Twinks Gets Fit...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lessons in hiking

I took Budaj on our second hike together on Piestewa Peak the Sunday before last. I chose the Perl Charles Memorial Trail (AKA: 1A). It was to be a moderately challenging 4.8 miles. It would have been had I not missed the turnoff for 1A after it connected with another trail.

But first, there was some very nice hiking early Sunday morning. Hey, 7:30 is early for a weekend for me. We parked at Dreamy Draw Park, which was great because it had lots of parking. I should mention something that will become important later. Brady and I bought a portable bowl for Budaj for hikes. It has a drawstring that claims to be leak-free. Yeah, not sure how they can even fathom a simple drawstring can keep water in. Within 30 seconds of being in my backpack that morning, it had dumped. I soaked up the water, but the bottom of my backpack was soaked. It seemed the other compartments were safe, including where I was keeping my cell phone, camera, etc.
Okay, so besides the mishap with the portable bowl, the hike started off well enough. I was happy to be out early since it had been warming up the few days before. It was beautiful and since we were on the north side of the peak, we enjoyed some shade for the first part of the hike.
Backtracking to Dreamy Draw Park

Just leaving the parking lot on our way to the trails.
I LOVE this time of year in Arizona when everything is just starting to bloom...

I should mention at this point that on this particular hike, I did learn some valuable lessons. The first was learned just after snapping that photo of the blooming cacti...
Lesson #1: Watch where you sit. This was about 1 1/2 miles into the hike or so and I decided to stop for some water for Budaj and myself. It had been a steep climb to that point and my legs needed a short break. There aren't any big rocks to sit on right there so I decide to sit on the ground under a tree. It was a little rocky, but I figured it couldn't be so bad, right? Wrong. I somehow found the most jagged little dagger of a rock to sit on and since that's not exactly like sitting on a barcalounger, I decided to relocate. I went to push myself up off the ground and my hands touched prickly little stickers. I yelp and scurry to my feet. It is at this point that I hear the rip. Yes, the jagged little rock had failed to release its grip on my shorts and I now have a hole about 3 inches long. To add insult to injury, while discovering said hole, I also discovered those lovely little prickly stickers have decided to hold on for the ride. Lovely.
Fortunately, the hole is almost covered by the backpack so we trek on. The whole way, I'm ooohing and awwwing at the fantastic views between jumping out of the path of mountain bikers. Despite the fact that the trail tends to be more multi-purpose in areas, with the exception of the very rocky and steep segments, I preferred this trail to the previous.
Looking northeast. The layers of mountains is incredible in the valley.

A blooming ocotillo...

We eventually found a clearing that offered the scenic valley views seen above where we stopped for water and a breather.
Here's Budaj in his brand new harness and leash taking in the great outdoors.

Budaj, by the way, was a big hit on the trails. Everyone that we came across just gushed over him, if he was a puppy, how well he does on the mountain (he is the best dog I've ever encountered on the leash, particularly on rocky terrain). One couple we encountered even wanted to have their photo taken with him. Good boy that he is, when I told him to sit, he did and looked right at the camera. Somewhere someone is showing off their hiking photos and going on about this adorable and well-behaved dog of mine and I'm a pretty proud momma for that fact.
Now, it was around that time, that I lost track of where the trail picked back up. It meets up briefly with one of the trails we did previously, but cuts back into the mountain. I missed it. There were 1A signs constantly along 304/302 and they suddenly stopped. We kept walking and the more we walked, the more it became clear that we weren't going to see 1A again. We made it out to the main parking lots for the mountain preserve and kept on walking almost out to Lincoln. On the trail map, it appeared there was a residential street that connected back with 1A, so we went off in search of the illusive street. (The map had very little detail like, let's say the name of the street.)
Lesson #2: Follow trail signage even when it seems redundant. Carry a trails map. (I forgot mine at home)
First, we found a dead end. Then we found a San Francisco type street. Downhill would have been glorious, but alas, it was uphill and a massive incline. No elaboration here. It was dreadful. Fortunately, though shortlived, we did find some shade on the other side of the hill. Budaj kept trying to veer me up the front walks of one of the beautiful mountainside homes--poor dog was exhausted at this point, and even laid down in the perfectly green front yard of one house under a tree.
What followed is a bit fuzzy. We found what I thought was the trail. It looked like a trail minus the signage, but it ended abruptly in the middle of the desert. I did spot a hiker and a trail across the way a bit so I felt confident it wouldn't take too long to get there. Wrong again. There were mini canyons to cross, jumping cholla to avoid, and eventually a cliff. Budaj got a jumping cholla bud stuck to his back foot, which was horrible to remove because the thorns could poke through cotton, plastic, paper and then stick me...
Lesson #3: Do not take the path less traveled when hiking. It's scary.
Lesson #4: Cactus thorns can feel like wasp stings...and let's face it, those hurt a LOT. Pack a very thick gardening glove to more efficiently help canine companion.
I removed the thorns from poor Budaj's paw and we continued on for what felt like forever. Our team morale was not high at this point. Budaj had lost faith in his human's ability to navigate, water supplies were running low, the cell phone's extended battery was about to run out, the sun was getting hotter, and I had no idea if it was morning or afternoon anymore....
...But the view from the cliff we found ourselves on was spectacular!

We found our way down the cliff, up another hill, down another, up another, and voila, trails galore. I was so excited as we shuffled carefully down the steep hill that just as we met back up with an official trail, I looked up and my foot caught a large rock and down I went. Now, my first concern was my left ankle, which practically bent in half during the fall. I confirmed it wasn't broken and probably not sprained as I got to my feet, but it was then I noticed my right leg was scraped raw and my knee--my poor knee hurt a lot. (Of note is the fact that when I fall, I always skin my right knee. Always. My ankle surgery from high school? Right ankle. It's always the right side of my body that takes the brunt of things.)
Lesson #5: Pack a first aid kit.
So a quick recap--We had been hiking for several hours at this point, though my cell phone had died so I had no idea what time it was, Budaj doesn't really want to walk anymore, but is trusting me to get him home, I now have a bleeding knee, causing me to walk very slowly and slightly limp and a rip in the back of my shorts, and the parking lot is still not in sight.
I started to feel better when we saw people again, but it was still probably a good mile and a half to the parking lot. We crossed paths with horses as well and Budaj of course did really well. I could have cried when I saw the Vue...but first, I stopped off at the restroom.
Lesson #6: There are no stall doors in the bathrooms at Dreamy Draw Park. When I left, I checked to be sure I hadn't stumbled into the men's room. Nope. Posed with the dilemma of sacrificing privacy, one must decide two things--the urgency of the situation and whether after hours of hiking and sweating, do I really care?
Before we left, I splashed cool water on my face and served my trusty sidekick some much-needed water and we mosied out to the parking lot--actually it was a fairly brisky mosying--I loaded Budaj up in the back seat, I climbed up front, cranked up the a/c and found that according to the car clock, we had hiked just over 4 hours. Mileage-wise, after looking over the trail maps, I'd estimate what was supposed to be a 4.8 mile hike was more like 8 or 9 conservatively, which makes sense, since I had trouble walking up stairs, standing, sitting for the next week.
We took a weekend off from hiking, but I think we'll do 1A in reverse this Sunday. I'll end this hiking recap with the obligatory Budaj and Momma pic. It's from about 2-3 miles into the hike and it sort of shows his tendency to let his tongue fall out the side of his mouth though sometimes he looks downright goofy...thus his nickname "Ed." Think Lion King.

No comments:

Post a Comment