25 April 2012


An old ruin about 1.5 miles from the National Trailhead on South Mountain.
I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona three days earlier for a conference at which I was going to be a participant as well as a speaker. After three interesting but long days I decided it was definitely time to check out the neighborhood. I had never been to Phoenix, but I knew they had trails here. I had already made arrangements to meet up with a couple of friends who were flying in, so we could make the 4 hour drive to Grand Canyon National Park on Friday to attempt a double crossing (or Rim-To-Rim-To-Rim) of the Grand Canyon. I needed to shake the cobwebs lose. After checking with the Ultralist and getting some pointers about great running locations, I went online to find a trail map of South Mountain. It looked very promising.

Gnarly trails indeed, but not too technical.
I arrived at the trailhead just before 6. I had no idea how long I would go out for, but my goal was between 6 and 10 miles. I had brought my CamelBak and I needed it with temps approaching 100 degrees and humidity levels in the single digits. When I arrived at the park, I had no idea which way to go.

Spectacular views of Phoenix were just around the bend.
There were numerous trails heading into all directions, so I stopped a local runner for some info. Luckily, he sent me just the way I wanted to go, down National Trail, the longest of the trails in this park. I figured I would turn around whenever I had enough, rather than running multiple loops of a shorter trail or worse, getting lost after dark.

Beautifully winding trails in the middle of Phoenix.
I had brought a headlamp just in case. I really didn´t want to be one of ¨those¨guys, visiting town and going for a short run only to get lost in a park. The weather cooled off ever so slightly and with a slight breeze, it was actually bearable. There were lots of other runners and hikers around. The views and scenery were fantastic. I always get excited when going to a new place that has unique plant and wildlife and Arizona with its desert terrain and weather conditions is definitely one of those places that makes you go Ohhh-Ahhh!

Great trails with just enough elevation changes for an easy day.
When it started to get dark, I decided to cut my run short and call it a day after 6 miles. After all, I was going to do plenty of running on Friday. And truth be told, I was embarrassed at how tired I was after the run after realizing that I didn´t climb quite as much as I´d thought. Either way, it was another great run in an amazing place. I´m a pretty lucky guy.

The obligatory self-portrait at the turnaround point.

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