A recent Doug MacEachern op-ed in the AZ Republic explores the differences in how folks explore the Phoenix Mountain Preserve trails. While my impression is that visitors to Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve tend more toward the original intent of land preservation, MacEachern’s words provide opportunity for reflection:
That’s how the system is designed. To see stuff that, by rights, you shouldn’t be capable of enjoying until you’ve gone deep into the Superstitions or you’re halfway to Yarnell.
Two weeks ago, I hiked a trail west of Seventh Street, north of the Tapatio Cliffs Hilton. We walked through an overhanging tunnel of salt cedar south of the stables and up a gentle slope until we opened up on the north side of Sunnyslope.
I’ve seen Sunnyslope. I’ve been through Sunnyslope. I know Sunnyslope. But never before did I see Sunnyslope from the north, looking down on a … well, a slope leading from the edge of the Preserve into a village of old pueblo-style adobe homes and buildings that no doubt hailed from the days when the area largely served as a tuberculosis sanatorium.
The operative word being “see.” Hiking the preserves is an experience of the senses. Of breath and smell and sight. It isn’t something designed simply to overcome.
I, too, admire the efforts of those who hike Valley trails for the challenge. But we should remind ourselves that we preserved them primarily for the perspective they provide.