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

HikeBeyondLI: Teddy Roosevelt Island

Where: Teddy Roosevelt Island (Washington D.C.) and the Mt. Vernon Trail (Washington D.C. to Mt. Vernon)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved // trail, paved)

Snacks: Baked & Wired (Washington D.C.)

Teddy Roosevelt Island is near the trail head at the start of the Mt. Vernon Trail, which stretches 18 miles from D.C. to Mt. Vernon. It ends at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon Estate. The trail is paved, Teddy Roosevelt Island is not. Years ago, I cycled the trail from end to end and back in the rain. It was my birthday present to myself and well worth it, even after the fall. The trail is gorgeous, but crowded. Be alert. The Mt. Vernon side is narrower and hillier than the D.C. side. Around Alexandria, VA you have to navigate some urban cycling.

There are parking areas scattered along the trail. The one for Teddy Roosevelt Island is found by using GPS for the Island itself. It holds a fair amount of vehicles but fills up fast. The island is open to foot traffic only.

Choose between the mile and a half Swamp trail or the shorter Upland and Woods trails. If you choose to do all three it is around three miles. The trails encircle a Teddy Roosevelt Memorial. There are also port-a-potties on the Island. Their cleanliness isn’t known to your author.

The loop around Teddy Roosevelt Island has great views of the city. You’ll also have access to benches and part of the loops is boardwalk. Continue on the Mt. Vernon trail if you’d like to extend your walk.

For snacks head to Baked & Wired. It is a super popular coffee shop with cupcakes, breakfast fare and of course coffee. Perhaps I went a little overboard?

See you on the trails,

x

Jessa

HikeBeyondLI: Seneca Landing Park

Where: Seneca Landing Park (Darnestown, Maryland) and The C&O Canal Path (Washington D.C. to Cumberland Maryland)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Vie de France (Potomac, Maryland)

Seneca Landing Park is located around mile 22 of the C&O Canal Path. The C&O is a 180 mile path stretching from the Georgetown neighborhood in D.C. through Harper’s Ferry West Virginia to Cumberland Maryland. One day I hope to cycle it from end to end. It consists of various terrain from gravel to boardwalk to pavement.

We come to Seneca Landing today to look for the ruins of the Seneca Quarry. Park at the end of Riley’s Lock Road, near the canal. There is a large dirt lot with kayak rentals. I saw some winter kayakers trying to break through the ice. Good luck to them. Head right as you enter the park. Follow the C&O until you see it split to the right around a small body of water. Follow that around until the ruins appear on your right.

There are extensive no trespassing signs around the ruins. As always, I’m not advocating trespassing.

After the ruins, go back the way you came. I chose to continue walking along the C&O until around mile 25 before heading back to the car. There was some snow and some slick areas but overall it was a nice, soothing walk. Something about a winter twilight walk is magical.

Head to Vie de France for some strong coffee and French baked goods.

See you on the trails,

x

Jessa