Saturday, June 3, 2017

Los Burros Trail - Pinetop

Weather:  82º, sunny

About this Hike:  I had difficulty finding the details I wanted about Los Burros online, so I'm going to try to share them here. Hopefully this helps another aspiring Los Burros explorer.

Los Burros is an easy drive from downtown Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ.  It does require about seven miles over a dirt road. Websites say it's a gravel road which to me means hard packed gravel and oil.  Oh no...this road is dirt.  It is well-maintained, graded dirt.  I didn't encounter any major potholes or washboard sections.  However, it's dirt and your car will get filthy.  I was driving in my brand new Mazda CX-3 and was not happy. But, give the road plenty of respect, especially if you're in a car, and you'll be OK.

The Los Burros trailhead originates from a campground with the same name.  It's a peaceful respite in the woods with some preserved historical U.S. Forest Service structures onsite.  The higher elevation lends to cooler temperatures.

The trail forms a giant loop said to be ~10 miles.  I chose to hike up to the fire lookout tower which was probably around eight miles round trip.  Numbered markers dot the trees along the trail and maps are available at the trailhead.  While fairly well-signed, staying on course does get tricky in places.

Hiking up to the fire tower takes you through green, flower-filled meadows; ponderosa pine forest; and even some stands of aspen.  When I reached the summit of Lake Mountain and the fire tower, a ranger was manning it and invited me up.

He was a very interesting older gentleman who had spent many a summer in what I learned is called the Lake Mountain Lookout.  This particular ranger had gone back to school for graphic design.  His artwork and photography decorates the 7x7 interior of the tower ('the cab' as they call it).  Upon my departure, he let me pick a postcard he had designed with artwork depicting Lake Mountain Lookout. Such an amazing souvenir of this hike.

Lake Mountain wasn't my first Arizona fire tower hike, and I hope it's not my last.  These towers require me to force one foot in front of the other.  With metal mesh staircases and a ladder for the final six-foot climb, these do no favors for my fear of heights.  However, the experience you have visiting these historic U.S. Forest Service structures makes the discomfort more than worth it.

So what is Lake Mountain anyway?  Well it turns out just below the fire tower there's a large, open meadow.  This has been known to fill during heavy rains, hence the name Lake Mountain Lake.  It was a marshy grassland during my visit in early June.  I noted some bones—possibly elk—strewn about the meadow.

Overall, an awesome hike worth the hassle of getting to in the White Mountains.



Lake Mountain Lake

My poor new car!



Friday, May 26, 2017

Tour Guide on Echo...

Weather:  92º, sunny

About this Hike:  I was with some good company and chose not to do a time trial.  With warm-ish temps (although very nice for late May), I didn't want any of my visitors to croak from heat exhaustion.  No Cholla trail here though—my visitors are required to do Echo Canyon :)

The trail wasn't too crowded this Friday morning.  We saw some wildlife including several big orange lizards and a unique bird.  Maybe a roadrunner?


Routine and enjoyable late-spring hike before the real heat sets in.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Back to Piestewa

Weather:  84º, sunny

Time:  25 minutes

About this Hike:  Warmer weather may have skimmed off the weakest of Saturday hikers... While crowded, I've seen much worse at Piestewa.

Despite the heat I still posted a reputable time.  At the summit there were large wasps (possibly male velvet ants?) that seemed to like buzzing around me.  Concerned for my safety, I descended from the summit after only a short stay.

Overall a nice, uneventful hike as we quickly say goodbye to tolerable temps in The Valley.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Quick Piestewa Visit

Weather:  68º, heavy clouds, windy

Time:  24 minutes

About this Hike:  Cloudy skies, breezy conditions, and a not-too-hot air temp all spurred me to the summit quicker than my most recent hikes. Although the mountain was crowded, I managed to find moments of respite from the crowds.

Overall a quick, routine hike on a beautiful late winter day.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Presidental Piestewa

Weather:  62º, sunny

Time:  26 minutes

About this Hike:  This has been a rainy, cool weekend.  The past few years February's arrival has brought with it highs in the 90's. The fact our short Phoenix winter is hanging on in 2017 is nothing I'll complain about.

Despite some lingering clouds, this morning the sun was shining through. Lower temps were all but cancelled out by the notable higher humidity.  I believe this is the reason for a 26 minute time to the summit.

This is the first year I've had President's Day as a paid company holiday—as did the rest of the Valley, it seems.  The crowding on the mountain was bad at times today.. On the ascent there were periods of peace and respite. However, on the descent I couldn't get into a good cadence. I had other hikers constantly nipping at my heels, while less experienced hikers on their way up would stop and block the trail in front of me.  Needless to say, I was grouchy by the time this one was finished.

BUT, I had to put on a happy face... Walking back to my car I ran into one of my neighbors who happened to be searching for a parking spot to do her own hike.  She graciously drove me back to the residential area where I was parked.  I suggested she park there as well, considering the number of cars circling the main lots....

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Open House at Piestewa

Weather:  68º, partly cloudy

Time:  25 minutes

About this Hike:  Not a bad time posted considering the mountain was very crowded.  Pretty typical for a Saturday morning in February.  This was a rough week filled with mass layoffs at work (I'm spared, for now) and some other unsettling job-related news.  To say I had some anger and frustration spurring me on would be an understatement...

Otherwise the hike was very uneventful.  A bottleneck always forms right as the trail gives way to the summit.  This is due to some light scrambling that's required onto the summit.  Rather than fight through this, I chose to just pivot and head back down.  

After the hike I returned to my car which was parked on one of the surrounding residential streets.  I've had my eye on a home that for sale in that neighborhood.  Imagine city views and hike-out access to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.  While the $619k asking price may be just a bit out of my price range (by about half-a-million—plus I may be out of a job soon), I noticed an 'Open House' sign.  Right after the hike I was far from presentable compared to the suit-and-tie clad Realtor, but I invited myself in.  So anyway, peeping at an open house, and daring to dream, were definitely the highlights of this hike.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Supra Piestewa Hike

Weather:  71º, sunny

Time:  25 minutes

About this Hike:  With the WM PHX Open in town the trails were as expected:  crowded.  I didn't even bother visiting the main parking lots first; I just parked off site.

Despite the crowds I powered through and made good time to the summit. Despite low air temperatures, the sun was intense during this late-morning hike.

Upon returning to the trailhead there was a final-generation Toyota Supra and an early-2000's Acura Integra in the queue for a parking spot. While I took pictures of their ricey cars, the driver of the Supra looked expectantly at me...I realized he was hoping to nab my parking spot.  Since I was parked off-site no luck for him...

Otherwise an enjoyable, routine hike—a great opportunity to burn some calories before tonight. Word is there's a big game on TV....