To Hike or Not to Hike – that is the question
It seems that on most every profile I have read, people say they “like to hike”. Hiking is one of those activities that sounds like a great idea, until the morning. That alarm goes off, it is dark and cold outside, and your blankie is talking you out of getting out of bed to explore the great outdoors. Have you ever heard of the old saying…” if I had a nickel for every time I heard this or that”? Well, let’s just say I would be able to quit my day job and live very comfortably if I saved those nickels over the last 20 years of people saying they want to hike.
I have heard, “there are snakes”! Yes, for sure they are out there, but believe me they are not chasing you down to chomp on your ankles and suck your blood. In the 20 years I have been hiking I have seen 4 rattlesnakes, and they were all sleeping, curled up on the side of the trail. This is not to say, it is the case for everyone, nor every trail, I am just saying, do not sit on your couch and miss a great hike, just because you fear there MAY be snakes.
Be aware, and alert, watch your step and have a blast!
I think of hiking as a way to find quiet! It feels like an adventure, freedom and a release from all the craziness of the day-to-day work, life schedule. The phones are put away, except to take pictures of the mountain, animals and each other sitting on this rock or that cliff. Conversations with friends are uninterrupted; and life feels good again…and so…
The journey begins…
Being a flatlander from Illinois, I really love and appreciate the Arizona landscape. Back in the day, I bought books on Hiking Arizona…nowadays, I use and recommend the app “All Trails”. The app allows you to search trails near and far. Each trail is rated Easy, Moderate and Hard. It will give you exact directions to the trailheads, the elevation changes and all the information you need to venture out. The hiking opportunities are endless, there truly is something for everyone within an hour from Desert Ridge.
Buy Good Boots
As in any sport, you need equipment. Yes, gym shoes are good enough for smooth, easy trails, however if there are rocks, gravel and elevation, you need hiking boots. They will protect you from rough terrain, support your feet and ankles, and make you look like a hiker (very important).
Get Sun Protection
Hats, glasses, sunscreen, long sleeve shirts, etc…protect yourself so you don’t fry!
You don’t have to break the bank to hike.
A fanny pack type item that hold bottles
of water can be found anywhere; or you can splurge and buy a special pack, called a Camelback that holds bladders of water.
Buy what you like, just carry plenty of water so you stay hydrated and enjoy being outside.
Here are just a few of my favorite trails….
Pinnacle Peak Trail
Pinnacle Peak Trail in Scottsdale, located within 20 minutes of Desert Ridge is a moderate hike that is 3.5 miles; out and back. The nice thing about this trail is that it is groomed and well maintained. It is a nestled next to Estancia Golf Course, surrounded by beautiful homes and scenery. There are restrooms, rangers and interesting touristy stuff to enjoy. It can be a good hike for a beginner if they stay on the trail before the switchbacks. My recommendation is to start slow, take breaks, and just soak in the scenery.
Gateway Loop Trail
Gateway Loop Trail is located within 20 minutes of Desert Ridge, just South of Legacy, off Thompson Peak Parkway in Scottsdale at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. There you will find volunteers that hand out maps and are a great source of knowledge about the area. This trail is 4.2 mile loop, with a nice gradual assent. It can be a bit rocky, so boots are recommended. This hike gives you the beautiful scenery of the McDowell’s and helps you appreciate why we need to preserve our desert.
The Superstition Mountain located in the East Valley is about 60 miles east of Desert Ridge. In my opinion this is by far the most beautiful mountain range in the Valley. It is a bit of a drive, but SO worth it. Last weekend my group hiked up to Wave Cave Trail that is 2.6 miles, moderate out and back trail. It was beautiful, actually breathtaking! We met some friendly, free range steers, that posed for some great pictures as they played around. The trail is long and flat with a moderate assent to the cave. The pictures in the cave are fantastic…it was so much fun! And guess what? No snakes or bats either!
I could go on and on, but will stop here, as there is so much to tell. I invite anyone with a sense of wonder, to seek out a trail that looks good, and lace up those boots and explore Arizona.
Debi La Rosa
Desert Ridge Community Association