Thursday, April 30, 2009

Boosting my system

This has been a rather rough month.
In addition to training and working to raise the last dollars to meet our fundraising goal, I have been sick almost all of April.
It started with an infection in my wisdom teeth, which soon led to a nasty cold that prevented my teeth from immediately coming out. Finally, I had four teeth pulled and for the last week and half have worked to recover from that surgery.
But then, on Tuesday while traveling in Denver, I woke up in the middle of the night sick, again. This time it was food poisoning and I ended up having to cancel my flight home and instead head to the emergency room.
After several bags of IV's to rehydrate me, the doctor sent me on my way. A long sleep ensured that I could make it onto the plane to get home to Phoenix yesterday.
At least today I feel so much better.
But I have to make sure my body is in the best shape possible for the hike next week. And that's why I've been downing these guys pictured above to get my immune system as healthy as possible. They are packets that are packed with Vitamin C and I'm sure they will help tremendously.
I'm also getting tons of sleep, eating lots of soup and planning to get back out on the trails this Saturday.
And for the record, because it's the first thing everyone wants to know, I do not have swine flu - whew!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The devil is in the (hiking) details

The fundraising is complete. We're in good physical shape. And we've finally figured out our travel itinerary.
Kelly and I will head up to the Grand Canyon next Friday in my car. We'll eat pasta at the kick off dinner and then sleep for a few precious hours before we hit the Bright Angel trail at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, the Mikes will head up to the Canyon on Saturday morning. They'll grab some lunch and check out some views as they wait for us to drag ourselves up the last few yards.
We'll all meet up and drive down to Flagstaff, where I plan on taking the best nap of my life before heading out for a celebratory dinner.
We'll stay the night, hit the Downtown Diner for breakfast on Sunday, check out my favorite candle store, and then head back down to Phoenix.
Now that all the major details are complete, and the big hike is only 12 days away, it's time to start focusing on the little things.
Such as socks.What socks does one wear when hiking more than a dozen miles? I have a coupon for 20 percent off any althetic sock from Dick's. Should I get one really good pair of $15 hardcore hiking socks? Who spends $15 on socks?!
Or, should I buy a pack of "moisture wicking" cotton/bamboo blend socks from Sam's Club? Those are only $8, and I'd get four pairs. But cotton is supposedly bad for hiking, even when mixed with bamboo. And do I really want to find out that I should have spent the extra $7 when I'm six miles deep in the Canyon?
(At this point in the conversation, my husband sighs and says, "Just get a good pair of socks, Meg. It's a long hike. You need good socks. Get good socks."
Ok. I have to think about it some more.
Then there is the topic of layers.
It is cold at the Canyon right now. At 10 p.m. last night, the local news weather lady said it was in the low 30s there. This was the same day I hiked in a tank top and shorts in Phoenix, and thought it was a bit too hot.
I don't even know how to comprehend hiking in 30-degree weather. And to complicate things, it's only cold at the top. As you go down into the Canyon, it gets warmer. And, I suppose, as we hike, we'll start to work up a sweat ... or will it be so cold that we won't work up a sweat?
Just in case, I'm thinking I might need a moisture-wicking shirt for my first layer. This is supposed to be essential for long hikes, so that you don't sweat and then stay damp for the whole thing.

I've personally never owned anything that "wicks" moisture. I just throw on a t-shirt or tank top and call it a day. So do I really need this? My coach seems to think I do, and again, do I want to find out he was right and I was wrong halfway through?
(This is where Mike rolls his eyes and says, "Babe. Just buy the $10 moisture-wicking shirt from Target. Ok?)
Ok, ok. Moisture-wicking tank top. Check. Then a long-sleeve t-shirt? Then maybe my Team in Training jersey shirt? Then something else ... maybe a hoodie? Top it off with a fleece?
Will all of that be warm enough for 30 degrees? Will my movement be too restricted by so many layers of clothing? Will my pack quickly fill up with all these layers as I work up a sweat and start yanking them off?
Am I overthinking this?
Then there is the debate over the type and quantity of snacks we should bring...
A fresh batch of macaroons (and my eternal gratitude) will go to the person who saves me from my misery and packs for me!

It's snowing in Denver

Yesterday I flew into Denver, Colo. for the 2009 Society of American Business Journalism and Editor's Conference. I was hoping that I'd get a chance to hike while I was here, even though it's a quick work trip and I'll be back in Phoenix on Tuesday.
I knew that hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park was not possible, but still, I had hope for hitting at least one trail, even if it was urban.
Then I woke up this morning and it was snowing. I had to blink several times to make sure I wasn't imagining the little white flakes falling from the sky. After all, I do live in Phoenix.
But it was indeed real. It was snowing in April.
I'm no long worried about hiking. It's obvious snow took that option off the table.
Now I'm nervous about the fact that I have short-sleeve shirts and a little spring jacket. Oh, and high heels that don't really qualify as winter shoes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting into the gear; a strange challenge

Last week, Meghan and I had decided to hike after work.
That was not a complicated concept.
What presented a challenge for this jaunt around Lookout Mountain was the complicated task of changing into hiking clothes after work.
Why is this so difficult? Well, we can't exactly walk through the office in a tank top and yoga pants. I have a feeling that outfit might get some strange looks.
So we each had develop a changing system.
Meghan opted to sneak into her work's bathroom on the way to her car and at least get her tank top on. That way she could still put her sweater over it, so nothing would look different to co-workers. This was step one for me as well.
The tank, it turns out, was easy in light of what was to come.
Next, while driving, Meghan hit a red light and worked to get her shorts on under her skirt. Yes, I know this might sound strange and I might even think exactly like her husband who later said, "why were you doing that?"
But I understand this method. Across town, I wasn't doing the same thing in my car, desperately trying to avoid a trip to change in the Jack in the Box bathroom where I found myself last time we did a hike after work.
(It's pretty scary in there, just for the record.)
Eventually, and I'm still not fully sure how we pulled off getting into all of our gear, we met at Lookout and were climbing the mountain with ease.
That workout was hardly a challenge compared to the one we had faced just before as we worked to get fully into our gear. Hopefully before this is over, we’ll develop a consistent system for changing that doesn’t have us swerving in our car as we put on our clothes.
But for now, this is what we got.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some REALLY good news!

We did it.
Kelly and I each hit our goals of $2,900 this week, just two weeks before we lace up our perfectly broken-in hiking shoes and head down into the Grand Canyon.
I won’t lie – it wasn’t easy. Nearly $3,000 is a lot of money to raise, especially if you’ve never really tried to raise money before. We dedicated nearly every weekend (and many week nights, too) in March and April to hiking and fundraising. And sometimes, it felt like we were spinning our wheels.
But whenever we started to get down about it, wondering if we were doing enough, wondering if we’d ever meet out goals, we’d get a $25 online donation from an old friend. Or we’d come home from work to find a check in the mail with a note of support from an aunt and uncle.
Friends and family would thank us for what we were doing; they would tell us they were proud of us. It really, truly kept us going.
So, thank you. We couldn’t have done this without you.
Tonight, Kelly and I are going to hike after work. For the first time since we started on this journey, we’ll be able to talk about how great it feels to have made our goals, to have raised a combined total of almost $6,000 for cancer research. That’s pretty awesome.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A photo finish

I got up at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday. Yes, 4:30 A.M. Those who know me well know I’m barely functioning by 8 a.m., let alone 4:30 a.m.
Nonetheless. Mike and I had an important task ahead of us: the 4.2 mile Pat’s Run (that's my race number above). I blogged about the event here.
I just wanted to give you all an update and let you know that we’re both still alive. I’m a little sore from it. (Hey, I hardly ever run! I used totally different muscles!) But we clocked in at just over 48 minutes, which isn’t bad for two people who never run.
I did make one vital discovery – my endurance is definitely building. Normally I’m ready to keel over after a mile of running. But I felt pretty strong and steady throughout this whole race.
And the best part? We saw ourselves in the newspaper the next day!!!
See if you can find us:

No? Ok, we’re just above the big yellow balloon in the bottom/middle of the photo. I’m in a maroon #42 shirt and have pasty white legs. Mike is (sprinting) slightly ahead and to the left of me in a bright blue shirt and black shorts. That’s us!!
I know I’m a reporter and my byline is in the newspaper every other day… but somehow, this was still very exciting for me.
Anyway, more than 13,000 runners and walkers finished this race. That’s a pretty awesome way to honor a pretty awesome guy.
But enough about running. It’s time to get back to hiking. After a short tooth-and-soreness-related hiatus, Kelly and I will be back on the trails this Thursday, in our final push for the Grand Canyon!

Working the last game

I have been so whacked out from my teeth that I completely forgot to post this promised picture of my cousin Connie working at our last Little League game.
We wrapped up our action at the games last week and as you know, Connie was a huge help in our success.
Thanks to the Horizon Little League's board, coaches, parents and athletes who supported us while at the games by purchasing a Gatorade or a bag of fruit snacks - we owe you.
I can't believe we are already finished with our stand. It seems like just yesterday we were stressing over what kinds of items middle school kids like to eat and how much a sucker typically sells for.
Now, we obviously know that kids love red suckers for 25 cents and that they are crazy about all types of candy, but not so much for granola bars. Red Gatorades are a favorite, way cooler, than juice.
We could run a stand with our eyes closed now. We've come so far.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Peace out wisdom teeth

D-day for my mouth was Thursday.
After years of running from my wisdom teeth, they finally got me.
But I had the last laugh because all four are now out of my mouth.
(Okay hurts to laugh and to smile.)
Why am I telling you this? Because the surgery has taken me out of the running for a few days, so I’ll be on the couch recovering and not hiking.
Meghan will continue on and I’ll be with her in spirit and because I have a hard time sitting still, I’ll be back on the trails in no time. I'm crossing my fingers that it will be as early as tomorrow.
Horrible timing, but these teeth had to go. I don’t want to be in the Grand Canyon with a toothache. Now back to soup and ice packs.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Baking for a cure

I got to combine two of my loves last night: my hiking/fundraising endeavor and baking!
Our hiking team is putting on a yard/bake sale on Saturday to raise some funds, and since I only had a few things to contribute to the yard sale, I thought I'd help out a little more by whipping up some goodies.
I made my world-famous (or at least famous among my friends and co-workers) macaroons:

And then I mixed up some chewy walnut brownies:

It was hard to part with them, especially with the condo smelling so good last night, but it was a sacrifice worth making!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Running for Pat

Tonight, Mike and I will begin some very last-minute training for another good (albeit non-hiking) cause. Pat's Run is happening in Tempe this Saturday, and we've signed up.
More than 20,000 runners, walkers, volunteers and spectators will descend upon Tempe in the wee hours of the morning, to honor Pat Tillman and raise funds for the Pat Tillman Foundation. Pat Tillman was an ASU and Arizona Cardinals football star who joined the U.S. Army and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was killed in April of 2004, when his unit was ambushed in Eastern Afghanistan.
Today, the Pat Tillman Foundation carries forward his legacy of leadership and civic action by supporting programs that educate and engage youth.
The company Mike works for, TriWest Heathcare Alliance, is a sponsor of the event, so we wanted to get involved. We'll run 4.2 miles, in honor of Pat's college football number -- #42.
Well, I say "run," but I mean "attempt to run." We're not really runners, Mike and I. We like to take strolls around the neighborhood, we hike, we hit the tennis ball around from time to time... but running? Not so much.
We originally planned to walk the 4.2 miles, but we figured that since we're getting up and out to Tempe so early, we might as well really make it count. And if I am in good enough shape to tackle the Grand Canyon, surely I can run a little. Right?
So tonight, when we get home from work, we're going to tie up our running shoes and give it a go. For Pat. Wish us luck!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back at it...after a storm

We were planning to hit the baseball games this Saturday, but something very strange happened, something that's a true rarity in Arizona - it RAINED!
Weird, I know. It was a very odd sight indeed, especially because it rained all day, which almost never happens in this state.
When this happens, it always sends Valley residents into a tailspin.
Where is my umbrella? Wait do I even own an umbrella? Can I still wear flip-flops...ugh, now I have to change. But...I just washed my car.
A true Southwest tragedy.
So we rescheduled our concession efforts for today. We are hitting a series of four games in North Phoenix and since we are now very experienced, there should be little drama with unloading the car and setting up shop.
In fact, people are kind of used to seeing us now, so hopefully the Red Vines and Gatorades will continue to fly from our coolers.
This will probably be our last game, since we are narrowing in on the final weeks of our training and fundraising. But it has been a great time and I'm sure tonight will be no different.
Oh and Connie said she might come - whoo-hoo!
If she does, don't worry, this time I'll have my camera.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

One month to go!

One month from right this minute, Kelly and I will be somewhere in the Grand Canyon. In fact, at this point, we'll be about 6 hours into the hike, and we might be a bit tired.
But our spirits will be high because we'll be thinking about all of you and the support (both financial and emotional) you've given us along the way, in the fight against blood cancers.
We'll be ready, and we'll be kicking that Canyon's butt.

An inspirational messenger

You just never know whose path you’ll cross or what a person can teach you.
Take this past Saturday for example. Ken Pogson, who coaches Horizon Little League’s Astros Coach Pitch Team, sent me an e-mail when he heard that we would be selling concession at his game. The coach, it turns out, is an avid hiker and was fascinated by our Grand Canyon goal. He sent e-mails out to parents and asked them to support us.
And he also mentioned that he friend and expert mountaineer, Gabriel Amador, was visiting from California and would be attending the game. Ken said Gabriel would love to share his stories with us and sent me a few links.
It wasn’t until I began to click through the links that I understood the depth of Gabriel’s experience several years ago in New Zealand. On December 31, 2003, Gabriel was with groups of six hiking one of the country’s largest mountains, the 3,467-meter Mount Tasman, that were swept up in a killer avalanche. Gabriel and another man, Mark Dossor survived, but four climbers were killed. (A picture of Mount Tasman is above)
Gabriel suffered head, spine and neck injuries. He had to have both his hips replaced and was in critical condition and later rehabilitation for weeks. And now, just a few years later, here he was at a Scottsdale little league game as healthy as could be, recounting his experience.
Here’s the inspiring thing that I took away from Gabriel and his tragic story. He’s still hiking. In fact, he just hiked Mount Kilimanjaro and is planning at trip to Mount Everest Base Camp later this year. He also hiked Camelback and hit another trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park before heading back to California.
He gave us some hiking tips and bought a Gatorade from our stand to support our fundraising efforts. He told us to keep in touch and send him the details on our hike so he can follow our progress. And through a simple conversation on the sidelines of a baseball game, he showed us what strength really looks like.
Gabriel’s story told us that no matter how hard something is, you must keep going. After all, he still is.
To read more about Gabriel’s story check out these links:

Four killed on avalanche mountain

Man critical after killer avalanche

Deadly silence that swept away four lives

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tackling Trail 100

For those of you familiar with Phoenix, picture the area of Shea and Tatem. Got it?
Now, picture Peoria and 7th avenues. Got that, too?
We hiked from the first spot to the second spot on Sunday.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Phoenix area, this is the trail we did:

Only we didn't stop at 7th Street. No, no. We crossed under 7th Street and went another mile and a half to 7th Ave, for a total of 11 miles.
The Phoenix Mountain Preserve’s Christiansen Memorial Trail is not a loop trail, like all the other hikes Kelly and I have conquered. This one starts on one side of the city and winds through the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, and dumps you off on the other side of the city.
So I dropped my car off at 7th and Peoria avenues on Sunday morning and hopped into Kelly’s car to drive to the trailhead. About 15 minutes into the drive, Kelly sighed.
“Um,” she said. “This is a long drive.”
“Yeah, this does not bode well,” I sighed back.
We knew it was going to be a long one. But we didn’t know how much we were going to love it.
The first part of the trail was very green (an adjective rarely used to describe trails in the desert):

To cross major freeways and roads that cut through the preserve, we ventured through several tunnels like this:

We got to stop about 4 miles into the trek to eat lunch at this rest area, with actual picnic tables:

Plus, hiking past four mountains (Piestewa, Lookout, North and Shaw Butte) that we had already climbed during our training was just plain cool.
Oh, and neither of us was sore the next day. Victory!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Our secret weapon

When my alarm went off on Saturday morning at 6 a.m. I was not happy. In fact, I pushed snooze button so many times, I was barely dressed when Meghan arrived at my house to load up the rest of our items and head to the Little League field.
This was way too early for a weekend morning, but we pressed on, giant coffee mugs in hand. We were determined to bring in some cash to close in on our goal.
We arrived at the field and began to set up our concession table. After last weekend, we are now old pros, so it didn’t take long to get the purple tablecloth on and the Skittles in their position. Finally, we sat into our portable chairs and started to relax. As the balls clinked off the bats, we anxiously waited for customers.
For some reason, I turned my head to the left and look behind us. “Oh no,” I said to Meghan as I watched a huge tent soar into the air, boxes of candy unloading from a SUV and a grill rolling into position. “It’s another concession stand,” I almost screamed as my brain began to make sense of exactly what was unfolding in the distance.
How could it be? This professional group of “concession stand people” weren’t supposed to hit little league games until we were finished fundraising. But here they were and it didn’t look like they were leaving any time soon. And they had a GRILL and TONS of candy. (I’m talking every candy imaginable. It seriously looked like a Willy Wonka’s operation.)
Depression hit pretty quick as we looked over our small little concession stand table with way less options than our competition. We were sure we were doomed.
But that was before our secret weapon arrived – my 17-year-old cousin Connie.
Connie had come to the field to help us sell items. Her mom, Kathy Jo, was there too and she quickly worked out a deal with the competitors that would send customers our way for any items we had stocked. Our candy was melting in the sun, so Connie ran home and got us an umbrella.
Quickly, things were looking up.
But we were still worried about the sales. Would we even make $20?
Connie assured us we would be successful and then she got to work. She strapped a cooler around her neck, attached a Leukemia & Lymphoma sign to it and hit the stands. “I have ice cold beverages for sale. We have coke, diet coke, water and Gatorade,” she bellowed. “All proceeds go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.” This was a truly amazing sight.
Parent after parent ordered a drink from Connie and most told her to keep the change. Periodically she would run back to the table and dump off piles of quarters and ones. We were making a killing.
Sure, the other concession stand had almost every single item you could imagine, but they didn’t have Connie. And in the end, this Saturday turned out to be our most profitable yet.
Meghan and I walked away with $200 - just the boost we needed.
We begged Connie to hit the field with us again. She’s out of town this weekend, but we’re hoping she’ll be up for another Saturday.
She’s for sure our new top secret agent.
Since we forgot our camera, I’ll make sure to grab a picture of her next time she’s at the games. You have to see her in action to believe how much damage she can do.
Thanks Connie! We owe you big time.

Fighting for a cure - together

Sometimes when you’re in the midst of an experience, it’s easy to feel like you’re suddenly on some far away island, working like mad with only a few other individuals.
You might start to believe that you’re the only one whose muscles are aching from training on a Sunday morning. That you’re the only one facing a fundraising goal or that it’s just you who is working hard to honor people who were lost.
But an e-mail from my cousin, who is also named Meghan and is pictured above running by her house in Philadelphia, reminded me that there are people all over fighting for the very same cause – to find a cure for cancer.
Meghan is training for the Broad Street Run, a 10-mile Race through Philadelphia, as an American Cancer Society Charity Runner. And she’s committed to raise $1,000 for her run, a goal she's very close to meeting.
Check out her site by clicking here.
She’s running in honor of my mom, her Uncle Burt and one of her best friend’s Libby Morris Remick.
Meghan and Libby went on a trip on the Alaskan Canadian Highway (Libby is pictured on that trip below) and shortly after she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. She passed away last summer.

In a recent e-mail as we were talking about our fundraising efforts and training, Meghan again reminded me again why our efforts are so important.
She said, “Your mom, Libby, my Uncle Burt were such powerful people in my life. I will always admire them. They each had that "magic" - they were the kind of people who brighten a room instantly upon entering…I'm enraged at cancer. It's such a crappy disease, lurking everywhere we are.”
As part of her fundraising efforts, Meghan is planning to hold two bake sales in Philadelphia and she's offered to donate some of her proceeds to Meghan and me to help us meet our goal. I was blown away by her generosity and it proved to me once again that people are more giving than you would have ever imagined.
This recent intersection of reminds me that out here in Arizona we are not alone at all on this quest. We are all in this fight together.
And if each one of us helps out just a little bit, the results will be powerful.
How could they not be?

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Wild West Weekend

We really got in touch with our inner cowgirl this weekend.
On Saturday night, after approximately 8 hours of selling sodas and red vines at the concession stand (and loading and unloading the car four times), we headed up to Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek for our group fundraiser.
Despite the fact that Cave Creek is only 15 miles north of Kelly's home (and not much farther from mine), we had never been there. I don't know what I was expecting, but I was not prepared for the prevalence of cowboy hats, horses tied to posts outside of businesses, and that... smell... of the Old West.
There are houses tucked into the sides of mountains that my mom, who desperately wants to live in the shadow of a mountain, would drool over. It seems like all the buildings are made out of wood. And there's a place called the Silver Spur Saloon that I will be checking out one day.
It was so kitschy. I love kitsch.
At Buffalo Chip, peanut shells littered the floor on the inside, and employees built bonfires near picnic tables out back. (See the photo below, which I snagged off the saloon's website.)

It was a fun, relaxed kind of place, where cold beers are poured into mismatched glasses and jars.
On Sunday, Kelly and I headed out to hike through the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, an 11-mile trek that took us past several mountains we've explored on previous hikes.
We're used to moving over to allow the occasional mountain biker to pass, and there were many on this trail. We sometimes stop and chat with other hikers, whenever we're lost or they're lost. But we're not used to seeing group after group of horseback riders in the distance, or horseshoe prints in the trail's dirt.

We decided that horses would have really sped up our 4-hour hike. Next time, we'll have to bring a couple along.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fundraising bonanza

On Saturday, for 12 straight hours, Kelly and I will be fundraising our little hearts out.
We'll get up bright and early to set up our concession stand for the start of the 8:30 a.m. Little League games. (It might be a bit early for some of our snacks, so Kelly is going to pick up muffins and coffee drinks to add to our assortment of candy and Gatorade.)
We'll hit about five different games throughout the morning and afternoon, and we should finish just in time to run home and change before our team's group fundraiser at the Buffalo Chip Saloon & Steakhouse in Cave Creek.
We'll be at Buffalo Chip from 5 to 8:30 p.m. with our teammates, running a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle, as well as mingling and collecting donations from the saloon's generous customers.
The place is known as one of the last truly western saloons in the area (horses are welcome!). Food is served all day, and dancing kicks off at 9 p.m.
If you're in the area of Cave Creek Road and the Carefree Highway, stop in and say hi!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The beauty of desert hiking

All this training and fundraising is a lot of work. If you read this blog, you get that by now. It's sort of like a second full-time job.
But it's also been a lot of fun, and one of the best parts of the experience so far has been re-discovering my love for Arizona.
AZ is a great state to live in. We have sun nearly every day of the year, we don't have to brush snow off our cars, we have professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey, and everyone bonds over the fact that we're all from someplace "back East."
I miss my family and friends back home, of course, but whenever I miss the seasons, I can drive up to Sedona to see the leaves changing or visit Flagstaff to see pine trees and snow.
And it's a beautiful state to hike in. You can drive 20 minutes from your front door and feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, with only the blue sky and the occasional lizard (like this little guy, who was chillin on a rock at Shaw Butte) to keep you company.

We're in the middle of wildflower season, which means Kelly and I will be wandering through a maze of green and brown for an hour and then suddenly come across a clump of bright orange flowers, or a newly bloomed cactus like this one:

We'll talk about how long we think some of the plants have been around, like this stoic saguaro at South Mountain that must be about 150 to 200 years old, judging by the length and number of his arms:

Sometimes I forget how beautiful the desert is. But then its beauty will make my jaw drop when I'm out on a trail, pause to take a sip of water, glance to my left and see this:


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The backwards approach

See how exhausted I am on South Mountain. Well, now that I've regained some of my strength, let me tell the story behind our recent hike on Sunday.
The details must be shared.
It was too much of an adventure to keep to ourselves.
We knew that after a long weekend, a hike that clocked in almost 8 miles would make for a rough morning. What we didn't realize is that we were about to make it even more difficult for ourselves.
How is this possible you wonder?
Well for starters a block on the main road to the trail head made it a challenge to find our starting point. So after a few minutes walking down a paved road, we saw a sign for the Alta Trail on the right and quickly jumped on the path.
Our guide book said it would be a rough one mile ascent.
But after at least 2.5 miles and still going up, we began to wonder if our trusted guide was dead wrong.
Here's how high up we were. Yep that's Phoenix in the distance.

The most difficult part of the hike was supposed to be behind us, but we were still going up and up, trying our best to get through a series of intense switchbacks.
Once we reached what looked like the summit, the intensity still wouldn't let up. We keep getting higher and our legs were burning.
So we stopped for lunch. And then Meghan began getting attacked by bugs. (See below) The bug attack made it even more exhausting, since she had to swat her arms around at them every few seconds.

I had almost emptied all the water in my camelback and there was still more than half of the hike left to go. We kept saying to ourselves that there must be an end to this upward trek soon.
Finally, after about 3 miles we started heading down the mountain. We soon reached a road, the road we had walked up to find the Alta trail in the beginning. Quickly after a scan of the guide book, we realized that we had actually tackled the hike backwards, which made it longer and more challenging.
To get back to our car, we had to walk more than 4 miles on this never ending road, one filled with inclines and twists.

When we finally spotted our car, it was not a second too soon. My shoulders were bright red with sunburn (I had wiped off all my sunblock at some point) and we are almost out of water.
It was intense. But we decided that by doing the hike backwards, it was actually better training preparation for when we hike out of the canyon.
Even if it was, it's Wednesday and we are both still tired and hurting.
At least there's a few more days left in the week to rest up for our next round of hikes this weekend. Our legs should be working again by then. (Hopefully!)