One of my favorite go-to hikes for a quick spin into the Superstition Mountains.
Garden Valley Loop
First Water Trailhead
While my pictures and smiling face (and genuine love for being outside) may imply otherwise, I don’t always jump onto the trail with a carefree attitude, confident in my abilities, feeling sure-footed every step of the way.
The first time I explore a new trail I usually step out cautiously from my vehicle, peer around, second guess myself and my abilities, and question the safety of the situation. I imagine all possible things that could go wrong as I get the dogs set up and hoist up my pack. I face the trailhead, peering through the dim initial light of dawn.
Well, really, no one is around, so I could just go back home and crawl into bed and no one would be the wiser. What time would it be when I’d actually arrive back in my bed?
I start hiking.
**Loud noise** Oh heck, was that a bear?!* Panic!* Kristen, bears don’t live in this area… Crap, it was a mountain lion! Oh man, it’s going to stalk me and kill me! *scan surrounding area searching for the slightest movement indicating the location of a stalker mountain lion* *hear sound again* Eek! *glance at one of the dogs just in time to see it sneeze a third time* Aye caramaba, Kristen! Calm the heck down! *deep breath*
I get back to hiking and focus on the beauty around me, the first rays of sunshine peeking over the mountain tops.
But also still keeping an eye out for slow creeping movements of the mountain lion that isn’t stalking me, while also admiring the last bits of spring blooms.
Without realizing it, I’m an hour into my hike and oblivious to my list of worries. The beauty of the mountains has taken priority.
Heading down into a valley I’m suddenly catapulted forward, flailing about awkwardly as I try to gain my balance so I can fight off the mountain lion that took me down!
I see the dogs just staring at me, waiting for me to get up. What, that wasn’t a mountain lion? I see a rock jutting up from the trail. Oh, it was you.
I dust myself off and return to my hike – this time balancing the wonder and joy with a healthy respect for my surroundings.