Take a Trip, Never Leave the Farm Chapter 3 Section 1

After officiating two high school basketball games Friday night in Payson, then a sit-down with my friend Michael sipping on a Clyde May’s Bourbon, I managed to get a decent night of sleep. I woke up Saturday morning as sore as I have been lately with aches and pains in the lower back, feet and ankles but managed to get out and get some coffee before heading back to the mostly cloudy Valley of the Sun. This old age and running on the hardwood floors has taken its toll on my body with multiple pains that make simple things more difficult.

I rolled out of Payson around 8:30 ready to meet up with my spouse, Carolyn who wanted to go for a hike. As part of my journey I have made it my goal to hike on the Phoenix City Park trails to explore areas close to home. I had previously been to the Sonoran Reserve Park in the northern parts of Phoenix and had completed two trailheads for hikes and now was ready to take on another new area and the third and final trailhead location for the park. The Desert Vista Trailhead is located off I 17 and is easily accessed through some newer housing areas.

My original goal was to get all the trails done in one day but that wasn’t to be. Carolyn and I didn’t start until close to noon and we had to be back at our condo by six and I was already beat up and sore so I think we did quite well.

We started out on Hawk’s Nest to Desert Tortoise to the Valle Verde, Great Horned Owl going clockwise to a side trail that is not to be missed, the Union Peak Trail. Some great 360 degree views of the valley and a very decent climb UP. pds61QLmSBGfoYQzoVthRgWe came back down, got back on the Great Horned Owl loop finished it and had to rehike part of it to get on the Cactus Wren Trail back to the Valle Verde finishing it where it meets up with the Dixie Mountain loop on over to the Hawk’s Nest and back to the trailhead.

Our hike ended up being 10 miles and we saw few hikers on our figure 8 hike and only a couple bikers. Great time spent in the desert on trails that had only one cigarette butt, some dog turds, a lost facial tissue, and no other trash. We saw two jack rabbits who were of legendary size and looked like those jackalopes. Yes they were that big.

Clearly most of the people hiking take the Dixie Mountain loop and that trail looked busy on a Saturday afternoon. The trails we hiked were harder to get to and involved longer hikes. Trails seemed suitable for trail running and the mountain bikers we encountered were courteous and not ones who would run you over.

fullsizeoutput_720All in all a great hiking day logging 10 miles near the city with close to 1700 feet in elevation gains. My beat up body was even more beat up but my mind was clear and my soul uplifted. Done and in time to hit happy hour at Dick’s Hideaway. It’s just a small hole-in-the-wall next to Luci’s that is hidden away with no signage but it sure is good, usually busy, and a very cool hangout. And if you haven’t tried the mashed potatoes in the green Chile, well you should.

Next up will be the Dixie Mountain Loop Trail, and several others off of the loop. So still taking trips without leaving the farm.

 

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Take a Trip, Never Leave the Farm Chapter 2

Once again I found myself at home on a day that I had off but my lovely wife, Carolyn went off to work. One of my individual goals is to discover all that the Phoenix Parks Department has to offer in the way of hiking trails in the system. Previously I had explored all of Deem Hills and the Desert Hills Trailhead at Sonoran Preserve.

I returned to the Sonoran Preserve for some more hikes and started off on a Sunday late morning at the Apache Wash Trailhead. I usually work Sunday mornings so my opportunities to go to church are few and on this Sunday, I decided to get my worship on in the great outdoors. On arrival, the parking lot was almost full. It was beautiful once again and I hopped on the Indian Wash Trail Loop. The loop was relatively easy and well traveled with bicycles and walker/hikers. Enjoyable trek through the desert as it is greening up and fun just being outdoors. On this loop, little trash minus a couple facial tissues, no butts, but some dog turds. Most of the mountain bikers were courteous minus several who evidently believed they owned the trail. Finished up in time to see a group gathering to do yoga, so of course I went home and off to my own yoga class.

On “Super Bowl Sunday” I returned to the Apache Wash Trailhead and spent an afternoon on the Apache Wash Trail and decided to tackle the remaining trails located at the Desert Hills Trailhead on a rainy Sunday.

On arrival, the first thing I noticed was the lack of vehicles in the parking lot–the rain keeping the hikers and bikers away. That was grand by me. To get to the Badger Brawl Trail, you start on Apache Wash and just walk approximately 4 miles where the trail abruptly ends at 40th St. XikN7xF2S6iZrd+RPjdfrw

The trail was muddy but so nice being out there with nobody around. From the end I walk back a mile or so and cut across to the Cliff Walk Trail that follows the Cave Creek River and ends at Carefree Highway.

No water of course but I was just a bit nervous since I know rains can cause some interesting flash flooding so I stayed alert. Once I hit the end of the trail I walked back on the Esplanade Trail. Again no encounters with any humans. Rain, muddy, but for me just a great way to spend time alone. Once I hit the end of the Esplanade, I actually encountered two on horseback, two on bikes, and four hikers as I returned to the parking lot.

A total of 10 miles, just a couple pieces of trash, a few dog turds, and few humans. Just lovely. I did see many birds, a couple rabbits, plenty of saguaro and other cacti. And oh the rain. So refreshing, light and my jacket handled it well. All of the trails would be rated easy but were much harder in the rain as they were quite slippery. The trails are quite suitable for running but it appears they probably get used frequently by bikers.

Tired but satisfied and another Phoenix Parks Trailhead knocked off my list. Coming up is the Desert Vista Trailhead and all that it might offer.

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Sweetest Hangover: I Don’t Need No Cure

If there’s a cure for this
I don’t want it
I don’t want it
If there’s a remedy
I’ll run from it
From it
Think about it all the time
Never let it out of my mind
‘Cause I love you
I’ve got the sweetest hangover
I don’t wanna get over
Sweetest hangover
Yeah, I don’t wanna get over
I don’t wanna get
I don’t wanna get over
Ooh, I don’t need no cure
I don’t need no cure
I don’t need no cure
Finally, Carolyn and I get a day off together so after work we jump in the car and head off to Sedona. I am determined to hike the Hangover Cow Pies Loop come rain or shine. For a Friday, the trip to Sedona wasn’t too stressful. A stop at Starbucks gets me energized and a couple hours later our first stop in Sedona is the Sedona Beer Company.
Sedona Beer Company is a hidden gem off of Jordan Road and it has a decent Friday night crowd. First time we have visited since it opened in its current location in August 2018. The place has a great atmosphere with cool ambiance and patio seating as well as indoor tables and bar seating. Got talking to a customer (go figure) who once lived in Payson (1989-90) where his daughter was born and who is one of the owners. I told him we were planning on hiking the Hangover Cow Pies Loop Trail and he gave me some history about the trail. A friend of his helped with creation of the trail and was instrumental in getting it built. Got some some food recommendations and we enjoyed a craft draft with a fantastic chicken breast sandwich and unbelievably good sweet potato waffle fries. Beer choices were the decadent stout and the golden ale.
On to the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock. One of the great benefits of working for Hilton is travel so we have made the Hilton our home in Sedona. Absolutely love the place and the guest service they provide.
After a fabulous breakfast at the resort, we headed out to Schnebly Hill Road and the trail head for Munds Wagon Trail which will we will take to get to Hangover. A cloudy day with chances of rain mid 50’s and a late start around 11:00. We are a bit concerned about rain but have our rain jackets packed. We hike approximately 1.7 miles up Munds Wagon to get to the Hangover Trail. hipMPAYdRamwREVGwIR04AMountain Bikers are to ride further up to Cow Pies and go counter clockwise on the loop. I’m here to say that hikers are best going clockwise by starting at Hangover. We headed up the trail on a series of switchbacks encountering several mountain bikers that were coming down.

You climb and you climb some 1200+ feet into a saddle that is nothing less then spectacular for the views. You can see into the town of Sedona, Highway 89A, Midgley Bridge, and the Oak Creek Canyon. Words cannot adequately describe the views.

The hike continues and Carolyn and I scramble straight up to another ledge that might be less then 4 feet wide. It is very narrow and you definitely cannot have a fear of heights or suffer from any form of vertigo. This hike on the ledge is not for the feint of heart but yet is is exhilarating.

Carolyn and I are hoping the rain will hold off as these rocks can become very slippery when wet. During this time my smart phone and its photo taking is safely in my pocket as we are hiking on the edge. Intense and the rain thankfully holds off. We finally get to the Cow Pies Saddle and the wind comes up and it begins sprinkling. The trek down is not quite as intense but still exciting.

As we look to the north and east we see jeeps on Schnebly Hill and we can see Carousel Rock in the distance. It is just beautiful being out on the edge with the one you love. On our journey down to the trail head our conversation is filled with the wows and excitements of the hike.

What would a hike be without unwinding with a craft beer? Exactly so back to Sedona Beer Company we go for a couple juniper saisons and those incredible sweet potato waffle fries. It just fits. TtSwLmhqQPakWNPgFtRKWAWe unwind, reliving our journey together. We can’t believe how great the hike was. Incredible. When people rate hikes I don’t know how you can rate anything much better then this one. Tough, thrilling, uncrowded, and no trash. Ok I found somebody’s weed pen that they must have dropped. I’m thinking wow, the natural high was all I needed. Some old school disco from Diana sounds appropriate.
It was the sweetest hangover and you know what? I don’t need to cure!
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Take a Trip, Never Leave the Farm Chapter One

We thought it was kind of handy, Take a trip and never leave the farm! Jim Stafford.

Describes how I feel about all the hiking adventures available in the Phoenix Parks. My goal has been to discover more opportunities and hikes available right here in the city, so I started last week with Deem Hills and this past week I decided to explore the Sonoran Preserve and the three trail heads available.

Usually I am out hiking with my lovely wife Carolyn but our days off have not matched up very well, so I’m hanging out around home just doing some city hikes. I’ve discovered that Phoenix has great urban trails and a fantastic park system.

Day One Hike got off to a late start due to agreeing to take my mother to an appointment. She lets me know around noon that she canceled her 1 appointment and rescheduled the following morning so having little time to hike, I rushed out to the Desert Hills Trailhead and started on my journey around 2:00. w6puqhxzrkctksbefvfjdwI took off on the Sidewinder Trail believing that I was going to do a seven mile loop trail back to the trailhead. It was beautiful outside and the trail didn’t have much traffic and I sure enjoyed the solitude in the desert even though the city is just around the corners. Some up and down areas that challenged me over the course of the hike. Plenty of desert views and you could see Four Peaks, Black Mountain and other points of interest while on the trail. qt96w3lzreevoec6thq1eqSome 2 hours later, I see the parking lot ahead and I notice that this isn’t the parking lot I started from but it is the Apache Wash Trailhead. I’m thinking, “seriously, I now have to take the Ocotillo Trail six miles back to my car?” So off I went finishing just as the sun went down and hiking over 13 miles. Glad I had plenty of water and some snacks and a headlamp even though I did not need the lamp but glad I was prepared. I was tired and headed on home but proud of the fact that I had managed to do 13+ miles in an afternoon. fullsizeoutput_6f2Good news, on this long hike I saw no cigarette butts, just a couple discarded or dropped tissues, few dog turds, one playing music on a speaker, and a few broken bike parts. The hike was by my standards moderate with some good elevation gains and losses but all gradual and none extreme. When your ups and down get an elevation gain of 1700 plus feet, I think I got a decent workout. It was a nice challenge and most of the mountain bikers were considerate but there were a few who believed the trail was only for them. You know them when you see them. There are ways to take a loop that gets you back to your original trailhead but I missed that memo. The trail would also be suitable for running. Next up, more hikes in the Preserve.

 

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Re”Deem”ing Hikes In The Hills

Deem Hills that is. I made a commitment that I would hike in local Phoenix park areas that to be honest, I didn’t know they existed. Phoenix Parks Department has done a marvelous job in preserving and creating an urban setting that is conducive to hiking and biking. I am amazed at the number of trails that exist and are really worth exploring. I for one, seem to get caught up in wanting to hike in many of the far off places without exploring my own backyard so the past several days I set out to hike every trail in Deem Hills Park. Am I ever glad I did.

Day One started off with a good omen as I drove down the 51 and saw this vehicle bearing my last name “Fruth” driving next to me. fullsizeoutput_6efDon’t see my name very often in Arizona so I took that as a good sign. I went to the west entrance off of Happy Valley Road and 51st Avenue. The park is very nice with restroom facilities, soccer field, dog park and plenty of parking.

It was a cloudy overcast day that turned into a rainy day while out on the trails but I was prepared and actually looking forward to hiking in the rain it the desert. There is something magical about hiking in the rain in the desert. I set out on the Circumference Trail which is advertised as a little bit less then six miles. I meandered on to the Basalt Trail and the Palisade Trail and back on the Circumference Trail to my car. I was entertaining the thought of hiking all the trails including the Ridgeline but with the rain getting heavier I finished up for the day and headed home.

My GPS told me that I had a total elevation gain of 1461 feet. I traveled a total of eight miles and loved every minute of it. fullsizeoutput_6eeI came across about 10 others so I had plenty of solitude and time to myself and my thoughts on life. There is much to be said about being alone on trails for several hours.

Day two, starts off with my own tasty version of some “bulletproof” coffee to fuel my inner hunger cravings and my goals for the day. fullsizeoutput_6daI drove the 20+ miles and the weather was completely different. Sunny, few clouds and once again few hikers on the trails. This time I took the Circumference Trail from the 39th Avenue side to the Palisade Trail and then to the Ridgeline Trail. From the Ridgeline, back to the Basalt, on to the Palisade and this time down to the Water Tank Road back to the car. A little over five miles and I finished what I started. What a glorious hike. The views were incredible.

Here I am in the city but yet alone in the desert.  This time my GPS App tells me that I had total elevation gains of 999 feet. fullsizeoutput_6dbInteresting. The  yellow is starting to come out on the plants and the birds were out in force. Just beautiful to soak up the sunshine on my five mile journey.

I knocked off this park, so on to my next city hiking adventure. Sometimes we can find what we need just down the road.

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Back On The Wagon Trail

With several days off and some nice weather forecasted, Carolyn and I jumped in the car and headed to Sedona after I got off of work. Being a Thursday, traffic was not too bad and we arrived at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock in the Village of Oak Creek just in time to check in and walk down to the ending of happy hour at the Cucina Rustica. (Love my Hilton Benefits) Place was packed but they found us a seat so we could get a couple bargains.

Being that the night was young we finished up and walked up the road to PJ’s Village Pub a local gathering place in the village that serves up one of our favorite craft beers, the 928 Local, a farmhouse ale from Wanderlust Brewing Company. PJ’s was packed and an elderly lady directed us to her table so we would have a place to sit. It just happened to be a local’s 50th birthday party so the place was rocking and rolling. The DJ was amazing and really worked up the crowd and we jointed in the dancing and festivities. (Sort of crashed the party.)

Back to the Hilton after an early evening, we slept in, got a great breakfast (Hilton Honors Gold Member benefit) and had one of our usual servers Patti take care of us. We aren’t quit regulars but we’ve spent quite a few nights and always good to see the same faces. Carolyn and I debated about postponing our scheduled hike and taking it easy but we decided that after falling off the wagon, it was time to get back on the wagon. ie the Munds Wagon Trail #78. fullsizeoutput_6d5

What a beautiful day for hike. Mid 50’s, sunny, off-season in Sedona, just perfect conditions. Munds Wagon Trail follows along Schnebly Hill Road. One of the complaints about the trail is that during the busy times, there is a lot of noise from all of the jeep tours that roll up the road. We were in luck as there was little activity on the road due to off season. Passed only a few people on the trail and we loved the quiet time together as we hiked the almost four mile trail. The trail gains about 1100 feet in elevation but it is gradual and the trail was hard-packed from the recent moisture. We saw snow in the shaded areas but no wildlife. The trail passes Merry-go Round (Carousel) Rock and many have probably seen pictures of this area as it is very popular for wedding photography due to the spectacular views down into Sedona. Munds Trail ends at Schnebly Hill road and the beginning of Schnebly Hill Trail. (that’s for another day)

Carolyn and stopped often to enjoy the views, take some photos, and just take in the red rock experiences again.

The last time we had hiked the trail was about 10 years ago and it was great to revisit. The trail is moderate and has few rocks to stumble over. For me it was a five star adventure. Along the trail you pass Hangover Trail (probably a joke in there) and Cow Pies Trail that loop together and is close to about a nine mile hike start to finish.

fullsizeoutput_6d4

Hangover Cow Pies Loop

Carolyn and I decided to tackle that on our next Sedona outing, weather permitting, if we can get out and get going earlier in the morning.

Our total hike time was about 3.5 hours and that time included plenty of stops along the way. Perfect time of year to be out and about in the Red Rocks. No vortex this time but one can sure feel the energy flow no matter where you are in the Red Rocks.

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Beautiful Day

It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
Beautiful day
Touch me
Take me to that other place
Reach me
I know I’m not a hopeless case
What you don’t have you don’t need it now
What you don’t know you can feel it somehow
What you don’t have you don’t need it now
Don’t need it now
It was a beautiful day
by U2
Quick update on my journey in life. Carolyn works for Southwest Airlines and I do a part-time retirement gig for Hilton and we have been enjoying the hookup. So a new year, a new day, and it was a beautiful day.
Some time early in the week, I had mentioned that we should go to San Diego and escape some of the wintery colder weather in Arizona. Carolyn responded that sure lets jump on a plane and go but only if we hike Mt. Woodson a place that harbors the infamous “potato chip rock”. I get the hotel and Carolyn lists us on the flight. Traveling light with backpacks that contain backpacks for water plus one change of clothes and deodorant, etc. We have got this down pretty well.
I’m always a bit hesitant flying standby but Carolyn has us listed on a plane that actually has some vacant seats (7:00 am departure). The first hurdle is done and we arrive in San Diego at about the same time as we left. Our next adventure is to ride public transportation (the bus) to Poway, CA and our hotel where we can keep our stuff and head on over to the hike. After a couple minor missteps, we catch the first bus and head to downtown San Diego, make our bus connection and we arrive at the Karlan Doubletree around 9:30. Brian checks up and he is about as pleasant a young man you could ever have. We get our room, eat breakfast, call Lyft and take our eight mile drive.
We are on the trail by about 10:45 and with the schools being on break, we expect some crowds around the summit and potato chip. From Lake Poway we hike around 4 miles with a total elevation gain of about 2100 feet so it is challenging. The scenery is fantastic as you can see all the way to the Pacific, into downtown San Diego, and looking north, you can see some snowcapped mountain which just might be San Jacinto Peak. The very top has many antennas for radio, etc but you just have to get over that. It would be sort of like South Mountain in Phoenix that has multiple antennas at the top.

The crowds aren’t to bad but of course there are 30 to 50 folks hanging out to get their photo taken on the potato chip. I have to get my photos and it is a bit intimidating to get to the chip as you have to jump out to it. Carolyn opts out.

We have made to “Potato Chip” but we still have a short walk to the summit. So up we go to the top of Mount Woodson. No crowd here as everybody is hanging out for that perfect photo op. Nice and quiet with views everywhere.

As we have conquered the summit before 1:00 pm, and considering we started in Phoenix, I’m thinking we have done a whole lot for a day but the whole afternoon awaits. As we descend to the Mt. Woodson trailhead we make a decision to hike the long way back by continuing on the Lake Poway trail that circles the reservoir and adds two more miles to our hiking adventure.

On to our next Lyft and this time we get a retiree from Scottsdale to drive us to a well deserved small close by brewery: Abnormal Beer Company. Very appropriate for me being an abnormal individual. This is all part of the Cork and Craft which a very cool setting for beer and wine. You know the place must be good when the head brewer once worked at Green Flash. I go with the Mocha Stout and Carolyn snags their the Abnormal Blonde Ale. By the way their poutine was very good and it filled us up.

Next brewery stop on our way back to the hotel is Second Chance Beer Company. From their site it states, “Every day is a second chance, so get out there and seize yours. Build the world you want. Strive for greatness and forge your own path. Possibilities are endless. Start your journey and come raise a pint with us.” That my friends, that fits me perfectly and is the perfect spot to end our day’s adventure. The place is crowed, the bartender is friendly and informative and the locals include a school teacher that I got to visit with.

What a day, but we still have to get home. We start out our day with a walk to Costco. Why not? I love Costco and we find a couple clothing buys to bring back home. Once again we take public transportation (the bus senior fare $1.25 and Carolyn’s fare of 2.50). Sure saved us a whole bunch of money. So to make up for our saving money, we hit several happy hours. First up Barleymash. Great happy hour with a great bourbon and whiskey list and most are half off during happy hour. So I tried the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon and it did not disappoint. Smooth, smooth, easy sipping bourbon. The quail wings were fantastic and they even bought us beer. Server was outstanding, friendly, and what a pleasant surprise with a free beer. Our last stop before the airport has started to become a tradition for us. Ironside Fish and Oyster is a favorite as we pick up some oysters for a buck each during their happy hour and their clam chowder is so good. Bartender was great and gave us some more hiking ideas for when we return. From Ironside, we walked about a mile and a half, got on our flight with no problem and were home and in bed by 11:30.

Not a bad start for a new year with a new adventure. It really was a Beautiful Day.

 

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