Enjoying the greenery in Greer, AZ

This weekend, I had the pleasure of spending some time with some friends in Greer, AZ for a spontaneous girls’ weekend.  The main draw of this trip was the cooler climate in Greer; current temperatures in Phoenix are STILL hitting the mid-90s (that’s around 35-36c for my Canadian friends).  While those temperatures are better than 110f, we Phoenicians are still warm.  Greer is about a 4.5 hour drive east of Phoenix and sits at 8300 ft, which means that average daytime temperatures right now are in the high 60s (about 20c).  MUCH better.  We all enjoyed feeling cold and delighted in walking around outside while wearing a jacket.  The drive up is absolutely lovely; you will see lush green forest, some red rock hills reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, and plenty of farm meadows.

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(Absolutely beautiful area!)

Greer is a tiny village (year-round population is about 50) that caters to the outdoor adventurer.  Because the location is rather remote, you are guaranteed peace and quiet.  Visitors come to camp, fish, hike, mountain bike, and ski.  Greer is nestled in Arizona’s White Mountain range and is surrounded by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, both of which contribute to the stunning landscape we enjoyed all weekend.  We rented a cabin at the Greer Lodge Resort which was right on the river and only a few minutes’ walk from the village center.  I would love to come back and spend more time here exploring the area and climbing all the mountains!

Speaking of hiking, that was one of my goals this weekend; I knew that Mt. Baldy was nearby and its summit was calling my name.  Bagging the 7th highest peak in Arizona would have been a fantastic way to crown the weekend, but alas, it was not to be.  My friend, Katie, and I enthusiastically set off for the East Fork Baldy trail Saturday morning and kept repeating things like “it’s SO pretty here!”….”I love the weather!”….”Did you see that lightning?”

Yes, we heard much thunder and saw lightning and decided to turn around just before the halfway point up the mountain.  Rule #1: safety first.  The East Fork trail up Mt. Baldy is well marked and offers fantastic views of the valley.  It is a 7 mile trail to (almost) the top with about 2100 ft of elevation gain.  I say “almost” because the actual summit is on reservation land and is closed to non-tribal members.  I am not certain if permits are required to access the summit (perhaps disregarding the rule regarding non-tribal members would work as well….?).  We saw plenty of green forest, cool rock formations, and wildlife while breathing in the crisp mountain air.

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(Start of the 7 mile trail up Mt. Baldy; Blue sky on left, ominous clouds on right.)

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(Cool rock partway up trail; Katie and I at our turnaround point.)

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(Cool rock formations and all-around great views.)

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(Cute chipmunk; Horseback riders going into the rainclouds.)

The rest of our time in Greer was spent with the rest of our group window-shopping at a few of the quaint antiques shops, eating cobbler from the diner, and having a hotdog roast at our cabin.  Tough life!  All in all, it was a relaxing weekend with good company and beautiful views.

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(Interior of the Rendezvous Diner; The scenery behind our cabin.)

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(Do you see what I see in the tree?; Adorable locomotive train in the village.)

The only thing constant in life is change

I am not doing Sufferfest 2.  I am not doing it because I am going to a friend’s wedding and accompanying a choral concert that day.  Part of me is sad (really!) because I do miss having a goal for which to train.  The bigger part of me, though, is relieved (and by “bigger,” I mean my rear end), as Sufferfest is really really hard.

That said, I have a new goal!  My SAT (“self-appointed trainer” for you new readers) and I were brainstorming ideas for an EPIC challenge, something CRAZY and DIFFICULT that would force us and inspire us to get off of our butts and get more active.  Strangely enough, we both agreed on the same idea: riding our bikes to Yuma.  From Phoenix.  In one day.  That distance is just under 200 miles (322 km) and should be possible with the right training and attitude.  After all, I do have experience riding long distances (remember why I started this blog?) and following a training plan.  I think the funny part of this new challenge is that we will be heading to the same city in which my double century occurred and will be attempting close to the same number of miles.  Why Yuma again?  Well, my parents are retired and like to spend the winter in Yuma (the alternative is spending the winter in their native Canada….cold temperatures do not agree with my folks).  We thought we would cycle to Yuma and spend Thanksgiving weekend with them, then cycle back home.  [Author’s note: I have not yet told my parents of this plan, as nothing is definite.  However, since my mother subscribes to this blog, I am wondering how long it will take her to contact me about this cycling idea after reading this post.]

I am praying that the temperatures in Phoenix will continue to cool down soon so that my SAT and I will have the motivation and desire to get outside and train.  I won’t have a chance to start training until after the weekend, as I will be taking a little trip to Greer, AZ with some friends (update on that next week). I plan on enjoying my last weekend of pain-free living!