I started running the trails, as opposed to simply hiking, last fall, and I was immediately smitten. The euphoria that getting in a workout on the trails is difficult to articulate; it's certainly not easier than my weekday runs along the canal, and there is always the threat of coming across various Arizona wildlife (though rattlesnakes are a more realistic hazard, last weekend I managed to terrify myself imagining being trailed by a mountain lion - I had some badass splits for that time frame). But it's something that I absolutely cannot get enough of. I even asked my husband for an annual pass for my birthday so that I can go to any of the Maricopa County parks to get my fix.
Last weekend, our trail at San Tan took us along about a half mile of a very loose, very sandy wash. Zooey was enthralled with the smells of all the critters that had recently used the wash as a highway, and by the time we got back to an ankle-friendly footing, her nose was absolutely covered in sand. She might have been ecstatic, but that loose sand were hell on my legs; my calves were on fire, and I had to stop and stretch or walk them out a few times, grumbling about my stupid choice of trail.
Then we reached the top of a hill.
If I hadn't already been out of breath (it was a steep climb, OK?), the view would have taken it away. This picture just cannot do it justice. As much as the triple-digit temperatures and the scorpions make me wish that we'd relocate to a more moderate climate, I cannot deny that the Sonoran desert is a strikingly beautiful place.
|Go home, cactus; you're drunk.|
When I don't look up, my view looks more like this:
There's really nothing cuter than a coonhound rump, but I especially like to bring up the rear in this instance because Zooey just knows the best footing, so I'm happy to follow in her stead if it means that I have a better chance of not tumbling down a rocky cliff. Her enthusiasm on each incline is pretty darn contagious, too. She keeps me going when I think I might not be able to crest one more hill or head down into one more wash. She helps me be the tortoise to the hare of fear.
When I'm on the canal, I like to listen to a playlist set to random. But when I'm on the trails, I keep things quiet. Part of that is to make sure that I hear any sounds of impending danger - rattles, growls, mountain bike chains - but it's also so that I can fully take in the sights of the trails. I have less of a chance to get lost in the music and can instead get lost in my steps, my breathing, and the rhythm of my body working with the earth. It's grounding. It's humbling. And it's addictive.
|Photo courtesy Saucony|