Sitting in a Valley watering hole sipping a few cold ones, it's hard to imagine that human beings not so different from us were here, doing things, hoping for things, dreaming of things long before we were ever around. Occasionally, we must stare history in the face to recognize how far we've come and, perhaps, realize how far we have to go. There's no better place to do this than the Holbert Trail at South Mountain Park. Here, petroglyphs inscribed in the living rock by Hohokam People centuries ago. See abstract depictions of animals and hunters. Many have attested to the petroglyphs' spiritual significance. We don't like to bring religion into things, but it's hard not to feel something (spiritual or otherwise) when one bears witness to evidence of those who came before us.
Our knees just aren't what they used to be, but we still love the freedom and beauty of running on a surface that wasn't created by a steamroller. When we're not in the mood for the demanding ups and downs of some of the local single-track trails in desert parks, the dirt road leading west from the parking lot of Pima Canyon proves more than satisfying. A metal gate stops all motorized traffic from entering, but you may have to dodge a few fast-moving mountain bikes coming down the slope. And about that slope: It's gentle but relentless. It's just over a mile from the parking lot to the trailhead of National Trail, though the incline and uneven terrain makes it seem longer. Enough rocks and divots exist to force us to pay attention to the trail — this isn't a sidewalk but that means it's working our muscles better than an ordinary jog would. Coming back, the grade isn't steep enough to punish our joints — much. We've used this two-mile-plus workout, done frequently over a multi-week period, to prime ourselves for the Grand Canyon, Humphreys Peak, and other hearty Arizona challenges.