Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Atop Camelback

Weather:  49°, sunny

Time:  33 minutes

About this hike:  I sure have missed a lot of weeks.  But weekends are often filled with other things now--even better than hiking our beautiful Phoenix mountains!

Today I was able to make it back to Camelback.  I think I'm a little out of shape after all these weeks off.  While 33 minutes isn't bad, I had to take quite a few breaks.  Not acceptable in cooler weather. Parking was among the most challenging I've ever dealt with, but a little creativity got me in the gate at my secret parking spot.

Primary reason I put up with Camelback and all it's crowdedness today was to see the Christmas tree on top.  It did not disappoint.  Santa was up there as well, taking photos and passing out candy canes.  Despite the sub-50 degree temps, shortly after starting out I had to take off my hoodie.  A Santa suit had to be warm for hiking up in.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Piestewa Peak & New Shoes

Weather:  68°, sunny

Time:  25 minutes

About this hike:  I just did not have the patience today to deal with the crowds that are sure to be at Camelback Echo Canyon.  Doubtful that my little secret spot would have their parking garage open today either.  Add in the fact that I'm re-gaining my appreciation for Piestewa Peak (was my spot for over a year when Echo was closed), and this morning's hike was all but decided for me.

Upon arrival I chose to park on a residential side street assuming the main lots would be full. The trailhead lot actually had a few spots available. However, you wouldn't know it from the crowd on the mountain. From their conversations you could tell a lot were tourists/visitors, likely hiking off Thanksgiving feasts.

So achieving a 25 minute time was no easy task.  I had to push hard and be aggressive around some of these slower tourists.  Despite cooler temps, I had to stop a few times too.  Disappointing since at one time I could go at this mountain without a rest til the summit.

I broke in a Black Friday gift to myself of new Coleman hiking shoes.  I'm leery of the brand even if they are renown for their camping gear.  However, for the first hike the Colemans were comfortable with good padding in the sole and a solid rubber toe.  We'll see how they hold up.  These are to replace a cheap pair of Denalis which lasted me since March and went thru Grand Canyon and countless other strenuous hikes.  The uppers are still in great condition but the soles are hurting my feet now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful for Camelback

Weather:  71°, sunny

Time:  31.5 minutes

About this hike:  Crowded the day before Thanksgiving.  I don't know if extra paranoia or what, but it seemed like everyone was staring at me and/or purposely getting in my way.  Annoying at times.

Regardless, lots to be thankful for--great weather, the ability to hike, that Echo Canyon is open again, that parking isn't metered at the trailhead...

Speaking of parking, I'm thankful I found a good spot.  It was a little tough to come by when I arrived.  Lot was pretty open by the time I got back to the trailhead.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Unexpectedly Piestewa

Weather:  70°, sunny

Time:  ~25 minutes

About this hike:  Planned on going to Camelback around 11:30am.  I arrived at Echo Canyon and the line of cars waiting to get in was out to the traffic circle on Tatum Blvd.  I turned around at the guard shack and went to my favorite "secret" parking spot whose gates were all closed.

Instead of being pissed I was surprisingly docile as I drove down Lincoln St. to Piestewa Peak.  Piestewa was not nearly as packed and a trail-head parking spot was an easy score.  I'm so glad I did Piestewa today...

At the summit two friends asked me to get a picture of them together.  We ended up chatting for over an hour at the summit and then hiked down together.  A big reason I maintain this blog (besides having a count of all my hikes) is because so many hikes hold something interesting and unique.

So yeah, today was a good pre-Turkey Day hike.  With reduced work hours this coming week, here's hoping for a few more.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Been a While--Piestewa by Night

Weather:  70°, sunset

About this hike:  Got to experience this special sunset-and-city-lights hike with somebody very special :)  On the way down we used headlamps and thank God nobody was hurt.  There were a few other hikers lighting up the hillside but overall a quiet night on Piestewa.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Best Kind of Monday....

Weather:  70°, sunny

About this hike:  Got to introduce someone special  to their first Camelback hike :)  Was a cooler day, and the crowd was surprisingly heavy for a Monday.  Granted, parking wasn't hard to find, but still, this place is not abandoned even on a weekday.  A very enjoyable hike.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Busy Saturday at Echo Canyon

Weather:  90°, sunny

Time:  35 minutes

About this hike:  Really disappointed in my time this morning.  Not sure what the problem was.  The mountain was crowded but I didn't experience any bottlenecks until on the way down.

Ended up parked off site again.  Added a lot of extra time waste and made me wish I had done Piestewa this morning.  Despite that, I did enjoy my time at Camelback.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Morning

Weather:  85°, sunny

Time:  32 minutes

About this hike:  Nice hike to begin a nice Saturday.  Ended up parking at the hotel that shall remain nameless.  First time I haven't been able to nab a spot in the main lot since this spring.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Saguaro Down @ Echo Canyon

Weather:  92°, sunny

Time:  34 minutes

About this hike:  Disappointing 34 minutes.  Wasn't terribly crowded on this warm but pleasant afternoon.  I expected an empty mountain as the Cardinals were playing, but apparently there are others who don't care about football.

There's a big saguaro down about halfway up the trail and numerous branches and scrub strewn about.  I'm guess this is remnants from the big monsoon 2 weeks ago?

Anyway, was an uneventful but enjoyable hike.

Saguaro down

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Midweek Stress Relief

Weather:  85°, overcast, increasing humidity

Time:  32 minutes

About this hike: I can only think the heat and increased humidity slowed me down today.  I really expected a better than 32 minutes.

There were a lot of kids up there today, which I blame on the public schools being on fall break.  I realize instilling a love of nature/hiking in your kids is a good thing, but seriously, couldn't parents/scout leaders go to South Mountain or Papago--preferably trails that aren't double-black diamonds?!  Kids freak out at railings.  Kids fall and get hurt.  They're nearly as bad as dogs (which people continue to bring despite the ban).

Anyway, I'm just being a grumpy hiker.  I am continually thankful for our city's trails, mountains, and preserves, and the fact that parking at trailheads remains unmetered!

Overall an enjoyable hike and I got to watch the crazy clouds building in all around the Valley.  Word is there's a monsoon on the way this week...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

First Camelback Climb of October

Weather:  80°, sunny, lower humidity

Time:  30 minutes

About this hike:  I don't know if it was an even 30 minutes. I always round down a bit as a handicap to make up for bottlenecks along the trail, which there were plenty of this morning.  Surprisingly the worst hold ups were near the summit and then on the descent near the trailhead past the railroad ties.  The usual trouble areas such as the railings weren't bad.  At one point on the descent there was no one else around me and I just enjoyed the serenity and spirtuality of the red rock cliffs surrounding me.

Parking wasn't too bad this morning, despite over-eager park rangers having the "Lot Full" sign on display.  I had no problem scoring a spot (last Saturday there was no sign and it took me ~3 laps to get spot).  By the time I left (~10:40) the main lot had plenty of open spaces.  Must enjoy it...winter's coming with all it's tourists (and Superbowl...ugh).

On the ascent I discovered a side trail to the left of the main trail that is actually easier for getting to the summit.  Found this by accident trying to get around a bottleneck of slow hikers.

The ocotillos are blooming and look absolutely beautiful, testament to all the rain we've had as recent as one week ago.  Today was honestly everything I could hope for in a Saturday morning hike.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Monsoon Rains, Black Labs, Parking Woes & More

Weather:  83°, humid, partly cloudy, breezy, overnight rain

Time:  32.5 minutes

About this hike:  This one felt like a bonus...mentally I was prepared for the gully washer of a Saturday Fox10's accuweather kept forecasting. I awoke to sunny Phoenix skies and puddles from overnight rain.

Of course the Valley was very humid this morning, but I was undeterred from my hike...apparently a lot of other people got the memo too.  I took multiple circles around the parking lot before I  could score a spot.  Naturally a crowded trailhead parking lot means crowded trails. The time taken accounts for a large handicap.  We had children freaking out at the rails this morning.  I'm all for instilling kids with the joy of nature/hiking, but couldn't you choose something more suitable for their skill level, like South Mountain?!

Spent a lot of time at the just felt so zen and spiritual up there today.  I watched airplanes approach from the north/northwest and land at Sky Harbor. I took some panos of the mountains and crazy monsoon clouds to the north and west.  I tried to play with an (off leash, not permitted in the park) adorable black lab puppy.  I met some interesting hikers and we shared war stories about climbing the Superstitions.  All in all today was an awesome hike.  Can't wait to do it again :)

Looking north at Piestewa Peak, Mummy Mtn, McDowells

Looking south at Sierra Estrellas

Glad it waited til afternoon--but here comes the monsoon!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back to the Camel!

Weather:  89°, humid, partly cloudy, RAIN

Time:  Not taken

About this hike:  Felt so good to be back at Camelback after being out of town the last 2 Saturdays.  I am recovering from a cold and decided I wouldn't even bother taking my time as I've been fatigued a lot lately.  Now I wish I would've.  While I made plenty of stops, once I got going the hike made me feel a lot better and I moved pretty quick.

My time at the summit was cut short by a rain shower. I knew it was coming as I could see the Valley to the east had a fine mist over it.  Rain didn't last long, but made the rocks incredibly slick going down.  Nothing I haven't experienced a few times before, but just the same I was having gory visions of a broken ankle. Gratefully I made it down ok; in fact the trail was dry and the sun back out by the time I reached the trailhead.

I had my old Skecher Punisher hiking boots on today.  Even though I replaced these back in March, I got it in my head that they were still good.  The soles are nice and cushy; the bottoms have very poor tread.  That made the slick rocks even more fun.  Rather than let myself be tempted to wear them again, they didn't go home with me.  (I trashed them--I don't condone littering!)

Near the bottom a guy and girl in front of me commented about a recent hike at Diamond Head in Honolulu, HI.  Totally random--exactly a week ago today I was climbing Diamond Head in Hawaii.  Was an awesome hike and one I'd go back to Honolulu just to do again!

With daytime highs only around >100, fall is here in the Valley.  Here's to many more hikes, crowded trails, and tourist season!

Not the view from Camelback...but as long as we're talking about
Diamond Head on Oahu...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor of Love

Weather:  97°, sunny, HOT

Time:  33.5 minutes

About this hike:  The crowd was as expected for a holiday. Parking was still plentiful. Have I mentioned how grateful I am to the City of Phoenix for 1) building the new Echo Canyon parking area and 2) not putting up parking meters?

Heat was rough today.  I definitely stopped more than expected to catch my breath and chug Powerade.

At the top I was summoned (just like on Saturday!) to be everyone's personal photographer.  I took some pix of one couple who insisted on returning the favor.  I've got some goofy shots of me on the west side of the Camelback summit looking toward Piestewa Peak.  None of them are worth posting on here.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Celebration of Free Parking

Weather:  90°, sunny, breezy, notably less humid

Time:  33 minutes

About this hike:  It's going to be a hot one today and yet the heat didn't get to me nearly as much this morning.  Goes to show that humidity really is the factor that wears me down, because today was a lot less humid than my past few previous hikes.

Despite the temps the mountain was fairly crowded.  While parking wasn't hard to come by, personal space on the trails was a challenge.  A lot of out-of-towners here for the Labor Day holiday I imagine.

Last night it was announced that City of Phoenix is dropping the parking meter proposal at the mountain parks/preserves.  I am glad I wrote my elected officials and glad that citizens rallied on this one.  Yes, parking is a nightmare during high season in the winter.  But shouldn't we as a city celebrate these points of pride that visitors and locals alike come out in droves to enjoy?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Camelback 5 Times in 8 Days

Weather:  87°, sunny and humid

Time:  31 minutes

About this hike:  ASU is back to school and today is only a called-for high of 97.  I expected a huge crowd and foolishly jumped on the very first parking spot I saw.  That was completely unnecessary as the crowd was surprisingly light for a Saturday.  I guess the walk from the main road parking area to the trailhead was a nice warm up and cool down--not that it's at all far.  Give it a few more months and I'll be glad to find a parking spot at all!

Lighter crowds made for a nice hike.  I could see a flooded golf course in Scottsdale, reminder of all the rain we had earlier in the week (and subsequent cooler temps!).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rainy Reflections Atop Camelback

Weather:  80°, overcast, rain in the area, humid

Time:  32 minutes

About this hike:  Had a lot of rain overnight and throughout today.  I was fortunate to take advantage of a brief window of opportunity from 9:00am - noon.  The trails were surprisingly dry (just a few puddles) and the washes were dry as well.  Dark clouds enveloped the Valley to the north and east.  I got home just before noon--just in time for the next round of monsoon downpour to unleash.

While not crowded, it was far from deserted on the trails.  Bugs were a little nasty at the summit, as is expected after a rain.

I have had 4 great Camelback experiences this week during my "staycation" from work.  Tomorrow it's back to the office, but hopefully Saturday I'll be back at my mountain.

Cactus with a beautiful flower ring

Crazy monsoon clouds looking north toward Mummy Mountain

Monday, August 18, 2014

Just Missed Another TV Interview...

Weather:  88°, overcast and humid

Time:  31 minutes

About this hike:  Cooler and humid this morning--definitely helped improve my time by a few minutes.  There was rain last night as evidenced by mud and puddles.  The main trails were dry though.

I ended this hike just a few minutes too early.  Fox10 showed up and was interviewing the hikers right behind me.  I'm a devoted Ch. 10 fan and had to see which news anchor was doing the story. I just regret it wasn't me on camera telling my hiking tales.

This may be related to a flyer that was posted at the trailhead where the City of Phoenix is holding a public forum on adding parking meters.  I sure hope this gets struck down (again!).  I grabbed a copy of the flyer and plan to write the elected officials noted therein.  We'll see what comes of it.

Beautiful panorama looking north at Piestewa Pk., McDowells, & Four Peaks

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Weather:  92°, sunny, humid

Time:  34 minutes :-(

About this hike:  Was a typical summer Saturday morning--a little crowded but still plenty of parking.  The heat and a few slower hikers really dragged my time down.  It was mostly the heat, sorry to say.  Regardless, I never get bored of my favorite PHX mountain.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hot Friday

Weather:  92°, sunny, humid

Time:  Forgot my phone so no time taken, but it wasn't good!!

About this hike:  The heat and humidity continue to slow me down.  I'm sure I'd have been disappointed with a ~35 minute time to the top.  I have a few days off from work, and I took advantage of lighter crowds on this weekday morning.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hot & Muggy = Slow

Weather:  92°, sunny, humid

Time:  34 minutes

About this hike:  As the weather gets hotter and more muggy, my times get worse.  I have no choice but to stop and take a few breaks, especially in that last vertical section.  Could've been worse though, I could've been the person who puked all over the foot holds on the right-side hand rail going down.  Seriously gross.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Monsoon is Here

Weather:  87°, overcast, humid

Time:  31 minutes

About this hike:  I thought cooler temps and overcast skies would spur me on to a 30-or-less time this morning.  No such luck.  Actually felt a little tired and had to stop a few times.  The humidity definitely got to me.  Was a little busier this morning (people taking advantage of cooler temps?) but parking was still easy to come by.

There was a neat looking mist enveloping the Four Peaks and you could just barely see their pointy tops poking up thru it.  Regretfully I planned to take a picture when I reached the summit (didn't want to stop and slow down my time).  The mist had turned into clouds covering the entire mountains by the time I reached the top.  Overall uneventful but good hike.  I never get sick of my Camelback :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hot 'n Steamy

Weather:  95°, sunny, humid

Time:  32 minutes

About this hike:  The weather tells the tale as far as why my time was not sub-30 minutes today.  Despite uncrowded parking and trails, the heat and humidity slowed me down.  I was hoping for some clouds and cooler temps since we had a monsoon last night— but no such luck.  This may have been the first time I ever drained a large Powerade plus two water bottles (my standard hydration packout).  I always pack extra because if you had just enough, you didn't have enough—that's my rule.

Nothing particularly interesting happened today good or bad.  I was asked to play photog—as I often am—for a couple.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

(Not) Hating on Tourists...

Weather:  90°, cloudy, peaks of sunshine

Time:  Completely forgot to start the timer on my phone

About this hike:  The overcast skies and reasonably low humidity made for a comfortable hike this morning, considering it's July in Phoenix.  I met a hiker from Seattle and a tourist couple from Colorado Springs.  Everyone was very friendly and it was nice to meet some out of towners (this in spite of my constant complaints about tourists during the winter months!).

All around a great hike and glad I did so this morning.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Piestewa Peak

Weather:  95°, sunny, very humid

Time:  Lost due to answering a text and causing the timer app to shut down

About this hike:  An overnight rain made for very high humidity today.  Along with the sun that finally broke thru the clouds, this made for a tiring hike.  Regardless, I survived it and love that I got to do both of my favorite mountains this holiday weekend.

I typically wear a red baseball hat when I hike, and today a hummingbird saw it and buzzed around my head, nearly hitting me.  It scared me and I swatted at it like a big bug.

Friday, July 4, 2014

History Repeats on the 4th!

Weather:  88°, overcast, very humid, sprinkles

Time:  32 minutes

About this hike:  This 4th of July is starting off a lot like 2012.  After a huge haboob and monsoon last night (and no power for over 3 hours!) the skies are overcast and murky over the Valley.  While finishing up my hike it sprinkled a bit as I was nearing the trailhead, so nowhere near the epic downpour and subsequent flash floods of 2012.

Thirty-two minutes isn't a bad time, but it's not a sub-thirty either.  That said, I stopped quite a bit as the humidity really got to me.  For whatever reason it bothers me more than 95° and sun, granted the cloud cover was a nice break from the sun's rays.

Parking was a breeze today at the Echo trailhead.  One very patriotic man was hiking in an American flag banana hammock--and nothing else.  I didn't take a photo; you'll just have to trust me on this one.

Was a great hike today. This one's for #MERICA!

Instagram Feed

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Getting Hot at Camelback

Weather:  93°, sunny

Time:  33 minutes

About this hike:  My time of over 30 minutes was terrible this morning!  The heat really got to me.  After years of doing this I thought I was conditioned.  More than anything my legs experienced fatigue and I had to stop quite a bit.  Otherwise it wasn't very crowded today and was an uneventful hike.

"The Mountain" left a gift—a box of apricots at the trailhead.  I grabbed a few and they ended up getting smashed in my hiking/hydration pack. No more excuses—it needed a good cleaning.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Summer's Here at Camelback

Weather:  93°, sunny

Time:  30 minutes

About this hike:  The heat is definitely challenging my time to the summit. I find myself stopping more often.  That said, this was an enjoyable hike.  Summer really isn't so bad—there are far fewer people, easier parking, and a good portion of the trail is shaded.  Of course I stick to early mornings before the hottest part of the day.

Knee is feeling better. It still bothers me after a run, but doesn't stay hurting for too long. In fact, I was at the exit gate of my complex today before realizing I didn't have my Velcro brace.  I chose to turn around and grab it as it has made a huge difference.

Today after the hike my knee felt no worse for the wear, and I was putting weight on it, jumping, etc. like normal.  After 5 weeks I hope this strain injury is finally behind me.  And I have to ask myself—were the Grand Canyon and Bill Williams Mountain hikes that caused the strain in the first place worth it?

When I got home instead of feeling exhausted I felt like lifting I guess I got my workout in for today and tomorrow!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

New Friends at Camelback

Weather:  92°, sunny

Time:  Not taken.  I started the stopwatch on my phone, but then made the mistake of checking an email while hiking. For some reason this causes the app to shut down.

About this hike:  It felt good to get back to Camelback after a few weeks.  The hotter weather (and the fact a hiker died there this week!) cleared out the parking lot.

A month later and the knee is still bothering me.  It's fine until I go hiking, so I slap on a velcro brace and tough it out.  Gotta embrace the brace.  For some reason I had a lot of fatigue starting at the second vertical.  I had to make multiple stops, which was very disappointing.  I'm conditioned to handle this, even if it's a little warmer out!

At the summit I met a group of hikers and ended up getting my picture taken with them.  We exchanged phone numbers and said we might all hike as a group sometime.  No place like the trails to make new friends :)

From what I can tell, this is a tribute to Eric
Fernandes, the guy who died on Camelback this week 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Piestewa Peak

Weather:  90°, sunny

Time:  25 minutes - not bad considering the knee is still not better

About this hike:  Was an impulsive evening hike.  On Saturday I'm going Salt River Tubing, so I wanted to get my weekly hike in beforehand.  Otherwise an uneventful hike.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Squeaky Squirrel on Piestewa

Weather:  80°, sunny

Time:  Not taken due to knee.  However, wearing the brace wrap my knee wasn't affected negatively by hiking Camelback yesterday.

About this hike:  Knee is no worse today, so I slapped on the brace and headed up Piestewa.  It was an enjoyable hike, and the mountain wasn't overly crowded.  At the summit there was a squirrel that kept letting out a loud shrill chirp—echoing back off the cliff faces toward Dreamy Draw.  I didn't even know squirrels could chirp.  I wonder if it was a mating call and if the squirrel thought each echo was an affirmation from a would-be suitor that they were in fact getting squirrely sex on today.

Knee isn't bothering me at all after the hike.  I still hope it heals, but the knee brace wrap is definitely a God-send.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Finally Back to Camelback

Weather:  87°, breezy, sunny

Time:  Not taken. Knee is still bothering me.  However, an expensive sports brace is helping out with that.

About this hike:  Just got home from a long week of work conferences in DFW.  It was a surprisingly cool afternoon, at least for late May.  And I just got a nifty new brace wrappy thing for my right knee that refuses to feel better.  Being a holiday weekend and wanting to avoid the Saturday morning hell, I decided a Friday afternoon hike was in order.  Besides, it has been nearly 3 weeks since my boots touched my favorite PHX mountain!

It wasn't busy at all, and I was able to take my time and enjoy the hike, despite my imperfect knee.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Craving for Squaw Peak

Weather:  90°, breezy, sunny

Time:  Not taken. Knee is still bothering me from the Grand Canyon last weekend and I wanted to maintain a suitable pace.

About this hike:  For whatever reason I had a strong urge to do Squaw Peak.  Maybe because I wanted to visit Total Wine afterward?  Or maybe I just didn't feel like fighting for a parking space at Camelback.  Regardless, I went with my gut feeling.  Was an uneventful hike.  My right knee, and then eventually my left, are strained and killing me nearly a week after Grand Canyon.  I've done no running and have allowed my knees ample time to heal, so no way I'd let this stop me from my Saturday hike.  That said, I'm paying for it now.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I HATE SNOW!! Bill Williams Mountain

Weather:  ~35°, strong winds, snow

Time round trip:  ~3 hours to summit and back

About this hike:  After Grand Canyoneering on Saturday you'd think I'd have had enough punishment.  Think again.  After leaving the Canyon I opted for a hotel in Williams rather than drive 3.5 hours back to Phoenix.  Bill Williams mountain, right in the middle of town, was on my list of things to check out.

An easily accessed, no-fee trailhead is right by the ranger station.  The summit hike is 3 miles of beautiful alpine forest complete with pines, aspens, and more.  At the top are radio towers and a fire lookout.

On the trip up I was plenty warm.  I was dressed right and all around prepared for this cold hike.  I even commented that the ponderosa pines and snow looked Chirstmas-y.  Now I will admit it wasn't heavy snow but more like big graupel pellets.  It would start, then stop, sun would come out, snow would melt--repeat cycle.  The wind, while audible in the thick forest canopy, did not affect me much on the trail.

When I finally reached the summit it was a different story.  Within seconds I felt frostbite setting into my hands.  Gloves weren't much help.  The summit joins to a dirt access road, which I would've had to follow a little ways to get to the true summit where the fire lookout is located.  It didn't happen.

While disappointed, I suppose this gives me an excuse to come back--ideally in the middle of July when snow isn't likely anymore!  I am paying for this hike too.  What began as a dull ache in my right knee has turned into something debilitating.  Hoping it's just a strain...I'm too young for a knee replacement, and I expect to be at my beloved Camelback this Saturday morning!

So I hiked ~16 miles at Grand Canyon and another 6 at Bill Williams.  I am in pain, but the memories made this trip were worth it.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ain't She Grand

Weather:  73°, sunny

Total time:  6.5 hours, from Bright Angel trailhead to Colorado River and back

About this hike:  I have been wanting to do this one for a while.  Warnings not to hike to the river abound.  I consider myself in decent shape and went for it anyway.  I know plenty of Canyon runners who go much further in a day than I did.

That said, it got tough right before I reached the river.  Inf fact, hiking along Bright Angel Creek I thought maybe that was the Colorado River due to drought.  I reached a stone shelter and was about to think about turning back...I went under the shelter and just a little ways ahead I could see the raging turquoise-blue Colorado.  I continued on and put my feet in her icy waters.

While at the river I chatted with a couple who were also day hikers and they told me all about heading back up along South Kaibab trail.  I was very tempted.  However, water spigots were said to be in-operable on the Kaibab and my car was parked at Bright Angel.  I could just see myself getting to the top after shuttles were done running for the night.  Not to mention I didn't have a shuttle schedule on me, meaning I'd be guessing in the dark which bus to hop on.  I opted to return along Bright Angel.  Good choice too as I filled up my water tank at Indian Gardens and was dry when I reached the trailhead.

My only regret is that out of an abundance of caution I started the trek back up after just a short stay at the river.  I wish I would've gone a little further on the river trail and seen one of the suspension bridges.  After a grueling hike up and a long rest at Indian Gardens, I was back at the Bright Angel trailhead by a little after 5.  Definitely enough time and daylight to have done the bridge.

Hikers in the Canyon and generally very friendly and will gladly share their adventures and war stories with you.  This has been a long-awaited trip that I can't wait to make again.  Perhaps next time I'll give South Kaibab a try.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Something Bugging me @ Piestewa Peak Tonight

Weather:  95°, sunset, breeze

Time to summit:  23:48 minutes

About this hike:  Unplanned evening hike up Piestewa.  I am so glad I did it--has been a stressful day and I needed the hike.  Despite the temperature reading of 95° from my car, I never broke a honestly wasn't unpleasant temperature wise.  Gnats, on the other hand, were almost as bad as at Camelback yesterday.  Needless to say, I didn't hang around the summit too long.  I have no idea why the bugs are so unusually bad this year.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gnat a Good Time at Camelback

Weather:  95°, sunny, breeze

About this hike:  I wasn't even going to mention today's hike because it wasn't that great.  Was with a friend and we did not make the summit.  I have never seen gnats in Arizona like I saw today.  We literally were eaten alive and just wanted to end this hike.  Unfortunate for an otherwise beautiful first day of May.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Great Holiday Weekend Hike

Weather:  78°, sunny, breeze

Time to summit:  29 minutes

About this hike:  No new record but it was a sub-30 hike!  It was crowded with tourists and I was constantly passing/dodging them, but made good time.  One man called me a "Rock Marathoner".  Whatever...I'll take it.  My special parking spot had the gates open today, so no drama with parking, despite the main lot being full (of course).  Rain's been in the forecast for today, yet it was clear skies and bright sunshine.  I wanted to get out to Superstition Flatiron today, but rain was in the forecast for Apache Junction, and from the looks of Superstition at the Camelback summit, I'd say it probably was raining out there.  Hiking Superstition in the rain--been there done that too many times.

Saw an ex's car in the parking lot today, but not the ex...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Introducing a Newb to Camelback

Weather:  78°, sunny, breeze

Time to summit:  Not Taken

About this hike:  Took a friend on a first-time tour of Camelback so today wasn't a time trial to the summit.  That said, it was a nice warm day out and we had a great time.  I always like to introduce (worthy) others to my favorite little zen spot in the Valley.

Parking was awful today.  As usual, the cops and park rangers stood around chatting and not moving the "Lot Full" sign, even as cars were driving out.  My secret spot had its gate closed today, which didn't stop me from "piggybacking" in when another car opened the gate.  It's getting tougher to park again...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Not the Best Saturday at Camelback...

Weather:  70°, sunny

Time to summit:  Not Taken

About this hike:  Woke up this morning feeling nausea and just not all that well.  Ironically it's the first time all week that I had a good night's sleep.  I guess I'll always need to feel lousy in one way or another.  I decided to take this hike slow since I definitely wasn't feeling my best.  It was a little tough, but I made it to the top and back without any trouble.  Ran into an ex on the way down, but we barely made eye contact and just kept on walking.  For the best.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Another New Camelback Record!

Weather:  70°, sunny

Time to summit:  27:58

About this hike:  New record by two seconds!!  The crowd was typical, but not unreasonable by Saturday morning standards.  Was a beautiful, uneventful hike and the best part is a new personal best to the top!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Beautiful Spring Morning Hike - Camelback Echo

Weather:  73°, partly cloudy, breeze

Time to summit:  29:35

About this hike:  Not a record, but solidly less than 30 minutes.  There was a significant bottleneck at the first railing due to a lady that was freaking out.  Seriously...people don't realize what they get themselves into when they come to Camelback.

Tutus and kilts were also the theme of the day for some sort of hiking club.  I chose to park offsite, but probably could've scored a spot at the TH, as it wasn't all that busy (by Saturday standards).  Otherwise fun and uneventful.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Smashing Records Again!

Weather:  83°, bright sunshine

Time to summit:  27:53 *NEW RECORD*

About this hike:  Beat the old record by 7 seconds.  This was an impromptu Sunday afternoon hike.  I hiked Camelback yesterday morning, but would rather forget that unfortunate event.  So much so that I didn't even log it on my blog.  So feeling deprived, I had to go up to Camelback and try again today.  Glad I did.  Parking was easy on this warm and sunny afternoon, and it was just what I needed to finish this weekend off right.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Camelback Record!!!

Weather:  73°, bright sunshine

Time to summit:  28:00 *NEW RECORD*

About this hike:  The stop watch said 29:57 to be exact, but I stopped for a couple minutes because two girls handed me a phone and wanted pictures together.  That plus a bottleneck = a 2 minute handicap in my book.  Regardless, I am solidly under 30 minutes now, even with the Saturday crowd.

Parking was a disaster.  When the city re-engineered the entrance with a traffic circle I don't think they considered what would happen:  cars drive round and round the circle waiting for the "Lot Full" sign to come down.  A cop was stationed at the circle yelling at people to get moving.  And speaking of Lot Full, that stupid sign was up again today, but there were plenty of spaces.  I ended up at my secret spot, and unlike last Sunday, the gates were open and I got in and out no problem.

There was a guy who dragged a for sale sign up to the summit.  Not sure if City of PHX is selling Camelback Mountain, but if they are, I'd be interested in buying :-) .

All around great hike on a perfect March Saturday!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Another Piestewa Peak Record!!

Weather:  67°, very cloudy

Time to summit:  23:16 *NEW RECORD*

About this hike:  I planned on Echo Canyon today.  The parking lot probably wasn't full, but the park rangers had the "Lot Full" barricade up anyway.  They sat at their perch laughing at fools like me who were on the other side, desperate to get in.  After several fruitless attempts at circling the area I tried my secret little parking spot up the road.  The gate was closed.

Frustrated, I finally gave up and drove along Lincoln over to Squaw/Piestewa Peak.  Squaw was not nearly as crowded and parking was easy.  This has been an exceptionally bad weekend, and Saturday's downpour didn't make it any better.  I think a lot of anger and frustration led to me setting a new record to the summit today.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Motivation Monday: Camelback Echo Canyon

Weather:  80°, sunny

Time to summit:  ~30 minutes, forgot to start timer

About this hike:  Despite forgetting to start my phone's timer (fail!), I'd estimate this hike to have been around 30 minutes.  I pushed hard thru the vertical scrambling points.  I felt it in my legs, but I didn't stop.

Othewise this was a beautiful Monday after-work hike.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New Camelback Record!

Weather:  71°, sunny

Time to summit:  29minutes

About this hike:  I'll admit that the above time is with a 2 minute handicap to accommodate some slower hikers and a bottleneck on the railing.  Still, I made virtually no stops and set a new personal best for reaching the summit.  Was a little crowded today and I had to park off-site, but it honestly wasn't bad.

Notable, today a group of guys went off trail and climbed on a rock outcropping and belted out the national anthem to the cheers of hikers down below.  SMH...some people just love attention.

Regardless, great hike today!

Monday, February 17, 2014

President's Day Bonus

Weather:  88°, sunny

Time to summit:  31 minutes

About this hike:  Today wasn't too crowded and parking was easy to come by.  It's record-breaking heat for February, but not enough to stop we die-hards (and plenty of tourists judging from today's crowd).

Despite the heat I made the summit in near record time.  I'm almost in the 30 Minutes & Under Club!!  Valley air was relatively clear today and the distant mountains were beautiful.  A PHX PD chopper was circling the summit and of course people were waving.  Was a nice unexpected bonus of an afternoon hike.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Busy at New Echo Canyon

Weather:  75°, sunny

Time to summit:  34 minutes

About this hike:  Parking was a mess today!! I hoped the new lot would mitigate this.  However, a rescue was in progress when I arrived, and cars were queuing along McDonald and wrapping onto Tatum.  Police were allowing this.  I've learned of a secret parking area nearby (not to be divulged!) so I left Jake there and walked.  Walkups were apparently OK even as the rescue was in progress, just no influx of vehicles.

Still taking it easy on the wrist, but I think the rescue's impact on crowds helped me make the summit just a little quicker.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

So Good to be Back!! (on the Camel, that is...)

Weather:  62°, sunny

About this hike:  Doctor said the wrist is all healed up.  I've been dying to get up to see the new Echo Canyon trail--it's been over a year since my boots touched it's hallowed ground!!  Got a parking space no problem in the new lot.

Love what the city has done with the surrounding area--it's a legit park now.  The new portion of the trail near the base is nicely graded too.  Took it easy today as the wrist is only at six weeks, but made it to the summit in a respectable sub-40 minute time.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday at Piestewa

Weather:  65°, sunny

About this hike:  Did this one with company so I didn't take the time.  We made it to the summit pretty fast though...otherwise uneventful.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Welcome Back...

Weather:  55°, overcast/sun, breezy

About this hike:  Saturday Dec. 28, 2013 was the last time I wrote in here—and for a good reason.  It was the last time I was able to hike.  That evening I had an unfortunate accident that left me with a broken arm/wrist.  Thankfully it wasn't a super-serious fracture. Now exactly five weeks later, I'm mostly better and decided it was time to tackle my mountain again.  Admittedly, I did go up to Phoenix Mountain Preserve once a couple weeks ago and hike a few of the easier side trails I've always wanted to do—in the past the summit has always beckoned me away.

My arm is still in a removable splint, and so I took it very easy...I'm not sure it's ready to brace a fall (heaven forbid!).  I didn't record my time to the summit, but it went by quickly.  There were a lot of tourists and I had to park a ways out.  The trip down was most annoying as everyone wants to run and I normally take it easy because of myriad tripping hazards.  Today I was extra super cautious which meant frequent pull offs from the trail to let whoever was nipping at my heels pass.

Regardless, it was so good to be back.  Next week I'll be at six weeks.  I hear Echo Canyon has finally reopened...