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Hike Phoenix

June 9, 2014

Hi guys!  I’ve missed you!  You may or may not have noticed that I’ve taken more than a month off from blogging.  Oops.  I recently started a new job (Does anyone want to buy some insurance?  Anyone?), and while I’m enjoying it I definitely underestimated how draining my new gig would be.  Between stepping outside of my comfort zone into a sales role and talking to customers all day long, I’ve been coming home from work totally beat.  For a while, wine and the show Scandal were the extent of my evening activities, but now I feel my energy and writing mojo flowing again.  I don’t think I’ll be back up to my previous posting frequency anytime soon, but I’d love to chat with you guys at least once a week!

I’ve had an eventful spring and early summer and look forward to filling you guys in on Florida, San Antonio and Minnesota, among other adventures.  But first let’s rewind.  Remember how I spent most of February and March in the Phoenix area?  I ended up liking the area a lot more than I’d anticipated.  One of the things that surprised me the most was what a great city it is for hiking!

Camelback Mtn

The Phoenix area is interspersed with small mountains that rise out of the desert floor around the city.  The most iconic of these is Camelback Mountain.  Camelback has two primary hiking trails: the Cholla Trail and the Echo Canyon Trail.  I hiked both trails on two different evenings, starting with the much easier Cholla trail.

Cholla trail

All of my Phoenix hikes took place in the evening after completing full days of training.  On this particular night, my friends and I got started WAY too late and it was already sunset when we started up the trail.

Cholla Trail

We didn’t make it very far before turning around and heading cautiously down the trail.  By the time we reached the bottom, we were using iPhone flashlights so that we wouldn’t run into a cactus or break an ankle – it was like a lesson in what not to do on the trails.  The day I hiked the Echo Canyon trail, I set out much earlier.  That turned out to be a good thing, because the highly technical trail would have been a nightmare after sunset.  Sections of the trail were so steep that metal handrails became absolutely necessary to navigate up the rocky incline.

Echo Canyon Trail

Seriously, when I read reviews on this trail before hiking it I totally didn’t take them seriously and underestimated the level of difficulty I’d be facing.  The adventure had me using my hands almost as much as my feet and treading carefully though areas in which it was hard to balance.

Echo Canyon Trail

I couldn’t figure out how to take a picture that would show just how steep this trail was, but the one above comes pretty close.  Luckily the tricky climb wasn’t too long, and I found myself at the summit in under an hour.

Echo Canyon Trail

The 360 degree views over Phoenix made the hard work worth it.

Echo Canyon trail

I shared the summit with quite a few people – this is a very popular trail – and was surprised that so many hikers of varying fitness levels conquered the trail.  It was pretty awesome to see.

Echo canyon trail

I didn’t linger too long at the top because the sun was setting and there was no way I wanted to navigate the descent in the darkness.  I started down carefully and was actually proud to only slip and fall on my butt once.  I recommend shoes with some serious tread if you’re going to try it!  The sunset kept getting more and more beautiful as I made my way down.

Echo Canyon Sunset

By the time I was almost down (and done with the technical portion of the trail – whew!), it was one of the most spectacular sunsets I’d ever seen.

Echo canyon trail sunset

Seriously, are any sunsets more gorgeous than Arizona sunsets?

Phoenix Sunset

The other area I found to hike close to Phoenix, but without Camelback’s crowds was the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  I hiked the Sunrise Trail, which provided great desert scenery.

cactus

Seriously – how cool are cacti?

Cactus

This hike was pretty, uncrowded and totally exposed.  I was so happy to have brought a hat!  I was warm hiking it in March, so I’d imagine that this time of year you’d only want to go early in the morning or in the evening.

Sunrise Trail Phoenix

Sunrise Trail Phoenix

The views from the summit – which I had all to myself – were so lovely that I spent a while relaxing on my little rock perch.

Phoenix from Sunrise Trail

Getting up in the hills among the cacti helped me decompress and truly appreciate Phoenix while it was my temporary home.  While I’m loving early summer in Colorado right now, looking back through these pictures actually makes me miss the desert a little bit!

Tell me, what has surprised you the most about a city you’ve recently visited?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2014 8:59 pm

    Looks beautiful! I haven’t done any hiking in or near Phoenix, but I loved the great trails I hiked near Tucson. The scenery is similar too. Congrats on the new job! Camille

    • June 13, 2014 8:23 pm

      Thanks so much Camille! From what I hear the Phoenix geography is pretty similar to Tuscon but it’s not *quite* as hot!

      • June 14, 2014 11:07 pm

        I’m not sure. I’ve been to Phoenix twice and it was hot both times. I’ve been to Tucson twice and it was hot once and cold to moderate the other. Of course, the colder Tucson trips was in January. 🙂

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