Saturday, April 9, 2016

Trail Talk: Hutches Pools

Since Ryan works about 50% of the weekends, we really try to take advantage of the one's he is free. Especially now that we live in a tiny apartment - and there is no yardwork/housework to fill up our free time!

So last week at about 10:30 pm Thursday night, we decided to plan a last minute backpacking trip! This is one of the best times in Tucson to backpack, because it still cools off at night - but it's not cooling off to 20 degrees ;)

We were also in the midst of doing a Whole30 challenge, so had to get creative with planning food ;). And if you haven't been backpacking - food is super important. You burn so many calories, you have such light gear, and good nutrition is extremely important!

I was able to work from 5a-1:30p on Friday, so we could be on the trail by 3pm! Score!

The Trail:

-The hike to Hutches Pools is beautiful. You can either make it a ~10 mile hike or a 4.5 mile hike. We choose 4, so we could make it to camp before sundown. So we took a tram (which is a tourist train, mostly for the snowbirds...ha!) to the trailhead.
-The 1st 2 miles is very steep with tons of switchbacks, but then you end up in a gorgeous meadow that is fed by the melting snow from Mount Lemmon. We saw deer and many varieties of falcons!
-The trail actually links on to the Arizona Trail (which is like the Pacific Crest Trail of AZ...).

This is such an "Arizona" picture with that giant saguaro cactus behind us that is hundreds of years old!

And we were lucky enough to come across a Gila Monster on our hike out the next morning!! Yes, these things are extremely poisonous. However, they are slower than a tortoise. There are people who live in AZ their whole life and never see these creatures, as they are endangered. I've been lucky enough to spot 3 in my lifetime! (But I spend a descent amount of time in the desert playing)....

The Campsite
We camped right by the water, and were blessed to listen to the gentle running stream all night! So serene!

Hutches Pools is about the length of an Olympic swimming pool (pictures don't do justice) and they go down 20 feet deep! They are fed year round by the snow-melt, and it is such an incredible oasis in the desert! I've heard about this place for years, and was just in awe when we found it!

We met some really interesting backpackers while camping, too. There were 2 women backpacking the Arizona trail (800 miles long) from Seattle, WA. It was so fun and inspiring to hear about their adventures.

We also camped near a young man from Belgium. It was his 1st night camping in America, and he was so envious of how much "wild camping" is available in America. I had never thought about how lucky we are to be have so much National/State Parkland to do this! He was also very excited to see "young people" - he said that in Europe, most of the people that backpack are retired.

After a 4 mile hike with 30 lbs on my back, I was hungry! So I we found a log to sit on over the water, and enjoyed a snack that is compliant with my diet: pickles!

This will be my new "go to" backpacking snack. Hydrating. Delicious. And full of sodium!

We headed back to our campsite to cook dinner. Which I was amazed to find out that our "Mountain House" meals were paleo-friendly as well!! They were just dehydrated potatoes, carrots, peas, and peppers! And we put some crumbled bacon in it!

Our tent is REALLY tiny. 2 people should not sleep in this tent. But we are little. Ha!

It was a gorgeous night! (Yes I am dressed in very warm clothes. It was "freezing" outside. Approximately 60 degrees. Yes, my blood has thinned.)

We climbed up on a giant boulder after the sun went down, and star-gazed. We counted 8 satellites! I don't remember the last night I took a pause to just look at the stars. We decided that needs to happen more often.

Now with all the good and beauty, there always comes some "not-so-pretty" parts of wild camping.

1. We had a pesky mouse in our campsite that would NOT leave us alone. Thank GOD we had tents. The other backpackers we met didn't. I would lose my mind. I am certain
2. Saturday morning while Ryan studied (that boy is never ending...) - I climbed around rocks and played in the water. And then I found this guy, who really wanted to be my friend and follow me. It wasn't poisonous though ;)

We hiked out Saturday morning - and added a few miles on to explore some new trails! When we returned Saturday afternoon, we truly felt satisfied with our trip! And are already planning a few more short over-nighters in the next month!

What critters scare you the most? I can handle the biggest, nastiest spider....I'm okay with a snake...but I am horrified of mice!!

What's your favorite go-to snack to replenish you after a long, hard hike/wike/run?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

She's baaaack!

Greetings, blog. It has been a few months since I've graced you with my presence. Excuse? Well...

-we sold our house
-moved from a 3100 sq ft home to a 700 sq ft apartment
-I changed jobs
-I went to Florida for 2 weeks for training for my new job
-I came home and have been trying to work both jobs simultaneously
-We were preparing to move again in May, to start our journey to get back to the Midwest
-We had a early "mid-life crisis"

What does that mean? Well, we aren't moving any more. It looks as though we are in Tucson to stay. Just trust it's all for good reasons. Was it a hard decision? Words don't explain. Does it still have us scratching our head almost every night? 3/7 nights per week. But we both have the gut feeling we are doing the right thing here.

In the mean time, I've come up with all sorts of fun things to blog about. Here are a few posts you can look forward to:

-Downsizing: Why you don't need it all to have it all
-Work-From-Home Survival Tips
-How the Fitbit has changed my run.
-How Whole 30 is changing my health.
-How yoga helps your hike
-Paleo-approved backpacking meals
-A San Diego recap

In the are a few photos of what I've been up to so far in 2016!

Here is my aunt Marybeth & I in Venice, FL. I had training in Tampa for 2 weeks, so rented a car and headed down to see my "Florida Family". My mom has 4 siblings that are in Florida for parts of the year - and I was blessed to spend time with 3 of them! They were such gracious hosts, and I had an absolute blast catching up with them and seeing their beautiful dwelling!

The  day I got back from 2 weeks of training, I got to celebrate my birthday early in my annual "Heather-Abby Birthday bash!". This was our 3rd year. We had brunch at a lovely place called "The Living Room" and went to a customizable jewelry store and treated ourselves to some "glitz".

For our Christmas present, Ryan's dad treated us to a day of wine tasting in the Sonoita vineyards. The only day in a 3 month span that Ryan and I were 100% free was my birthday! What a great way to celebrate. If you're ever in AZ, I highly recommend checking out Sonoita. The countryside is absolutely stunning, and the wine is delicious! Great memories!

This is the best time in the year to hike is AZ - weather is sunny and pleasant but not too hot! So we have been taking advantage of this so much! Here we are hiking with our friends Kat & Mike, one of our favorite travel couples. They are equally "non-stop-adventure-centered" as we are, and we always have a great time!

And here Ryan and I are Easter weekend. I had some Southwest ticket vouchers, so we planned a quick trip on the fly to our favorite city: San Diego. More to come on that soon (if I can get back to blogging consistently!)

Thanks for stopping by...more to come soon!