On Friday, I drove about 100 miles north to Payson to combine 2 hikes for the day. I went with 3 other ladies. We went to a place called the Water Wheel, which had, surprise surprise, a water wheel. But it was tucked behind a couple of trees nowhere near the water. A conundrum to be sure. The hike back to the falls was so much fun. The water was running high and we had to get in to cross over to the other side. The water was also quite cold but felt great! I only fell twice, laughing both times because I was on dry ground for each fall. After we got back to the trailhead, 2 of the ladies headed back to Phoenix. 

My other friend and I went on to the Tonto Natural Bridge for an additional 2 mile hike. And wow! That bridge was awesome! Standing hundreds of feet high or low depending on your vantage point. The hike is down hundreds of feet to the bottom where you’re treated to a spectacular view of water falling over the top. The bridge is more like a natural cave  or tunnel you can see through, filled with slick boulders, green plants, and clear water. So amazing! We spent a lot of time talking about Jesus as we went from place to place. 

Saturday, I headed to California with #1son to see his friend stationed at Twentynine Palms. We had a fun hike in Joshua Tree National Park. We hiked the Ryan Mountain Trail. 1.5 miles up more than 1000 feet. At the top we were treated to 365° of miles and miles of desert and mountain views. From here, we could see one of the 10,000+ high California peaks. On the way down I had my 2nd rattlesnake encounter! It was 3 feet long but it wasn’t rattling. I saw it thanks to people in front of us who pulled out their camera. 

Sunday, we went to Mt San Jacinto. This one stands 10,865ft high! There are only 2 ways to reach the state park, hike up 8516ft or ride the tram. We chose the tram. Haha! A quick 10 minute ride from the desert floor drops you off into a beautiful alpine forest! From here, we descended to the ranger station for our permit. We wanted to go to the peak, but since we started late, the ranger recommended irking the second best trail which took us a little more than halfway and 9700ft high. From here, we could see for miles in every direction and all the way to the Pacific Ocean! Super fun, but next time I’ll go earlier so I can make it to the peak!

297 miles down. 703 miles to go. 

Happy Tuesday!