I've been hiking twice a week at North Mountain, in the Phoenix Mountain Preserves. A fellow SparkFriend and a local non-SP pal and I meet up at the trail head by 5 a.m. We do a few warm up exercises, then head up the mountain!
In Phoenix, daytime temperatures are hitting over 100 F every day, with some days over 110 F. If I'm going to be outside at all, it needs to be early or very brief. At 5 a.m., before the sun is up, the temps have been around 80 F. Completely tolerable, though still warm for a workout.
However, I have learned that being out hiking so early in the morning provides exceptionally beautiful views! Here's a view of the night sky, with the only lights coming from the city below.
I love seeing the dark, with just a few lights. The reality is so much prettier than the picture, you can see much more detail than my smart-phone camera can pick up. We're up near the top, when the sun peaks out from behind these distant peaks.
Arleen took my picture at the top. I'm so happy to be up on the mountain early in the morning!
On the way down, I see my favorite desert plant - a shrub called "ocotillo." That is pronounced oh-coe-tee-oh, by the way. :D In the dry season, this plant looks dead, just spiky branches with thorns. We've had a lot of rain (for a desert) lately, so it is showing its amazing "resurrection" into a leafy, green plant, covered in tiny green leaves. A little more rain, and it will burst into amazing red flame blooms at the top of each spike. I sure hope we get that rain, because I just love seeing ocotillo in bloom!
This trail up North Mtn is pretty short - about 1.6 miles round trip. On a speedy day, it is a 35-38 minute hike. On a day where I stop for photo opps, it typically takes 48-52 minutes.
Tracking hikes on SparkPeople's fitness tracker isn't too accurate. SP gives me more calorie burn for the longer hike, even though MapMyHike gives me more burn on the shorter hike of the same distance. SP's choice for hiking doesn't count for altitude change or distance, though, just minutes. This hike has 518 feet in altitude change over 0.8 mile... pretty steep!
My SparkFriend, Christine, brought headlamps for Arleen and me last week. When the nights become longer and we cannot see at 5 a.m., I want to keep making these early morning hikes and will try out the headlamps!