HikeBeyondLI: Or 24ish hours in Phoenix

Where: North Mountain and Piestewa Peak (Phoenix Mountain Preserve, Phoenix Arizona)

What: Hiking (trail, unpaved, rocky)

Snacks: Dutch Bros Coffee (Phoenix) and Cartel Coffee Lab (Sky Harbor airport, PHX)

I’m a huge fan of whirlwind travel weekends. You set a plan, fly somewhere, do everything you wanted in your itinerary (or give it the old college try) and head home. It helps me spend less time lounging around trying to figure out what to do. Really capitalizes off of the cliché, ‘time is precious’. Bonus points for friends in the city.

Phoenix is roughly a six hour flight for me. Travel time to airports / waiting in airports meant that I spent a size-able chunk of time in transit. This would make most people stay home, I get it. The travel time has to be worth the trip itinerary; that’s key.

My flight to Phoenix was delayed nearly three hours, so, off to a good start. My seat mate was drunk enough to be annoying but not drunk enough to get booted from the plane. Then he called me stuck up for telling him I’d rather read than talk to him. Hazards of public transit – other people. For the curious I’m currently reading “Eating Animals,” again. It’s one of those books that I have yet to finish. I keep putting it down, forgetting what I read and restarting six months and many books in between. I’m determined to finish it this time.

This is getting more personal than I wanted it to. On to the hikes – thanks for reading the preamble.

Hike one, North Mountain in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Picture yourself in a suburban sprawl masquerading as a city and then boom! mountains. Ample parking, we’re talking real spots, friends – paved parking lots and lots of entrances. North Mountain is a short peak, roughly 2 miles round trip. Part of the trail is closed for renovations (making the trail accessible and paved). There is a welcome center and restrooms. The view is a suburban sprawl with mountains in the distance. A cellphone tower marks the summit. This trail is crowded. I suppose that’s the problem with cities – other people.

On to snack one! An iced coffee at Dutch Bros and a cinnamon cake thing. Coffee was fine, tasty. Their schtick is extreme friendliness to the point where it was unnerving (for me anyway – I’m from the land where a hello to a stranger is invasive).

Peak two. Same day; some hours later. The desert is interesting. It was 70ish but felt so much hotter. The dry air meant your typically well hydrated writer felt like she couldn’t drink enough. At 2,610 feet Piestewa is the third highest peak in Arizona. The ego kicks in, I’ve hit higher elevation, I’ve done more miles in a day – this should be a breeze. Nah, something about the desert, something about the fake rock stairs carve precariously into the trail, something about mid day and constantly feeling thirsty – this was tough. Took and followed the trail marked 302 for 3.7 miles.

The trail was packed, not only with people but with people who made me question my own fitness level. I know, I know, eyes on your own paper but when you see a dude running up the mountain holding ten pound hand weights or folks in weight vests or wearing babies it makes you wonder what else your body is capable of.

After hike snack? Cartel Coffee Lab at the airport. Blueberry loaf and a dirty chai with oat milk. Clearly a satisfying way to end a two peak day and quick trip. Voted by me personally as best airport coffee in the United States.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

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