Welcome to my Blog

This is the first time I have ever blogged so mistakes will likely be the order of the day! This past winter I committed myself to hiking the Vermont Long Trail (LT) in a series of day and overnight hikes over the course of hopefully no more than two summers. I have decided to create a blog to document my adventures and to provide a chance for any photos I take to be viewed by anyone interested in hiking in general or the LT specifically. I am a novice hiker whose prior experience basically consists of earning the hiking merit badge as a 12 year old. My father and I took five 10-mile hikes and one 20-mile hike as a part of earning the badge in 1974. Since that time I have hiked occasionally but never seriously. I was a long distance runner for many years and am in better than typical shape though in recent years my focus has been on weight lifting more than on endurance activity. I expect the trek to be challenging but manageable.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hiking in Arizona - 1/13/2010

On Tuesday, January 13, 2010 I found myself in Scottsdale, Arizona with time on my hands. I hiked 32 blocks (about 1.5 miles) south from the hotel to an LA Fitness Center where I did a 90 minute workout consisting of heavy squats, deadlifts, and calf raises. Following the workout I walked the 1.5 miles back to the hotel. I arrived back at about 12:30 local time.
I went to the conference registration for the afternoon only to find out that there really were no sessions for me to attend until an evening reception so I quicky decided to hike up Camelback Mountain. At 2:00 pm I had a cab take me to the far side of the mountain (north) and drop me off at the foot of the Echo Valley Trail. The literature claims this is a strenuous 1.5 mile hike from 1,100 ft above sea level - the valley floor - to 2,750 feet above sea level with panoramic views of the valley in all directions.

I arrive at the trailhead and realize I have forgotten to bring any water! The temperature is sunny and about 75 degrees and I'm used to Vermont weather so I know the hike is a no-go without water. Luckily, there is a water supply at the start of the trail and another hiker gives me an unused plastic water bottle I can fill and carry with me - trip saved!

I take my time as I am sore from the morning workout and work my way up the steep northern slope of the mountain. Numerous hikers pass me on the way down, and several pass me on their way up. At times the route is steep enough that they have erected fences to keep you from falling and rails to help you pull yourself up. Both detract from the beauty of the mountain and I would rather see them leave it natural.

I would compare the climb to a climb up Mt. Mansfield for its intensity and steepness. Of course the view is startlingly different. I arrive at the top and have a seat to look out over the valley. There are about 15 people or so up on the summit with me. There is another trail that leads down the south side of the mountain and I am told that it is 0.3 tenths of a mile longer than the climb up. I can also see from my perch that it comes out in the direction of my hotel so I figure I can see some new scenery and save $15 in cab fare by hiking back to the hotel.

The trip down is very steep for the first few tenths of a mile and then the trail becomes very easy to navigate. In the picture to the left you can see the easier section of the trail in the shadow side of the mountain as it works its way down. This trail is called the Cholla Trail.

The trail ends near a beautiful golf course and, just before I get to the course, an unusual bird steps onto the trail and hops to the other side. It then stops on a rock and looks out over the valley, paying no attention to me. I fish my camera out and get a shot of its backside. Later on I am told that this was a roadrunner and they are not really that common to see, as they tend to stay away from people - beep! beep!

The trail comes out in an exclusive neighborhood where all the homes cost more than $1 million and one in particular looks like a $20 million dollar home. I don't bother to take a picture of this massive home and am told later, at the hotel, that it is one of Clint Eastwood's homes. I decide not to hike back for a picture. The photo to the right shows Camelback Mountain from my endpoint of the hike.

I quickly find the route back to the hotel and discover that it is only 12 blocks away. This makes the total hike about 4.5 miles meaning I have hiked a total of 11.5 miles today plus done a 90 minute weightlifting workout. Needless to say, I stay sore through the weekend but it was worth it.

On Friday I have the afternoon free and I arrange to play a round of golf at McCormick Ranch about 3 miles from the hotel. I am able to rent clubs (a nice set of Pings) and can take the city bus to within two blocks of the course. They charge me for nine holes but then let me play as long as I want, so I end up playing 24 holes in four hours. I include photos of the course for those of you that like golf.