Hiking in Mesa, Arizona

A report on an interesting October is forthcoming in great detail about the suspected back injury of September 24. That might take a few more days as medical personnel try to make a diagnosis, but creative energy appears present – finally.

The injury did not cause a cancellation of the Phoenix trip planned with friends Tom and Laura. They were thinking ahead to some future time about retiring out there and had asked me months ago to come along while they took that under consideration, poking around the area. No problem – sounded like a fun time with my friends.

Because of the back issues (manifested as leg pain, probably from a pinched nerve – the verdict remains outstanding), activity for me was limited the first several days out there. In previous visits, most of my time had been spent attending meetings for business and the like with very little time spent “on my own,” so this adventure to really see the Phoenix area was new. Tom and Laura had vacationed in the area prior, so they were somewhat familiar with the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The aspect that blew me away was nature. The temperature was about 95 or so, but still comfortable with a humidity in the 40s. Staying just south of Red Mountain (as we called it) in Mesa was not far from trails, lakes, Salt River and a host of outdoor activity.

We had visited several areas, included Canyon Lake and the Salt River area before this injured one decided to accompany them on Thursday, October 13, to Lower Salt River Nature Trail. This 2.4 mile loop was described as “easy” and rated by hikers as a 3.5 (or a little above average) on a scale of 1-5. Using an app Tom had found called “AllTrails,” we located the trailhead and took off. Knowing that my experiences for the week had been limited, we probably did only a mile and a half total out and back. Still, the trail had great views and great desert growth, including a lot of Saguaro and a peek at the Salt River. My only regret was that the injury left me unable to feel that taking the whole thing was wise – and, luckily, the three of us only had a short time on the schedule that morning, so the short walk was fine.

On Friday, October 14, we returned to a trail that Tom and Laura and hiked part of earlier in the week called Hawes Loop. This 6.2 mile trail was described as “moderate” and definitely had more elevation changes to challenge us. The trailhead was not clearly marked off of the road, but the GPS element in the AllTrails app enabled them to confidently locate the trail earlier. In their first hike, my friends had gone more to the south towards the more mountainous side of the loop; that day, we hiked more northeast in the other direction. This trail was rated better by hikers than the previous trail at 4.2 and definitely had more going for it. Again, there were Saguaros everywhere. The detail on AllTrails had described this one as “lightly trafficked,” but we ran into a number of people on the short hike we took out and back. The popularity of dog walking – especially by ladies – on the trail was either an oddity we encountered that day or not. Nevertheless, “lightly” was not the proper caricature that day. Still, the venture did not feel like we were in a pack.

A side note: How would my dogs adjust to a hike with cactus everywhere? Would they have to “sniff” each one or would one round of needles in the nose make all cactus appear threatening? That’s for another day…

These are short reports on these trails. As more hiking is done, you might expect more – and that’s true as more of the trails are traveled versus the short jaunts undertaken. The hope of reduced pain for future hikes is definitely there. Back in years past, there were a lot of hikes in Indiana, many of the more recent ones with Lori, one of my daughters – and that was years ago. The best trails we found there were at Shades State Park north of Terra Haute, Indiana, near Rockville. There was a February walk over there once when Amy, my other daughter, accompanied us on the best trail there. There was a lot of ice that day, but we made it.

The AllTrails app is recommended – it’s in the “app store” on the iPhones. Take a look – there may be a lot of trails near you that you may not have known existed. The hope for more hiking reports is definitely present…

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