Hiking with Grandpa


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Saturday, February 15, 2004: One fine day in Mesa, Arizona, Grandpa Schilling decided to take his grandkids, Jill and Stewart, on a hiking trip around Usery Mountain. He also took along his daughter Debbie, son Doug, and daughter-in-law Susan.
Grandpa Schilling loved this hiking trip very much, and had hiked this route nearly 20 times since retiring to Arizona several years earlier. After a picnic lunch, the group started off on their seven-mile hike.
Jill and Stewart are unburdened by the cares of the adult world, and were filled with plenty of energy.
Just over a mile into the hike, this was our view facing away from the mountain we were circling.
Here is the view looking back to civilization.
Stewart and his dad posed for a shot during our first snack break.
Then Grandpa and his energetic grandkids climbed a rock to pose for another photo.
There were many interesting forms of cactus, none of which we will tell you about.
Here's another cactus.
As we started to round the north point of the oblong mountain, another lovely view awaited us.
We stopped at the northernmost vantage point, where Grandpa pointed out something to Jill in the distance.
At certain times of day, a large fountain blows in the town below. The plume of water is so high it can be easily seen from several miles away. Look just above the mountain in the foreground, near the center, to see the water spray.
There were several tiny types of wildflowers along the trail. This bloom was less than an inch wide.
Not quite half way around the mountain, and everyone was still smiling. Susan was sporting some nasty blisters already, though.
At the halfway point, on the eastern side of the mountain, Debbie and her dad stopped to enjoy a beer, while Doug and the kids walked up a small path to a nearby cave.
Jill was first in, and took the next few shots of Stewart climbing in.
Caves are fun!
Before rejoining the others, they smiled for the camera.
And we were off again! Our view now faced south ... and civilization. In theory, we were halfway done. In reality, it didn't turn out that way. Although the path turns to the left in this photo, the trail switches back and continues down the mountain on the right.
In fact, here is the trail switching back toward the mountain.
As the afternoon stretched on, several delays occurred. First, Stewart scraped his arm, so Aunt Debbie put down her camera and pulled out her first aid kit to get him fixed up. Later on, we realized that she left the camera back on the trail, so Grandpa saved the day and went back for it.
After Grandpa returned with the camera, we continued ... without the walking stick Doug had been carrying. Later on, we realized that it was missing, so Grandpa saved the day again and went back for it.
Now, with all equipment accounted for, we rounded the southern end of the mountain and headed for victory.
Sadly, victory was not ours just yet. We still had close to another mile left. At this point, we were using any excuse to rest, while Grandpa patiently waited for us to regain our energy.
Nearly at the end of the trail, the view back to the south was also beautiful.
Siblings Debbie and Doug were exhausted but proud that they didn't pass out on the trail. All in all, it was a fabulous hike! Elapsed time: approximately five hours. (Grandpa can do it in 3 1/2!)

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