Hiking For Families – Upcoming Presentation

This family is extremely fertile.

This family is extremely fertile.

Isn’t that family cute?

Bring your cute family this Saturday to the North Mountain Visitor Center where I’ll be presenting my list of recommended trails in the area that are great for families.

Family Hiking by Lilia Menconi

Saturday, March 7, 9:30 a.m.

North Mountain Visitor Center: 12950 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85029

After the presentation, be sure to stick around for a chance to meet other local authors. I’ll have books available for sale and signing. Hope to see you there!

The February 20’s Are Almost Here

A professional lady reflects on her busy professional life on her after-work hike.

A professional lady reflects on her busy professional life on her hike after a long day of being a professional.

Every year, I get very excited for February 20th. Because in Phoenix, this means the sun starts setting after 6 p.m.

And for a professional lady (by position, not personality) like me, this means I get to hike after work.

In the winter months, the sun is sadly setting during my commute home and there’s no realistic chance that I’ll get out on a trail before dark. So I’m limited to weekend hikes only and that is not helping my postpartum body image AT ALL.

But starting at the February 20’s, I can hike every night if I want to!

And you can, too. Here are my tips for getting the most out of evening hikes in the February 20’s (and through the spring).

Start Planning. Circle February 20th on your calendar and spend the next few weeks figuring out which trail(s) will work best for you. Visit them on the weekends so you become familiar with them in advance.

Consider Location. I’ve found that choosing a trailhead that’s close to the workplace (which may not be close to home) is best. This minimizes the drive time while the precious sun is still up.

Don’t Get Crazy. The average hiking rate on a moderate trail for an adult is 2 miles per hour. So don’t get over-ambitious with the mileage because it gets dark quick out there, friends.

Do The Math. Barbara hikes at 2.3 miles per hour. If the sun sets at 6:17 p.m. and Barbara arrives at the trailhead at 5:05 p.m., how many miles can she hike before the sun goes down? (You’ll want to do similar calculations for yourself.)

Get the Gear. When you leave your house in the morning, grab your gear (backpack, hiking clothes, water bottle, and shoes). As soon as you’re off the clock, it’s time to get naked.

Get Naked. Having to change your clothes away from home is the big drawback here. You’re either changing clothes at a workplace bathroom risking spandexed-butt exposure to co-workers or you’re changing clothes in your car at a trailhead risking indecent exposure. Take your pick.

Give It Up. If work runs late and you don’t get out the door in time, abandon your plans. Maybe go for a jog around your neighborhood instead. Hiking in the dark can be dangerous on steep or unfamiliar trails. Don’t get stupid.

Be Safe. I have to say this: Know the trail, pack plenty of water (1L for every 2 miles), and tell someone where you’re hiking.

Don’t know where to go? Leave me a comment, tell me where you work, and I’ll find something for ya.

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

Trail 100 East From North Mountain Visitor Center

Aw, pretty...

Aw, pretty…

Forgive me if this blog isn’t as clever as my others.

I’m a mother now. I have to make certain sacrifices. Because I have exactly 27 minutes until the nanny goes home.

Good writing may have gone by the wayside but good hiking has not. Now that baby is no longer a screaming, writhing, constantly-nursing newborn, I’ve been strapping her into a carrier and hitting the dirt.

Just us girls on the trail.

Just us girls on the trail.

On the very best day of my motherhood so far, baby and I set out alone to explore Trail 100 heading east from the North Mountain Visitor Center (make sure to check that place out — great exhibits for kids, a bookstore, a library, jewelry for sale, and special events).

This hike is yet another little itty bit of the great Trail 100 which stretches end to end in the Phoenix Mountains totaling 11 miles. The hike described here is considerably shorter. It wanders under 7th Street via a tunnel, past the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Hills Resort, and into some of the most serene desert you can find in the middle of the city.

After a recent rain, the place was covered in green grass and swollen cacti. I loved it out there as I worked up a decent sweat climbing a few small inclines. Baby slept the whole time, and the smell of horse crap from the neighboring stables only lasted for a few minutes. Pretty awesome.

Trail 100 East From North Mountain Visitor Center

Distance: 1.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 180 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Location: North Mountain Visitor Center in Phoenix Mountains Preserve

Online Map & Driving Directions (click the link and scroll to bottom of page for Google map driving directions)

What a nice little stretch this is.

What a nice little stretch this is.

Description:

From the southeast corner of the parking lot at the North Mountain Visitor Center, find Trail 100 clearly marked by large signs. Hang a left to follow the trail east and you’ll immediately travel through the tunnel that runs under 7th Street. With the Pointe Hilton resort to your right and horse stables to the left, you’ll have to travel a few feet to escape the odd aromatic mix of chlorine and horse manure. This doesn’t last long and before you know it, Trail 100 opens up into a gorgeous desert landscape. From here, just follow the signs for Trail 100 which will keep you veering and turning to the right as you bypass two trail intersections. At the 2nd intersection, you’ll hang a sharp right to follow the Trail 100 sign and the trail will narrow as you begin to climb up rocky terrain. Once the trail reaches a small saddle (at just under a mile), feel free to call it a day and turn around.

From what I experienced, this allows for about an hour’s nap for the 4 month old strapped to your chest.

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

I’m Back! And I’m Speaking at REI!

Well, hello.

When you are your own unpaid blogger, you get a really generous self-imposed maternity leave.

Now that I’m getting back to the swing of things (oh, who am I kidding? There’s no going back!), I’ve booked a presentation at REI to talk all about maternity and postpartum hiking. Read below for details and links.

Cute, right?

Cute, right?

Hiking for Moms and Moms To Be

Thursday, January 22nd at the Tempe REI location

Thursday, January 29th at the PV REI location

Description: Attention all moms who love the outdoors! Award winning writer and local hiking book author, Lilia Menconi, presents her most recent discoveries of local trails that are pregnancy and postpartum friendly. With an emphasis on the Phoenix Mountains, Menconi will review her favorite hikes she recommends per trimester and for moms who are ready to hit the trails with a baby in tow. Lilia Menconi is the author of Take a Hike Phoenix, a hiking guidebook featuring 81 trail reviews of hikes within a two hour drive of the city. She recently hiked her way through pregnancy and is now testing the trails as a new mom. She’ll share her experience as well as basic safety information, needed gear, and a few personal stories of triumphs (and the occasional mishap).

Be sure to register at the links above and I hope to see you there!

Guest Blog: Kate Crowley with REI’s Advice for Phoenix Summit Challenge

Lilia is currently not taking a hike. Hopefully, she’s taking a nap. In the meantime, fellow hiker and Phoenix lover, Kate Crowley offers up some fantastic info about the upcoming Phoenix Summit Challenge. Thanks Kate!

The Phoenix Summit Challenge...can't wait!

The Phoenix Summit Challenge…can’t wait!

Liz Smith from South Mountain Park and Joe Impecoven Phoenix Outdoor Programs & Outreach Market Coordinator REI Tempe gave an awesome and extensive presentation at REI Tempe (Phoenix Summer Challenge- Are You Ready?) in early August about attempting the Phoenix Summit Challenge. Many of you followed Lilia’s rainy journey last year and this year, I’m signed up to do the PHX 4 for the challenge as well…so needless I say, I paid attention.

Here are ten takeaways from the presentation.

1.  Buy (and train in ) your shoes now.

You definitely don’t want to wait to break shoes in. So buy shoes or boots now, get to your training, and feel more than comfortable the day of the event. Best part: If you’re an REI member, you can return any pair of shoes purchased to the store, within a year’s time, if they don’t work out.

2.  Find a driver or carpool.

This is a great tip especially if you’re doing all 7 summits. There’s lots of driving and towards the end of the day you could be quite tired. Plus, your only “downtime” is in the car. If you can carpool with a friend, it will make parking easier and the two of you can switch off on driving.

3.  Walk everyday

Joe recommended walking everyday, even if it was just walking your dog. Of course, this is on top of any hiking you’ll be doing. This helps you get used to being on your feet for long periods of time.

4.  Practice your day

Yep, make sure you practice your hydration and nutrition well before the day of the challenge. And on the day of the challenge void trying anything new! If you haven’t been using it all along in training, don’t try it for the first time during the challenge. This includes avoiding mistakes like adding in fizzy drinks to your regiment suddenly or wearing a brand new shirt. Also, test your gear; especially water holding packs or bottles.

You can't know it until you do it!

You can’t really know it until you do it…and that’s the fun part.

5.  Dress in layers

Last year the weather was cold and rainy. Bring layers! The summit may be cold or windy and if you’re drenched in sweat, you’ll shiver all the way down. Pack a lightweight, crushable rain or wind layer.

6.  Use your car as home base

Keep a cooler, snacks, water and changes of clothes/socks in the car. Your car is your home base and can transport all of your needed items so you don’t need a heavy pack.

7.  Travel the course

Before the challenge, try doing a few of the hikes back to back. This will familiarize you with the course and with driving routes.

8.  Sunscreen

Yes we’re desert dwellers, and we know SPF is important. But Joe made a point that some higher level SPFs (50+) contain ingredients that can actually sit over pores and trap in heat. Choose your sunscreen carefully.

9.  Try training on large, loop trails

Get in a long hike on a loop trail. Go for a 10 to 15 miles hike on a series of trails or a loop trail (Lilia includes several in her book) so that if you get out there and decide to change mileage based on how you’re feeling or for weather, you’ll have options.

10.  Be courteous

Liz noted that there are some participants who run the race! If you are on the descent, step aside for those heading up. If you see someone running (and it’s not your team), move out of the way!

Kate is a writer and PR and marketing consultant from Phoenix. She’s a runner, swimmer and tri-athlete in training. You can follow her adventures, travels and hikes @katecrowley on Instagram and twitter. See what she’s written most recently at fitbottomedgirls.com and phoenixnewtimes.com.

Maternity Hike: The Final Days on Trail 100

Strangers no longer hesitate to comment on my pregnancy.

Strangers no longer hesitate to comment on my pregnancy.

“It’s a long walk back if you start having labor pains!” a friendly man blurted at me on the trail the other day.

Now that I’m just two weeks away from my due date, hiking has become less like hiking and more like a slow waddle through the dirt. Lately, I’ve been hitting a very, very, very simple trail that’s near my home (and my birthing center) and I only hike with my husband at sunset.

And I only do this on days when I really feel up for it.

On that note, I probably won’t be up for hiking during the next couple months (though I will be up all hours of the night with a newborn baby). Rest assured, I’ve got a guest blog in the works (thank you Kate Crowley!) and will be back on the trail as soon as I can.

Trail 100 to The Bench

Distance: 1.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 25 feet-ish (maybe less)

Difficulty: Ridiculously easy

Late Pregnancy Difficulty: Moderate (because if it’s strenuous, time to head home and put your feet up)

Location: North Mountain Visitor Center in Phoenix Mountains Preserve

I re-used a map from another blog post. But you have to forgive me because I'm super pregnant.

I re-used a map from another blog post. But you have to forgive me because I’m super pregnant.

Description:

To start the hike, find the signs to Trail 100 on the south side of the North Mountain Visitor Center building. Head west along Trail 100. At 0.3 mile, Trail 100 and Trail 306 combine and you’ll follow the shared trail south. When you encounter a small clearing with a bench and the trail marker for Trail 101 (at 0.7 mile total), it’s time to turn around.

But make sure you sit on the bench for a minute and hydrate. Because you’re super pregnant.

(If you’re not super pregnant, click here for a longer version of this hike).

 

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

Obligatory disclaimer for the pregnant ladies and all other humans: Check with your doctor before engaging in exercise.

Upcoming Event: See Me at North Mountain Visitor Center

Image courtesy of Ryan & Denise Photography (ryananddenise.com)

This is me at my last “public appearance”. This time around, I will look much more pregnant.

If you missed out on my book signing and speaking events for Take a Hike Phoenix at the beginning of the year, fear not! I’ll be getting up in front of a crowd to talk about hiking very soon. Wanna come?

Here are the details…

Brown Bag Workshop: Lilia Menconi presents “Top Ten, One to Ten”

Saturday, August 2nd

Noon to 1pm

FREE

North Mountain Visitor Center

12950 North 7th Street

This event is just for fun so there’s no expectation to purchase a book or get it signed. You can just show up, bring a snack, listen, and leave without talking to anyone!

(Or, if you like, you can bring or buy a book and I’ll happily sign it for you. No pressure. I swear.)

I’ll be sharing my go-to presentation about my top 10 favorite hikes in The Valley that vary from one mile to ten miles. I’ll also run through a few tips for beginners, hiking safety, and trail etiquette guidelines.

Hope to see you there!