Day 339 ~ Thunderbird Mountain Glendale, AZ

February 27th, 2017 ~ Day 339

It was a cool and wet evening hike at Thunderbird Mountain today. By deciding not to go hiking in the morning, that decision put Eric and I in the rain this evening. A light sprinkle continued to fall throughout our hike. There were not many people out here at the park tonight. We saw no one on the trails and there were only a few cars in the parking lot.

Today really wasn’t my day. Besides the rain, I forgot my phone, so I had to use Eric’s for some pictures. I wasn’t able to track the hike either. I am guessing we did around 1.5 miles. 

We started out at the base of the mountain off 59th Avenue heading immediately uphill then to the north side of the mountain. The original plan was to hike the mile loop taking the road back to the car so we could get out of the rain faster.

When we came to the road, we decided instead of taking the road back, we could take the Desert Iguana Trail back. It wasn’t raining hard at all and we had our rain gear on. Why not enjoy the hike just a little longer and get that extra half mile in. 

We made it back to the trailhead in no time. It was a beautiful day for a hike, even in the rain. I don’t think I would have had it any other way. Love this life!

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Day 338 ~ First Water Trail to Hackberry Springs Apache Junction, AZ

February 26th, 2017 ~ Day 338

Heading to the Superstition Mountains to try out a new trail, Eric and I began our hike from the First Water Trailhead overflow parking lot, and from there we took a trail to the First Water Trailhead, to hike the First Water Trail to Hackberry Springs. Having never been here, we had no idea where we were going. With the beautiful views, immediate from the moment we stepped foot on the trail, I was excited for today’s adventure. Excited to get the opportunity to explore new territory!

At the First Water Trailhead we ran into a stewardess. After talking to her and following her directions, we made the first left after about a half mile, hoping we were on the correct path. Crossing over a creek shortly after our turn, I believe it may have been First Water Creek. I’ve always been told there isn’t water in the Superstitions, but I guess with all the rain there could be. 

We continued on what we thought was the correct trail. Traveling through parts unknown for us. It was an easy enough trail, had we not been sure where to go, we could always go back the way we had come. Who wants to get lost in the Superstition Mountains? Not me, that’s for sure. 

We finally ran into some people and we were able to ask if we were heading the right direction. Guess what, we were! So we continued on without worry on our hike. 

Stopping for a break, we sat on the ground to enjoy a snack, and enjoy the beauty around us as well. There is something so peaceful about sitting still in the outdoors enjoying the quiet sounds of nature. While hiking you hear the sounds of nature over the sounds of your footsteps. 

Timing is everything. Thank goodness we did stop for that snack because at the next trail crossing, we ran into a nice man named Keith. We asked him for directions and instead he offered to guide us to Hackberry Springs. 

The colors changing on the mountainside, so bright and vivid on this cloudy day. Still more majestic views surrounding us. Keith guided us through the Superstitions. We were no longer on First Water Trail, we happen to be on a trail with no name heading toward Hackberry Springs. 

As we stopped for a moment to take in the views, Keith snapped our photo. A wonderful tour guide!

More beautiful views of the Superstition Mountains. I couldn’t get enough. Having never explored this area, it was amazing to see so much different terrain. 

We crossed over a portion of water and thought this may be Hackberry Springs. I asked Keith and he didn’t know, so we continued on without exploring the area. Trying to keep up with our guide we hiked along. 

Coming to more water, Keith explained that this was First Water Creek. More beauty in the Superstitions! There is just so much to explore here, one day I hope to get the opportunity to explore it all!

As soon as we crossed First Water, Keith went on to explore in another direction. Our wonderful guide left us. Leaving us with the simple directions to make it back to the trailhead. We said our farewells and set out to investigate the ranch that lay just before us, before heading over the hill to our car. 

A portion of the old ranch. A pavilion of sorts still stood. Grass and brush covered the area. The fencing holding up strong. A part of the windmill still standing tall, towering above. A rustic piece of history. The Superstition Mountains has many stories to tell. I only wish I had more time to learn them…one day!

One last picture of the beauty we just hiked through before we headed over the ridge, back to our car. Just a quick quarter mile left and we were done. A four and a half mile hike, on a beautiful day, exploring in the amazing Superstition Mountains! Love this life!

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Day 337 ~Shaw Butte Trail ~ Hike for Hops Phoenix, AZ

February 25th, 2017 ~ Day 337

Today is the day of the Phoenix Parks and Recreation event, Hike for Hops. Our group, the Happy Hikers, came out to support the event. With registration only $35, you couldn’t beat it. A fun hike, great people, a beautiful day and close to home… what more could you ask for?

Starting from the North Mountain Visitor Center, our hike began along Trail 100, and everyone began hiking at the same time. I believe registration was 100 people, so just imagine the crowd of people hiking along the trail. 

Hiking with the huge group became too much for me. With three people busy taking, and hiking at a slower pace, I couldn’t get around them, so I decided to hold back and wait for everyone to go ahead so I could hike at my own pace. 

By stopping for a few minutes,  I ran into a few of the Happy Hikers, so I hiked with them. Soon we made it to our first of four uphill sections of this trail. Heading up the first peak, an easier one, because it isn’t so high yet it’s still steep enough to take your breath away. Taking a break at the top, we made a cairn for our bingo challenge. 

The bingo challenge is part of the event to win more raffle tickets. They gave us a bingo sheet of photos needed to complete the game. A stack of rocks was one bingo square. Hence why we made a cairn. 

A bright and sunny day with the  sun casting it’s rays through the cholla. I really can’t get enough of the green Arizona desert! So amazingly beautiful! Who knows if it’ll be this way next year. 

More spectacular views across the valley. I love hiking in beautiful Arizona!

Another part of the bingo challenge, a photo with four or more people. Taken just before hiking with the girls up the second peak. This section is a little bit more difficult. It’s the longest uphill section with a loose rocky trail. 

I decided to push on up the hill leaving the girls at their rest stop. I didn’t want to stop my momentum. I made it up the third peak alone and ran into some more Happy Hikers. We began our climb up the fourth and final peak to summit Shaw Butte. 

We made it to the top! The event didn’t require you to hike to the top of Shaw Butte, but with only a quarter mile or so away from the third uphill, who wouldn’t head to the peak? The girls I hiked with earlier were right behind us and we all got in a photo at the summit. A wonderful group of hikers!!!

More amazing views from the top of Shaw Butte Mountain. Have I mentioned, I love Arizona?

From the top of Shaw Butte it seems you could see for miles and the green, so much green in our desert. Hazy skies off in the distance, scare me a little. Who knows what we’re breathing in. Being that we are in a valley, maybe that’s expected?

We headed down the east side of Shaw Butte Mountain, on the old paved road. Torn and beat up, weathered by time. It’s a steep downhill that’s hard on the knees. We made it to the bottom in no time at all. 

Hiking along the base of the mountain we made our way back to the North Mountain Visitor Center, ending our hike with about five miles. We were off to our lunch at the North Mountain Brewery. 

Our group, as we were waiting for lunch, and waiting, and waiting. One hour and forty five minutes later, we were finally eating our food. This was the most disappointing part of the event for me. I don’t believe they were staffed to accommodate 100 people at one time. Hungry after a hike and after waiting so long, I decided I won’t be coming back to the North Mountain Brewery again. 

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Day 336 ~ Thunderbird Mountain Glendale, AZ

February 24th, 2017 ~ Day 336

I noticed the ground was damp as I pulled into the parking lot, and the smell of creosote hit me like a wall as I opened the door of my car. Parking at the base of Thunderbird Mountain at the lot off 59th Avenue, I began my usual 1.6 mile hike. The moon just slightly over the mountain across the street, captured beautifully in this photo. I believe there may be a planet in there too. 

Darkness surrounded me as I began my hike alone. I haven’t hiked in the dark alone for awhile. It was 40 degrees out and I was freezing! My hands were becoming numb when I held my flashlight. I had to switch hands constantly. 

From the top of the peak you could tell the sun was beginning to rise over the horizon. The city lights aglow. A beautiful morning for a hike!

A much prettier view of the mountains in the dark. The twinkle of the lights. Shaw Butte off in the distance. I couldn’t get enough. 

My hand beginning to get really numb, feeling as if they were frost bitten. I guess I’m not used to this cold weather. One thing about Arizona, it won’t stay cold for long. Soon we’ll be back in the 100’s.

As I came over the last ridge before heading downhill, I captured the final picture of the sun almost rising over the horizon. The colors becoming a brighter shade of yellow and orange. A fiery glow above the city lights. A beautiful way to end a beautiful hike. Love this life!

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Day 335 ~ North Mountain Trail #44 Phoenix, AZ

February 23rd, 2017 ~ Day 335

Only thirty days to go! Can you believe it?!?! I have come so far on this journey. Although, I’m excited to be coming to the end. Excited to be able to accomplish something I’ve set out to do. The dedication, time and effort this has taken so far has been a lot of work, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Every step, every place I’ve experienced, everything about this journey had been simply amazing! Still, there is more to come, thirty days more!

Today I made it out for another early morning hike… two days in a row. Yay me!!! Meeting my friend Ian at the North Mountain Visitor Center, our plan was to hike up North Mountain. 

Hiking through the dark, with only our headlamps to guide the way, we started out on the Trail 100. It was a chilly morning out today and my hands were freezing.

After the half mile or so on Trail 100, we turned off onto Trail 101 and hiked for about another half mile. Unlike yesterday, when we came to the crossroads on Trail 101, today we made a right. Making our way to the North Mountain Trail #44.

As soon as we made it over the first ridge, we saw the city lights shining below. Trying to capture a great photo of the moon was impossible, but the lights of the city in the darkness shined bright and were easy to capture. 

Still trying to capture the moon, I caught a soft glow along the horizon coming from the city lights. To me this is a beauty in itself. When I began this journey, my goal was to see all that I could see. Even the small things like this, that so many people miss, are the beautiful moments on this journey and in this life. 

We made our way up the paved road that is North Mountain Trail #44. Enjoying the views of the city lights. Once we reached the top of the mountain, of course you need to touch the fence, we turned around and headed back the way we had come. 

The glow across the horizon was becoming more noticeable as we headed downhill. The sun must be coming up soon. The early morning sky was beginning to get lighter. 

A last view before heading back to the trailhead, capturing the McDowell’s. A glow of what was just beginning of the sunrise over the mountain range, with the city lights all around. Arizona is beautiful, even in the darkness. 

We headed back taking the short cut through an unnamed trail that traveled along 7th Street. Our total hike was just over 3 miles. A beautiful morning for a hike, I’m so grateful to wake up and enjoy this. Not all of us in this life get that opportunity.

Today is yet another sad day in life. Having just lost my mom January 26th, today we lost her best friend Kathy. Two angels in heaven. I don’t know how much more heartache I can handle, but God is pulling me through. One day at a time. 

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Day 334 ~ Phoenix Mountain Preserve Phoenix, AZ

February 22nd, 2017 ~ Day 334

I finally did it! I finally got up for an early morning hike. It was a dark and chilly morning with a beautiful crescent moon. (You could hardly tell from my photo).

I met Eric at the parking lot at 7th Street and Thunderbird Avenue. We started out heading west on an unmarked trail. Following it along towards the North Mountain Visitor Center. 

Since we were early and I was excited to be out here hiking, when we came to the crossroads to head back to the North Mountain Visitor Center, we decided to go on instead of heading back. Hiking along, now on the Trail 100, we would gain an extra mile for our hike. 

It started to become lighter out. The colors of the sky beginning to form. My camera would only allow the moon to be a blur. It was very frustrating to try and capture a decent picture of the moon. 

From the Trail 100, we turned off onto Trail 101. Coming to the crossroads after about a half mile, we headed north, back onto an unnamed trail through the Preserve. 

As we hiked along this unnamed trail along 7th Street, we found a field of flowers. I love that spring is already here in Phoenix. 

We made it back to our cars in good time. It felt so good to not have the anxiety all day of trying to figure out when I would get my hike in. The best part, I was able to go 2.5 miles! More than I’ve been able to do on any of my evening hikes. It was a great morning for a hike! Love this life!!!

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Day 333 ~ Thunderbird Mountain Glendale, AZ

February 21st, 2017 ~ Day 333

After an amazing four day adventure in California, covered in gray skies, it was great to be back in our beautiful Arizona sunshine. With bright blue skies and white feathery clouds, it felt good to be outside. A bright and cheerful day!

Eric and I parked at the lot off 59th Avenue and began by heading up the road this time, rather than the trail. Time wouldn’t allow for a long hike today. The goal was to get in at least a mile.  

As we hiked up the road, we were in the shade. The sun was hanging low as it was beginning to set and the mountain blocked the sunlight on the west side.

As we headed back around the east side of the mountain, however, the sun was shining brightly on the rocks making the colors a beautiful reddish-orange. 

We caught sight of the sun setting over the White Tank Mountains. The sun has begun setting later in the evenings and as it was after 6pm when we began our hike. I felt lucky we caught the beginning of its majestic beauty. 

As we headed back to the trailhead, looking off to the north the colors of the desert were coming alive from the sun’s rays. Soon the skies would become painted. I would see the painted skies, but that would be on the drive home. 

We made it back to the trailhead in just under a mile, almost to the intended goal. I’m just grateful to be out here on a mountain completing my goal of hiking everyday for 365 days! With only 32 days to go, I got this! 
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Day 332 ~ Runyon Canyon Trail Los Angeles, CA

February 20th, 2017 ~ Day 332

Runyon Canyon is the place to hike in LA, or so I’ve been told. Supposedly with its proximity to the city a lot of celebrity’s come here for a hike. We didn’t see any. 

One thing about this park I wasn’t told, is that there is no parking. Having to park off the city street a block and a half away, I did a little urban hiking. I’m grateful for it, because the beauty I was able to experience in the photo above, was well worth it!

Runyon Canyon is located in Los Angeles, an urban park, the first we’ve done all weekend that wasn’t in Griffith Park. The park is located at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains. 

Our trail began up a fire road, where access is gated off to vehicles. From what we could tell, we would be hiking a loop. We could either go downhill over and back uphill, or we could continue up the fire road, that of which we did. 

It was a foggy morning out here on the trail. Hiking amidst the mist. The clouds were coming in and covering the hills we were heading towards. 

Foggy views of the city below, a city which you can barely see. The green grass so superb in its bright vivid color. I thought Arizona was green, Arizona has nothing over the beautiful green of California. I’m glad we came here to experience this beauty. 

Hilly landscapes surrounding us as we continued to head uphill. Valleys all around this canyon. I’ve never been to this part of California. I’ve been to Hollywood, but at the time, I wasn’t out here exploring nature. California is such a beautiful place to hike!

As we climbed higher, looking into the canyon below, we saw what appeared to be a circle of rocks on a side trail below. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t have time to get closer and check out the interesting piece of work. 

It continued to get misty out, the higher up we climbed. Coming closer to the fog that was behind me, stood a house. You couldn’t tell from this photo though, as it’s covered in the fog. 

As we made it to the highest point of elevation in the park, 1320 feet, known as Indian Rock, we were ready to head downhill. 

We ran into a dog who looked like Max, my mom’s doberman. Seeing this dog reminded me of my mom. A reminder to me that maybe my mom is actually with me on this journey. Now in heaven, she can finally join me on my hikes like she always wished she could do. 

We came to the edge of an overlook to capture a sweeping view of Los Angeles, still covered in fog. There wasn’t much to see. We don’t get this kind of weather in Phoenix, so for us, this is amazing!

As we headed downhill, the fog began to clear up the lower our elevation. You could see more of the city below. We couldn’t be sure where L.A. actually was, as there were two set of high rises. One set to our left and the other to our right. 

Heading towards the base of the mountain, we could see the trail on the other side, the one we just hiked up. We didn’t get any rain on this hike, just damp from hiking through the foggy clouds. It was a beautiful day for a hike.

We finished our hike coming the end of the other entrance for Runyon Canyon Park. Rather than head back uphill and then down again, we headed back downhill through the neighborhood streets to our car. A nice little loop about two and a half miles.

California and Runyon Canyon are beautiful! I couldn’t live here, but I will be back to visit and hiking some more amazing places is definitely on the agenda. I’m so grateful it was suggested that we do this hike. It didn’t disappoint.

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Day 331 ~ Old Zoo Trail Los Angeles, CA

February 19th, 2017 ~ Day 331

I couldn’t get over not seeing the Old LA Zoo, the trail we thought we were hiking on Friday. I wanted to see it desperately. So after a couple days of discussion, thinking I may know the area a little better, we decided to go find the Old Zoo Trail. 

We began at a park. Hiking up a road, not sure if we would find the zoo or not, we turned a corner and there it was, only a short distance from the parking lot. The old zoo is another great place, again in amazing Griffith Park, not too far from the LA Zoo. We were on the other side of the park from where we hiked on Friday and it would have been a long hike to get here, thankfully for times sake, we didn’t get here on Friday. We would have been so late getting to see Eric’s family. 

Coming upon the zoo, it looked amazing. I was excited to see the old buildings! Old abandoned structures that once housed animals. The zoo opened it’s doors in 1912 and closed in 1966 when the LA Zoo opened. These structures could be over 100 years old, how cool is that?

The brown color of the structure makes me think a lion would have lived here. The color is changing and mold is growing on the walls, yet you can still see sections that must have been original. 

It’s hard to believe animals once lived in these small enclosures. I’m sure when it was built in 1912, they thought it’d be a good size. By today’s standards, it’s just cruel to put an animal in something so small. 

I went into the enclosure behind the wall and there was a stairwell, full of debris. Maybe this is how they would feed the animals…Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my! I can only imagine. 

We walked along the front of the rock face structures and came to a turning point that would take us around the back section of those rock structures. Fenced off now to try and keep people out, it was still interesting. Although the fence wasn’t working, as people littered throughout behind the fence, we received our own show of human animals. 

We walked by the upper section and continued on a trail. Not sure where we were heading, except we knew we were going away from our car, we decided to turn around and head back. 

A tiny glimpse of a house we passed. Who knows what it held so many years ago. We saw so many different types of structures on this hike. All too small to hold an animal in today’s world. 

Heading back the way we came, I captured the view of the valley below. Another cloudy day in California. The clouds so low, they hung in the hills across the way. 

Heading back, we took a left rather than a right going a different way and we came upon some more cages. The smaller cages, if they could get any smaller, only fed into my curiosity. What kind of animal could live here? The fences have become mangled and were falling apart. I wonder if they will last another 100 years. 

Knowing these cages could be over 100 years old, I was amazed by the tools they had to build this so long ago. 

Each cage had a lock, but a couple of them were broken, so of course I had to climb in. Why not, everyone else did. The small cages had moss and vines covering the inside. A couple of them had the ground completely covered in water. One cage even had a stream flowing through it. I wonder if the animals had to live with the water in their cages. That would be a horrible scenario in my opinion.  

The metal of these cages have become a beautiful color, a rainbow of rust, as the metal deteriorates. If time and deterioration of these old structures wasn’t enough, graffiti littered the zoo as well. I hope it does last at least another 100 years, if only human hands do not destroy the beauty of this place. 

Nature is taking back its territory. What was once here before the zoo is moving back in. A beautiful image, with the structure and the plants. 

As our hike through the old zoo ended, we came upon a waterfall coming off the mountains. Eric couldn’t wrap his head around how there was so much water still coming down of the mountains. Especially since it hadn’t rained all day. We were just grateful to see it’s stunning beauty in effect. 

What an amazing piece of history we were given the chance to explore today. I was adamant in wanting to see this place and I’m so happy we did. I love old buildings and I love history. It was an amazing day for a hike at the old zoo!

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Day 330 ~ Bronson Caves Los Angeles, CA

February 18th, 2017 ~ Day 330

After trying to make it to the Hollywood Sign Trail, which had no parking, we decided to head over to the Bronson Caves Trail. Luckily here we found a parking spot here. 

As soon as we came out of the car, we found water was rushing down the mountain from the recent rains alongside the road. The air was still damp and chilly, and the ground was muddy. 

We began heading up the hill to Bronson Caves, where the original Batman television show was filmed way back in 1966, I think. The Bronson Caves are located in the amazing Griffith Park. We are on the other side of the park from where we hiked yesterday. I really do like this place, it has so much to offer. 

The trail was a sandy road again today, but the mountainside rock was a different color than yesterday, a dark rich black. The green grass still lush and vibrant. 

As we climbed up the road, you could see the cave as we came around a corner. It seemed so small. It looked as if it was blocked by dirt and rock that had washed off the side of the mountain. 

Coming upon the cave, it was full of water. You weren’t able to go all the way through unless you wanted to get your feet muddy. Standing at the edge of the cave was good enough for me. 

We decided to go around to the other side of the cave to see what we could find. Tucked in a valley of mountains with the dark rock and green grass was another beautiful sight. Boulders littered the ground from falling off the mountainside. 

On this side of the cave the ground wasn’t covered in water. We were able to get part way inside the cave without stepping in water. I made it about halfway through before stopping. As I stood in the darkness I could see light coming from either side of the main entrance I had traveled, there were three openings on this end. 

Our hike to the cave was only a half mile, but to see a piece of Hollywood history, it was worth the small hike. Besides, my son loves batman, and I get to tell him his mommy was in the bat cave. 

As we headed back to the trailhead, off in the distance we caught a glimpse of the Hollywood sign. We took a side trail uphill to get a better view. Even though we weren’t able to hike the Hollywood Sign Trail, it was pretty sweet to still catch a peak at the sign itself. A beautiful day for a hike as I continue on this journey of hiking everyday for 365 days!

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