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Pre-Dawn Fitness Hikes

Saturday, July 27, 2013

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!

Hike on!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I wish I could hike with you guys! emoticon
    2387 days ago
  • _VALEO_
    Still warm in my books! Love the pics and the one with you on the top of the world!
    The ocotillo looks like a a plant that we could imagine seeing in a aquarium.
    2434 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    Wow! Beautiful. What a wonderful way to start the day. You must take a picture of the ocotillo when it's in bloom, please. Too bad that photo of you is fuzzy. The background looks pretty spectacular and you look happy. You must really get a workout when the trail is that steep! I know SP has it's limitations when it comes to tracking, but it's not bad. You could say you hiked further to get the calorie burn as high as it should be. I figure that the trackers are just an estimate. You don't have to be perfect, just consistent.
    2436 days ago
    Beautiful. Good strategy to walk early. It's nice to see different scenery from another part of the country.
    2436 days ago
  • SNIC23
    Love the pictures, what a beautiful view! I love where I live, but sometimes I do wish I lived closer so I could go hiking with you guys! I would have to leave my house by 4:15 to meet you there, not to mention what crazy time I would have to be up. So THAT'S not happening. emoticon

    I do love the pictures you post, though. Keep it up, I almost feel like I was there!

    2436 days ago
    Serious hikers/athletes get to use such cool toys (headlamps, in this case.) Sounds lovely. I live in a cooler climate. Even 80 degree workouts sound exhausting to me.
    2437 days ago
    Beautiful pictures. I love seeing areas so different from my own.
    2437 days ago
    I use head lamps in the mornings on my dark winter walks. They work well. I am like you..I love my morning walks when it is cool. I find my energy is way to low when it is in the 100s.

    I love your pictures. Lovely.
    2437 days ago
    Sounds great!
    2437 days ago
  • SAC-6582
    Great blog!!!! I so miss AZ but in 29 days I will be home and heading out for some early morning hikes myself.
    2437 days ago
  • SUNSET09
    God's country is so beautiful and we seldon take the time to stop and smell the "roses"! Good going and thanx so much for sharing the pics! Keep up the good work! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2437 days ago
    Wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing them!
    I admire how you find a way to have some fun outdoor exercise in that extreme hot weather.
    I saw the ocotillo's red flowers when -my first and only time in US- I visited a friend in Phoenix and they were my favorite too : )
    2437 days ago
    I love hiking early mornings, watching the sun rise on the mountains. Agree with you on the altitude changes, that's what counts for the most calorie burns.
    Headlamps are very useful, if you remember to bring them with you and use them (ok, that's aimed at myself, not you).
    2437 days ago
    Beautiful scenery. And I'm so glad you made it.
    2437 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8235728
    Great blog. I wish I could take the heat I would join you
    2437 days ago
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