Mare Czinar, Author at PHOENIX magazine

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Like most investments with the potential of big dividends, the planning and development of long-distance trails starts with a vision and comes to fruition with persistence, cooperation and a whole lot of patience. The seeds for the Sun Corridor Trail began about eight years ago with a casual conversation among trail advocates at a brainstorming session. “The idea grew organically,” says R.J. Cardin, director of Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department and one of the...

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After battling 80-mile-per-hour winds on Humphreys Peak, evading a pack of charging javelinas in the Mazatzal Wilderness and hiking the Grand Canyon in a blizzard, John Heckenlaible decided it was time to give something back to the Arizona trails he loves. Joining the City of Phoenix parks stewardship program felt like a good way to do so. “I was climbing Piestewa Peak one day and saw two guys wearing bright yellow Phoenix Park Steward shirts,”...

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City of Phoenix park ranger Samantha Nickel is uniquely qualified for taking on the crowds at some of the city’s hiking hubs. Nickel draws upon her experience in corrections, caregiving and airline bag wrangling for her current position in the city’s East Park district, which includes Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak, Dreamy Draw and Papago Park. Being able to work diplomatically with diverse populations in busy, physically demanding outdoor conditions comes naturally to the native Arizonan...

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Dr. Tamar Gottfried expects a bit of a baby boom in 2021. While the Mesa-based OB-GYN (obgynmesa.com) has seen a decrease in routine screenings and consultations due to the coronavirus pandemic, she has also witnessed an uptick in new pregnancies. Whether that’s a byproduct of quarantine is a subject for historians, but even in these virus-cloistered times, expectant moms need exercise and fresh air. Gottfried, who leads hikes for the Arizona Trailblazers hiking club (azhikers.org),...

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Huddled in a rain poncho, drenched, shivering, dehydrated and lost, Tom Rodriguez wished he had packed the right charging cord for his cell phone. His August 2019 day trip in the remote Blue Range Primitive Area in eastern Arizona illustrates how even the most experienced hikers can end up in life-threatening situations. A former Eagle Scout, Rodriguez was no amateur. Alongside hiking pal and fellow Valley resident Michael Houseknecht, he familiarized himself with the area,...

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For the Twaddell family of Cave Creek, hiking is a family affair. Their patriarch, Graham, an environmental consultant, has been hitting the trails with 10-year-old son Enler and 6-year-old daughter Neala since before they could walk. While the sport comes naturally to them, Twaddell says that getting his kids started in hiking took planning and patience. “I found planning the hike during the week, looking at trail maps together, preparing our equipment and generally talking...

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For many Valley hikers, climbing Flatiron is an essential adventure. Getting to the top of the landform that juts out 2,500 feet above Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction is challenging – it does not give up its bragging rights easily. The climb is rugged, vertical and difficult to follow. Many give up. Everyone could use a bit of coaching. So it’s wise to take some from a guy who has hiked it more...

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As a former smoker living with reactive asthma that’s exacerbated by exercise, Heather Viti Taylor takes it easy while hiking Arizona trails. While her lack of speed allows for heightened enjoyment of the outdoors, it’s not always well-received by other hikers. “I used to feel embarrassed for ascending so slowly,” the Phoenix executive assistant says. “Half the time I will hike alone because it’s easier to not hold anyone back, but I’ve also learned to...

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When his daughter planned her June 2011 wedding to be held on the summit of Camelback Mountain, Peoria teacher Steve Horvat was devastated. Out of shape, overweight and dealing with blood pressure issues, Horvat knew he would miss the mountaintop nuptials. The couple as well as Horvat’s wife are voracious hikers, so it was no surprise that they would want to tie the knot at a place that was special to them. Yet, for Horvat,...

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To those who don’t know him, Moose doesn’t immediately register as a great hiking dog. True to his Chinese Shar-Pei breed, the quirky 8-year-old sports a grows-on-you kind of handsomeness. His wrinkled skin, sandpapery coat (Shar-Pei means “sand coat”), large blocky muzzle and wary attitude are not exactly the standard-issue kit attributed to typical outdoor types like Labrador retrievers and Border collies. But with consistent socialization and specialized training, Moose has evolved into a fine...

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Toni Barker of Phoenix does not like snow. A native of Guyana in South America, Barker arrived in Arizona by way of Kansas in 2013. “I’m accustomed to sunshine all year, so moving to Arizona was the perfect choice,” Barker says. “My company at that time was expanding in Arizona, so I applied and got the job. I packed up my car, rented an apartment online and drove over 15 hours to a state where...

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