Monday, December 27, 2010

North Phoenix Moutains Are "Cute"

Compared to South Mountain's 3 ranges, the little buttes of North Phoenix Mountain Park are "Cute".  I took out 3 and a half hours of my morning and early afternoon to explore this often-seen, but-not-yet explored city park.  You can see North Mountain Park from the AZ51 and the northern Loop 101 - one could see it from the I-17, except they built the I-17 in a concrete canyon that makes it lower than the prevailing landscape, prone to flooding, and slightly claustrophobic when driving on the I-17.  While Shaw Butte rises to 2143 Ft elevation, it has a partially paved (broken asphalt) access road leading up to the summit where the radio towers are.  It's not really a "hike" if one is trudging up a paved road, even if it is at an incline.  Lots of fashionably dressed moms with fru-fru doggies, teenagers, and even AARP elderly persons with canes were ascending the summit.  In my Camelbak and Kelty water bottles, I was significantly over-prepared.

I parked at the main entrance off of 7th street, and began my ascent.  North Mountain National (Green trail, 1.6 miles), rises to 2104 feet elevation.  I then took the North Mountain Connector (Yellow trail, 0.7 miles) to the Shaw Butte trail (306, Blue trail, 4 miles), and back again over Yellow and Green to the car, to beat rush hour traffic home that starts around 2:30pm typically down the 51 and the I-10.  While the lack of a breeze, 65F, and 40% relative humidity made for a sweaty jogging hike, it was a beautiful day to be out and about in Phoenix.  Air Quality suffered, as I could barely see South Mountain's 3 ranges where I had my epic hike last Monday.

North Phoenix Mountain Park sits in a transition between low income barrio, and upper income suburbia.  Just to the south and west, are check cashing, pay-day-loans, the "Employment Security Office", dive bars, Carnicerias, and various Thrift stores.  I saw lots of shopping-cart people shambling at intersections just to the south of the park entrance.  Just to the north and east, are homes with lovely mountain views, security systems, and property values that are 3 to 10 times those to the south.  I've heard a great deal of reporting about property crime in the North Phoenix neighborhoods, and having hiked the picturesque park, I can see now, how closely juxtaposed the disparate neighborhoods really are.

I also saw my first road runner, outside of the Desert Botanical Gardens, up close and personal, about 2 meters away as I crested a ridge.  The young road runner (bigger than a big chicken) was busy hunting smaller prey, and paid me little attention.  Man, do the road runners look very Jurassic-Park-like in both their plumage and the way they stalk their prey.  I wish I could have whipped out my camera faster... timing is everything in photography.

30 minutes of yoga poolside, and I don't even feel achy.  =)  I think I am going to enjoy the 2nd half of life on this mortal coil more than the first half, now that I am feeling healthier, eating better, and not living hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck as I did for most of the first half.

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