Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mormon Trail To Natural Tunnel

This last Saturday we decided to take our last local hike as a family before the heat really kicks starts to kick in. It was a nice 92 degrees, not bad for hiking, but about as much as I can take while carrying my daughter up a mountain. There's a few different hikes I want to do, I'll probably do one next month on my own, but I had to find a hike that I could take Adriana on.

So I found this trail at South Mountain called Mormon Trail. It starts right off Baseline at 24th and Valley View at 1,300 feet. At the high point, 2,100 feet, it connects with Mormon Loop which then connects with the National Trail. From that point there are a few different options of things to see. I thought we were going to see them all but I was wrong. I also thought we were only going to hike 2 miles round trip, it ended up being closer to 4.5-5 miles.

We started our hike a little late in the day. Here in the desert the heat peaks after 5PM, a lot later than where I grew up in SoCal. It was a little on the warm side hiking up and Natalie didn't have her hiking face on that day, until of course we got to Natural Tunnel. When we got to the top of Mormon Trail we took the wrong way and took the Northeast Mormon Loop Trail. About ten minutes later I saw this guy hiking and asked if I'm going the right way. He shook his head and pointed. At first I thought he was deaf. Then he gave me instructions on where to go and said my best bet was to go to Natural Tunnel and avoid all the other sites. So we went back to the trail fork and down the other side of Mormon Loop to the National Trail. It didn't take me long to realize that we were going the wrong way again though when we started going up hill, probably towards Fat Man's Pass.

At this point Adri was falling asleep on me and kept telling me she was tired (it's so tiring being carried up a mountain). So we turned around and at another one of the splits I told Natalie to wait in the shade while I take a quick walk. A couple minutes later I found the sign for Hidden Valley. Two hundred feet past the sign I found Natural Tunnel. I ran back and got Natalie and Adri. Natalie still had her grumpy face on but once she saw Natural Tunnel she lost it and Adri forgot that she was tired.

We hung out here for about hour and had lunch, took pictures, and did some rock climbing with Adri. Yes, you heard right, Adri did some rock climbing. Natalie was nervous the whole time. She still hasn't learned that I'm a professional and my kid will not get hurt under my care. I've learned how to climb rocks really good with this kid.

After some rock climbing we decided to head down the mountain. I wasn't in a rush until disaster struck. Natalie had decided not to bring a spare diaper for Adri, she left it in the car. I guess it was too heavy? Well just as we started hiking down the mountain I noticed Adri's diaper was completely soaked. Not only was her diaper soaked but it had gotten my shirt wet. I had to take off my shirt, wrap it around Adri, and carry the kid down wet. To make matters worse she fell asleep five minutes later. So I couldn't stop, couldn't move her to shift the weight on my back, I just had to run down the mountain with a wet sleeping toddler in my arms. On the bright side, at least it's a dry heat and it was evaporating. I could only imagine how disgusting this situation would be in South Florida weather.

Two years ago I never would have imagined I could carry this kid up a mountain like this (I had a lumbar fusion L5-S1 in 2004). I remember about two years ago when she weighed half as much just carrying her to the park in flat South Florida and my back cramping up really bad on the way back.  And of course,  I didn't take the stroller. Lately I've been carrying the kid all over the place up and down hills and it doesn't even phase me. I think there's a few things to factor in but I think a huge part of it is my home made ginger juice I've been drinking daily now for three weeks. Ever since I started drinking that stuff I've been really relaxed.

Downtown Phoenix







This is the Natural Tunnel


















A little harder to get up there with Adri than it looks. We actually got up there from climbing up on the other side of the tunnel then climbing over rocks to get back this way. To get down I stood on the rock on the left and Natalie held her arms as she slid down the rock to me. She enjoyed it.





Monday, April 22, 2013

Adri's First Real Camping Trip

A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to take Adri on her first real camping trip. We have taken her camping before at Heartbar, if you call that camping, sleeping in a trailer. I've written in previous post about how we would take her to Bass Pro Shops on cold weekends, tell her we're going camping, and let her play on the ATVs and in the tents. Well now it was time for the real thing.

Being how it was her first trip, and it was suppose to be a little on the hot side, we decided to just do one night to see how she does. She was pretty excited about it, especially since we brought her little princess tent and set it up inside our tent. Last Friday we got to The Lost Dutchman around 5pm and went to setup camp. The only problem is the spot we reserved had no spot to put a tent unless we wanted to put it on the asphalt. So we had to get a different spot with no electricity or water. Lesson learned for next time.

We had no firewood and we were in the middle of the desert. After setting up our tent we went for a sunset walk and found a couple big logs, ten feet long with branches, that were completely dead and probably full of termites. So I dragged four or five of these things to the road where I hid them behind a bush (I think Natalie has a picture of me doing it), took Natalie and Adri back to camp, and came back to get them with the car. I just barely managed to break it all up small enough to get it in the car.

After dinner I started a nice bonfire. Adri was out before she really even got to enjoy the fire and we had to skip dessert. Around ten that night my friend from work, Hank, gave me a call and said he was there and lost. I thought he had bailed on us. Since he got there so late he had us up til almost two in the morning. After a couple hours of sleep I was up and ready to start my day. I made my traditional camping breakfast and wrapped it all up in a tortilla making the newly created Joe's Breakfast Burrito. It was amazing.

After breakfast we decided to take a hike towards the base of The Flatiron. Hank has a really nice camera so he was able to take some good pictures of us all hiking. I had brought my sombrero with the intention of taking just one shot, and I got it. I had to keep wearing the sombrero though because I realized it really does work at keep the heat off.

We made it all the way up to the base of The Flatiron. Then Adri decided she was tired. It's so hard being carried up a mountain. Once we turned around and headed back she fell asleep on me. Big surprise. Once we got back to camp it was already time to break it down. So we packed it all up and then we over to one of the Ramada's, ate some desert, played games, and hung out for a couple hours before leaving.

It was a fun trip but way too short. We had our tent up for a whole 19 hours. It was a good test run though. Next time we'll go for a three day weekend. Hopefully we can get my sister to come out too, buy a kiddie pool, get a site with water, and just hang out in the heat.






















The picture I had to get. Gonna make a poster of it. Next time I need a poncho and a Corona though.





The morning Jeff, my dad, and I hiked The Flatiron someone wrote "cleanup your s***" on this sign. Well this time someone had written something else. I can see they share my views.









Trying to pretend she is climbing a mountain. The dead give away that she isn't is the lack of fear in her face.





At the base of The Flatiron. We went off the trail a little and got a view of the entire trail going up. Something we couldn't see the morning we hiked all the way up. I highlighted the trail in the picture under this one. Like I've said before, it's not really a trail, it's just climbing up one rock after another. It looks a bit more intense in real life than it does in this picture though.

This is how all our hikes end.

We found this Saguaro that was full of bird homes. 
A couple of the cacti at the small garden by the entrance of the park.