Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sabino Canyon - 7 Falls

Weather:  75°, sun

About this hike:  Check another one off the bucket list.  Seven Falls was one of the first hikes I read about and wanted to do down in Tucson.  Best part was doing it with somebody special :)

Parking was a challenge at the trailhead, and then there was a $5 fee to park, but well worth it.  A tram (additional fee) will take you to the trail head.  It leaves hourly, and we had just missed it.  We opted to walk the 1.2 miles to the Bear Canyon Trailhead.

This was a long 4-5 hour hike over well packed, busy, fairly level trail.  The sun was hot, and we realized we forgot sunscreen.  A friendly US Forest Service ranger passing by was the savior of our skin.

Sunscreened up, we took in the cliffs around Sabino Canyon which cannot be done justice with photos. And the saguaros stick up's literally a saguaro forest.  The Santa Catalina mountains make for stunning backdrops that make the mountains around Phoenix look like foothills.

Once arriving at the falls they were flowing nicely.  It reminded me a little bit of Ithaca, NY and the gorges/water falls surrounding that area.  I saw an ant with a fuzzy orange abdomen. While pretty neat to look at, I'm afraid of what kind of stinger, venom, etc. might be contained in that abdomen.

On the hike back we witnessed a rescue in progress as an elderly lady had fallen ill on the trail.  While she seemed alert when we passed by, rescuers, horses, and a helicopter were sent in.  Another hiker who identified herself as being in her 60's decried the elderly lady for even attempting this hike in the first place.  She went on to rant about midwesterners, why smoking isn't bad for your health, and her tastes in men.  You always meet interesting folks on the trail.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Welcome Back to Sedona...Cathedral Rock

Weather:  62°, sun

About this hike:   This was my second time up Cathedral Rock.  Parking at the trailhead was just as challenging as last time.  Thankfully the dirt pull-over area on Back O'Beyond road was still there and was accessible.  While empty when we arrived, it was jammed full by the time our hike was complete. 

We met some interesting people including one Sedona long-time resident who played a Native American flute for hikers resting at the summit.  It's soothing sounds bounced off the red rocks.  Very Sedona indeed.

Otherwise the views of Sedona and Oak Creek were stunning and I was glad to be back in Red Rock country.  I really don't understand why I don't come up here more often.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lava Trail - Flagstaff Nordic Center

Weather:  48°, sun, snow on ground

About this hike:  We covered the entire Lava Trail (one of the longest, ranked one of the most difficult) at Flagstaff Nordic Center.  This was accomplished on snow shoes.  While the snowy conditions were deteriorating due to warmer temps and sunshine, there was still ample snow on most of the trail.  Jackets were soon shed for t-shirts and only shorts were on under our snow pants.

The Lava Trail gains some elevation and near the top the snow pack was quite a bit better. Towering ponderosa pines gave a sweet smell of sap while aspens stood alongside. The views of the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks and Humphrey's Peak were breathtaking in places.

Around a 4-5 hour hike on snow shoes, this one is an all dayer.  I would love to experience this in a moderate snowfall while the branches of the ponderosas slowly gather a coating of white.

For my first experience snow shoeing I have to say I was not disappointed. I plan to be back.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Picacho Peak

Weather:  68°, overcast, a few sprinkles

About this hike:  I've often admired the lobster claw-shaped rock that sticks up on I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson.  As one drives east/south on the 10, Picacho Peak becomes visible around Casa Grande and remains visible nearly all the way to Tucson.

The trailhead is accessed via Picacho Peak State Park.  The ascent toward the summit was moderate at first, and varieties of plantlife, including a fine desert grass, abounded.  At times it was hard to believe I was in the Sonoran.

Picacho soon turns very steep with numerous portions requiring hikers to pull themselves up along steel braided cables.  I did not have gloves for this hike...lesson learned for next time.  At times as I clung to the cables my fear of heights kicked in.  Regardless I persevered to the peak where a swarm of gnats awaited.  I enjoyed the views, took a few pictures, and quickly got out of there.  Best part of this hike was sharing it with someone special :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Piestewa on a Saturday Afternoon

Weather:  60°, sunny

About this hike:  First time back to Piestewa in a while. I went with someone special :) We first tried Camelback thinking mid-afternoon on a Saturday might not be so bad. We were very mistaken. Rather than fight for a spot or visit the "secret" place, whose gates were sure to be closed, we headed to Piestewa.  Speaking of closed gates, after entering the Echo Canyon parking lot at Camelback, the main entrance gate closed behind us. I guess the park rangers are serious about not letting additional cars in when parking is full.

The views weren't great today with a lot of smog/haze in the air.  The past few days Superstition and Four Peaks have been snow capped and absolutely beautiful. While visible with the naked eye, a camera lens wouldn't do it justice considering all the crap in the air.