run and hike twenty miles or so of the Arizona Trail. Maybe it was the sunshine, maybe it was the lack of oxygen at 8,000 ft, but we were positively giddy to frolic and run around outside all day. Not long after, we said teary goodbyes as I continued on to Boston and she returned to Oregon.

Little did we know that would be a preamble for more Arizona adventures to come, first in Phoenix at Across the Years where we ran and walked one mile loops over and over again for fun (she did the 72 hour event, I did the Last Person Standing), and soon we’ll be reunited in the little town of Patagonia in southern Arizona, where I’ll join her for five days of her own grand journey as she aims to backpack the entire 800 mile trail. You can probably see why we’re friends.

This respite on the trail falls on my spring break from school. I tend to get very focused on the things that are right in front of me. This can be a great asset in terms of learning music quickly or zeroing in on a project (like my long overdue Liz Derstine website), but it can also lead to unhealthy extremes like not sleeping enough or developing overuse injuries. If I didn’t have something planned on the calendar to tear myself away, I don’t know if I actually ever would- at least not until some kind of breaking point. And this seems to play into how music and running compliment each other in my life. Maybe having some kind of equilibrium with both saves me from myself. 

On my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail which was physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, I longed for rest and a creative outlet for the music swirling around in my head. When I get absorbed in music and writing, my body actually starts to hurt from the amount of sitting involved. I have to keep moving. 

All that to say, time in the outdoors with a close friend sounds like the best medicine for a body that wants to move and a very good reason to emerge from (and maybe even add some spice to) the music swirl for a few days. 

I will share some photos and updates along the way on my new Instagram page @mercuryontherun. I created it to compliment my stories from this newsletter and connect/nerd out over all things trail/run/hike-related. You can also find me on


Thanks for reading. If my writing resonates with you, please consider supporting me by buying me a coffee or becoming a monthly member (members get perks like stickers, handwritten notes, and soon my first member-exclusive story). My sincerest thanks to everyone who has done so!


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Who is Mercury?

Liz Derstine, trail name “Mercury”, is a distance runner, endurance hiker, writer, and musician residing in Boston, MA. She holds fastest known times for women on the Appalachian Trail (supported, northbound), Long Trail (self-supported), and Pinhoti Trail (self-supported).

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