Warning, this is a sad one. Possible over-share alert.
My choosing to be in Arizona by Thanksgiving was not a coincidence. I have a very special connection with the Superstition Mountains and the Thanksgiving holiday.
When I was 20 years old I nannied for a very exceptional family. There were two kids in diapers, with a third on the way. The parents were sweet and in love, and treated me like I was part of their family. I was so far from my own family back in Baltimore, that this relationship was especially important to me. We took walks around the Superstition Mountains almost every day and looked up at the massive breadth of stars that gathered over the mountains each night. These children were the light of my life for three years.
I won’t go into the details of the seizure disorder that the eldest daughter had, or the autism that the youngest son battled, but know that these children were so strong and unified. This family was full of so much happiness and strength that it emanated onto those around them.
In 2011, a plane crashed into the Superstition Mountains on the eve of Thanksgiving. The father of the family, Shawn Perry, along with the three children Morgan, Logan and Luke were killed instantly along with two other passengers. Karen, the mother, was not on the plane. I can’t think of a word to even begin to describe the hole that was left in an entire community of hearts.
Each year since the accident I have visited Karen on Thanksgiving to reminisce about the kids and talk about happier times. Like the time Logan fell in the duck pond while trying to throw a piece of bread or how sweet and cuddly Morgan was. Visiting the mountain has helped me come to peace and mourn their lost lives.
Each year with a handful of determined friends I have climbed to the top of Flat Iron on Superstition Mountain to pay my respects. The trail is extremely difficult before you even add in the emotional aspects, but it is still a super fun and rewarding hike.
The path leads straight up the mountain and the elevation gain is 2,500 feet over 2.5 miles. The terrain changes at every turn and at the beginning the top seems impossibly far away. There are waterfalls depending on what time of year you go, and smooth rocks to shimmy up and admire. You will see all kinds of cactus and bird life. Some sections require you to boulder up and I would highly recommend walking sticks and going as a group. Other than that, have at it and enjoy, as the view from the top is gorgeous and worth every ounce of sweat and tears. Also, watch out for tarantulas:)