I Am Not A Moderate

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Superstition Mountains

That statement probably doesn’t surprise some people who know me, it may surprise others. I used to swing on an extreme emotional pendulum when I was much younger. Somewhere over the years I did learn moderation and to try to skirt too much extremism. But by golly I DID hike up to Devil’s Bridge back in June and that hike is rated moderate by the USDA Forest Service. Yes, I was terrified during the steep ascent and descent, and frozen in fear at the top, but I got there and back. So when I knew I was heading back to Phoenix in September, I thought that I could handle hikes rated ‘easy’ or ‘moderate’. I’ve begun following “Hike Phoenix”, a blog about hiking in Arizona. I read several of her suggested hikes and the Peralta Trail up to Fremont Saddle sounded beautiful and do-able. She rated it ‘moderate’ and said it would take approximately 2.5 hours to hike 5 miles. I thought about that and figured it would probably be more like 4 hours for me, but if we went slow and steady I would be okay. My son agreed with my selection. We packed up water, and sun screen, and some light snacks and headed up the highway.

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Getting closer – left the highway

I make my son crazy when we are driving out there. The same way I make Honour crazy. I am oooo’ing and ahhhh’ing at the scenery and trying to take photos through the windshield and through the side windows and begging him to drive more slowly and oh oh just slow up over there! We headed up the highway and soon enough we could see the Superstition Mountains. Once again we were probably starting out later in the day than most serious hikers, but we’d already proven to ourselves that we carry sufficient water and we’re not foolish about over-staying.

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Made it!!

You turn off the paved highway onto a fairly well-packed dirt road. We traveled that for awhile, and we did see other cars. We also saw incredible scenery so it did take us awhile to make progress since I kept insisting we stop the car so I could take ‘just one shot’. We finally made it to the trail head at about 1 pm or so. We reapplied our sun screen, shaded the inside of the car best as possible, drank some water, and took photos of the sign boards. I always figure that if nothing else my phone can serve as a map should we need it. We were going to do Trail 102 – up to Fremont Saddle and then back the way we came. You are probably much wiser and more observant than I and you might see what I did not. We finally stepped out a little after 1:00 pm.

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Notice the Peralta trailhead marked at the bottom, on the left, Trail 102 leading up from there


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I really need to have a better understanding of what these charts told me

It was gorgeous. We met some other hikers – both heading out and coming back. I was envious of the young man who passed us – he had not one but TWO walking sticks. I said to my son that we needed to invest in some walking sticks for ourselves. It wasn’t warm, but not unduly hot. Sunny but there were shady spots on the trail. I took pictures of course. I figured we had 4 hours total. We’d get as far as we could in 2 hours and then turn back, even if we hadn’t made it to the saddle. That saddle was beginning to look quite a ways away.

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On the Peralta Trail

We’d been walking 10 minutes and I thought – I need to rest. I stopped, sipped some water, felt my pulse calm. I started up. I was beginning to feel stressed. My knees were fine (they have been problematic in the past). My foot was good too – I wasn’t feeling insecure in my footing, nothing hurt. And yet – I couldn’t seem to keep pushing on. Every 10 minutes I needed to stop and get my breath. My son is wonderfully patient. He never gives me a hard time about “let’s get going” or “you can do this”. He is supportive and says we’ll take it at whatever works for you. We’d been heading up for probably 30 minutes by now. I didn’t feel like we’d gotten anywhere but I also didn’t feel like I could keep going. By this time I was saying to myself that we would just go as far as we could go in an hour and then turn back.
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We met people coming down the trail from the saddle. 3 young women and their dog. They were fairly exhausted. When they met us they were saying “oh my aren’t we at the bottom yet?” They told us it was much more strenuous ahead, that it was a stiff climb, upwards, always upwards. In their opinion it wasn’t going to be worth it to me to keep trying to get up there because beautiful as it was, it was a beautiful view right where we were there.
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It was already after 2pm. I dreaded going any farther up the trail. I might have been petrified with fear on Devil’s Bridge, but I never doubted that I could get there or back. I was starting to fear that I wasn’t even going to be able to make it back to the car once I decided to turn back here. I simply could not get enough air. Nothing hurt, it wasn’t too hot, I just could not get enough air to breathe. New Jersey girl – meet the mountain elevations!
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I looked at my son and said “I can’t do this. I’m very sorry but I don’t think I can go up any higher. I’m not having fun. It’s not worth it to me. If I push myself to keep going I’m afraid I won’t be able to get back home.” He said it was my call and he was fine with turning around right there and heading back to the car. So we did.
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I made it just over 60 minutes on that trail – basically 30 minutes up with lots of resting, 30 minutes back. It’s beautiful. I’d love to do it some day. I was extremely disappointed. Obviously walking for 4 miles through the Rutgers Ecological Preserve is NOTHING like walking in the mountains of Arizona. 🙂 There is a HUGE difference between walking about and walking UP. If we’re talking walking ABOUT, hey, I can DO moderate. If we’re talking UP, I’m not a moderate. *grin*
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This little guy scampered along with us for quite a bit of the trip back down to the car

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final backward look

6 Responses to “I Am Not A Moderate”


  1. 1 Allie January 8, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    I’m so glad you explored the Peralta Trail! Definitely beautiful scenery in the Superstition Mountains! And smart call, knowing your limits and when to turn around is the best thing any hiker can do! Love this article and your pictures! 🙂

  2. 2 ahuva18 January 8, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks, Allie! I wish I had actually explored MORE of the trail. But I knew I simply could not go any further. Hiking out in Arizona has opened up a whole new world for me. 🙂 I love it, but I can see I need to get myself in better shape so I can really enjoy some of those trails! I LOVE your blog! Thank you for all the tips and the suggestions. 🙂

  3. 3 Allie January 8, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Thank you so much! You just made my entire year! 😊 I’m looking forward to see more of your hiking adventures!

  4. 4 Deborah Cohn January 8, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    FYI: Rutgers eco preserve is basically at sea level. Altitude REALLY matters.

  5. 5 ahuva18 January 8, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    so I learned. 🙂

  6. 6 Jinjer January 11, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Oh dear…yes…when I started out hiking in mountains, I had NO idea that the #1 factor is “Elevation gain”. Not elevation. Elevation GAIN. And how quickly that elevation gain happens.

    Walking 10 miles is easy, if there’s not a lot of elevation gain. Even if you start at a fairly high elevation.

    But start at a low elevation and try to climb “1360′ in just 2.2 miles”????? That’s hardcore hiking right there.

    No wonder you were having trouble breathing! I would be panting like a dog even when I was doing regular weekend hiking.

    So there’s my unsolicited advice. Instead of focusing on time and distance, the first thing to check is the Elevation Gain.

    Happy Hiking!


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