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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Who’s Up For A Hike With Swarming Bees?

Believe it or not, we are a family that LOVES to go hiking. Before we bought our RV last year & before Nic left us the 2nd time to go to Virginia without us (May 2012-May 2013), we used to do a LOT of camping throughout the Spring, Summer & Fall up in our good ol’ Rocky Mountains. MHG was practically born and raised there. Some of our most favorite memories involving her take place on one camping trip or another. Cindy, on the other hand, has had the honor of going on a whopping total of 1 camping trip, lol. Needless to say, this girl doesn’t have a whole lotta experience in the field of hiking preparation. Here’s how she decided to dress herself for the adventure. (We let her dress herself. She is a VERY independent girl, lol!) She looks more ready for a fashion show than hiking, but you can’t argue the fact that she sure is adorable!

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Today’s excursion was brought on by hounding my Husband to find us somewhere to reconnect with nature. I don’t mind staying in the RV for countless hours, days and weeks on end and I’m not always a museums & zoos kind of gal, but I sure do gravitate towards Mother Nature often. He spent a little bit of time searching for nearby places to hike in Phoenix and came up with this location: Thunderbird Conservation Park atop Thunderbird Mountain. It has trails of various difficulties & the lengths of time to traverse the landscape varies as well. There are a few high points to hike up where we can see for miles and it’s not too far away. It sounded right up our alley! When you’re used to having Garden of the Gods practically in your back yard for 12 years, it’s really hard to leave that behind…and it also makes it a tough act to follow! (Here is Garden of the God’s website.) However, we’ve been deprived of ANY hiking adventures for quite some time, so I wasn’t about to complain.

We parked at the middle entrance location, just east of the Amphitheater & began our hike by climbing the Amphitheater’s stairs. Once we got to the top of them, we took the Sunrise trail just to the North of those stairs and began the trek up to the peak. It was a moderate to moderate/difficult trailhead, but it was a LOT of fun and more importantly, it was nice to be out in nature again. It’s about a 4 mile hike round trip and Cindy did about a mile of that by herself just holding my hand. I was proud of her. I did carry her intermittently when the terrain got too rocky for her footing though.

T-Bird Map for Trails Brochure1

Here’s a view of the other side of the park. We’re standing at the top of the stairs in the Amphitheater.

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There’s the other hill to the left of the one pictured above. The whole park consists of 3 hills. We climbed the one on the west side of the park.

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As we approached the last quarter of the trailhead to the top, the craziest thing happened. MHG & Nic were about 10 feet ahead of me as I was carrying Cindy on my shoulders at this point. All of a sudden, I heard the loudest and lowest buzzing sound I have ever heard before in my life. The next 3 seconds consisted of Nic picking MHG up and literally throwing her farther up the trail and covering her body as best he could. While this happened, I stood absolutely frozen as a huge swarm of bees flew up the side of the bluff we were climbing up. It all happened so fast. By the time I realized what the buzzing sound was and why my Husband just threw our oldest daughter up the trail, they had already completely encompassed Cindy and I in their swarm and continued flying past us. This all occurred in the time span of probably 3-5 seconds. To recap: I heard buzzing, Nic threw MHG, I looked down (only with my eyes) wondering what I should do, bees are flying all around Cindy and I and as fast as they came, they were gone. Oh. Those were bees. I hate bees.

I unfroze enough to turn and face Nic and after I let out a rather loud F-bomb (with many a witness present), the only other thing I could manage to say was “Is Cindy alright?!” I realized MHG was fine, her Daddy had protected her, but I was utterly useless in protecting our baby. All I could envision was her covered in hives and blue because knowing my luck she was allergic to them & was experiencing anaphylaxis shock and couldn’t breath… So…as my imagination ran wild, he looked her over and assured me that she was fine. In fact, she was just as giggly and smiley as she was 10 seconds before the sky went black from the cloud of bees swarming around us. No one was stung…which I thought was amazing. Everyone ahead of us on the trail and everyone behind us (the closest people to Cindy and I were only 5 feet behind…but they weren’t in the bees path) on the trail asked if we were ok. I wasn’t even shaken up, because my adrenaline never kicked in because, once again, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS HAPPENING. I learned that when bees are migrating…or whatever it’s called when a bee swarm is on the move, they are not interested in attacking everyone and everything in their path. Should this ever happen to you, just stand as still as possible. They’ll be gone in a couple seconds.

Anyone that knows me well, will most likely be surprised to hear that I didn’t run away screaming and hysterically flinging my arms around me (I HATE bees) as they swarmed me. To be completely honest, I probably WOULD have, had I known what was happening. I just completely froze as I tried to make sense of what was going on. It’s probably the first and last time that I will ever manage to stand still when I’m face to face with my nemesis. I know bees are crucial to our survival on the planet, but they can save the planet OVER THERE, away from me and their stinging stingyness! Now, on with the rest of our hike.

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We made it to the top after about an hour trek.

us on tbm 2014

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Daddy Girls TBM

As I turned in a circle, I took 12 photographs. I tried piecing them together for you, but I truly have no idea what I’m doing, so you’ll just have to forgive me.

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We hiked a decent distance…especially considering the fact that we had 2 little girls in tow!

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Here, I’ll zoom in for ya.

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I love that I can make scarves serve multiple uses. I wore it in the event that I might end up babywearing…and it was a good thing I did, because I carried her in my makeshift sling for 3/4 of the way down. I never have used a scarf as a baby sling before, but Nic tied it extra tight, and with a few adjustments, it worked like a charm! It just goes to show that you don’t need to spend tons of money on pre-made baby slings that you’re only going to use once in a while. She’s 26 pounds and it never budged once. It took some of the slack off my back!

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Back to the bottom of the mountain now and check out this li’l guy we spotted in the Amphitheater! He’s a Chuckwalla lizard. He was probably about 12-14 inches long from nose to tip of his tail.

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They were talking to him down there on the left of the picture.

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Here is some info About the Chuckwalla Lizard.

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After a couple hours of hiking, we returned home for lunch and the girls took a nice long nap. It was a lovely day and we were all happy to have had such a fun & memorable adventure!!! Now, I would love to hike the Superstition Mountains!

Owl Family Signature

These are the 12 pictures separated from the panoramic shots I tried to piece together above. I believe if I leave them touching like this, Google+ will turn them into gif image for me. I could be wrong though.

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