Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Piestewa is still Festive...

Weather:  56°, sunny

Time:  24 minutes

About this hike:  I decided to go a little easier on myself today and do Piestewa instead of Camelback.  And it was on today's hike I had an epiphany of sorts:  Piestewa really is tougher than Camelback in some ways.

The camel will always be steeper, but Piestewa is longer and a more sustained steepness.  Or maybe my body is just feeling the residual effects after hiking every day this week since I've been home from NY.

The Christmas tree atop Camelback may be just a memory now.  However, not only is the little palo verde at the Piestewa summit still festive, but somebody decorated another palo verde about halfway up the trail.  I wanted to take a picture of the tree which is behind a popular resting point.  I was concerned the people hanging out there might get upset thinking that I was taking their picture.

Regardless of the crowds today, this was an enjoyable afternoon hike.  My phone says I hiked 8/10 of a mile.  I need to figure out if there's a way to better calibrate the S-Health app...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Camelback Morning

Weather:  47°, sunny

Time:  29 minutes

About this hike:  I thought that maybe a morning hike would mean thinner crowds since it has been so cold in the mornings.  Wrong again.

However, a historical trend was broken today.  As I passed the "Lot Full" sign and cross-armed ranger at the Echo Canyon entrance, lo and behold he removed the sign.  I drove a complete lap around the circle and pulled right in.  Parking was very tight, on a hill, and all around uncomfortable.  I like my car parked on an end as far from other cars as possible.

Regardless, I chose the "risky" parking spot and thankfully my car is no worse for the wear (believe me, I checked).

Today was a very enjoyable hike even with the crowds.  Even more rewarding is two days solidly in the Under-30 club.

Following are the results.  I think the S-Health app gets a few stats wrong, especially in regard to "Calories Burned."

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Tree is Down

Weather:  58°, sunny

Time:  29 minutes

About this hike:  Camelback was busy today.  The last few times I've arrived and the "Lot Closed" sign is up I go park offsite (still not revealing my secret spot!). Within the 10 minutes it takes me to walk to the trailhead, the sign is down and traffic is permitted in again. Today was no exception.

Despite the crowds I managed a 29 minute time up, undoubtedly helped along by this sustained cold snap we've had in the Valley.

At the summit I was disappointed to see that the Christmas tree was already removed, although I'm sure it was drying out with all the AZ sun, wind, and dry cold air.

Very enjoyable hike this afternoon.  And I'm learning some cool new features of the S-Health app:

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Calorie Burn Starts Now!

Weather:  58°, sunny

Time:  26 minutes

About this hike:  I got back to PHX this morning after a week and a half in BUF. What a great holiday it was, filled with lots of good food and drinking!

While I had access to a gym while I was in BUF, it's just not the same as hiking my mountains.  This afternoon I got back to it at Piestewa.  The mountain was crowded today with (I presume) tourists and lots of families with kids.  Parking was a challenge at the trailhead when I arrived and I ended up on the residential side streets.  By the time I left spots were open in the main lot though.

The  crowds and kids brought their usual challenges (difficulty to maintain pace, getting in each other's way).  That said, it was an enjoyable hike and reminder that while I had a good time at home (BUF), I'm home when I'm in PHX.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Piestewa Chopper

Weather:  43°, sunny

Time:  25 minutes

About this hike:  The Valley is under a festive cold spell right now.  Monday brought a rainy day, and then on Tuesday I was concerned about icy trails with all the rain + near-freezing lows.  Piestewa was a good bet today because the trail gets a lot of early-morning sunshine.

I chose a sweatshirt and long workout pants.  Boy was I too hot once I got moving.  Even when it's cold in the Valley it's not that cold—at least to this NY boy.  And all that rain didn't do a thing for the brown cloud which is still hanging over downtown and the West Valley.  Maybe that's why I felt some fatigue on this hike today?

PHX PD was doing some sort of practice maneuver landing their helicopter on a flat ridge near the Piestewa summit.  I had no idea such a feat was possible.  At least I assume it was practice; I didn't see any injured people on the mountain.  Regardless, it scared me at first considering what happened with a medical chopper over the Superstition Mountains last night.

All in all a great hike today!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Camelback Christmas Decorating

Weather:  63°, overcast

Time:  ~33 minutes

About this hike:  Today I hiked up Camelback again, this time with an ornament for the tree.  I wrote a little 2015 memoir on it and hung it up high on the tree where only we 6'4" types can reach.

Parking wasn't too bad upon my arrival, but when I was leaving the lot was full.  A guy in a white SUV spotted me and followed me to my car then sat there guarding my spot with his turn signal flashing.  I'm glad I could provide someone the gift of a good parking spot at Echo Canyon.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Camelback Christmas

Weather:  63°, sunny, slight breeze

Time:  33 minutes

About this hike:  Being a weekday crowd (I was laid off from my job on Tuesday) plus cooler temps, I expected a near-record time up the mountain.  For some reason I felt slightly lethargic and queasy going up, so not even under-30 today.

Regardless, this was a special hike.  Even before I reached the summit I knew the Camelback Christmas tree was going to be up.  There were pine needles all over the trail.

This year they went all out.  I'm not an expert in pine trees, but from the bluish branch tips I'm thinking it's a blue spruce—a beautiful, tall, full tree.  Too bad it will likely succumb to the desert heat, wind, and dryness within a few days.  It's decorators did put a large pot of water under it though, so hopefully it lasts.  They also put battery operated lights all over the tree.  I'm going to be at Papago Park tonight and plan to use my binoculars to spy on the top of Camelback to see if it is lit up.  Because being at Camelback on any trail after dark gets the PHX PD in a huff.

Newly unemployed, I have plenty of time to hike.  I may come back tomorrow and place an ornament on the tree.  On Saturday Camelback Santa will be handing out candy canes, so parking will probably be impossible.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Festive Piestewa

Weather:  76°, overcast

Time:  24.5 minutes

About this hike:  Was a cloudy Sunday afternoon and relatively low temps meant a crowded Piestewa.  Regardless, I logged a great time up the mountain today.

The Piestewa Christmas tree is decorated.  I look forward to seeing the bigger Christmas tree atop Cameback, hopefully sometime this week.