Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Piestewa Afternoon

Weather:  76°, sunny, a little breeze

Time:  Not taken

About this hike:  So much for a rest day today.  By this afternoon the relatively cooler temps and just plain boredom got the best of me.  I needed a hiking fix.

This was a nice afternoon at Piestewa.  The trails were very quiet, parking was easy, and it wasn't too warm.  Thankfully my knees didn't bother me at all (reason I was going to take a rest day today).  I opted to do the same as yesterday and not record my time.  We all know it'll be around 23-24 minutes anyway, so not much to gain anymore from recording the time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Camelback & Tour Group

Weather:  66°, sunny

Time:  Not taken

About this hike:  I'm sure I made it up to the Camelback Echo Canyon summit in just under 30 minutes.  I decided not to time myself today.  I've been doing so many hikes during my period of unemployment and honestly 27-29 minutes is going to be my average time since I refuse to run up Camelback.

My right knee is bothering me.  It was worst coming down the steepest portions of the mountain.  Not sure if this is related to the runner's knee I developed a couple years ago after doing Grand Canyon Rim to River and back in one day.  Regardless, tomorrow may need to be a rest day and I may need to dust off the old knee brace.

Yesterday I stated there was the biggest bottleneck ever at the second long, vertical stretch.  Today was the biggest group I've ever seen, but thankfully it was at the graded portion of the trail just as you're starting out.  The group was comprised of all ages, and many had badges around their necks.  I was far too focused on getting passed them to notice what the badges said.  Likely some sort of tour group.

The weather is a bit cooler today, and aside from the big group, there were peaceful moments on the trail.  An enjoyable hike for sure!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Motivation - Camelback

Weather:  71°, sunny

Time:  29 minutes

About this hike:  The parking area wasn't crowded at all.  The trails had some of the worst bottlenecks I've ever seen, especially at the final vertical/scrambling section and of course at the railings.  By observing fellow hiker's clothing and their conversations it was almost certain they were tourists.  My guess is hotel/resort shuttles are the culprit behind crowded trails.

Despite the crowds I pressed on for a respectable 28:55 finish.  Often times I found myself having to take the longer way around large (stopped) groups of tourists.  I'm rounding up and calling it 29 minutes in this case.  I saw one lady in designer jeans with a cup of Starbucks in one hand.  This wasn't too far along the trail and I'm guessing she didn't make it to the summit.

Regardless, the temps were nice and it was an enjoyable hike to start my week.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Piestewa Peak Today

Weather:  71°, overcast, windy at times

Time:  23 minutes

About this hike:  After record heat yesterday I'll gladly take overcast skies and temps in the 70's.  Hopefully the wind associated with this current low pressure system will help move some of the smog and pollution out of the Valley.

Apparently everyone else was feeling the urge to go hike at Piestewa Peak today.  The trails were crowded and admittedly frustrating at times.  Regardless, it would've been criminal not to get out and enjoy this beautiful Phoenix February day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Enjoying a Phab PHX Day at Camelback

Weather:  81°, sunny

Time:  29 minutes

About this hike:  On this day when we broke a heat record in the Valley I just had to go for a hike.  No biggie when you consider that I hike these same trails even in the summer (albeit in the early morning or late evening).

However, to really keep it interesting I chose an afternoon hike today.  Not necessarily my first choice, but I had business to tend to up near Camelback.  My hiking gear conveniently packed (and I'm a pro at changing in a car's back seat!), I headed up to Echo Canyon soon as I could.

Parking was easy to come by today, but crowds were fairly heavy.  Thankfully I was able to pass most slower hikers, but you wouldn't know it from my time of 29 minutes.  Warmer weather calls for more frequent hydration breaks.  I spent just a short time at the summit and then made my way back down.  Even from the summit I could hear my swimming pool calling my name.

So to summarize this February day—warm weather, a nice hike, pool time, and then chicken BBQ on the grill for dinner.  These are the reasons we live in the Phoenix Valley...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Presidential Piestewa

Weather:  74°, sunny

Time:  23 minutes

About this hike:  Expecting heavy crowds I opted to park on a residential side street today.  Well that, and last week my car received a fresh dent thanks to me being lazy and parking in a main lot.

Despite the three-day weekend and a very full parking lot, I cut thru the crowds with no trouble.  While not a record-shattering hike it was an enjoyable Piestewa climb.

These temps in the high 80's are coming too early.  I long for a bit more winter...but such is the short desert winter.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Selfies on Camelback

Weather:  72°, sunny

Time:  28 minutes

About this hike:  Today must've been national "Selfie Day" judging from the number of tourists stopping in the middle of the trails to whip out their phones.  Regardless, I made it to the top in my usual 28 minutes.

From the summit it appears windy conditions yesterday have left our Valley largely clear of pollution.

By the time I reached the trailhead parking lot the gate was down, "Lot Full" sign up, and a park ranger was directing traffic.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Echo Canyon

Weather:  74°, sunny

Time:  28 minutes

About this hike:  I arrived at Camelback to a fairly empty parking lot around 9:30am.  A little over an hour later as I was coming off the mountain it was a different story.  Cars were queuing all around the parking lot waiting to nab a spot.  I'm sure the park rangers were not too pleased...

Despite the earlier parking lot situation, the trails were anything but uncrowded.  The warmer weather is likely spurring more visitors to the mountain, even on a weekday morning.  I shudder to think what a Saturday morning must be like this time of year.  Of course, if I ever do find a new job I likely will become one of those Saturday hikers again (parking at my secret off-site spot).

Overall an enjoyable, routine hike up Echo Canyon today.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Rules on Piestewa...

Weather:  71°, sunny

Time:  23 minutes

About this hike:  Just a week ago we were experiencing cold winter conditions.  What a difference seven days can make.  We're now staring down a week of 80°+ temps.  Each February we get a warm up like this, sometimes it's for good, sometimes winter makes a return.  Regardless, I always find myself clinging to the vestiges of our too-short desert winters.

Today I nabbed a good parking spot, but it was between two other cars.  House rule is that I always park on an end or on street to mitigate the risk for door dings from inconsiderate people who have no regard for others' property.  I violated that rule today and my car now has a fresh dent in the back door.  

Descending the trail I sprinted on a straightaway. It dislodged my nice AZ Cardinals stainless water bottle and it hit the rocks, denting and gouging it all up.  Another one of my "house rules" violated—no running on trails.  Admittedly I'm OCD at keeping my stuff pristine and don't take well to unnecessary damage.

Despite some bad luck for my material possessions, I would be remiss if I didn't say that I'm grateful...grateful for our Phoenix mountains, grateful for beautiful weather, grateful for the ability to hike, and grateful for a safe hike today.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Camelback and Changes...

Weather:  55°, sunny

Time:  27 minutes

About this hike:  I'm giving myself 27 minutes today, so a tie of my previous record up Camelback Echo Canyon.  It was actually 27:56 when I stopped the time with a handicap, but whatever...I'm solidly under 30 minutes to the summit.

Today was a fun adventure in discreetly changing in the car.  It's a skill I've gotten quite good at (especially in rental cars at the beach in San Diego).  I had a meeting this morning right around the corner from the trailhead, and good planner that I am, all my hiking gear was in the car ready to go.

I'm so glad that I took advantage of this beautiful afternoon to enjoy Camelback.  I've said it many times before—our city's mountains never grow old.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

King of the Mountain - Piestewa

Weather:  42°, sunny

Time:  23 minutes

About this hike:  The rain has moved out and been replaced by typical AZ sunshine.  The cold temps, however, are hanging around.  I'm OK with that.  It's been a legit winter here in AZ.  Some of the mountains just north of the McDowells had a dusting of snow.

This was a nice, fairly uncrowded hike up Piestewa today.  At one point I had the summit all to myself for a few minutes.  So very peaceful and serene.  The rain on Sunday night appears to have washed out the atmosphere as the skies are the clearest of smog that I've seen in a while.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cold, Blustery Winter Morning at Camelback

Weather:  49°, overcast, very windy

Time:  28 minutes

About this hike:  There was something strangely delightful about hiking Echo Canyon on this cold, blustery winter morning in Phoenix.  Last night brought the equivalent of a January monsoon storm and today's temps are much cooler.  The wind has been relentless, meaning trails were predominantly dried out.

Today's conditions also meant far fewer hikers.  I chose to bundle up in a thermal, plus a wind breaker, and have to say I was not overdressed.  I only wish I had brought a winter hat.

The wind was enough to destabilize my balance at times, and clouds hanging over the McDowells indicated rain could be waiting in the wings.  Thankfully I never encountered any rain and the slick rocks that would come with it.  As expected, wind was the worst at the summit.  I paused a brief moment for a water break and then headed back down.  The descent was especially slow and deliberately careful.

I always enjoy these hikes with unique weather conditions.  Let's face it—in but a couple months it's going to be extremely hot hiking up Camelback (not that the heat will stop me).