Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Yesterday we finally made it over to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. I've been wanting to go here for a while now. The first time we went to Payson it was on our to do list but ran out of time. It's actually a good thing we didn't try to squeeze it in that day because it takes more than just a couple hours to really enjoy this place. The last couple weeks I've been planning to go but we had a rainy day, sick kids, and I've been unable to do anything. Finally got my stitches removed this week though so we went for it.
Yesterday we got up early and took I-17 up to Payson. Normally we go up the 87 but Google told me to take this route, probably to avoid the traffic hell we experienced going through Scottsdale on the way home. When we got to the park there were two white tail deer blocking the entrance. I've seen deer on the road a couple times in Payson and Sedona but Natalie and Adri are too slow to catch it when I yell out. Well these deer froze up so everyone got a good look at them. Adri was talking all day about how delicious they looked. We parked next to a sign with A.R.S (Arizona Revised Statutes) warning people it's illegal to leave your kids in the car. I can't believe how far we have to go in society to eliminate natural selection. Perhaps instead of making these statutes we should teach people with room temperature IQ's how to put on a rain coat.
Anyways, there's quite a few trails at this park. We decided to go to the Pine View trail first which goes down a canyon to the natural bridge. It's only half a mile so I was laughing when they said it normally takes an hour. On my own I probably could have done it in 20 minutes. With 2 kids it actually took us an hour. There was a lot of rock climbing and we did good until we got under the bridge. At this point I decided we couldn't go any further with the kids because if we slipped it was a long fall down. So we turned around, went back a couple hundred yards, and took a different trail up to view point two. We had to cross a stream at this point which was one of the trickiest parts of the hike. Natalie was carrying Zach so I had to get Adri across and then go back to make sure she didn't slip on a loose rock. We all made it across thought with dry feet. From here we were able to walk back to the car in just a few minutes.
After having some burgers we moved the car and decided to see the other side of the bridge. I forget if it was viewpoint 3 or 4 but we started at one, took pictures, then hiked down the other side. From the top to bottom is vertical 200 feet, I think 183 down the waterfall. The trail had warnings about it being strenuous and needing to be in good health to hike it. This was funny because it was actually a pretty easy hike down. About ten minutes to hike down and we were at the bridge. Natalie stayed on a platform with Zach while I took another 10 minutes to go about 50-75 yards with Adri. The rocks were slippery so it was a really slow process.
After that we headed back up the hill and had a nice long drive home. Took the 87 down this time which is supposed to be shorter but got caught in Friday afternoon Scottsdale traffic. At one point when we got off the freeway I was rubbing my eyes and they teared up like crazy and I couldn't see. I told Natalie I'm going to need her to drive and then was struggling to see for the next 2 minutes while I find somewhere to pull over. When I pulled over I wiped them with paper towels and I was find after that. I think the sun screen got in my eyes. Note to self, if not swimming or playing in water wash sunscreen off face before attempting to drive. Lucky that didn't happen on the highway.
At the parking lot
First part of the hike down Pine View trail. This part of the trail was easy.

And then the trail turned into this. Rock climbing with a toddler. Well for Natalie with a Toddler. For me it was helping Adri and making sure Natalie didn't slip.
The first waterfall. This trail is only 300 feet but we forgot to take it before we left.

Our first view of Natural Bridge.

Natural Bridge from the north side looking south.

On the top of the west side of the bridge

Zach at lunch time. Zach has a rash from amoxicillin.

From up top. We hiked down to this bridge.

This little stream is what feeds that waterfall.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Winter in Arizona

For the last month nothing too exciting has been happening here. I got cut twice so I haven't been able to do a whole lot of physical activity. A couple weeks ago the dermatologist had to cut some skin out of my back which led to a bunch of dissolvable stitches and four big ones. Last Monday while getting the sutures removed in my back I got cut up again right below my chest with almost a dozen dissolvable stitches and 3 big ones. So basically I have been spending a lot of time sitting on my butt. I had just started a daily kettle belt routine which was doing wonders for me and had to stop that as well.
Anyways these are the most exciting events we've had in the last month. About a month ago I took Adri hiking at Cave Creek. At the visitor's center they have snakes, scorpions, spiders, tarantulas, etc but this day they also had a show going on with a lot more snakes. After looking at all the critters I took Adri on a 3.5 mile hike through the desert on the Slate Trail.
A couple days after my first surgery I decided it was time to take Adri up the peak behind our house. I work from home on Sundays so after work I decided to go. I couldn't carry her so I wasn't sure she would make it. Natalie was sure she wouldn't especially since she was already tired from the playground. It's a pretty tough hike as it's 400 feet in elevation gain, there is no trail going up, and it's climbing one rock at a time trying to find your way up and hoping you don't hit some loose rock and go sliding down. Well I'm proud to say the kid made it up. She had to hold my hand the entire way but other than that it was all her. She did fall a couple times and got some bruises on her butt but other than that no injuries.
Once we hit the base of the hill she was already saying she was tired and wanted to stop. I kept on pushing the kid though. She needs to toughen up for the zombie apocalypse. I just told her I'd be really proud if she makes it up. Of course her response is "If I make it up there do I earn a popsicle when I get home"? When we got to the top we called Natalie and had her go out to the middle of the street so we can wave at her. All I could see from up there was a black shadow in the street. We took a trail down the back side because it's too dangerous going down the way we came up. It was longer, still a challenge, and Adri was crying that she's tired long before we got home. Most of the way down the hill Adri kept asking if I am proud of her for making it to the top. Actually two weeks later I still here it from her every day. When we got back to the street we saw a baby gopher snake in the street so I grabbed a stick to play with it.
A couple days later we went hiking again at Cave Creek. This time the whole family went. On the hike back, almost at the car, we ran into a rattlesnake. This one wasn't nearly as aggressive as the one I almost stepped on at Daisy Mountain. This one about 2/3 the size of the one at Daisy and we heard it when we got about 7-8 feet from it. It was on Adri's side and stopped rattling after just a second or two so at first I didn't know what it was. I looked in the bush and could see him all coiled up. Natalie with her expert (sarcasm) outdoor experience started yelling for Adri to go back to her, 150 feet back in the parking lot. Luckily when I yelled at Adri to stop and get her butt back next to me she listened. This thing was so timid that when I chucked some rocks it's way it wouldn't even rattle.  So after taking a couple pictures of the snake he decided to retreat. Once he was far enough away and on the retreat I snapped a picture of Adri with the snake in the background.
After this hike my feet were very sore. I've been to a specialist a couple times in the last two months because of my feet not thinking the problem was my boots since they still appear to be in good shape. I had x-rays done and the doctor couldn't find anything except the fact that my shins were really tight. Well a couple days after this hike I went back to the doctor and told her it appears the hiking is what is irritating it. She told me to see if I can bend my shoes. Sure enough my boots bend like a taco and the front can touch the tongue. Had to invest in some new hiking boots and they weren't cheap.
At the top of the peak
Anthem behind her

Behind Adri is Daisy Mountain
Adri with our neighborhood in the background

After hiking down the backside.

Zach at Cave Creek.

Playground at Cave Creek.

I found this nice comfy cactus to sleep on. I felt like a monkey laying there.
Rattlesnake in the bush.
Rattlesnake taking off.
Adri showing me she's scared of the snake.
 My hike with Adri on the Slate trail.

The rock on the trail looks pretty cool.