April 10th, 2016 ~ Day 16
I headed up to Prescott today for my first hike with the Arizona Strong Hikers, another Meetup group that I belong to. Prescott is about an hour and a half north of Phoenix. Wanting to get out of the heat of the valley, I signed up to do a hike I have never done before, the Groom Creek Loop Trail #307. This hike is just over nine miles with a 1500-foot elevation gain. I wanted to add more miles to my journey, so I thought this would be the perfect day and the perfect hike! On the drive up, I noticed the clouds covering the mountains to the west and wondered if I’d be lucky enough to hike through them.
We didn’t get the hike started until 10:30 a.m. Coming to this Meetup, I was able to see friends who I hadn’t seen in a while, Cindy, Howard and Lori. Howard and I talked about up to Everest Base Camp hike next May. A dream an old friend had introduced me to, one that I will one day accomplish, hopefully in May!
It was another amazingly beautiful day on the mountain! The trail was beautifully decorated with pine trees. The smell of the pine permeated the air. I was enjoying the beauty that surrounded me as I hiked this trail, although at a much faster pace than I would have ever assumed.
I soon realized why this group named themselves the Strong Hikers, they were fast and I couldn’t keep up. After the first 16-minute mile, while going uphill, I decided there was no way I was going to try and keep up with them. I let them go on ahead and hiked the trail in solitude at my 19-20-minute mile. Peacefully enjoying my surroundings.
There were so many pine needles on the trail. Since it is spring, I wonder if these were from the fall season. I’m not sure what time of year the needles fall to the ground. I only know it only added to the beauty that surrounded me.
Alone, I stopped to take a break. Being in the forest always reminds me of my childhood. It especially reminds me of the summers I spent growing up in Michigan. In Michigan, there are tall pine trees everywhere you turn. Great memories of camping and fishing with my family.
It was a chilly day up north with a little bit of rain. There wasn’t too much rain, just a little sprinkle, but enough to get me wet. I’m grateful for the new down jacket I recently purchased. Today is my first time wearing it. Kept me nice and warm, and I’m still grateful for the change from all my hot desert hiking.
The clouds were extremely low today, and I received my wish. The clouds that were hanging over the mountain on my drive up were now hanging over the trail I was hiking.
The clouds were so low, I actually was hiking through them. Amazing! I can’t say I’ve ever done that. I love finding new things on a trail. Having never been here, I had no idea what to expect, but I never would have expected this.
Shortly after mile six, I made it to the fire tower, where the rest of the group had been taking a break. Since we were now going to be heading downhill, I was able to keep up with the group making for the last 3.5-miles, a 16-minute mile yet again.
One last photo of the clouds hanging over the mountain tops. A beautiful and amazing sight to see. I’m so grateful to have come north for this awesome adventurous hike! With the heat of the valley coming in, if I don’t hike early in the morning, north is where I’ll be. There are so many places to go in the next year, I can’t wait to share all my adventures!
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