The Desert Keeps You on Your Toes

This morning, I walked out to my car and threw my maroon backpack, halfway filled with the necessary weight needed, in my back seat.

“Shoot, I need to get my headlamp,” I think as I realized it was still pitch dark outside.

The deserts slow but progressive changes reminds me how long it’s been since I got up early to hike here in Phoenix.

During the summer when the days are at their longest, the sun is early to rise. But now as summer is coming to an end, the orange glow of the sun rays rise up later and later in the day.

I retrieve my headlamp from inside and then head back out.

In exactly less than 7 weeks I will be hiking up the South Kaibab trail in the Grand Canyon. And while I’ve been in the gym doing leg workouts…I need to train by doing the real thing.

Hiking up mountains with the backpack on.

We were out on the trail by 4:45 AM stepping onto the dusty desert ground. Our chosen hiking trail is the Eliminator Trail on South Mountain. Very close to home and steep. Just what we needed for a training session.

While I have a good amount of weight in my backpack, it’s not fully stocked with everything I will take with me on my trip. This is training, so I want to start off slow, but within the next week or two…. I’ll carry the full amount.

For now, I’m going to make this easy on myself.

As we turn onto the trail with a headlamp illuminating the way, a lone owl hoots from above our heads.

This is that special time in the desert before sunrise where the night animals are still active and the birds and lizards are just about to come out of their slumber.

That moment where both worlds of the desert are awake.

We begin the hike up with the faint orange glow and navy blue sky emerging on our right, with the black night sky to our left. By the time we reach the top, the stars above have faded away and a bright orange glow illuminates the entire sky.

Now, the only darkness is the silhouette of the jagged mountain in front of the sun. But by the time we finish our hike, this will be lit up too.

View of Pyramid Trail

We looked down and see hikers beginning their hikes up Pyramid Trail. Their faint headlamps bobbing below, gives them away.

Saturday is beginning for us day walkers.

We head back down, and I’m relieved.

Going up was a lot harder than I expected and my energy level was down. Next time, I need to eat a little bit of carbs to sustain my energy level.

The hoot of the owl is long gone but the bees are awake and stirring in the air. Their day of work is just beginning.

We pass by the lost mine, for which this trail down is named after. We stop to examine the man-made hole created into the mountain and wonder if the wooden beams fell, would the whole thing collapse?

I take video because this seems like just the thing to post on social media, even though this has remained here long before smartphones and cable tv even existed.

The hole is wide enough to walk through and a tunnel can be seen so the right. I attempt to approach closer to the opening to get a better view. The smell of wet wood floats in the air as I approach. A quick movement in rocks around my feet instantly catches my attention.

I look down and see the calm snake, laying right there.

Snake chillin’ among the rocks

Instinctively, my body reacts by quickening my steps back away while loudly declaring. “it’s a rattlesnake! It’s a rattlesnake!”, over and over again.

Once back at a safe enough distance, I laugh at my reaction.

The desert keeps you on your toes.

(Not sure if it was actually a rattlesnake or not….we never saw the tail)

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