5 Day Winter-Hiking Trip to Arizona 

Winter-hiking trip to Arizona- Grand Canyon

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Winter is dull, and the lack of sunshine makes me gloomy. I need to be near the sun, so an Arizona winter hiking trip is on my to-do list for January. My sister, Maleah, lives in Arizona. She has lived there for a few years and works at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. Since she moved to Arizona, I told her I would never visit her in the middle of summer, the hottest part of the year. She, in return, promised never to see me in Chicago in the dead of winter.

We live in opposite climates, and I needed to escape the snow in Chicago for a while. The Arizona weather is excellent for hiking and enjoying nature. That’s why Maleah and I planned a 5-day hiking trip to Arizona in the winter. During this trip, I enjoyed the bachelorette nation of Old Scottsdale, hiked the red rocks, got lost, saw the Grand Canyon, and hiked to the top of Bell Pass, overlooking the most beautiful view of Scottsdale. The trip is perfect. Here is how it went. 

Wednesday- Late flight out 

I work a 9-5 job remotely half the week. So today, my office is the O’hare airport. Our flight was later in the evening, but I wanted to use my lunch hour to get to the airport and through security. 

Today marks one of my boyfriend Kerwin’s first flights. He was six years old the last time he was on a plane, and today he is nervous. 

I bring a carry-on and my camera backpack with me. Kerwin and I talked about only bringing a carry-on. It is much easier to travel light. Checking a bag is terrible because my suitcase comes back with rips and black marks. Also, losing my baggage never seems worth the risk. When Kerwin arrived with his suitcase, I knew there was no way it would fit in the overhead bin. His bag comes up to his hips and is not a carry-on. I laughed out loud, reassured him, and told him it would be around $30 to check it. It’s not the worst thing that could happen to an airport novice. 

Let’s see if we can sneak it in

 Walking through the O’hare airport, we try a new strategy. Instead of checking the bag, we hope the airline agent will not notice. He could pass by, and they will check it when we get to the gate. Kerwin and I find the sign that says security checkpoint.

We didn’t make it through.

A lady with a blue colored shirt yells, “hey hey,” calling to Kerwin and pointing to his bag. We didn’t make it through, so we checked his suitcase and got back in line.

We are still far back in the queue when Kerwin hands me his laptop and pulls out everything. I scream, “it’s not time yet, it’s not time yet.” He thrusts his computer into my arms. I have no choice but to let go of the suitcase with my bag on top. As I let go, it fell on top of a man behind us in line. He was kind and helped me pick it back up. It is funny watching Kerwin navigate the newness of the airport, but thankfully he is in good hands with me. Security is a breeze, minus he almost knocked someone out with my suitcase and headed towards our gate. Once I get settled into a good spot, Kerwin grabs a coffee, and I finish my last few work hours. 

First time flyer jitters

The gate attendant calls for zone two to start boarding. We are in zone three. Kerwin anxiously looks at the gate, but we aren’t going to miss our flight. We arrived five hours early, and the flight currently boarding at our gate was leaving for California.

A couple of hours later and a lousy airport sandwich later, I board the plane and lug my suitcase in the overhead bin.

Each time I get on a plane, the airplane seats feel smaller. I am 5’3, and my feet are cramped. 


I just remembered I meant to download something to watch for the ride. My phone isn’t loading Netflix. There isn’t internet in the sky, so this flight will be tedious for 3 hours. 

Then I see the flight attendant handing out headphones- it’s a free movie flight. Jackpot. 

 It takes a few minutes before we start moving. Once the plane is on the runway, we take off quickly. I open the window and peer out. I love this moment- The moment the plane wheels peel up from the pavement. It jolts my stomach a rush. Kerwin, on the other hand, was having a different experience. He grips my hand tight and closes his eyes. We watch “Don’t Worry Darling,” wait for the snacks to arrive, and Kerwin tries not to look out the window. 

Smooth landing

United Airlines has these biscotti cookies that are sweet, crunchy, and delicious. I look forward to eating them every time on a plane. It is a no-brainer for me when they ask for pretzels or cookies. I usually dip them in my coffee when I have an earlier flight.

When the seat belt sign makes the ding-dong noise, Kerwin whispers, “what’s that? “I point to the glowing seat belt sign above our heads and explain that it means you can get up if needed. He unclenches my hand. I shouldn’t find it funny, but I have never seen him so nervous. At the movie’s end, we have about an hour left of the flight. I doze in and out of sleep for the rest of the flight. 

I don’t even feel the landing under Kerwin shaking my shoulders to wake me. We have arrived in Phoenix. I peer outside- Completely black. I will not see any of the famous Phoenix mountains tonight. 

We wait until it is our turn to get up. We are at the back of the plane, so it takes a while. I will fly first class one day, but today is different. 

After debarring the plane, we head over to baggage claim to pick up Kerwin’s ‘”carry-on” and wait for my brother-in-law Micheal to pick us up. 

He pulls his black matted Tesla and drives us the 30 miles to his home while telling us Arizona facts and everything we should see in the morning. 

We arrive at their home late. It was almost 1 am Chicago time. I quickly shower, slip into my cotton pajamas, and say goodnight. 

Both of us are eager to see the mountains when we wake up. 

Day 1

Thursday – Old Scottsdale 

I groggily open my eyes. The bright sun is peering through the window in my sister’s guest bedroom, making shapes on the side of the wall. I haven’t seen the sun in weeks, so I immediately remember I am not home. Kerwin is already awake and doing some things for work as I sleep.

Run with a view

I get up and get dressed to go on a run. I promised Kerwin the night before that I would run with him in the morning. Now I regret that promise. I feel stiff, but I throw on a t-shirt and leggings anyway. When we walk outside, I feel the warmth of the bright sun. The air has a chill, but once we get moving, it feels incredible. We start jogging in the neighborhood my sister lives in. The condos look like they belong in Florida, and we pass by her pool. That’s when I see it. 

 I see the mountains. 

Although the weather is perfect, running in Arizona takes the air out of my lungs rapidly. The run has me breathing heavy in seconds. We end up walking and taking in the sights. Traveling can be surreal like that. Last night I was in the snow-covered city of Chicago, and this morning I woke up to the most beautiful sunny mountain view. 

Downtown Old Scottsdale

After our run, we shower and grab breakfast with my brother-in-law. The rest of the day is ours to explore the area.

Kerwin and I start in Old Scottsdale, Bachelorette central. It’s 25 miles away, about a half-hour drive. . In Chicago, 30 miles means about an hour and a half of being stuck behind the wheel. I am thankful for the shorter commute.

When we arrived in downtown Scottsdale, I was surprised at how adorable it was. The drive is beautiful; we see the Camelback mountains and other mountains in the background of our sunny drive. I have to wear sunglasses otherwise my eyes would be burning.

Winter hiking in Arizona- day trip in Scottsdale

Old Scottsdale is several blocks of a walkable strip with Native American jewelry stores, coffee shops, and art galleries. Strolling aimlessly, Kerwin and I walk into every store until we are hungry for lunch.

It’s time for lunch. 

In-and-Out Burger

While there are plenty of lunch spots in Old Scottsdale, we choose to go further out to try In-and-Out Burger. Now, I know what you are thinking. It’s just a fast food spot, and that is true. However, I have never lived anywhere that had In-and-Out, and I have heard about their burgers and seen the red and white sign for years. I had to give it a try. Kerwin has had In-and-Out before, so this is nostalgic for him. 

Our order is simple. There are only two things to choose from on the menu. Burger with cheese or a burger without cheese; we have to have fries too.

When our food is ready, I take a big bite and my cheeseburger, which is juicy, greasy, and cheesy. The burger is good, and the fries are crispy, salty, and hot. It’s the kind of guilty pleasure food I want to indulge in on vacation. 

If you are going to a guilty pleasure meal that makes you feel like a kid again, you must try In-and-Out Burger at least once.

ASU Campus

After lunch, we decide to drive to ASU to see the campus. Although I had the best time at my alma mater, seeing the ASU campus made me wish I had gone there. The ASU area has an urban feel with stunning views of the mountains. What I love most about the campus area is how every building is monochromatic. Even the Goodwill store is a sleek brown. I learn that is intentional. The city wants to keep the beauty of the mountains, so standard restaurants such as McDonald’s have a simplified look. The buildings are terracotta, beige, and brown—my favorite color palette. 

Coffee Break & Scottsdale Quarter

We drive around the campus a little longer before returning to Old Scottsdale to get coffee at Yellow Spruce. We walked around several more art galleries and visited Scottsdale Quarter, a luxury outdoor shopping center my brother-in-law mentioned. The shopping mall feels like LA. Everything is centered outdoors, and streets are layered with palm trees that tower about our heads.

We stroll through a couple of shops before it gets close to the time my brother and law and sister will be off work. My brother-in-law is making chicken tacos. He is an excellent chef so I know they will be homemade and delicious. He is making the flour tortillas from scratch. What more could you want than that?

Homemade Chicken Tacos

My cousin is coming for the night too. He lives in Connecticut, so everyone is rarely together. He randomly had a work meeting two hours away and can stop by. When we arrived home, he was already in the kitchen rolling the dough into small tortillas to put on the stove. 

My sister is leaving work, so Kerwin and I drive to pick her up. 

Now, the fun begins. 

I hardly see her anymore since she lives states away and works crazy hours in the ICU. There isn’t much time to catch up until now. 

The hospital is five minutes away, and she stands outside when we pull up. I ran out of the car and greeted her with flowers. It has been too long, but now we have the whole weekend and many adventures ahead. 

When we arrived home, the tacos were ready to eat. We eat, sip Modelos, and catch up like old friends until we all start to yawn. After all, tomorrow is when the fun begins. We will hike in the red rocks of Sedona in the morning. I cannot wait. 

Day 2

Friday – Hiking in the Red Rocks of Sedona

The morning comes quickly. I could have slept longer, but I am eager to go on this hike. It’s been so long since I have hiked a mountain. I did it a lot in college, but it’s been years. Chicago is not exactly known for being a mountainous region. 

The morning starts with eating breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and charging the Tesla. We must charge the electric vehicle quite a lot on this trip.

When you see the sunsets- they are wild. The sun is so bright it doesn’t feel real.


The drive from Sedona to Scottsdale is enjoyable. Arizona landscapes are vast, often attracting mysticism in the area. We pass by a few crystal shops. The sky is blue, without a cloud in sight. When I look up, it’s all a light blue, almost teal. The land goes on for miles, and without clouds, the world continues forever. The sun is so bright it looks like it would be 100 degrees outside but it’s only 40 degrees out today.

I can see Sedona’s red canyons and Flagstaff’s Humphreys peak along the drive, even though we are still hours away. That’s how vast the land is. You can see for miles.

As soon as we get close to the red rocks, I know we are close to Sedona.

Blue McDonalds

We are on the road. Near where we will hike, we spot a McDonald’s with blue arches instead of yellow. I am shocked, and we pull over. 

This, again, was done to preserve the beauty of the landscape. The McDonald’s is so unique we took pictures of it, ordered a coffee, and grabbed a few snacks at the grocery store before driving the last few minutes to the top. We are acting like we will be gone on a three-day trip across the Appalachian with how much water and snacks we have, but that’s because Maleah and I are experienced backpackers. The last thing you want to be is stuck out in the wilderness with nothing to eat or drink. So even though our hike is only about four miles today, we are prepared for at least twenty. 

Arriving at where the trail is supposed to begin, there is one problem. There is no parking. None. Zilch. Zippo. Not a single spot was open, and it didn’t look like anyone would return for hours. 

Sedona Shuttle

Everything is fixed with a quick google search. We searched trams that would take us from a parking lot to the beginning of the trail, and find one quickly. The first mile of the course is a rocky road large enough for a car to fit through, so don’t be surprised if you see ATVs along the way or other unfortunate cars that attempt to drive through. After about a mile, the trail starts to get interesting. 

Devil’s Bridge Trail

I start climbing until we are entirely out of the sun and covered by the shade of the mountains. The difference between the sun and shade was shocking. I was warm and sweaty in the sun, but the shade chilled me. I put back on my jacket and froze. It had two be at least twenty degrees colder in the shade. We walked past an ice waterfall. When you embark on a winter hiking in Arizona bring layers because the desert weather can change on you.

After snapping a few pictures in front of the waterfall, we climb higher until all left are steep steps to get to the top.

Some hikers around us decided not to go up the steps for fear they were slippery with ice, but I don’t think they are too bad.

We climb the steep steps until we reach the top. A large portion of the ground is icy. I take each step carefully. 

This is where to views are.

The views overlook the valley below and the surrounding orange and red mountains. Devil’s Bridge trail reaches 500 feet of elevation at its peak. I can see for miles. In the distance, there are other mountains and valleys. It is surreal being up this high and looking. It’s a bird’s eye view of the world. It is undoubtedly a sight to behold and worth the icy hike. 

After a few minutes of absorbing the views and taking pictures, we start the hike back down. The walk down was much faster than the hike up, and I am sad that our trek is almost over.

Arizona Winter Hiking Trip - Sedona

We reach the start of the hike, eat granola, and wait for the Sedona Shuttle. Once we return to our car, we will start the trek to Flagstaff. 

The Cantina & Red Rock Views

Well, only after stopping at Javelina Cantina in Sedona first. On the drive to Javelina Cantina Maleah points a restaurant out. Maleah’s memory is better than mine, because she remembers we ate at Mariposa, a famous latin-inspired grill, the last time we were in Arizona. That was over fifteen years ago. We don’t fit the atmosphere of Mariposa today in our hiking clothes, but it is a fun memory.

To the cantina we go for margaritas and fajitas.

We are all hungry after the hike, and Mexican food is precisely what we are craving. The view outside the restaurant is unreal. Just outside the restaurant window are the giant red rock mountains. We order chicken fajitas to share, overeat, and look up charging stations nearby because we drive out to Flagstaff.

The sun is going down. It’s golden hour. If you are a photographer like me, this is your favorite time of day. Driving with the windows down, music blaring, and the sun kissing the red rocks is a sight.

Desert dessert

Charging the Telsa will take about twenty-five minutes, so we decide to walk around. Close by, there is a local ice cream shop. Dessert in the desert, yes please. I sample the blueberry maple waffle ice cream flavor, and my eyes widen. This tastes exactly like a plate of blueberry waffles drizzled in maple syrup- I order a cup. The son of the owner is working the afternoon shift at the ice cream shop, and tells us that his father is the one who comes up with the flavors. He was particularly proud of the blueberry maple. I have never tasted ice cream like that before, so I thank him and tell him his dad is doing a great job. This shop is a lucky find.

It is a two-hour drive to Flagstaff and worth every mile. The topography changes rapidly- From red rock grasslands to snow mountains. It’s a new world we are entering in Flagstaff. It’s hard to believe these two places are in the same state, let alone a few hours apart.

Our Airbnb hosts greet us with a kind welcome. We are staying in their extra basement. The rooms are excellent, and they have horses, but I am most looking forward to the view of Flagstaff’s snowy mountains in the morning.

Day 3

Saturday- Stuck in the snow

This day was my favorite day of the trip, but after you hear what happens, it might surprise you.

We were in no rush this morning except for our hunger demanding breakfast. We are hiking today but want to wait a few hours for the sun to warm up the trails in Flagstaff. Walking for a few hours in 14-degree weather is not on our agenda for today. We have plenty of time to enjoy the morning, grab breakfast somewhere local, charge the car, and explore Flagstaff a little more.

I dress in layers—first, a long sleeve shirt, an athletic zip-up, and a Patagonia down coat. These layers will be the key to staying warm on our winter-hiking trip in Arizona. I pack my camera, wallet, snacks, and water into my backpack, and we head out for breakfast first. A quick google search allows us to find this cozy cafe a short drive away.

Mary’s Cafe

Restaurants are busy downtown Flagstaff, but this cafe is empty out here. It’s one of those mom-and-pop places called Mary’s Cafe, that doesn’t even have a website, so we are lucky enough to find. There are eggs, bacon, and hash browns on the menu. I know this is going to be good.

I order the Jo-Jo surprise, a breakfast sandwich with bacon, eggs, cheese, jelly, and coffee grounds.- An odd combination. It sounds just weird enough I have to order.

The waiter brings out our food. I take a bite.

The sweetness of the jam mixed with the rich bacon is delicious. The coffee grounds were a strange addition, but I could taste subtle coffee flavors with the bacon, and I like it. I wash the sandwich down with a cup of coffee, and we head out. Mary’s Cafe is an excellent breakfast spot, and you won’t leave hungry.

REI & Charging the Tesla

Before heading to the hike, we find an REI to look for extra layers and charge the Tesla at a charging station. The temperatures are freezing, and I must add another layer of clothing. A winter hiking trip in Arizona means you might be wearing shorts one day and a hat and gloves the next. I purchase a pair of North Face gloves.

I didn’t know it then, but I was so grateful I made the purchase later that day.

At the register, we met a cashier named Ryan; after talking with him, we discovered the craziest fact. We are in Flagstaff, Arizona, but he grew up in Kokomo, Indiana- A midwest town known for cornfields. That is my Mom’s hometown. Kokomo is where I spent most holidays growing up to see my grandparents. He went to the same high school my grandpa did. What a small world! Ryan then tells us about a trail he recommends we hike today. It’s pretty snowy, so not all courses are open.

Later, we wished we hadn’t taken his advice on the trails, but he also recommended a coffee shop a block over, saying it was the best coffee in town. Kerwin and I used to be baristas, so we need to see if Arizona’s espresso is on par with Chicago’s. More coffee sounds like a good idea too.

The coffee shop is quaint; you can tell it’s a spot for locals. Friends are chatting, and others have laptops open. There are photos and paintings for sale from local artists. I order a queen bee latte with oat milk. I take the first foamy sip. The espresso is rich and honey-sweet—a perfect combo. It gives off authentic coffee shop vibes.

Northern Arizona State University Tour

With coffee in hand, we drive to the nearest charging station near the Northern Arizona State University campus. It will take about an hour, and we decide to walk around the campus. I loved my time at University, and it brings back so many memories when I see campuses in new places.

Kerwin and I make it to the student union and the library; before getting a call, the charging is done, but only after the most random serendipitous encounter. My Uncle Leon happened to be driving through the area. He is from Chicago and lives about twenty minutes from me. Uncle Leon is doing a pizza tour around the United States by trying one pizza place per state, and this weekend happened to be in Arizona. Maleah last saw him a few years ago, and he happened to be passing through the campus simultaneously, so we had to meet up.

As I said earlier today, it is a small world.

As I said earlier today, it is a small world.

It was nice for Maleah to chat with him briefly before we headed out. “I’ll see you back in Illinois,” I holler at him as he walks away.

With a full charge on the Tesla, it’s time to find the trail.

Into the snow

We pull into a small icy lot. There are no other cars nearby. Up ahead, I see the trail map. It’s about a two-mile loop. I want a longer trail and worry we will finish too quickly, but REI Ryan says some beautiful views are here. The track is snowy, but the walk is simple. Shortly into the path, we discover an odor. The smell is highly unpleasant. We all ate a large breakfast, so I assumed maybe someone had an upset stomach until I saw a sign that said water treatment plant.

The smell passes soon after the fence at the water treatment plant ends, and the path is just snow and trees ahead. We stop to take some photos with the mountainous views as a backdrop.

Today’s hike in Flagstaff is about 2.8 miles, but it feels like 28 because of what happens next.

The trail changes suddenly. The snow is higher and harder to plow through.

Right after passing the water treatment plant, we lose track of the orange trail signs guiding our path.

We are lost

During parts of the trail, the snow comes up to my knees. Every step is tricky. I follow the footprints of my sister, and she blazes the path in front of me. At this point, trailblazing through powdery snow in running shoes is becoming exhausting. All of us are out of breath. This easy 2.8-mile trail turned into a great workout, after all.

Amid the chaos, we find petroglyphs carved into the rocks at Picture Canyon. on the Tom Moody Trail. The drawings are interesting and clearly original from a primitive time. The trail has a waterfall too, but we have yet to find it.

We are still determining where we are.

Thank goodness there is cell service. We pull a map on our phones. We aren’t going the right way.

Instead of continuing the way we thought was the trail, we walk directly to where the map says the parking lot is.

Lungs are heavy, and feet are entirely frozen; we head toward where we think the trail is supposed to connect. Eventually, I see the fence from the beginning of the trail- along with some of the most spectacular mountains.

Thank goodness!

After that, the trails leveled out, and we made it back.

Note to self don’t take blind advice from REI employees. Read reviews on a trail before heading out on an adventure.

This is a funny hiking story for the books, but we are exhausted, cold, and ready for a hot shower.

We drive back to the Airbnb, shower, and decide pizza is the dinner food of choice tonight. I am famished. Still freezing after the hot shower, I dress in jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a down coat.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza & Local Beer

Fratelli pizza is cozy and casual. We seat ourselves right away and place an order for Buffalo Chicken and Works pizza. I look over my shoulder, hoping the waiter will bring us our pizza next. The place is busy, but the orders move fast.

Finally, it is our turn. The Works has marinara, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, green peppers, and black olives. The buffalo chicken, my favorite, has spicy buffalo sauce, mozzarella, grilled buffalo chicken, green chile, red onion, and roasted red pepper, and it is served with ranch. We grab a beer at Mother Road Brewing Co. next to the pizza place before heading in for the night.

Tomorrow we see the Grand Canyon.

Day 4

The Grand Canyon

Today is the day. Today I see the Grand Canyon. I looked up some facts about the Grand Canyon. Did you know the Grand Canyon is larger than the state of Rhode Island? The park is so vast is covers 1.2 million acres. 

I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon since I was about ten years old. It was the summer between fourth and fifth grade. My entire family went, including my Grandma Jane and Bubba Jack, who aren’t with us anymore. I feel like they are with me today, and I am ten years old again. 

The drive to the park is short. 

We pay for the pass and pull into the first overlook we see. I am so excited; I can’t wait. As soon as we pull in, I hop out of the car, swearing I only need the two layers I have on. It didn’t feel cold, or maybe the sun was deceiving me. We walk down the icy path, and I see it. 

The Grand Canyon. 

It is just as incredible as I remembered. I can see for miles into the deep orange valley formed by the Colorado River’s forces. My mind kept thinking I was looking at a green screen or a possible optical illusion. Surely this can’t be real. The vibrant orange and red valley feels like a fever dream. My mind can’t comprehend how immense the Grand Canyon is, which is why it is so awe-inspiring. It’s like standing at the edge of a cliff and staring into a valley and out as far as the eye can see, but you cannot see or comprehend where the end of the valley is. Each shape and curve of the Grand Canyon is formed from thousands of years of erosion and weather. The view is humbling. At the top of this mountain, none of my problems at the bottom seem to matter.

I don’t want to leave. I could sit and stare at this view for hours if it weren’t so cold at the top of the Grand Canyon. We walk a little way, but the path around the top is icy. I take a few more photos, and we begin the journey back down to earth, back to reality. 

At the bottom of the mountain, we charge the Tesla, grab fast food for lunch, and pop in at the local chocolate shop for a sweet treat. I order a peanut butter dark chocolate cup, and my Kerwin orders a chocolate turtle—the perfect treat to end our day.

The drive back is at sunset, just as stunning as it was on the way there. We stop at an overlook to take a few pictures. Maleah said this is where she and Micheal stopped when they first moved out to Arizona, claiming it was the best view of the mountains. I had to agree.

We return to their home in Scottsdale and play a couple of games of Catan before turning in on our last night in Arizona.

Day 5

Monday- Hike in Scottsdale 

I awake with the sadness of it being my last day in Arizona. The end of a trip is always so depressing. Kerwin and I are not ready to leave yet, and we are so thankful we purchased a late flight out. However, I will regret it when I start work Tuesday morning. 

We eat a simple breakfast of eggs and coffee before Maleah, Kerwin, and I head out for our last hike of the trip. Micheal has to work today.

Maleah tells us this is one of the favorite hikes she has found in Scottsdale, called Bells Pass. It is seven miles and reaches around 1200 feet in elevation when we reach the top. This is the hike I am looking for- a bit of a challenge.

We pull up to the start of the trail. The cactus is the most giant and unique tree I have ever seen. The trees look precisely like the cacti you have seen in movies, called the saguaro cactus. The saguaro cactus is one of the most iconic cacti found almost exclusively in Arizona. They are green and tall with branches like arms and small prickly spines on the outer layer. They symbolize Arizona, and I see more and more cacti along our hike up. The view gets better and better the higher in elevation we go. The path is rocky and unstable. I have to look where I am walking, or else I will sprain my ankle. The view of mountains with cactus patterns looks so strange I don’t want to take my eyes off it, but I do to spare my ankles from twisting.

We are hiking on a rare day in Scottsdale, with lots of clouds and little sun. Working up a sweat feels good because the hike is cold with no sun. Higher and higher, we trek along the path. It takes us about an hour to cover three miles. That’s when the real work begins because the trail keeps climbing. Determined, we take breaks every few minutes and keep going. If you know my sister, she is a monster when it comes to fitness. Don’t let her 5-foot frame fool you. She is athletic through and through.

I am panting, but we made it. 

I turn around, and there it is- the best view of Scottsdale. The views at the top are panoramic. There are two mountains on either side of us- and views of the valleys on the front and the back. Up here, the world never ends. The valley is endless. Maybe it’s the endorphins from the exercise or the height of the mountain, but I feel like the queen of the world.

We snap a couple of photos, soak in the view, decide the perfect spot for lunch will be a place called Mr. Pickles, and start the journey down- the trip home. 

Flying home

I give my sister a big hug, and we say our goodbyes. Leaving is always the most challenging part. Traveling to a new place and seeing family is the best way to spend a trip. I wave goodbye to her as she pulls away. We head inside and start the journey back to Chicago.

Kerwin and I make it through security, grab some coffee, and find our seats on the plane. As I sit on the plane, Kerwin spills my vanilla soy latte down my all-white sweatsuit. It hits me; we are heading home and back to our jobs. We are returning to the real world, but nothing feels more real than being outdoors. It feels like we are leaving the real world and returning to the life we have created. The post-travel depression sets in, and I daydream about other places I want to visit this year.

I hear the flight attendant announce, “Passengers, please fasten your seatbelts and stow away your tray tables as we prepare for take-off.”

Until the next adventure,

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