Phoenix 2019

I was very fortunate to be invited to a friend’s condo in Phoenix for some hiking and biking adventures so I thought I’d make some notes on the trip while it’s fresh in my mind before it fades into a warm (90-95ºF) memory.

The trip involves driving to Fargo, catching a flight to Mesa, renting a car, driving to the condo and the next day returning the rental car as there is a sweet Audi A4 convertible at the condo! This process happens on September 26th starting at 1pm and by about midnight we’re in the condo and all the travel goes off as planned.

First off, the weather. It’s hot by Winnipeg standards, but very low humidity which makes the temperatures quite nice. For the entire stay there is no rain, virtually no clouds, just hot and sunny all day, every day. Temperatures range from an overnight low of 80ºF to daytime highs of 95ºF.

For most of the trip we have a “formula” for the days activities:

  • Up early to beat the heat, typically about 6am
  • A light breakfast of some fruit, toast/bagel, or nothing!
  • Load up on water for the hike
  • Drive to the hike with the top down of course, always drive with the top down whenever possible!
  • Hike! Sometimes a speed hike, sometimes a more casual pace, but always energetic
  • Drive back to the condo, perhaps stopping for coffee/hot chocolate (even in the heat!)
  • The “official” breakfast
  • Off to the pool for 2-3 hours of baking in the sun
  • Various afternoon adventures like biking or sight seeing in around the area
  • Dinner and one or more movies
  • Call it a day

On Friday, the hiking begins with our “go to” hike at Pinnacle Peak. This out & back trail is very popular and fairly busy, especially on weekends. A good time for us is 1:03 which requires a quick pace, no stopping, and a bit of jogging or running on some sections. Lots of people treat this trail like the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, B.C. where it’s a race to the top, typically for a beer before the hustle down the hill.

Here is the peak. Ironically, you don’t actually get to go all the way up to the top, but around one side, down into a valley and back up & down another big hill to the turnaround point. Here are the stats on Friday’s outing.

Saturday we go to another favourite spot for a little longer and steeper hike up Camelback Mountain. It’s a pretty steady uphill hike with a few short traverses before it really kicks up hill to the summit. The guy with the flag must have been popular in social media that day as everyone was getting photos with him. The hike on Strava

Also, a group of women were doing yoga poses on the very edge, trying not to fall off, while getting that shot with the city in the distance below.

Sunday we’re back at Pinnacle Peak for #2. It’s still sunny & hot as we ramp it up a bit for a faster time.

This Saguaro Cactus is close to trail marker #9 of #81 on the trail. It’s probably 30+ feet tall and had an interesting shape to the arms so it got a post-hike photo.

In the afternoon after some time at the pool we head of to Old Scottsdale and wander around the art shops.

Monday it’s one more go at Pinnacle Peak #3 as a warmup to our upcoming road trip.

Road Trip!

A trip within the trip for the next few days. We’re driving to Page, AZ to see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend and hike the Spencer trail at Lee’s Ferry. On the way up to Page on Tuesday we swing through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument & Wupatki National Monument .

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Wupatki National Monuments
Road to Page, AZ

We arrive in Page and have dinner at a Mexican restaurant and then find our Airbnb lodging for the night.

Wednesday morning we drive for about an hour south to get to Lee’s Ferry for the Spencer Trail hike.

At the top of the Spencer Trail overlooking Lee’s Ferry

After that we retrace our route and book it back to Page for the formal Antelope Canyon tour at 1:30 p.m..

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

After Antelope Canyon we drive a short distance out of Page and hike for about 20 minutes to see Horseshoe Bend


Next, we’re driving to the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim. On the drive to the lodge night begins to fall and there are a lot of deer in the ditches and on the road. Thankfully, there are no close calls with the wildlife. By the time we arrive at the Lodge it’s pitch black. There are very few lights and we break out the head lamp and iPhone flashlights to find out way to the lodge to check-in and back to our cabin for the night.

The next day, Wednesday, it’s the big hike of the trip on the North Kaibab trail. But before that there is time for some light breakfast and exploring the Lodge in the daylight and walking a few trails to Bright Angel Point and other lookout spots around the lodge.

Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim
The Canyon at the North Rim in front of the Lodge

So spectacular anywhere is the Grand Canyon and the North Rim seems even more so. We head down the trail and as described, it’s a pretty steep decent. Louise is on a mission and it setting a pretty fast pace. As usual for me in a new place, I’ve got the camera going and making frequent stops to take photos with the DLSR for later and the iPhone for Instagram etc. At the Supai Tunnel I meet up with a group of young guys from Calgary and we connect because I’m wearing a Canada t-shirt. We chat for a bit and them I’m on my way.

Supai Tunnerl on the Kaibab
Supai Tunnerl on the Kaibab

Lots more photos and now I’m beginning to notice that my right knee is hurting a bit. Hmmmm. Forging ahead I spot a spec on the upcoming Redwall Bridge and it’s Louie having a rest. He’s quite a bit ahead of me now. I get to the bridge and we talk for a bit as the Calgary guys catch up to us. We decide to head further down for a bit knowing that we’ll pay for this on the way back up. The original destination of Roaring Springs is now out of the question. At least as more mature guys we know that would be a hard push to make in one day. A couple of kilometres past the bridge we stop, rest for a bit, drink and eat. I change camera lenses from the wide angle to the zoom for the trip back up. And now the work really begins.

Redwall Bridge on the Kaibab Trail

After we reverse course and start back up it’s fairly level back to the Redwall Bridge, and then its all up hill from there. Again, lots of stops for me to get photos from a different direction and perspective. The right knee is starting to hurt more and more. I find myself pacing my gate so that each step up is on the left leg and the closer we get to the top, the more I’m just dragging the right leg. Stops are getting more frequent and it’s got nothing to do with photos any more. It’s all about catching my breath and giving the knee a bit of a rest.

Louie resting on the way up Kaibab Trail, I’m resting too!

Back up at the trail head we drink lots of nice cold refreshing spring water, review how hard a hike it was and load back into the car for the drive back to Phoenix. The hike was 12.2km, 3:31 of moving time and 1,153m of elevation

The drive is beautiful as we descend through the redwood forrest, across meadows with buffalos and back to the desert floor. The fall colours are spectacular, the air is warm, and it’s pretty quiet in the car. I’m at the wheel and Louie is having a nap! You missed out on a lot of gorgeous scenery buddy!

I’ve deemed Thursday as “Spa Day”. We’re both pretty zapped so there is no hiking. Much of the day is spent alternating between the hot tub, the pool and suntanning. So as not to be total layabouts we go for a short bike ride in the early eventing.

Relaxing at the Hot Tub on Spa Day
Relaxing at the Hot Tub on Spa Day
Desert Biking

Friday we’re back on program with an early morning trip to Pinacle Peak followed by coffee, lunch, pool and sun. In the evening we drive to a sort of near by mall where a christian radio station is setup in the parking lot playing tunes and 10-15 Food trucks are serving up their specialties. It’s close to 100°F but with the sun down and a light breeze it’s surprisingly comfortable. Dessert is a frosty from Wendys where we see a trio of interesting guys.

Garry at the Food Trucks
Three Pink Unicorns at Wendys

Saturday we’re givin’ er on our last full day in Phoenix. A morning hike to Tom Thumb, pool and sun, pick up the rental car for tomorrows drive to the airport and jam in an afternoon bike ride, which was excellent, except for my flat (with no tubes, patches, repair kit etc.) Riding on a flat for several km to get back to the car was interesting to say the least. I really had to slow down on the corners as the bike shifted radically as it felt like the tire was going to fly of the wheel!

Tom Thumb at the Top

The Rest of the Photos:

Smugmug ( which may not exist for me after 2020 as I’m on a free 1year trial.
Phoenix stuff:
The Grand Canyon North Rim:

All the good photos (IMHO):

Saturday we’re givin’ er on our last full day in Phoenix. A morning hike to Tom Thumb, pool and sun, pick up the rental car for tomorrows drive to the airport and jam in an afternoon bike ride, which was excellent, except for my flat (with no tubes, patches, repair kit etc.) Riding on a flat for several km to get back to the car was interesting to say the least. I really had to slow down on the corners as the bike shifted radically as it felt like the tire was going to fly of the wheel!

Sunday we clean up the condo and head to the airport. Flying to Fargo and getting the car and a bit of dinner we head for the border and back home to Canada. The travel is smooth and uneventful, border crossing is quick and clean. Shirley picks me up at Louie’s and I’m home. A great trip with lots of good memories and photos.

Heading Home

Post trip, it’s out to the cottage to put it to bed for the winter and none to soon! A few days later we get some serious wet and heavy snow which causes lots of damage in Winnipeg and the Kenora area. Thankfully, no damage out at the cottage but the tree in the front yard took a bit of a serious trimming in the spring as a result of the snow.

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