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.