Heading to Phoenix, Arizona always feels a bit like heading home. But home in the sense that everything is just so familiar, yet no longer where you belong. I was down there without the family from the 11th-16th of January for a few different reasons. Initially I bought tickets after hearing that my documentary short, Sick in Africa Ep. 1, would be included in the Chandler International Film Festival. Then I thought I'd work in a meeting with my Mobiles & Media teammates and later was invited to a Mobile Ministry Forum huddle where I'd be able to the familiar faces of several others involved in similar media ventures.
While I still have plenty of contacts in Phoenix, though they are slowly moving away one by one, at least there are plenty of people to visit. But when I learned that Friday night's opening ceremony wouldn't be free (I'm cheap like that), and people would be wearing formal wear and doing the whole red carpet thing, I felt free to go explore.
Now that I live in Portland, the winter sun of Phoenix is every bit as appealing as it was when I first visited during an Ohio winter in 1994 or so. I was staying in Chandler, just a few miles from South Mountain, and Fat Man's Pass was a hike I had never done during my eight-year stay.
Fortunately, Google Maps is now a thing. It was harder to get info back in the mid to late 90s. There were books, of course, and some online stuff but now it's just so nice and accessible to learn how to get where. So I parked my borrowed car just to the south of Fat Man's Pass in a posh neighborhood where E Kachina Dr. and S Equestrian Trail meet up in a quiet intersection. Quiet except for the engineering project going on (water tank?) inside park limits.
My plan was to follow the well-used bike trails that would take me to the east until a trail headed north into the foothills. Everything was well marked until I reached the ridge and could see the Phoenix skyline off in the distance. From here it was a scramble down any which way I could manage. Eventually I got to a dry gully and followed it west for a few easy minutes until I ducked through overhanging rocks and found my destination.
There was no mistake I was at Fat Man's Pass. The question was, had I lost enough weight lately to make it through? Just how skinny did I have to be to make it through?
I had read that it was important to take plenty of water on this trip. I'm glad I had plenty with me as this was a remote trail. On a lovely Friday afternoon, I only passed a few dog walkers on the lower trail very close to the neighborhood. Once I was over the pass and into the gully, a few other hikers were around. But other than that, I was alone with my thoughts and quite happily so.
(Images from my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge edited in Adobe Lightroom)