Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Hike

This week is Erin's Spring Break. Rob and I were both able to take today off, so we had a nice day together as a family! We hiked up Camelback Mountain this morning. I hadn't done it for maybe 10 years, and I've been wanting Rob and the kids to go.

I guess this post is more for people who haven't hiked it, so you can see what it's like up there. The hike up Echo Canyon to the top of the camel's back is only a little over a mile, but it's tough. There are several places where you just have to tackle it hand & foot because you're just scramling over boulders.

You start out going up railroad tie steps for the first 1/4 of the hike, and then it gets steep. It pretty much stays steep after that. The fence below is to keep people from wandering down the mountain to the ultra-wealthy homes below, and to catch those who might slip and fall onto the ultra-wealthy homes below. You can see a handrail in the picture below. There are two spots with handrails.

Going up one of the less-steep handrail spots:

This cliff sort of looms over the trail after the handrail - probably over 100 feet high? The picture doesn't do it justice, so I took one on the way down of the same area.

I put a blue circle in this picture to show where we were when we took Erin's picture... a little better perspective.

This is near the top. Another blue circle around some people to give perspective:
At the top! So I'm the one who thought the hike was such a great idea, and I was the slowest one. I'm in much worse physical shape than the last time I did this!
We remembered to bring binoculars this time, so we got to check out the view for a little bit while we rested. I bought a hydration pack last night, and it was a good investment. Lugging water bottles up there would have stunk!
Erin on the way down. Downtown is on either side of her, right about armpit level. (No offense, downtown) The Estrella mountains are at her shoulder, and 44th Street is coming out behind her calf.
Robbie did great going up, but he was a little nervous going down. It's easier to slip on the way down. Rob hiked with him the whole way down and helped him when he got nervous. He was the littlest kid up there, except for a baby in a backpack carrier.
Here's a picture on the way down, looking at the camel's head.
We only had one minor casualty, and it was just a grand re-opening of a previous scrape. (I think she was a little proud of the blood trail, because several people commented on it on their way past)

We took our sweet time, going slow with plenty of rests, and it took 3 1/2 hours. We'll do it again sometime, but not soon. I'll be feeling this tomorrow!
I'm proud of the kids. They're good little hikers, and this was the toughest one yet. Nobody complained - a little nervousness in spots for Robbie, but they did it whine-free.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tres Rios Festival 2011

Spring has sprung! That means it's time to enjoy the outdoors before it gets hot. We spent last Saturday at the Tres Rios Festival. There are always interesting things to see and do there. The kids had fun, but Robbie wasn't feeling very cooperative with the camera most of the time. Exhibit A:

The first thing we did was fish in the little pool. It's a guaranteed catch for the kids, and the volunteers bait the hooks and remove the fish and everything.

...which was especially great in comparison to our attempt at "real" fishing. I am no fisherman! We basically just donated worms to the river because apparently I don't know how to attach them to the hooks well enough and we lost them with almost every cast. Many a worm died in vain that day. Still nice to be at the river.

We got to take a hayride from the festival to the river, which the kids got a kick out of. Kids just don't get to ride on open trailers or in the backs of trucks or ride their bikes off cliffs as much as we got to when we were little. So that was a novelty.

Robbie was disappointed that he couldn't do archery this year because he was too young. They let him last year, so I'm not sure what the new age cutoff is. Erin got to do it, though.

They had her hang around a little bit after the rest of her group finished so someone from the AZ Republic could take her picture. They posted it on azcentral
here - she's in the fifth photo of nine if you want to check it out. She thought that was really cool!

Other stuff we got to see and/or pet: Burro, desert tortoise, monitor lizards, crocodile, pythons, rattlesnakes, scorpions, owls, burrowing owls, falcons, vultures, squirrels, prairie dogs, hummingbirds, various skins (wolf, javalina, mountain lion). And there were lots of neat displays by different wildlife groups, power companies, etc., etc. All of which had free crap - er, promotional items - to hand out. You know, pens & things that are kinda neat when you're there, but when you dump it all out at home you realize you brought home a bag of crap. But a treasure for the kids!

We had a fun day in the spectacular weather! Next up - the Aloha Festival.