Day 281 ~ Tortoise Trail to Pemberton Trail to Scenic Trail Fountain Hills, AZ

December 31st, 2016 ~ Day 281

From the moment I arrived to begin this hike, I was in awe. Driving through the park there was a vast expanse of desert with mountains surrounding me in all directions. The landscape damp from all the recent rains. An absolutely beautiful place to be!

I have never been to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, nor had I ever realized it existed until I looked up some information on the 100 miles in 100 days challenge. I knew there were ten Maricopa County Parks and I want to explore each one for this challenge, even if only in a few short miles. So for today I headed to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, driving an hour from my house to the trailhead to explore new territory.

I parked at the Visitor Center on the main road a couple miles from the park entrance. My intent was to do the Scenic Trail Loop. I had no idea where I was going so when I stopped at the visitor center, I found out I could get to the Scenic Trail from Tortoise Trail, which happened to begin from the visitor center. So I grabbed my bag and headed out on the sandy trail through the desert just as the rain began.

I hiked the Tortoise Trail for a half mile or so through intermittent sprinkles. The scenery surrounding me was spectacular. The creosote bushes were so tall. There were patches of grass all throughout the desert. Different plants that I have never seen. I even saw a jackrabbit along the trail.

I soon turned onto the Pemberton Trail and cut over through a parking lot to get onto the Scenic Trail, my intended hike. As soon as I got on the trail I saw this fence and took a picture. This has to be one of my favorite pictures. I just love all the colors displayed.

Hiking along the Scentic Trail there was so many colors to see. The rain had stopped but the sky stayed overcast. I continued to see patches of grass. I have never realized in the nine years I’ve been in Arizona, how green the grass can be in December. It’s the last day of the year and we have grass growing! Amazing!

The trail was made of small sandy pebbles, a well maintained trail, and with the rain it made it much easier to hike through rather than the mud. I came across a few puddles from the rain and had to dodge them. Beautiful in their own right, especially when there isn’t much water to see here. The sun was beginning to peak out through some of the clouds too. 

I continued on and as I took a photo of a drop of rain on a branch, I heard them, coyotes howling. Frozen in fear, I listened, the sound coming from the direction I was headed. I stayed there for a moment deciding what to do, until I decided to turn around and head back to the trailhead. I have heard coyotes won’t bother you, but being alone in the middle of the desert isn’t where I’d like to find out. 

I made it back to the trailhead in one piece as the sun started peaking out even more. I’m grateful for the three and a half miles I was able to complete. Today was just the beginning of what I plan to explore in this park. I can now say that this is one of my favorite places to hike!

 
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Day 280 ~ Scarlett Canyon Phoenix, AZ

December 30th, 2016 ~ Day 280

Located north of the 101 just off Cave Creek Road, is Scarlett Canyon tucked away at the end of a quiet road. The parking lot is a small rainbow shaped lot, that can hold maybe five cars and the trailhead sign is missing. Here the trails have absolutely no trail markers. It’s a great place to go exploring.

Darkness surrounded us on the trail as Eric and I began our hike, yet the light from the sun was beginning to rise and lit up the sky off to the east. Since the trails have no markers, we navigated our way through the desert landscape with huge boulders surrounding us.

We started heading west then south west around the base of the mountain. As the skies began to open and offer us light, we were able to manage the trail a little easier.

Once at the center of the mountain on the west side, there is a crossroad. You can continue heading north or take the trail that heads to the saddle, we decided to head to the saddle. With only a little knowledge of this trail, I have yet to explore past this junction, and of course I’m on a time restriction. It began to brighten even up more as we began to climb up the mountain.

As we were climbing up, we heard an owl hooting, and although my zoom made it blurry you can still see his shape on the rock. How amazing is that?

We climbed a little higher above the saddle to watch the sunrise. We sat on a rock enjoying the views of the valley below. The colors were so beautiful! This is what I live for! One day time will not matter, I will have no place to be and will be able to enjoy all life has to offer even more.

Once I realized the sunrise wouldn’t be for another 21 minutes, we decided to head on down the mountain.

Navigating our way down was a little difficult. We took a couple wrong turns, stopping to assess, until we could find the narrow trail again. The colors of the sunrise were becoming bolder as we made our way down. Just another reason to be outdoors hiking. We made it back to the trailhead in under two miles. It was another beautiful day for a hike.
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Day 279 ~ Sunrise Mountain Loop Peoria, AZ

December 29th, 2016 ~ Day 279

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Sunrise Mountain, located in the west Valley, in the city of Peoria, has over four miles of hiking trails. I arrived at the trail around 7am, parking at the city park. Just as I stepped out of the car I felt the wind. It was so strong and whipping around around me like crazy. 

From the parking lot, I headed through a neighborhood trail to get to the actual trailhead of the mountain. It’s an easy quarter mile level path made of sand.

Once at the trailhead, I began a gradual uphill climb, with little elevation. This trail is like a Rollercoaster with all its ups and downs. 

I haven’t been on this trail in over a month, not since we did the Four Peak Challenge. I love this mountain in that there are so many trails you can take and see the beautiful scenery surrounding you in different directions. There are four summits and at each peak they give you an option of easy or difficult. I skipped the first peak and went around the base of the mountain. I’ve been up there once and decided that day, that was all I needed. 

At the base of the second peak I decided I would take the difficult trail uphill. Knowing I was short on time, I wanted a harder hike with less milage. The easier path was longer and I wanted to make it to the top to see the views. 

The wind was blowing stronger than ever as I climbed higher. Have you ever seen a cactus sway in the wind? I hadn’t until today. This monstrous cactus was swaying so much so, I thought it may topple over. I didn’t stay next to it for very long. 

The views surrounding me at the summit were so amazing. Another reason why I love this mountain, you can see for miles. The best part is that most of the view, farther away, is still untouched by humans with so many mountains in the distance. 

I decided once at the second peak, I wouldn’t have time for the third or fourth, so I turned around and headed back the way I came. I was in a hurry to get to work, so I pushed harder back to the trailhead. Getting in a 2.4 mile hike today was a great start to my day. Love this life!

 
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Day 278 ~ Trail 308 Lookout Mountain Circumference Trail Phoenix, AZ

December 28th, 2016 ~ Day 278

As I drove to Lookout Mountain, the sky above me was a beautiful shade of red. The entire sky was engulfed in the colors from the sunrise. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it to the trailhead in time and I was going to miss capturing it. 

I missed the red, but was blessed to see the oranges and then the yellows. Peaking over the mountain I captured my first view. It’s amazing how glorious a sunrise can be. God does good work and I’m grateful for this opportunity to be here in this moment. 

Deciding to hike the Circumference Trail at Lookout rather than climb the mountain, I immediately headed east to catch up to the sunrise. Hoping for a better view than at the trailhead where the mountain blocks your view.

Although it was almost the end of what I would consider a spectacular show, I was grateful to have the opportunity to see the beautiful colors surrounding me. As I climbed over the hill, the colors shined brighter and my joy became greater. This awe-inspiring unexpected beauty caught me by surprise. I didn’t believe I would get to see such an amazing view. The colors were so beautiful! 

The amazing color show in the sky didn’t last long. I captured the last little bit of sun as it was rising over the mountain, glowing yellow, then hiding behind the clouds once it rose. It’s amazing how brightly the sun was glowing behind those clouds. 

What an amazing sight to see first thing in the morning. Once the sun had risen, I continued on my hike now heading west. I continued on through the trails, enjoying the views of the mountains surrounding me. Wishing I had more time in life to get out here and stay longer. One day, that is my dream. 

 
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Day 277 ~ Trail 44 North Mountain Phoenix, AZ

December 27th, 2016 ~ Day 277

There are a few places you can park if you hike North Mountain, depending on how long you want to hike. Today I was lucky enough to find parking at the base of North Mountain, right off 7th Street. A small lot that holds ten cars, if even. 

I began my climb to the top of North Mountain heading up the paved road. North Mountain is a paved service road that heads up to the towers on the peak. Beginning my climb in the dark, I found it much easier to hike on pavement rather than the rocky terrain of a dirt trail.

Shortly after I began, just after the first switchback, I looked out across the valley and the city lights were already beginning to greet me. I didn’t realize I could see so much climbing only 50 feet uphill. Everyday I get the opportunity to learn something new. 

The higher I climbed the more I could see. Catching my first glimpse of the moon, I was in awe of the beauty that surrounded me. So amazing! I so wish I had brought my new camera. I’d love to see what I could capture of the moon. 

I made it to the top of the service road and touched the fence. Then I continued back down and up and around to the towers on the peak, trying to get as much mileage as possible. It’s probably only a quarter mile more for the in and out hike. 

I’m so glad I climbed up here. At the top of the mountain, I was mesmerized by how many lights there were to see. The city lights were shining brightly all around me in every direction. My favorite part, any dark spots between the city lights, is a mountain. One of the reasons why I love Phoenix is that you could be hiking a mountain in the middle of the city, yet feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere hiking in the desert. There are so many mountains in this city for me to continue my love of hiking.

After sitting peacefully in the dark at the top of the mountain for a few minutes, I decided it was time to turn around. I headed back down the way I had come. As I climbed down, the moon along with the mountain ridgeline made for a spectacular view. The sun was beginning to brighten up the sky. One thing about hiking North Mountain, you get a good workout. With only a 1.7 mile in and out hike, the elevation is 500 feet. Another great way to start my day!

 
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Day 276 ~ Trail 306 Shaw Butte Trail Phoenix, AZ

December 26th, 2016 ~ Day 276

The air was cool, crisp and damp as I began my hike today. The ground still wet from the rain. The sun was hiding behind the mountain at the trailhead. After spending the day with my children and granddaughter, I dropped the kids off at the airport and headed to the trails. Parking on Central Avenue just south of Thunderbird I began Trail 306.

I wasn’t in the mood to hike. I felt nauseated and dizzy from exhaustion, but I began to go as far as I could. My intent was to make it around the base of Shaw Butte Mountain to see the sunset. 

I only made it a half mile before turning around. I was completely exhausted from the night before. Blessed to take care of my granddaughter for the night, the eight month old little girl didn’t leave her Emmy much sleep. 

Heading back to the trailhead, Lookout Mountain was full of color from the sun. Since Shaw Butte Mountain was immediately to the west of me, I wasn’t able to catch the sunset. I didn’t really care anymore, I wanted to be done and go relax. 

I made it one whole mile. Enough for me to continue on this journey of hiking everyday for 365 days! 

 
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Day 275 ~ Trail 100 through the Enchanted Forest Phoenix, AZ

December 25th, 2016 ~ Day 275

🌲🌲Merry Christmas 🌲🌲

It’s definitely a Merry Christmas for me! After yesterday’s hike believing my daughter, her husband and my granddaughter weren’t coming for the holiday, I made it home and shortly after they showed up surprising me! The best Christmas gift ever!!!

 

Leaving our families for a short while, Eric and I headed over to the North Mountain Visitor Center to hike Trail 100. Since it was the afternoon we thought we would do something we haven’t done in awhile and go through the Enchanted Forest. We started out hiking through the tunnel under 7th Street heading east on the trail. The air, cool and crisp, was perfect for an Arizona Christmas. 

Once out of the tunnel bright fluffy clouds greeted us in the sky. Also, on the other side of the tunnel to your left, we where lucky to see the horses, where they corral the Sheriff’s horses. Behind this fence you can see them.

Hiking through the Enchanted Forest, I noticed the trees seemed much more overgrown since the last time I was here. Some of the leaves were changing color and the ground was covered in fallen leaves. I love that after a couple months, even though you are on a trail you’ve hiked before, the scenery is new and different. 

More white fluffy clouds to greet us on our hike. Cotton balls in the sky. It became warmer as we hiked, but the air still crisp was refreshing for the lungs. We hiked along Trail 100 until we could make the first left. We did so, and continued back to the trailhead along an unmarked trail. A lot of trails in this preserve are unmarked. After years of people paving their own paths, you just kind of have to explore. 

Along the way we spotted some erosion in the wash, possibly from yesterday’s rain. It’s so amazing what water can do. 

Our hike was about two and a half miles. Having to get back to our families for the holidays, we didn’t want to be out there too long. It was a beautiful Christmas day hike! I’m so blessed and grateful for all this life has to offer. I’m grateful for my family, friends and the opportunity to get out here in the fresh air to go hiking. 

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Day 274 ~ Desert Vista Trailhead Phoenix, AZ

December 24th, 2016 ~ Day 274

It’s a Saturday, with no work, I decided to head north to the Desert Vista Trailhead and do a longer hike. It’s been awhile since I’ve been here. I received a cloudy morning on the trail. I’m so grateful it was daylight. I am tired of hiking in the dark. 

Today also happens to be Christmas Eve and I’m sad. I was supposed to pick my daughter, her husband and my granddaughter up from the airport last night, but she decided to cancel the flight after all the delays and a nine hour wait at the airport, unsure of when the flight was actually going to take off. I don’t blame her one bit, but I wanted my granddaughter for her first Christmas and I wasn’t going to get what I wanted. 

So as the tears ran down my face, sad all my children wouldn’t be with me this Christmas, I went hiking to try and burn off the sadness.

Beginning on the Hawks Nest Trail, I hiked about a half mile where I could continue uphill or turn right. I decided to do the loop turning right onto the Desert Tortise Trail, an easier trail only about a mile long. 

After a mile of beautiful desert scenery on the Desert Tortise Trail, I came to a T. Left or right would take you along the Valle Verde Trail. I chose right again. I had gone this way once or twice before with Kaveh or Sabrina, or maybe I did it once with each of them. Must have been a long time ago because I couldn’t remember. I do remember heading uphill to a peak. I wanted to sit atop a peak and meditate to give myself some peace. As I hiked, the sun began to peak out of the clouds along the Valle Verde Trail. 

More sunlight along the Valle Verde Trail. It wasn’t long before I came to another crossroads and headed uphill on the Great Horned Owl Trail. I know I’ve been here before. What I didn’t remember was the hike being so long. 

As I climbed uphill, the views became more spectacular. It looked like it could rain off in the distance. The trail seemed so long. I wish I had studied the map beforehand rather than relying on my memory. At two and a half miles, I was done climbing uphill. I decided here was a good enough place to meditate, since I was alone on the side of a mountain. As the mountain loomed overhead, I decided I was done and turned around back the way I had come. 

Climbing downhill was a little difficult on the knees, but I managed to make it down safely. I turned back on the Valle Verde Trail and when I came to the T, instead of turning left I continued heading north to do my originally intended loop. 

Another half mile or so and I made it up to the Dixie Mountain Loop Trail. On more familiar terrain I continued on, feeling a little better. The tears had stopped, but I still had a feeling of sadness. I made it back to the Hawks Nest Trail and headed to the trailhead. Making my hike a total of five miles overall. 

It was a beautiful day on the trail. I kicked butt on speed doing 16-18 minute miles. I guess that’s what happens when I’m upset. I headed home to face Christmas with a piece of my heart missing. 

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Day 273 ~ Deem Hills Phoenix, AZ

December 23rd, 2016 ~ Day 273

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 Another dark and cloudy morning on the trails. My hike began heading east on the Circumference Trail at Deem Hills. The city lights shining all around me glowing brightly off the clouds in the sky. The trail was still wet from yesterday’s rain and as I hiked, I maneuvered myself through the mud hoping not to slip and fall, after already sliding once.

I was completely alone out there on the trail. Hearing noises and not sure of what I was hearing off in the distance, focusing on the sound, I realized they were owls hooting. The closer I came to the mountain, the better I could hear them. 

Being alone on a quiet dark mountain had me on edge. When a bird decided to fly out of the bushes next to me, I immediately screamed. My scream was so loud it echoed off the mountains behind me. Laughing at myself and embarrassed now, I really hoped I was the only one on the mountain. 

My fears never gave way as I continued hiking in the dark, I came to the saddle and I saw a pair of eyes glowing at me from my headlamp. I froze, trying to make out what kind of animal it was, there became two pairs of eyes. Frozen, I tried to make out the eyes glowing back at me. Two bunnies! I couldn’t help but laugh at myself yet again. 

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 Once at the saddle, I decided to go a different direction than I usually do. I continued east on the Basalt Trail. I’ve been this way once before and thought I would make it to the top of a small peak, then turn around and head back the way I came. It didn’t work that way, I came to another crossroads and wasn’t sure where I would go, so I decided to turn around there. I didn’t want to get lost and be late for work. 

City lights still glowing across the valley as I headed back down the mountain. The sky was becoming brighter and I began to see a little color in the clouds. 

Finally it was bright enough, I didn’t have to use my headlamp and I could see other mountains off in the horizon. I’m not a huge fan of hiking in the dark, but it’s necessary for me to complete this journey. It was definitely an adventure hiking in the dark today. I ended up with 2.25 miles and hiked a new trail on this adventure. A great way to start my day!

 
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Day 272 ~ Thunderbird Mountain Glendale, AZ

December 22nd, 2016 ~ Day 272

A cloudy overcast sky for an afternoon hike. With it raining this morning, I decided to wait until after work for my hike. If I could help it, I wasn’t going to try and get soaked from the rain. Arizona is not always sunshine and warm weather. Usually around Christmas time, we get stormy weather. 

Choosing to do a quick hike, I decided the 1.6 miles around Thunderbird was easy enough. Eric met me at the trailhead and we began our hike heading east. As we began our climb uphill, I notice the trail had washed away in some areas. All throughout the hike, parts of the trails head eroded. The rains sometimes come hard and fast, with the ground so hard, it can’t soak it up fast enough and it carves out the trail as it washes it away. 

The skies were beautiful with the clouds covering them. We caught a little color from the sunset. With all the clouds, we were lucky it didn’t rain one drop. I’m so glad I waited until this afternoon. We had a quick easy hike, one more day completed on this journey. 

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