Day 250 ~ Woodchute Wilderness Jerome, AZ

November 30th, 2016 ~ Day 250

It was 38 degrees this morning, and I decided instead of going hiking out there in the dark freezing cold weather, I would just stay in bed. Today is Eric’s birthday and I have the day off to celebrate, so we headed to Jerome for the day.

The three of us arrived in Jerome and went to one of the shops, most of them weren’t open yet. Eric suggested a hike, the one I had done back in May. So driving through Jerome up the winding curves of Mingus Mountain, we arrived at the Woodchute Wilderness.

The road to the trailhead was a sheet of ice. We decided to park off the main road and walk to the trailhead. Woodchute Trail #102 has amazing views from the top of the mountain. Catching glimpses of Mt. Humphries and the valley below. We were blessed to be hiking through a forest of snow covered pine trees on a beautiful day. It’s funny because the temperature here was only thirty degrees.

Capturing the snow that had naturally formed into a ball on the pine needles has to be my favorite image. I have only hiked in the snow once before when I had hiked Mt. Whitney back in June. Although we weren’t really prepared for this weather, this was definitely a much easier hike. Another experience to add to this journey.

We hiked along the road through the Woodchute Wilderness, slipping and sliding on the ice, taking in all of the beauty surrounding us. Seeing deer tracks in the snow. It was cold, but at least the sun was shining on us. I’m so grateful to share Eric’s day with him.

Surprised to find a frozen pond along the side of the road, it added to the experience of hiking in the cold snowy mountains. Skipping rocks across the icy pond. We had just watched a video of someone doing this. The sound we heard was not quite what we watched, but it was still pretty amazing. Growing up in the cold winters of Illinois, I never thought to skip a rock across the ice.

Eventually we made it to the actual trailhead where Hannah signed us in. I decided to go through the gate and take a few steps on the actual trail before heading back. It’s just as beautiful in the snow as it was in the summer.

Just as we were almost back to the car, I caught a sight of Mt. Humphries. Seeing glimpses of Humphries Peak covered in snow along our hike, I finally was able to capture it.

It was a beautiful day celebrating Eric. I’m happy his daughter was able to join us on this adventure. It’s just another beautiful day in this amazing life!

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Day 249 ~ Trail 100 Phoenix, AZ

November 29th, 2016 ~ Day 249

Nothing but darkness when we began our hike today. We could see more stars than usual in the sky this morning. I was told a couple days ago that Jupiter was visible, so maybe that’s one of the stars we were seeing. 

It was another cold morning out on the trail at 43 degrees. I don’t know how much longer I can take these freezing cold dark mornings. I really didn’t think about this when my journey began. 

Meeting Eric at the North Mountain Visitor Center, we decided to do an in and out hike on Trail 100. Remembering I wanted to hike the entire trail this summer, once it became cooler that is. Well it’s definitely cooler, so I need to plan this hike. There’s so much I want to do in this 365 days! Time is running out. 

The trail was still wet in some areas from the rains a couple days ago. A small pond on the trail, in the dark, it looks like a giant lake surrounded by mountains. 

We hiked just a little over two miles and today I made it over 800 miles in my journey. As much as I want to reach 1500 miles, I’m thinking it may only be 1200 and I’m okay with that.

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Day 248 ~ Thunderbird Mountain Glendale, AZ

November 28th, 2016 ~ Day 248

Eric and I headed over to Thunderbird Mountain for an easy hike with overcast skies. It had rained last night and some clouds were still hanging in the sky. It was chilly when we began, but warmed up quickly as we began hiking. I think with the cloud cover it kept the temperature a little warmer.

We were excited to see some Christmas lights lit up along the trail. A nice little surprise for the holiday hiking season. I love the idea that the only people who will see these lights are those who are on the mountains. I’m hoping we get to see more lights before the end of the year. 

Our hike looked like a square on the map. Starting out heading west, then north, back east through the middle of the mountain, and south down the mountain to our trailhead. 

Coming back around to the parking lot, the clouds were so low, you could see them under the mountain. It’s barely visible in this photo, but was something new to see on the trails. Not something you get to see often. I love finding new things on the trails!

We hiked a total of 1.92 miles today. An easy almost flat trail hike. Sometimes you just need an easy trail to save your legs when you’re out there hiking everyday. 

 
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Day 247 ~ Deem Hills Phoenix, AZ

November 27th, 2016 ~ Day 247

Eric and I headed over to Deem Hills for our hike today. It was a chilly morning out on the trails, but at least the sun was shining. Someone had mentioned to me about some trails north of the mountain and I wanted to check them out. So we started out on the Circumference Trail heading north, a beautiful well maintained trail. In fact, all of Deem Hills trails are well maintained.

We didn’t even make it a mile before we made it to the north side of the mountain to the canal. The trails I was told about are north of the canal. When we arrived, I was disappointed to find no trespassing signs. Apparently this area is state land and you will be fined if you are caught on it. Eric told me he had a pass to enter on state land. Luckily there was a number to call on the signs, because I want to go exploring and if all I need is a pass, I’m in.

I snapped a photo of the trails I wanted to hike. It looks like a beautiful place to go exploring. I think I will always have more I want to see. I am always hearing about new places. There will probably never be enough time in my life to see all that I can see, but I’m going to try my hardest to see everything I can.

We hiked a total of 1.7 miles. An easy day on the trails. Still, enough for me to continue on my journey. Everyday is an adventure. Life is good!
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Day 246 ~ The Wave Cave Apache Junction, AZ

November 26th, 2016 ~ Day 246

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Today is a day filled with firsts! This is my first time hiking in the Superstition Mountains since this journey began, my first time on the Lost Goldmine Trail and my first time at the Wave Cave. This is also my first time hiking with Arizona Desert Hikers, another Meetup group I recently joined.

Our group met at the Superstitions Spring Mall, where we then carpooled to the Lost Goldmine Trailhead. The Superstition Mountain Range is east of Phoenix and at least an hour from my house. With the heat of the summer, I had decided to wait until it became cooler before heading here.

The hike began through a crushed gravely trail with desert scenery surrounding us. The sky was overcast. The weather cool, but not cold. The Superstition Mountains loomed over us to the north. To look at this massive beast of a mountain was overwhelming and exhilarating. I want to go exploring!

We had another amazing group of hikers. I knew a couple people, Earl and Lucy, and I’ve hiked with others once or twice before. The best part is, I met some new people. We hiked through the flat desert trail for about a mile, before going through a gate to head north.

Not long after we began heading north, we started climbing uphill to the top of the Superstitions to reach the Wave Cave. A steep uphill climb, over boulders on a slippery rocky path. They said it would be about a 1000 feet of elevation in a mile, comparable to Piestewa Peak.

We made it! The views from the top were spectacular. You could see for miles. Of course seeing more mountains in the distance gets my curiosity going. I want to know what’s out there, find the names of these mountain ranges and I want to explore new territory.

Stopping to enjoy the cave and the scenery, I had a snack while staring off into the valley below. Sitting in my quiet little world, surrounded by people, I imagine what it would be like to be out here all the time. I love being outdoors. I wish I had unlimited time and no restrictions. No place I had to be. One day I will have this and I can’t wait for that day!

The Wave Cave is a giant rock that looks like an ocean wave, which happens to be in a giant cave. I went surfing for the first time in my life, better on a mountain made of rock than in the water. The cave itself is really sandy. It’s completely open to the world, I didn’t find any hidden tunnels, but it was fun to explore.

Heading down, was a little bit trickier with all the loose gravel. Luckily it only lasted a short while. A group of us headed out before the others and we made it back to the trailhead well before everyone else. The people who rode with me were in this group, so we headed out back to the carpool. We hiked a total of 4.5 miles with 800 foot elevation gain. My day of firsts will hopefully be days of many. I can’t wait to come back here and go exploring!


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Day 245~ Cottonwood Trail to Pipeline Canyon Trail to Yavapai Point Trail Peoria, AZ

November 25th, 2016 ~ Day 245

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 Opting for the outdoors on Black Friday, skipping the lines at the stores, it’s a beautiful life we live! Sabrina lead our group on a Trail Mix hike through some beautiful mountains out at Lake Pleasant. 

I have never been on these trails before and I’m always up for new places to hike. I would take hiking over shopping any day, unless maybe it’s shopping at a hiking store, and with that I am usually doing both. ☺

We parked along Castle Hot Springs Road and began our hike along the Cottonwood Trail. Hiking through valleys with sandy rocky washes. I got to hike with Becky, who I haven’t seen, in what feels like forever!

After about a mile we came to the Pipeline Canyon Trail where we caught our first peak at the water, what a beautiful sight! The water was glowing from the sunshine bouncing off of it. Living in the desert, seeing water is rare, and I always get a sense of joy in the beauty that water beholds. The views all around us were spectacular!

There was a sign showing no horses, Sabrina asked us if we could figure out why. I never figured it out, but she explained that the cacti on the trail are so close a horse could never fit through there. Looking at all the beautiful desert scenery, I can only imagine coming out here to explore more. There is so much I want to see in this life, if only I had the time. 

From the Pipeline Canyon Trail we came to the Yavapai Point Trail. This began our uphill climb. Every step up was worth it to see the beauty of the lake surrounding us. We stopped at the top of the peak to enjoy the views, have a snack and snap our group photo. I didn’t want to leave. I enjoy being outdoors so much!

Capturing more stunning views of Lake Pleasant. I’m not only am I opting outside today. This hike is part of the 100 miles in 100 days challenge and Lake Pleasant is one of the ten Maricopa County Parks I can hike. So coming out here more often in the next couple months to explore is a must. 

From the Yavapai Point, we headed back the way we came. We hiked a total of 5.2 miles. It was a beautiful day out on the trails, exploring new territory, and beating the lines at the stores. Love this life!

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Day 244 ~ 7th Annual Thunderbird Mountain Thanksgiving Day Hike Glendale, AZ

November 24th, 2016 ~ Day 244

🦃 Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃

A bright beautiful sunny morning on the trails! The wind was strong today which made it a little chilly, at least until I started hiking. Meeting at Thunderbird Mountain for another Trail Mix Meetup, the 7th Annual Thanksgiving Day hike. We had an awesome group of hikers with Kaveh leading us up the mountain. 

This is my second year for this hike. It was nice to get out of the kitchen for a little bit and see some friends, while continuing on my goal of hiking everyday for 365 days. Another bonus, I get to burn off some of the extra calories I’m about to eat. 

Every once in awhile, Kaveh would stop the group to tell us one of his Thanksgiving Day jokes. I don’t remember any of these jokes he shared last year, so I got a little chuckle. He’s quite the entertainer. 

It was great to see so many friends on the trails today. I hiked with Howard most of the time. We talked a lot about Mount Everest. I had once mentioned to him about hiking to Everest base camp and he hasn’t stopped thinking about it since. Dominic just did it this summer, so we were able to ask him questions too. I’m hoping this trip works out, this could be an amazing dream come true.  

There are three mountains at Thunderbird Park, for this hike, the group does two of the three peaks. The one thing about Thunderbird is that you can easily go back to your car at any of the three peaks if you park in the center. So that is what I did, along with a few other hikers. I had to get home and finish Thanksgiving dinner for my family. It was a beautiful day out there on the trails, hiking about 3.5 miles.

Thanksgiving to me is about being thankful and giving thanks for all you have. Hiking today with so many friends, I am truly grateful for them. To have so many amazing friends to share this journey and the journey of life is unbelievable! I feel very blessed. TYG!

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Day 243 ~ Stoney Mountain Phoenix, AZ

November 23rd, 2016 ~ Day 243

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I’m a wimp! The temperature this morning read “feels like 49”, so I decided I wasn’t getting out of bed. This is going to be a long winter for me. I have never been a fan of the cold weather. One of the reasons why I moved from Chicago to Phoenix, was to get away from the cold. 

So instead of freezing, I signed up for a night hike with Trail Mix. Our leader Lonnie, was doing an evening hike through Stoney Mountain. There is no actual Stoney Mountain, it’s just a name someone gave the trails we were hiking. We had a great group of people and Kim even brought Zoe.

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 Starting out at the Dollar Tree parking lot, we began along 7th Street heading toward the Visitor Center. Darkness was covering the skies as we began our hike. The temperature was in the high 60’s, which was cool, but I warmed up quickly. Heading through the Enchanted Forest over to the east side of the park, covering some trails I have been on and some I haven’t. 

That’s one thing I’ve noticed about the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, there are so many unmarked trails. Well worn paths that were never intended to be a trail, but it looks like one, so they get warn even more as people continue hiking and biking them.

We made it to the top of a small peak where I was able to capture the city lights. When hiking in the dark, there’s not much else to see. It’s amazing to me how many people live in this city. I’m so grateful to be the one on the mountain looking out over the city, rather than being the one in my house with the lights on. 

We did a lollipop style loop for a total of 4.5 miles. A nice midweek hike with good mileage. I may have to do this more often and save myself from the chilly mornings. 

 

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Day 242 ~ Trails 100 and 101 Phoenix, AZ

November 22nd, 2016 ~ Day 242

A freezing cold morning out on the trail in total darkness! I wasn’t dressed warm enough for this hike. Shivering as I hiked, hoping at some point I will warm up. Where the heck did the cold come from? It seemed to have dropped ten degrees from two days ago when I was out here in the early morning.

When I decided to do this challenge, I didn’t think this through. I’ve hiked in the cold before and I’m not a fan. I’ve also cancelled hikes because of the cold, but I can’t cancel anymore. The cold mornings will definitely be my biggest challenge. 

Starting out from the North Mountain Visitor Center, Eric and I headed out on Trail 100. I thought I’d show him where I sat when I volunteered for the Phoenix Seven Summit Challenge. It’s only a mile from the trailhead. So we hiked in the cold dark morning. I’m thinking a big part of the cold was from the rains we had yesterday. The beginning of our hike is in a wash, which has always felt cooler and today it was damp from the rain. 

After about 3/4 of a mile, we came to Trail 101 and turned left. Eric heard it first, but I remember the sound from last week, something was out in the darkness calling to us. Last week I thought it was a cat, today Eric thought it was a bird. I agree with him today, it sounded like a bird. Either way, it was eerie to hear an animal calling out in the darkness. 

We made it to the spot where the flag was for the Summit Challenge, and that was it, we turned around at that point. Climbing up Trail 101, I was able to warm up. We caught a little bit of the sun peaking through over the mountain before heading back to the trailhead. 

Even with the cold, it was still a beautiful morning out on the trails. I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Life is good!

 

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Day 241 ~ Thunderbird Mountain Glendale, AZ

November 21st, 2016 ~ Day 241

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 Nothing but bright beautiful blue skies at the trailhead, after a morning of rain accompanied by dark gray skies. The air smelt cleaner and fresher from the storms. Eric and I were dressed and ready to go hiking this morning when we opened the door to head out, just as the rain began to pour. Deciding to not hike in the rain, we thought we’d wait until later in the day.

So after work I met Eric and his daughter Ali, for a hike at Thunderbird Mountain. It was so beautiful out. I’m glad we waited. 

Our hike began in the east side of the south mountain. Beginning our hike, we immediately climbed uphill, it was the hardest part of the hike. From that point on it was easy stuff. This was Ali’s first hike with me, and she hasn’t been hiking in awhile. Eric and I both are having aches and pains, so we made it a slow leisurely hike. 

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 After 3/4 of a mile we headed north, where it’s a nice smooth flat trail. With white fluffy clouds hanging in the sky, is really hard to believe it had stormed all day. Heading north again, instead of taking the road around, we headed back uphill on the mountain. An easy little climb. After our fifty minute hike, we hit almost two miles on my tracker. It was a beautiful day for a hike and I’m grateful I was able to share it with Eric and his daughter.

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