Sun Lakes Hikers reflect on successful season

Hikers posing in front of ruins in South Mountain Park.

Hikers posing in front of ruins in South Mountain Park.

Roberta Arpan

The statistics are in summarizing the achievements of the Sun Lakes Hiking Club. In a nutshell, there were 63 scheduled hikes during the 2013-2014 season. Included in that number, 26 were Monday hikes, 25 took place on Wednesday, 10 of the hikes were classified as “Retread” and there were two special hikes: the New Year’s Eve Resolution Rock Hike and the fourth annual SLHC Challenge Hike at South Mountain.

Hikers included 111 members as well as 44 non-member residents and guests; 43 of these hikers showed up at the Brown’s Mountain and Ranch Trailhead in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, making it the most attended hike for the season.

The member with the highest percentage of trails hiked was Marilyn Harkins who participated in 38 of the hikes. Other members who hiked at least 20 times during the season were Tracy Nilsen and Greg Jewell (24 each), Virginia Metz and Mike Josephson (23 each), Michael Kenny and Anita Baker (22 each), Dick Giachino (21), Tom Chase and Jack Freisen (20 each).

Sun Lake Hikers enjoyed other activities not officially included in the statistics. A Welcome Back picnic was held in November at Oasis Park; members celebrated the holiday spirit in December with the Oakwood Walking Trails and Brunch; a Family and Friends Potluck was well attended in January; the special trip to Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs took place in March; and the season officially ended in April with the Farewell Picnic.

Those aspiring to join the Sun Lakes Hiking Club when it starts up again in November might ask, “When is a good time to start conditioning?” The answer is a resounding now! Remember it is easier to stay in shape than it is to get into shape. Also, remember that walking on level concrete, asphalt or soft dirt does not equate to hiking on rubble going up or down a steep incline.

As the dedicated reader of the Splash already knows, there are several caveats to desert hiking in the summer heat. In addition to needing adequate water, sunscreen, a wide brim hat and sun glasses, hikers should also consider starting at a higher elevation which will likely be cooler than hiking on the desert floor. It’s also smart to drive to that higher elevation because hiking to a higher elevation will add to heat exhaustion. Hike with a friend and let a responsible person know where you are going and when you expect to return.

Until the official hiking season begins again in November, those wishing to hike may join up with others by meeting in the southeast corner of the Cottonwood Country Club parking lot near the HOA building at 6:15 a.m. on Monday mornings. The hike that day will be determined by those gathering.

For those wishing to learn more about the Sun Lakes Hiking Club contact club President Brian Hill at 480-802-1050; e-mail [email protected]