Kay and I hiked somewhat over 11 miles in the Tom’s Thumb area on Friday, May 3rd. We first made our way up past Gardener’s Wall and then close to Tom’s Thumb. We then hiked partway down Tom’s Thumb Trail and then down East End to Windmill. Once on Windmill, we concluded our loop by hiking Coachwhip, Pemberton, Boulder, Marcus Landslide, and Feldspar.
An early morning view of Rock Knob (lower, left of center) from the Tom’s Thumb Trail:
Pinnacle Peak and Troon:
Gardener’s Wall; we made our way up beneath the boulders at bottom left, took a look at the bottom of Renaissance Direct, then went by (to the right) Fearless Leader, and Hanging Gardens (all of which are climbing routes). We didn’t do these routes; we just looked at them. I noticed some bolts on Fearless Leader, 5.10a, that weren’t there when I tried it back in the early 90s. We continued right along the base of the wall and then made our way up the drainage at the right.
The spot in the sky might be one of the powered paragliders that we saw coming over the ridge later on.
One of the scenic landmarks along the climber’s access trail to Gardener’s Wall:
Kay, making her way up through one of the early “tunnels”.
This is the next cave / tunnel that we encountered. We went in and then left to get to the bottom of Renaissance Direct.
As we made our way along the base of the wall, we saw two powered paragliders. They came over the ridge to which we were hiking.
We’re on the back side of Gardener’s Wall now; this is a view of Glass Dome.
Flat-Top / Mojave Buckwheat:
Kay thinks this is the tail end of a kingsnake; I didn’t get to see it’s head, it was already part way off the trail by the time I got to it.
A view from the East End Trail:
Heading down Coachwhip…
Saguaros on the Coachwhip Trail:
Buckhorn Cholla blossoms; we saw different colors on our hike, some yellow, some orange, and others closer to red.
The saguaros are starting to bloom too!
More Buckhorn Cholla blossoms…
New Mexico Thistle:
A prominent pinnacle in the Granite Ballroom area. Off to the left, in the distance, high on the ridge, is the Thumbnail Pinnacle.
Miniature Woolystar, I think:
Prickly Pear blossoms:
Mike, Sandra, Jan, Melissa, Joelyne, Kristin, and I hiked 10.8 miles in the Dixie Mine area. (I’m not sure of the spelling of some of the names, though I did check with Jan on the spelling of his name.)
A view of the McDowells from the Dixie Mine Trail:
We noticed that the grass has become quite dry.
I think this is mesquite:
We saw some nice ocotillo blossoms. This one was just off the trail and at a low enough height that I didn’t need to shoot upward.
These are the mine tailings:
Flat-Top / Mojave Buckwheat:
New Mexico Thistle:
As we made our way towards the mine from the road, we saw a nest high in one of the trees. Two birds, which we took to be hawks were flying around, alarmed at our presence. I only got this shot, though it’s definitely out of focus.
This is the petroglyph panel near the mine.
Sandra, Melissa, and Jan:
Another New Mexico Thistle:
Ascending the waterfall:
Looking down/back from the waterfall:
Continuing up the Prospector Trail…
I think this might be Miniature Woollystar:
Another prickly pear:
Heading down the Coachwhip Trail:
Ocotillo – I think we might have been back on Dixie Mine for this one:
Linda and I hiked a 12 mile loop starting from the Wagner Trailhead. Sara hiked most of it with us, but she needed to return early.
This is a view of Red Mountain from the Pemberton Trail:
Four Peaks in the background with some hills near the Sport Loop in the foreground:
The ocotillos are in bloom too!
Linda identified this as a Pincushion Flower:
Shortly before this point, Sara hiked back via the Pemberton while Linda and I tramped through some washes…
We noticed some dirt-fall in this area. There’s a big chunk of this wall which looks like it might fall sometime soon. I took this photo after we passed that section. It looked worse as we approached it.
Linda noticed this rock as we continued on…
This is a view of Red Mountain from the Tonto Tank Trail:
I think this is Sandwash Groundsel:
More poppies. We weren’t sure what the magenta colored plant behind it was.
Desert Mistletoe berries:
Nora, Heather, and I hiked a little over five miles starting from Tom’s Thumb Trailhead. We did a combo of the Hog Heaven Loop and the Lost Wall Loop visiting the East End, the highest point in the McDowells, along the way. We saw a lot of flowers, perhaps more than I’ve seen on any hike so far this year.
Early in the hike, on the Mesquite Trail:
Heading up to the pass at the top of Mesquite Canyon:
At the pass now; looking toward the Superstitions:
Continuing on the way to Hog Heaven…
The small but prominent pinnacle is the Thumbnail Pinnacle. Below it and to the left is the main wall of Hog Heaven.
One of the many patches of owl clover, lupine, and poppies:
(Big) Boulder hopping:
Nora and Heather, below the main wall at Hog Heaven:
Heather and Nora, making their way up some steep terrain below the Thumbnail Pinnacle:
I originally thought that this was a hawk, but in the comments, Cathy says that she thinks it’s a Peregrine Falcon. I think she’s right. In any case, we saw this bird as we continued to make our way up to the Thumbnail Pinnacle. It hung around on that pinnacle as we passed it. We weren’t especially close to it – once again, I used Topaz Gigapixel AI to enhance the detail. (I also used this software on the owl photo from last week.)
We’re near or above the Thumbnail Pinnacle now, looking towards Scottsdale:
We continued up to the ridge leading over to the East End. The Thumbnail Pinnacle is well below us here, looking more like a spire. In the distance is Weaver’s Needle and the Flatiron. Towards the right and somewhat closer is Fountain Hills with the Fountain.
Another view looking toward Scottsdale. Thompson Peak is the one with the antennas. Also visible is the East End Trail, far below us.
Blister beetle – thanks to Linda for the ID:
I’m not sure what this flower is; it was incredibly blue/purple though. (Update: Linda identified it as Larkspur / Delphinium.)
Tom’s Thumb with the edge of Gardener’s Wall below it and slightly to the right.
Another view of that ridge; also visible in this photo is Glass Dome at the left.
A view of Pinnacle Peak (center) and Troon Mountain at the right:
We’re nearly down to Tom’s Thumb Trail now. The two prominent pinnacles in this photo are Glass Dome on the left and Tom’s Thumb on the right. Again, the edge of Gardener’s wall can be seen at the far right.
Another patch of dry grasses and flowers:
A view of Tom’s Thumb from the other side. The Class 4 West Corner route can be seen in this photo. (Mountain Project has it rated at 5.2.) This was my first climb way back before there were “easy” trails leading to Tom’s Thumb.
Nora and Heather, descending part of the Lost Wall Loop. (It was pretty much all descent, much of it loose and/or rocky, after we left Tom’s Thumb.)
Another view of Tom’s Thumb – this is one of my favorite spots for getting a photo of Tom’s Thumb.
Hedgehog Blossom; we saw quite a few of them on the ridge prior to resuming our descent.
Blackfoot Daisy? (Not sure about this one.)
Another interesting rock formation on the Lost Wall Loop:
Phacelia (I thought it was Fiddleneck, but Linda corrected me on the ID). What was remarkable about this bunch of flowers was how high they were growing. They’re usually no more than a foot or two off the ground. Other nearby vegetation allowed this clump of it to reach up to perhaps four feet in height.
Mike, Cathy, Ro (short for Rosemary), and I hiked 12.6 miles starting from the Four Peaks parking lot at MMRP. We hiked a big loop which incorporated the South Wash and a significant portion of the Long Loop, which is one of the competitive track loops.
The desert grasses are definitely drying out; we saw a lot of tan, brown, and even red grasses. But we also saw a lot of flowers, both cactus flowers and wildflowers. We saw a surprising amount of brittlebush blooms. We also saw poppies, fiddleneck, chia, globemallow, owl clover, and even thistle.
We saw a deer and an owl while hiking the South Wash. I got a photo of the owl (enhanced with Topaz Gigapixel AI), but was not quick enough to get a photo of the deer despite the fact that it was only about 20 yards away.
A view from the parking lot:
Views of Red Mountain from the Technical Loop…
Another view of Red Mountain, also from the Technical Loop, while descending T-Bone Ridge:
This is the South Wash. Note the brittlebush on the left bank.
The South Wash has some very high mostly vertical banks. We saw this owl three quarters of the way up in a small “cave” on one of the 50-80 foot banks.
A dead tree with character:
Brittlebush growing out of the side of the bank:
New Mexico Thistle (with bees):
Globe Chamomile – thanks to Cathy for identifying this:
This is a crested (fasciated) hedghog cactus.
After hiking the South Wash, we left the wash by hiking up the Long Loop to the South Ridge. This is another view of Red Mountain from that section of the Long Loop.
Views from the South Ridge:
Hedgehog cactus and blossoms. Note the dry grass!
Marilyn, Linda, Nora, and I hiked out about four miles on the Ballantine Trail. We saw many varieties of flowers along the way. The landscape had more grasses than flowers, but there was more diversity than normal on hikes during the flowering seasons.
This is a view from the Pine Creek Loop.
Linda identified this as Chia:
A view from the Ballantine Trail after going uphill for quite a long time…
Two deer are running away in the photo below. Look at the bottom of the photo, just right of center.
This rock is about 2.5 miles in. It makes a nice turn-around point if you want a 5 mile hike.
The greenery gave this hike a different look than normal. It’s usually very brown.
Heading back now. Marilyn waited for us at about the three mile mark.
Poppies on the right. I’m not sure what the purplish-blue flowers are.
Nora, Marilyn, and Linda:
Linda researched this one. She says it’s a Cape Marigold, a non-native plant. We saw them just above the slickrock area in the Superstitions a week earlier too.
Nora, Marilyn, Sara, and I hike to the top of the Flatiron and back on Friday.
Early morning photos looking up Siphon Draw towards the Flatiron were almost all back lit. Sorting through my photos, I found that I liked the afternoon shots better. But this one was okay. At this point, we’re nearly two miles in, close to the point where those who don’t go to the top will turn around.
At the top…
After looking over the edge of the Flatiron, we walked east for a short ways (probably less than a quarter mile) where we got this great view looking east. I took a few photos looking west from the top, but I didn’t find them to be especially compelling.
Prior to heading down, we stopped at a memorial commemorating the 2011 plane crash victims.
Continuing on, we got some great views of the Flatiron from the side. If you look closely, you can see someone near the edge.
Looking east again from the massive outcropping north of the Flatiron.
Looking ESE from this prominence.
Looking over the edge…
Nora, Sara, and Marilyn, making their way down.
Looking back up at the Flatiron. Several of the photos above were taken while making our way out to the point of the prominence left of the Flatiron.
We saw these flowers near the top of the slickrock area.
This is the slickrock area. Traction was pretty good, though care had to be taken because some of the rock has been smoothed by the water.
Slickrock area below; Flatiron above:
We’re nearly done now – this is a good view of where we had been earlier in the day.