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Writing from Arizona

I'm in Arizona right now visiting my brother, who I don't get to see often. Even though I'm away from the office I'm still thinking about work--I read our newest issue front to back on the way here, and I must say it's pretty good! I always enjoying sitting down with Shape whenever I'm away; it makes me realize that what I'm a part of is so important. Every time I see our February issue on newsstands (it's everywhere out here! Does that mean that more women in Arizona read Shape?) I smile because hundreds of miles away in NYC, I actually work there, and I'm part of helping women lead healthier lives. It's something I'm really, really proud of.

Whenever I'm in Arizona, because the weather is always so nice (it's in the upper 70's right now and probably freezing back home) I'm outside as much as I can. Last year I got familiar with the area where my brother lives, running and biking every day; but this year, with Dino along too, we're doing more adventurous activities (didn't I say when I started dating him that we'd never sit on the couch and watch re-runs?). So for the past two days we've been hiking at the Sedona Red Rock Mountains and checking out the views at the Grand Canyon. My brother, his girlfriend, Dino and I made preparations all week for our hike--a 7 mile trek into a canyon called Boynton. I got new hiking shoes, synthetic clothing (which is better for you if you're outdoors in the heat and you're sweating a lot), and loaded up our bags with enough snacks to stay energized and tons of water to stay hydrated. The Red Rocks of Sedona are beautiful, and I've seen them before, but I never ventured far enough into the mountain to see much of the environment.



This time the hike took us through what seemed like the four seasons! Arizona is funny like that--you can be so hot under the sun but then the second you hit the shade, you're freezing. This hike was no different and when we made a turn into the canyon (where we'd eventually hit the mountain wall) it felt like we were in upstate New York on a cold winter day. The forest floor was a blanket of snow and the trail was a sheet of ice too. Honestly, I didn't know it snowed in Arizona (it is a desert!). Needless to say, the hour of winter hiking was pretty difficult and maybe even a bit dangerous, but once we came our of the forest and into the sun again, the view was incredible. We hung out at the top of the canyon for a while to relax and fuel up again before we headed back to the bottom (staying hydrated and getting the right nutrients when you're doing a long hike, or any long physical activity for that matter, is so important for your safety). The only thing I wasn't expecting when we finished our hike was how dry my skin and lips were. The drastic temperature changes and elevation really takes a toll on your skin if you're not prepared (I loaded up on Aquaphor when I got to the car).












Next, we drove a few hours up Arizona to see the Grand Canyon. We crashed for the night in a hotel first--hiking is an all-over body workout and we were exhausted--and woke up to see the sunrise from the rim of the Canyon. To explain the Grand Canyon, if you've never seen it in person, will never do it justice, for it really was one of the most breathtaking views I've ever seen. The Canyon covers four corners of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado and stretches out from one rim in Arizona (the South rim) for ten miles to Utah (the North rim). From rim to rim it's like a huge hole in the earth. It's so amazing when you think about what it really is because this land is a perfect example of the Earth's geological system--you can actually see each layer of the rocks underneath the Earth! At one point (about 2 billion years ago) the land stretched miles across a flat plateau but eventually a shift in our tectonic plates and hundreds of millions of years of precipitation and erosion created what we see today when we look at the Grand Canyon. I was in awe because I could only imagine what the view must look like from down below (I was also petrified of getting too close to the rim and falling over, ah!).

We didn't have enough time, and definitely not enough planning, to set out on a hike through the Grand Canyon but we're hoping to plan a four day trip in September. The weather won't be as cold (it actually is winter weather up at the GC) and we'll be able to camp out along the trails too. My coworker Alice did this a few months ago and she says the experience is unforgettable. For now, my adventures are done, but back at my brother's house I'm getting ready to go mountain biking!



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