Exploring Nature Right in the City…

When I chose the theme of exploring for this year, I thought about how my son is at the magical age where everything is exploration. His favorite thing is to run around outside and find bugs or weeds he thinks are special plants to gift me or to find new sprouts in our garden that weren’t there the day before. I knew that one of my goals for exploring this year would be to get him exploring more places than our backyard or usual weekly trips. I have a couple friends who have fallen in love with hiking with their kids over the past year and I knew that my kid would love that too, but I also knew we needed to start small and that often times the group hikes I’d like to go on with my #motherhiker friends don’t line up with when our schedule or transportation allows. This is why I was thrilled to get the chance to explore Reach 11 the day before Thanksgiving last year since my husband was off work and we’d all be free. Unfortunately, my son ended up being really sick that day so he and my husband stayed home and only my daughter and I got to join in the group hike. I’ve been thinking about how much I wanted my guys to experience that place ever since.

So Sunday, since we had an extra day in our weekend, and because I’ve been trying to explore using the sabbath for rest and recreation instead of our usual routine of getting done a ton of prep for the week, we decided to go as a family on a little hike and explore this place I’d been wanting to come back to for months.

Heading into the “tree tunnel” with his dad

The cool thing about Reach 11 is that it is a recreation area with preserved nature in the middle of suburban sprawl. It is so close to two freeways and yet when you are towards the center of the trail you’d never guess that. Another cool thing is that it is stroller friendly in case you have kiddos and are not comfortable with baby wearing. This also means that the path is very well defined and clear which gave my son easy instructions to follow if he wanted to run ahead. My favorite part about this space is the pond where we spotted frogs and even a gorgeous cardinal.

My son loved the signs that told about the different wildlife he could find and he especially loved the “tree tunnel” section of the trail where the trees create a shaded canopy and everything got several degrees cooler. I loved the easily climbable tree by the pond and my husband was happy to be outdoors on a day with perfect weather. (We were so glad we didn’t put it off until the very windy next day!) My daughter seemed bewildered that her brother was more interested in something besides being right by her side, but she came around and enjoyed the sunshine and the snack break we took at the pond.

I’m hoping we will get back there again, but the fact that my son walked over a mile without complaining or melting down gave us the encouragement to try a slightly more difficult trail with him in the future. It also reminded us how much we want to take advantage of getting outside before those 100 degree temperatures descend on Phoenix and it was so great that in the midst of a bustling city there are patches of sweet, quiet, infinitely explorable nature.

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