Maternity Hike: Trail 100 West from Dreamy Draw to the Saddle

Taken while on the way up the big ascent of the day. Photos for my blog make the perfect excuse to catch my breath!

Taken while on the way up the big ascent of the day. Having to take a photo for my blog provides the perfect excuse to take a break when I’m with a superior hiker.

So I’m the girl who wrote the book on hiking. I should be a powerhouse on the trail, right? Of course I’m not lately and I’ve conveniently blamed my pregnancy for my unusual shortness of breath and wimpy stamina.

It worked until a few weeks ago when I hiked with my brand new sister-in-law. She’s a big win for the family. Beautiful, intelligent, funny, charming, and adventurous. She’s also pregnant! I’m beyond thrilled. I adore all my cousins so I just love the fact that we have little cousins in the making!

I loved it, that is, until she totally shamed me on the trail. She was eight weeks pregnant at the time and made me feel like a big ol’ wimp. While I was gasping for air, she scaled the inclines like it was nothing. With my convenient excuse canceled out, I had to face the music: I haven’t been exercising enough.

(Affirmation: I’m not a terrible mother-to-be for not working out as much as other pregnant women.)

Anyway, I pathetically explored Trail 100 heading west from the main parking lot at Dreamy Draw with her. We started the trail by traveling underground through the tunnel that cuts under Highway 51. Then it was just a matter of following the Trail 100 signs until we reached a saddle. This side of the park is far less traveled and therefore, doesn’t feature the madness of trail-blazed paths that plague the park on the east side of the 51.

It may be easy to follow but I found the hike to be a challenge nonetheless with its somewhat-hefty elevation gain of about 325 feet in the first leg. In fact, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that this is the toughest hike I’ve done so far during my obviously-out-of-shape pregnancy (re-reading affirmation now).

Trail 100 Portion: West from Dreamy Draw to the Saddle

I admit, this one kicked my (pregnant) butt just a little bit.

I admit, this one kicked my (pregnant) butt just a little bit.

Distance: 2.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Pregnancy Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous

Location: Dreamy Draw Recreation Area in Phoenix Mountains Preserve

Online Map & Driving Directions (click the link and scroll to bottom of page for Google map driving directions)

Description:

From the main parking lot at the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area, find the large trail head on the north end. Follow the trail north for just a few feet until it splits. Take a left turn to head west and you’ll soon pass through the tunnel that travels under Highway 51 (you are now on Trail 100). Once you’ve cleared the tunnel, continue following Trail 100 up a short incline. At just 0.3 mile, notice the trail forks. Turn left to head southwest as you continue to climb.

It’s easy to follow the trail from here as it curls along the south side of a small peak. You will encounter one other fork in the trail at about 0.9 mile so veer right to remain on Trail 100 following the trail markers along the way. From here, you begin the main climb of the day which ascends about 200 feet in a very short distance (just 0.2 mile, ouch). Rest assured, it’s over quick when you reach an obvious saddle that offers views to the northeast of the McDowell Mountains and Four Peaks on a clear day. It’s the perfect place to turn around for the return trip of 1.1 mile as you retrace your steps back to main parking lot at Dreamy Draw.

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

Obligatory disclaimer for the pregnant ladies and all other humans: Check with your doctor before engaging in exercise.

People Are So Nice: Ryan & Denise Photography at Take a Hike Phoenix Book Signing

Image courtesy of Ryan & Denise Photography (ryananddenise.com)

Ryan and Denise (the ones holding books) are waaaaaaaaaay nicer than me and Lou (the ones not holding books).

I consider myself to be a nice person. But then someone does something nice for me and I realize I have some room for improvement.

Last Friday at Changing Hands Bookstore as I was blabbing through my presentation to a healthy crowd, I heard the unmistakable sound of camera shutters clicking.

And it wasn’t the fake sound an iPhone makes. It was the sound of real cameras.

I scanned the crowd and saw our pals Ryan and Denise crouching in the aisles, snapping photos. These two generous people (and fabulous photographers — they shot our wedding a few years ago — look at their website and hire them immediately) surprised me by documenting the event.

I really couldn’t believe it. Talk about the nicest people in the world!

Here are just a few images they so expertly captured that night.

Image courtesy of Ryan & Denise Photography (ryananddenise.com)

In case there’s any confusion about the location.

Image courtesy of Ryan & Denise Photography (ryananddenise.com)

PacMan mouth.

Image courtesy of Ryan & Denise Photography (ryananddenise.com)

I made those!

Image courtesy of Ryan & Denise Photography (ryananddenise.com)

My captive audience…these people are friends and family so they have to pay attention.

Image courtesy of Ryan & Denise Photography (ryananddenise.com)

If I’m overly-cheery, maybe people will like me?

Image courtesy of Ryan & Denise Photography (ryananddenise.com)

My hair appointment was the next day. Please don’t judge me.

Image courtesy of Ryan & Denise Photography (ryananddenise.com)

This one’s my favorite. It makes me feel real good about myself.

Enormous thanks and lots of hugs to Ryan and Denise! Here’s their website link again.

I’m not kidding…hire them immediately. They are the BEST!

Book Author (Me) Chokes at Book Signing

Here I am. Trying not to be awkward. I failed.

Here I am. Trying not to be awkward. I failed.

I hate it when I say the wrong thing.

I’m just obsessive and self-critical enough to mentally churn over a comment in my mind for years (I wish I could say days). Often, my thoughts drift to review a robust roster of moments throughout my childhood, adolescence and adulthood in which I’ve made a complete fool of myself or blurted something inappropriate.

I’m reviewing the roster now and though I realize it would make this blog 10x better if I shared one, I can’t. I’m too ashamed.

So instead, I’ll talk about my most recent flub at my book signing the other night.

After a well-received presentation to a full room, a very nice gentleman shyly asked me to sign a copy of Take a Hike Phoenix then practically whispered, “Where would you recommend someone go around this area for a beginner hike?”

I’m probably reading too much into it but his question really touched me. This is exactly the person I want to reach! My post-book mission is to engage with other hikers (and especially people just thinking about hiking) to remove any fears so they are prepared and inspired to try something new.

I wish I could tell you I seized this opportunity.

Public speaking makes me wiggle a lot. Now I only have blurry photos.

Public speaking makes me wiggle a lot. Now I only have blurry photos.

Instead, my mind went blank and I weakly responded, “There are portions of Trail 100 that are very flat that you could take from Dreamy Draw but they’re not specifically outlined in my book so, uh, you’ll need to buy this other map and uh…you could follow my blog?”

CRINGE.

On the drive home, I felt great about the presentation but I couldn’t stop kicking myself. I should have been able to answer his question. I should have told him about Trail 8 (on page 56) from the 40th Street/Shea trailhead  and recommended he only follow it to the first bench because that would have been PERFECT for a beginner looking for a hike in the area.

And I shouldn’t be discouraging someone from trying a new trail. Even it if was an accident.

Trust me, I’ve had waaaaay worse social flubs in my time but in this case, I may have squandered a real opportunity to help someone.

“You should blog about it,” my husband said. “Then maybe he’ll see the blog and you can make it right.”

So there ya go.

Like this? If want more personal stories about my crazy emotional interpretations of life’s incidents, check out my other less hike-oriented and more PG-13-rated blog iguessiwriteforfree.com.

Maternity Hike: Clay Mine Trail in Cave Creek Regional Park

Here I am. You can sorta see my belly in this shot. I took that unborn child into a mine.

Many told me I had a baby bump in this photo. There was more than just a baby in there (if you catch my drift). Pregnancy is fun!

I saw a photo on my Instagram stream the other day of a lady who hiked 10 miles at 24 weeks pregnant.

Needless to say, it made me feel totally inadequate because I wouldn’t dream of 10 miles right now. Ugh, and I’m the girl who wrote a hiking book! Dammit, I feel shamed.

I did feel proud, however, when I hiked a short trail to bravely explore the Clay Mine in Cave Creek Regional Park. So there, I guess.

Looking up from inside the mine. Sunlight is wonderful in tight spaces!

Looking up from inside the mine. Sunlight is wonderful in tight spaces!

I didn’t know it at the onset of this hike, but exploring the Clay Mine didn’t require much bravery. Of course we were following a park ranger into the mine (don’t explore mines or caves on your own because that’s very bad) that was a measly 25-foot tunnel into a large room. The large room had an opening at the top so the whole place was drenched in beautiful daylight. I still imagined cave-ins, bat bites, and other horrors (because I’m nuts) but I’m sure anyone else would simply enjoy this unique place.

Old-timey tools were used. Only back then, they weren't old-timey they were just regular.

Old-timey tools were used. Only back then, they weren’t old-timey they were just regular.

So about the mine…it was developed during the Great Depression and excavated with primitive tools (picks, shovels, buckets, ladders, etc.). They mined the clay here that was then shipped to California and manufactured for medicinal purposes. The owner of the mine cliamed that it healed just about everything. After the mine was left by its original developers, other mining companies passed it up since it was determined that the amount of remaining product was too small. The tour includes additional history and fun facts (that I’ve forgotten already) told by the park ranger tour guide. You might also get to see the resident bat fly by if you’re lucky.

Clay Mine Trail

Distance: 1.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 300 feet

Difficulty: Super Easy

Pregnancy Difficulty: Easy

Location: Cave Creek Regional Park — Find the next Clay Mine tour in the events calendar, there’s also a park map on the site

Fee: $6 per vehicle

Online Map, Photos, Info, & Driving Directions (scroll to the lower right corner of the page)

Our brave companions. Faces pixelated to protect the innocent.

Our brave companions. Faces pixelated to protect the innocent.

Description:

After entering the gate to the park, follow signs to the Nature Center parking lot. Find the Overton Trailhead west of the Nature Center and follow the Overton Trail north. When it forks after just a few feet, turn left to head northwest, still following the Overton Trail. In no time (just 0.3 mile) you’ll find the clearly-signed turn for the Clay Mine Trail. Take a left to follow the Clay Mine Trail south and continue as it curves west. At about 1 mile, you’ll notice the clay Mine to your left. Wait for instructions from the park ranger to join the tour. If it’s a non-tour day, um, don’t go in the mine.

From the mine, turn around and retrace your steps back to the Overton Trailhead. This trail is nice and pretty but I recommend going on a Clay Mine tour day to make it worth your while. We had a whole gaggle of boy scouts and other children in the group so it seems it’s a fine trail for the family.

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

Obligatory disclaimer for the pregnant ladies and all other humans: Check with your doctor before engaging in exercise.

Book Signing at Changing Hands Bookstore!

Eeep! I'm so excited! This makes me feel legit.

Eeep! I’m so excited! This makes me feel legit.

So if you missed my REI events, it’s totally cool man. I’m thrilled to spread the word that my next book signing event is at the one and only Changing Hands Bookstore!

Details:
Friday, March 14th
7pm
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 South McClintock Drive
Tempe, AZ 85283
FREE
Event Link

I will be making a short presentation prior to signing copies of Take a Hike Phoenix. Additional books will be available for purchase at Changing Hands. No RSVP is necessary but click here if you’d like to add it to your Facebook events.

Hope to see you there!

Maternity Hiking: Deem Hills Circumference and Basalt Loop

Deem Hill is located in the north valley near Happy Valley Road (ish) and 51st Avenue. Also, Deem Hills is pretty.

Deem Hills is located in the north valley near Happy Valley Road (ish) and 51st Avenue. Also, Deem Hills is pretty.

Well, here I am at week 11 and rejoicing each day I get closer to shedding the total hell that has been the first trimester.

They say it gets better at trimester #2. I’m choosing to believe that they are absolutely right.

And when I recently hiked in Deem Hills, I found that my cardio was stronger, the climbing went well, and I powered through almost three miles! Sure, I don’t have the I’m-not-pregnant-and-I’m-writing-a-hiking-book stamina that I enjoyed a year ago. But, things are getting better! #littleedie

Now let’s get to this hike, shall we?

Deem Hills Circumference and Basalt Loop

Distance: 2.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Pregnancy Difficulty: Moderate…maybe strenuous for the first mile

Location: Deem Hills

This hike is featured as an option in my book, Take a Hike Phoenix, on page 230.

This hike is featured as an option in my book, Take a Hike Phoenix, on page 230. Follow the yellow arrows seen here!

This loop follows the newly-popular Deem Hills Circumference Trail from the 51st Avenue side of the park. Expect a challenging climb of about 300 feet in the first mile then a relaxing walk for the remainder of the hike.

Oh, and you don’t have to be knocked up to do this hike. In fact, I hiked this trail with three non-pregnant companions and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Start the hike from the southeast side of the parking lot. Find a wide, dirt access road to follow at first, then join the Circumference Trail at the trail marker to your left. Take a right turn at the fork to head east (still on the Circumference Trail) and begin the big climb of the day. Though challenging, it lets up after about a mile and ends as you approach intersections in the trail. Read the trail signs and hop off the Circumference Trail to follow the Basalt/Ridgeline Trail. The trail is shared for just a few feet until the Ridgeline Trail breaks away to the left (it’s the one that climbs the hill…you don’t want that one). The Basalt Trail also splits at this juncture in two directions. Follow the Basalt Trail that heads straight (north) and ignore the trail that veers right. Descend along a series of short switchbacks that last for a quick 0.1 mile until you come upon a trail sign for the Circumference Trail. Hang a left turn heading west. As the Circumference Trail veers north, pass by the Ridgeline Trail (this is the other end of the climb you wisely elected to skip) and continue on the Circumference Trail for the rest of the hike as it traces the other side of the hill and spills into the parking lot. That’s all there is to it. (You can follow my hike and see photos here — scroll to the lower right of the page to get driving directions.)

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

Obligatory disclaimer for the pregnant ladies: Check with your doctor before engaging in exercise.

Maternity Hiking: Dreamy Draw Bike Path to the Bridge

Somehow a sunset makes the constant nausea and fatigue manageable. Oh, did I mention I'm pregnant?

Somehow a sunset makes the constant nausea and fatigue manageable. Oh, did I mention I’m pregnant?

It seems like hiking takes on a new meaning every year.

Eight years ago, I would rip my way up Piestewa Peak to burn muscle and lung so I could hurt in a different way as I was emotionally negotiating a crummy breakup. Five years ago, I hiked so I could gain a physical release that replaced mediocre sex with boring men. Four years ago, I hiked to get to know a new boyfriend who turned into my husband and one of my best hiking companions. Then about two years ago, hiking became my job as I wrote Take a Hike Phoenix.

Today, I hike to escape the nausea, fatigue, and imprisonment on the couch that comes along with the first trimester of pregnancy.

Oh yeah, I guess this post doubles as my pregnancy announcement. I’m 10 weeks pregnant.

So from now until August 31st (my due date) this blog will mostly be committed to the trails that I deem appropriate for a pregnant woman. In other words, these trails are pretty darn easy. But I hope they help another sickly pregnant woman slide off the couch long enough to get a little air and some exercise. In my experience so far, it’s about the only thing that actually makes me feel better.

These trails will also work well for beginner hikers, kids, and other folks who enjoy easy strolls through the desert.

First up: Dreamy Draw Bike Path to the Bridge

Distance: 2.1 miles

Elevation Gain: About 150 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pregnancy Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Location: Dreamy Draw Recreation Area in Phoenix Mountains

The Dreamy Draw Recreation Area is located in north central Phoenix.

The Dreamy Draw Recreation Area is located in north central Phoenix.

This simple trail is paved all the way and runs through Dreamy Draw Recreation Area then along Piestewa Fwy 51. It stretches for miles but for my pregnant purposes, I followed it to the pedestrian bridge that crosses the 51 for a nice little walk that barely tops 2 miles.

Starting on the south side of the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area parking lot, head up the path to pass by the volleyball court and Ramadas. Take a left at the restrooms and you’ll soon find the wide bike path that stretches north and south. Take a left to follow the path north/northeast for about a mile. Within this mile, the path will turn to asphalt and pass along a few homes to the southeast with Highway 51 to the northwest. Just when the sound of the traffic gets a little annoying, you’ll find the pedestrian bridge. Cross the bridge to overlook the cars below then turn around when you reach the far side. Retrace your steps along the path for a gentle descent and enjoy the feeling of not spending the last hour rotting on the couch.

A few words of caution: Be sure to stay to the far right side of the path and bring a flashlight or headlamp if you hike at sunrise or sunset. Mountain bikers love to cruise along this path and they ride FAST. Getting plowed would be bad under normal circumstances, let alone in your “delicate condition”.

For an interactive map, photos, and Google driving directions, visit my Everytrail entry for the Dreamy Draw Bike Path to the Bridge.

Obligatory disclaimer: Check with your doctor before engaging in exercise.