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Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s Hike was outside the park, starting at the Tom’s Thumb Trailhead, though part of the group may have set foot inside McDowell Mountain Park at some point.  Eight of us started on the Tom’s Thumb Trail; we all turned left onto the Mesquite Canyon Trail after a short ways.  We parted ways shortly after turning east on the Feldspar Trail.  Linda, Janet, Bob, and I continued up Mesquite Canyon while Amy, Bill, Doug, and Michael continued on the Feldspar Trail on their way to hike the Marcus Landslide Trail.

This is a photo of the group at the start of the hike.  From left to right are Bill, Janet, Linda, Bob, Doug, Amy, and Michael.

Here is an uncropped version which shows Morrell’s Wall above.

Linda, Janet, Bob, and I split off just after passing this large boulder near the intersection of the Mesquite Canyon Trail with the Feldspar Trail.  Amy is posing beside it in this photo.

A view of Morrell’s Wall from further up Mesquite Canyon:

Looking back at Troon, off in the distance, as we climb out of Mesquite Canyon; the rock formation with the three large boulders on top is the Morell’s Wall Parking Lot Area.  (There’s no longer a parking lot nearby, but there was at one time.)  Marilyn and I used to climb there a lot.  There is a 5.7 route that tops out just left of those boulders called Seven Up.

There is a prominent pinnacle halfway across the photo which I call the Thumbnail Pinnacle.  (There’s a climb on it called The Thumbnail.)  That pinnacle and the walls just below it form a climbing area known as Hog Heaven. Over the course of the next hour or so after taking this photo, we made our way slightly past and then above Hog Heaven.  When Bob and I hiked this trail back in January, we had an easy time seeing it.  It was more difficult on Friday since the trail was obscured by vegetation that had grown since then.

I don’t remember what Linda and Janet were looking at, but apparently they found it entertaining:

Red Mountain is visible off in the distance through a gap in the boulders:

A good view of Weaver’s Needle and the Flatiron off in the distance:

Taking a break beside one of the many small hills along the way:

A somewhat closer view of the Thumbnail Pinnacle and the walls of Hog Heaven, off to the left, below it:

New Mexico Thistle:

There were sections where we gained more feet vertically than we did horizontally.  There were also some fairly high steps from time to time.

A view of the Marcus Landslide Trail Loop.  The Boulder Trail and part of the Pemberton Trail can even be seen in this photo.  I thought we might see Amy’s group on the trail below, but I think they were probably done hiking it by the time we got to this point.  Submarine Rock can be seen about a third of the way from the right and a third of the way from the bottom.

Bob, with Hog Heaven’s “Main Wall” behind him:

Bob, Linda, and Janet, just below the Thumbnail Pinnacle!

Bob took this photo of me photographing the Thumbnail Pinnacle.  Unfortunately, my footing atop that boulder was just precarious enough that I had trouble getting a good shot. I have a photo of Bob, Linda, and Janet beside the pinnacle on that side, but it’s out of focus.

Linda’s photo of me on that rock:

Thompson Peak is to the left with numerous antennae.  Scottsdale is in the background.

Another view of the Thumbnail Pinnacle from somewhat higher up; it has a distinctive shape that can be seen from the park and even some parts of Fountain Hills, but it looks totally different from this vantage point.

We passed this small rock outcropping as we continued up to the ridge which would eventually lead us to the highest point of the McDowell’s:

We eventually lost sight of the Thumbnail Pinnacle as we continued up the ridge.  The place where I stood to take this photo was close to the last such vantage point.

The ridge still had a lot of boulders to negotiate, sometimes around and sometimes over.

Bob, Linda, and Janet just after crossing to the southwest side of the ridge:

We started seeing a lot of these black and yellow caterpillars; I think it might be a Striped Garden Caterpillar (Trichordestra legitima).

A view looking back along the ridge we had just traversed.  We started on the northeast side to the left and eventually crossed over to the southwest side to the right.  Weaver’s Needle, The Flatiron, Red Mountain, and even the Fountain Hill’s fountain lake can also be seen in this photo.

Linda is sitting on the East End summit boulder, the highest point in the McDowells.

Linda took this photo of me showing where I stood while taking her photo…

There is a cave, of sorts, underneath another large boulder that’s near the summit boulder.  Linda took this photo of me in that cave:

The cave had a sort of window…

A reddish-orange Mariposa Lily with Tom’s Thumb in the background.  (Thanks to Bill Craig for the correct identification!  I had originally identified this as a poppy.)

Tom’s Thumb, The Rist, Glass Dome, and Gardner’s Wall.  It’s possible that some of the other rock formations have names too, but I don’t know what they are.  Tom’s Thumb is the largest pinnacle situated near the upper-right rules of thirds point.  Gardener’s Wall is below and slightly to the right of Tom’s Thumb in this photo.  (If you view it from the trailhead, however, Gardener’s Wall will be below and to the left of Tom’s Thumb.)  The Rist is the smaller cluster of rocks to the right of Tom’s Thumb.  Glass Dome is near the left edge of this photo, protruding somewhat above the ridge line.

Once we got back to the Tom’s Thumb trail, we hiked up towards Tom’s Thumb.  No of us were eager to go to the Thumb that day, so we took a look at a nearby cave / shelter instead.  Instead of taking the main Tom’s Trail, we chose a more interesting route along the Gardener’s Wall access trail:

Bob and I had both noticed this boulder with a saguaro beside it in the past; I think I may even have posted a photo of it at some point.  I think this photo turned out well, despite the sun being high in the sky – it was almost noon when I took this photo.  Troon and Pinnacle Peak are both visible in the background.

Globe mallow flowers:

Prickly Pear Blossoms:

I think this is Miniature Woolystar (Eriastrum diffusum):

When we got back to the intersection of the Feldspar and Tom’s Thumb trails, we hadn’t even gone four miles!  We decided to add in some easy mileage by hiking the Feldspar over to the Marcus Landslide Trail providing a circuitous route back to the trailhead.  Despite that added distance, we had only hiked about 5.3 miles when we finished.  But we had over 1700 feet of elevation gain!  I took this photo, below, from the Marcus Landslide Trail.  The Thumbnail Pinnacle can be seen about a third of the way over from the left side of the photo.

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