Tag Archives: Hiking

Creative Juice #147

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Creative Juice #147

Artsy stuff and more:

In the Meme Time: Try

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Try

Hiking in Usery Park

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Hiking in Usery Park

A week and a half ago, my daughter Katie invited me to hiking with her in Usery Mountain Regional Park, part of the Maricopa County Park system. I’d never been there before, but I knew it was a favorite spot of a friend of mine, so I was happy to accept.

I’ve enjoyed my hikes in South Mountain Park, which I think is gorgeous, but Usery Park is much more beautiful, greener.

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As we entered the park, we asked the attendant at the guard house where to find an easy trail for beginners (for me; I’ve only been hiking once since my emergency gall bladder surgery in April, and I wanted level ground). She recommended the Merkle Trail, which circles around a small mountain. We started on that, and immediately came to the Vista Trail, which went up the mountain, followed the ridge, and went down the other side. We decided to try it. The photo above was taken at the top. You can see the Merkle trail on the lower level.

The trail was rough and rocky in spots, but not too steep. There was one short stretch that was strenuous enough to get my heart pounding, but it was doable for an old lady like me. I brought my Sony Cyber-shot instead of my “good” camera, but it did a reasonable job of capturing the beautiful terrain.

Lots of cactus (click on the smaller photos to enlarge):

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And we met a little friend. Katie thinks it’s a chuckwalla. I tried to walk around him and take a better picture, but he took off.

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Here and there were some big outcroppings of rock.

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Painted on the mountains in the distance is an arrow pointing the way to Phoenix. You can see it from the air on the way to Sky Harbor International Airport.

When we came down the mountain, we followed the Merkle Trail back to where we started.

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I can’t wait to go back again.

Creative Juice #140

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Creative Juice #140

Fun and inspiration:

N is for North Mountain Park

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N is for North Mountain Park

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email:

Hi Andrea,
It’s me, Textile Ranger!  I am going to be in Phoenix the first part of next week, April 8 and 9, staying by North Mountain State Park.  I have stayed there before a few years ago, so you when you wrote about hiking at South Mountain, that registered with me.  It may be very far from your part of Phoenix to where I will be, but I just wanted to check with you about possibly meeting for lunch or an art museum visit or something on one of those days.  If you can’t make it, that is fine, but I didn’t want to come to Phoenix without mentioning it to you.
If you don’t know, Textile Ranger is the blogger behind Deep in the Heart of Textiles. I can’t remember how I stumbled across it, but I love it for the quilts Textile Ranger creates. She’s interested in (and writes about) everything textile, from fibers and dyes to antique clothing. She’s been weaving for decades. (She also has a nature blog, Little Wild Streak.) So, she’s something of a celebrity to me, and I jumped at the chance to meet her in person. And since I’ve been meaning to check out North Mountain Park, I suggested we hike there together before going out to lunch.
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We met last Tuesday at the Visitor Center. She gifted me with a nifty water bottle holder that clips on nicely to the shoulder bag I usually carry when I’m hiking. Now I have a free hand!
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Textile Ranger

And off we went. Ranger (she spent two summers as a park ranger at Big Bend) suggested a 2 1/2 mile trail that didn’t have any steep elevations. Perfect for walking and talking.
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The huge park has breathtaking desert and mountain views. We had some good rains a few weeks ago, and we’ve been rewarded with lovely wildflowers.
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Globemallow below:
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I want to call these buttercups, but I’m not sure that’s what they are:
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These flowers remind me of how little children draw flowers, just circles on a stem; I don’t know what they are–
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But there was an area that was literally blanketed with them:
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And the palo verde trees are just beginning to bloom:
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Closeup of a pale verde blossom:
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And the cholla cactus has these beautiful magenta blooms:
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Back at the visitor’s center, there is a water fountain that dispenses chilled water. Heavenly! And there are beautiful plantings by the building. Don’t know what this bush is:
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I think this is a pink globemallow:
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Cool sculptures:
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Which are the perfect backdrop for another picture of the Textile Ranger:
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I am so thrilled that Textile Ranger is not just a virtual friend any more, but a real friend whom I know face to face. We have lots in common. She’s also a former elementary school teacher, and she loves to read. I’m so touched that she reached out to me. Be sure to check out her blogs, Deep in the Heart of  Textiles and Little Wild StreakShe’s going to post her take on North Mountain Park on Little Wild Streak today.
North Mountain Park is a place I will explore in more detail in the future.
AtoZ2019tenthAnn

Hiking Different Trails at South Mountain Park

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Hiking Different Trails at South Mountain Park

I’ve been back to South Mountain Park three times since I last posted about it. My first visit back, I hiked further along the Kiwanis Trail. But after a while, I couldn’t tell where the trail led; it wasn’t clearly marked. I turned to retrace my steps, and I couldn’t remember which way I’d come up. Luckily, a little old man and his wife appeared, coming down, and I watched where they stepped. It was tricky, harder than coming up. They wanted to wait for me, but I told them to go on–I’d be awhile. I did catch up to them again–much later.

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That little red dot left of center is a person. He gives some scale to the landscape.

So the next time, I decided to find an “easy” trail, and decided on the Marcos de Niza trail, which starts near the Pima Canyon trailhead on the eastern end of the park, which is a lot closer to my home than the main entrance near Central Avenue.

 

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the Marcos de Niza trail once I got there. Instead, I hiked a very nice, wide, fairly level trail which I think is the National Trail. Part of it parallels a sandy dry wash.

 

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I walked about half an hour, stopping along the way to take photographs. Lovely wildflowers along the path (click on smaller pictures to enlarge):

A dead saguaro cactus:

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An ominous threat of rain on the mountain:

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When I came to an intersection, I turned right on the Beverly Canyon trail, and then picked up the Pima Wash Trail, which I could see headed back toward the parking lot. (There it is, behind those red-roofed ramadas, with the city of Tempe in the distance.)

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Though this ocotillo looks dead, closer inspection shows new growth coming out among the thorns.

This tree, however, is very dead:

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The Pima Wash trail is narrower than the National Trail, and has more ups and downs, making it a bit more demanding, but not too bad. More wildflowers:

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This little cave looks like the perfect home for a fox:

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I swear this cloud followed me.

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Yesterday I went back to the Pima Canyon trailhead, but I was in the mood for something a little more challenging. I left my camera at home and took the first part of the Desert Classic trail, which wraps around the southeastern edge of the mountain. The first mile or so borders along the back of a housing development. Thirty years ago, when we were exploring moving to the Phoenix area, we looked at some of these houses with “mountain views.” However, the ones in our price range were quite small, too tight for our growing family.

This trail, like the other South Mountain trails I’ve hiked so far, are popular with runners, mountain bikers, and dogwalkers. I overheard one biker tell his companion, “This is one of the least rocky trails in Phoenix. I’d hate to see a rockier one.”

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You can’t always see the surrounding trails, but every once in a while you get a peek of other hikers.

The Desert Classic trail starts out fairly level, but then it climbs. After a little more than mile, it intersects with the Beverly Canyon trail, which continues up and over the mountain. It’s steep, but there are adequate footholds. I was not afraid, as I have been on some trails. After I descended, which was a little tricky (I handle uphill better than down), the trail becomes a bit easier and ultimately crosses the main National Trail, which I followed back to my car.

I’m very comfortable with yesterday’s hike, and I will come back to it. Parts of it are a little harder than what I expect I will experience when I visit Israel this summer, but if I train hard now, I’ll have a great vacation.

Return to Hole in the Rock

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A year ago I went to Hole in the Rock, an interesting sandstone formation in Papago Park. That was when I was still suffering from arthritis pain (before my hip replacement) and was unable to climb to the top.

Now that I’m bionic and healed and going hiking once a week, I decided to go back and try again.

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This is considered rather an easy trail, but it was still challenging for me. You walk around the back side of the mountain. Steps are built into the path and edged with rock. There were quite a few people there. Children scampered past me. So did parents carrying toddlers.

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From the back, this is what the mountain looks like:

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When I look at the steepness of it, I can’t believe I climbed up there. When I got to the opening, though, I couldn’t make myself descend the little stairs cut into the rock that lead into the chamber. Look for yourself–see them at the lower right corner of the picture below? I think part of my problem was that just out of sight on the left was a group of people enjoying the view and I didn’t want them to see me tumble down. (Although, if you’re going to fall on a hike like this, you want to do it when there are people around to help you.) Another consideration was that I had an expensive camera around my neck that I didn’t want to bang up.

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Here’s what the view from the top looks like through the hole:

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And here’s the view looking out from the back side, Camelback Mountain in the distance:

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Someday I’m going back with a little more experience and without my camera so that I can really experience Hole in the Rock the way the Native Americans did.