One of my favorite activities during my spa getaway last weekend was ironically one of the more arduous ones. My daughter and I arose at 6 am and joined a group hike in the mountains nearby. The light outside was dim and the air wonderfully cool when we reached Ventana Canyon. We immediately began a rocky climb as the sun slowly rose over the mountains.
The hike was hard enough that I found myself having to devote my full attention to it, and at times I regretted our swift pace because I wanted more time to savor and enjoy my desert surroundings. Cacti dotted the hills and rose like giant cucumbers from the tops of the mountains. The huge saguaro cacti, which our guide estimated to be about 150 years old, were impressive. Most of them were starting to flower, their buds slowly opening as the sun warmed the canyon. It’s so dry in Arizona that I was amazed anything at all could grow with the dearth of water. Yet there were graceful swaying trees and healthy shrubs everywhere I looked.
There was also some interesting wildlife. Mostly we saw birds, including a cardinal, but at the very start of our hike, a woman’s shriek alerted us to the presence of a colorful snake along our path. The guides examined it and determined it was not poisonous, but one of them admitted that he had seen mountain lions while hiking in these mountains. That did not surprise me. I had seen a bobcat puttering through a garden outside the meditation sanctuary at the ranch. The canyon is also home to Bighorn sheep, but we didn’t see any of those.
We made a few water and snack stops, and it was then that I could more fully enjoy the grandeur of the desert mountains. The breaks also gave us time to snap a few photos.
Taking a hike was great for both body and soul. The next morning I awoke with sore thigh muscles but also a sense of the beauty and peace of nature in an environment so completely different from the one I’m used to at home.
So my advice the next time stress or cabin fever are making you crazy?
Take a hike!