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Author: Kevin (page 3 of 93)

Friday Hike – Seven Springs to Spur Cross

On Friday, the 29th, Linda, DeAnn, Sandy, Sarah, and I hiked 12.5 miles from the Cave Creek Trailhead (in the Seven Springs Recreation Area) to the Spur Cross Trailhead. We stayed on Cave Creek Trail #4 for all but the last couple of miles.

Starting out at the Cave Creek Trailhead:

After crossing the road, the trail passed through a shaded area next to the creek:

Linda spotted this hollow fallen tree…

 

A crested saguaro; there were supposed to be two on this hike, but this is the only one we saw.

From back to front are DeAnn, Sandy, Linda, and Sarah:

We had to cross the creek several times. We managed to do it without getting too wet.

This is the intersection with the Skunk Tank Trail:

A view of the creek with New River Mesa in the distance:

We entered a lush and colorful area…

We saw this painted stone atop one of the cairns along the way:

I think this is Black Mesa in the distance:

Black Mesa on the left; New River Mesa on the right:

Sandy, DeAnn, Linda, and Sarah:

Skull Mesa:

I thought it would be cool to explore this wash / canyon below the trail – maybe some other day…

Crossing the creek again, though it’s dry at this point:

And again; this was the last crossing, I think.

Friday Hike – Cottonwood Spring Loop w/ Skull Mesa Summit

Gayle, Sunaree, Mitra, Marilyn, and I hiked a variation of the Cottonwood Spring Loop. Midway through the loop, when we got to intersection with the Skull Mesa Trail, we hiked to the top and then returned to finish the loop.

Mitra spotted these deer at the trailhead; behind the deer is Elephant Mountain and the fortress pinnacle below it to the right.

This is Cottonwood Creek:

An early view of Skull Mesa; there is a prominent wash / drainage here, but it is not named on any of the maps that I’ve consulted.

Another view of Skull Mesa, this time from well along Trail #247:

A crested saguaro:

Looking down as we start to make our way up the Skull Mesa Trail:

Gayle, Mitra, and Sunaree make their way up the Skull Mesa Trail:

Mitra poses for a photo at the edge of the mesa:

Mitra, Gayle, and Sunaree:

A dead / alive tree atop the mesa:

Making our way back down the Skull Mesa Trail…

This is one of the views from Trail #247 beyond the Skull Mesa intersection. If you look closely, you can see another crested saguaro below.

We’re just above Cottonwood Spring in this photo…

We came across this gate on 247A; I thought the dry grass made for an interesting contrast to the vegetation beyond the gate.

Another wash crossing; this one had a lot of cairns showing the correct way to go.

Seven Springs Inner Loop

On Tuesday, Dec 19, I hiked a fifteen mile loop known as the Seven Springs Inner Loop.

Starting at the Cave Creek Trailhead, I went south on Cave Creek #4, south on Cottonwood #247, south and then west on Skunk Tank #246, south on Quien Sabe #250, east and then south on Skull Mesa #248, east and then north on Cottonwood #247, and, finally, north on Cave Creek #4. It took about 9 hours to complete. There were a few route finding challenges along the way, mostly on the Skull Mesa Trail, but also near the end when I got off track on the Cottonwood Trail.  These diversions added about a mile to what should have been only a fourteen mile loop.

Here’s a photo of the sign at the trailhead. Some of the distances on the map are incorrect.

An early morning photo from Cave Creek #4:

Horses and cows can’t go over, but hikers can…

Starting on Cottonwood Trail #247…

That stretch of #247 wasn’t very long; I soon arrived at the intersection with Skunk Tank #246:

It was a cold morning. There was frost both on the ground and in some of the plants too…

I was surprised to see this overturned stock tank.  It looks new; I’d guess that the rancher who brought it here will place it and turn it over at some point.

While hiking Skunk Tank #246, I realized that I had seen parts of it before while hiking with Nick one time.  This is the intersection with Quien Sabe #250:

Quien Sabe #250 was fairly easy to follow. There was only one point later on when I got slightly off track and needed to refer to my GPS watch to figure out how to get back on track.

This is the intersection with the Skull Mesa Trail.  I didn’t go to the top of the mesa. I found the route finding on this trail to be the most challenging of the day.  Shortly after leaving this intersection, I would follow what appeared to be a path only to find that I’d somehow gotten off route twenty yards or so later.  I’d consult my watch, get back on track, and would often find a cairn. I’d then proceed to get off track again, etc.

At one point, I found myself on the side of a hill wondering whether the trail followed the contour that I was on or whether it went downhill.  The going was tough in that spot, so I consulted the map on my phone to find that I should go downhill. I found a well trodden path at the bottom and wondered how I managed to miss it.

There was white rock in this area. This is one spot where I was able to make a short cut. According to the track shown on my GPS watch, the route went around this fence or through a gate or something. I found that there was a section of downed fence, so I simply walked over it and continued on.

The Skull Mesa Trail started heading downhill. The trail was easier to see, but had become quite loose. I needed both of my poles through this stretch to make it down safely. I paused, looked up and found an utterly amazing view to my right…

The views to the south were quite a lot different. Not as stunning, but certainly more colorful with red exposed soil…

I finally got to the end of the Skull Mesa Trail…

This section of the Cottonwood Trail is now part of the Maricopa Trail. As such, I thought that it would be easy sailing for a while…

…but it wasn’t, at least not on the trail.  The trail frequently crossed Cottonwood Creek and would then proceed in a fairly direct fashion through islands of brush and trees. This foliage clearly had no respect for those of us who want to use the trail, so there was a fair amount of bushwhacking required.  Also, another clue was the pink ribbons attached to the trees and brush that needed pruning. I went bushwhacked through two of these islands of foliage when I came up with a better idea – I’d simply follow the creek/wash.  That worked marvelously well. It added a bit of distance because it wasn’t as direct, but it was certainly a lot easier and quicker too.

The Cottonwood Trail eventually left Cottonwood creek, ascended to the top of a ridge and then made its way across Bronco Creek where I came across this intersection for the Bronco Creek Trail. I stayed on the Cottonwood Trail though…

The Cottonwood Trail mostly stayed high on the right (east) bank of  Bronco Creek. It eventually dumped me into the creek, but when it did so, checking my watch, I found that I should have somehow been high on the left (west) bank of the creek at that point.  It was very steep and vegetated at that point, so I walked northward in the creek bed.

But the nice thing was that I came across some fall colors along the way…

I stayed in the creek and eventually found a 247 marker on the bank. An indistinct trail led upwards. I followed it and eventually (with occasional bushwhacking) came to a much better trail which I assume is the rerouted trail #247.  I took this photo, below, shortly after that.  I didn’t take any other photos as it was getting dark and the light was not as good on the stretch that I had already traveled earlier in the day.  I only had one other route finding hiccup on trail #4 on my return.  The Cottonwood Trail #247 crosses Cave Creek just before intersecting Cave Creek Trail #4. I took a different path to get onto trail #4 than I had earlier in the day and subsequently went the wrong way for a short time.

Friday Fitness Hike

Cheryl, Sunaree, Marilyn, Mike, and I did a 10.7 mile hike starting from the Dixie Mine Parking lot. We hiked Dixie Mine to the road, then went and took a look at the mine and the petroglyphs. We continued up the canyon, which eventually turns into just a wash until we got to the Prospector Trail. At that point, we turned right and followed the Prospector Trail up to it’s junction with the Bell Pass Trail. We then took Bell Pass, Windmill, and Coachwhip back to the Dixie Mine Trail for our return trip. Total distance was just under 10.7 miles with nearly 1500 feet of total ascent.

This is a view of one of the washes that crosses the Dixie Mine Trail, well before getting to the service road.

A view of the mine tailings.  Our route went well below the tailings through the trees that can be seen in the wash.

This is one of several shallow holes near the mine.  It goes in perhaps only eight feet and there is no vertical shaft. I suppose that the warning sign is posted in the not very likely event that it should collapse.

Although I took a picture of the main petroglyph panel which is near the mine entrance, I decided not to post it for this hike.  (I’ve taken a lot of pictures of it.) These are some other petroglyphs which are further up the canyon on the way to the “waterfall”.

Another pair of glyphs:

This is a view from the top of the “waterfall”.  (It’s not steep enough to be a true waterfall, but it is steep enough to be challenging to ascend when it’s wet.)

A triangle shaped slab can be found further up the canyon:

This is one of the views just before the canyon opens up, turning the route into a hike up a wash:

This is the view just after turning onto the Prospector Trail:

Cheryl, Sunaree, Marilyn, and Mike, hiking up the Prospector Trail:

More views from the Prospector Trail – this is a very scenic section:

Looking back towards where we had been hiking perhaps half an hour earlier.  An old road can be seen along the hill at the left side of the photo. (We didn’t hike that road.) The trail comes up from below the right side of the hill and then continues up to the right.  Not much of it is visible in this photo.

The remnants of the windmill for which the Windmill Trail is named can be seen in this photo:

A view of Four Peaks from the Coachwhip Trail:

Returning via the Dixie Mine Trail…

Tiger

Friday Fitness Hike

Mitra joined Nora and me for the first part of our ten mile hike. We hiked the Tom’s Thumb trail and then took a climber’s access trail up to and then past Tom’s Thumb, rejoining the Tom’s Thumb Trail at around the two mile point.  Mitra headed back down Tom’s Thumb Trail while Nora and I went in the other direction on Tom’s Thumb Trail. We hiked down the Scottsdale side of the mountain and then hiked up the Windgate Pass Trail to return to the eastern side of the (McDowell) mountain range. We returned by hiking up the East End Trail and then down Tom’s Thumb Trail.

A view from early on along the climber’s access trail:

We saw some deer early on too…

Gardener’s Wall and Tom’s Thumb:

More views from the climber’s access trail…

Pinnacle Peak and Troon Mountain:

Views of the East End, Glass Dome, Weaver’s Needle, Tom’s Thumb, and the Rist (no “w”):

Tom’s Thumb:

Nora and Mitra, nearing the end of the climber’s access trail:

I don’t often see Tom’s Thumb from this angle; I took this one as we were heading west prior to crossing over to the Scottsdale side on Tom’s Thumb Trail:

As we headed west on the Tom’s Thumb Trail, Nora noticed, at first, that there weren’t any saguaros.  But that soon changed as we continued westward:

Another great view from the Scottsdale side of the mountain:

Here, we’ve started up the Windgate Pass Trail; this is a view of the pass:

A view of Weaver’s Needle through a pair of saguaro arms:

Looking towards Red Mountain and Fountain Hills from the East End Trail:

Glass Dome and Tom’s Thumb:

When we nearly done, we saw a pair of climbers hiking up the trail.  Oh, yeah, there was this guy in a Santa suit with and green alien hanging off his back too…

Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s hike started from the Wagner Trailhead. We did a “lollipop” hike starting on Wagner, right on Granite, right on Delsie, across Pemberton to the connector to Gooseneck, left on Gooseneck, left on Rock Knob, left on Pemberton, right on Bluff, left on Granite, and returning on Wagner.  Total hike distance was about 11.5 miles.

The skeleton now has sunglasses and a hat! (He’s had the can of beer for a while now.)

Some boulders on the Gooseneck Trail:

Looking towards the McDowells from the Goosneck Trail:

We had fourteen hikers (counting myself) on Friday’s hike!

Chain fruit cholla on the Rock Knob Trail:

Looking back toward the McDowells on the Rock Knob Trail:

Looking toward Four Peaks on the Bluff Trail:

A small tarantula on the Bluff Trail:

Sunday Hike – Cottonwood Spring Loop

Nick, Bob, Mike, and I did a lollipop-loop hike starting from the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. The interesting part of the loop was on Trail 247A in the Tonto National Forest. On the way back, we came across a recently built trail that led from 247 back to 247A.

This is a view of Skull Mesa from 247A:

Another view of Skull Mesa:

Looking back toward Sugarloaf Mountain:

Nick found a dead Gila Monster to munch on as an appetizer before lunch…

This is a view of the spring area. We saw some water here, enough to filter if we would’ve had to.

Nick, Bob, and Mike on 247 after leaving the spring.

This is the view along the section of 247 between 247A and the intersection with the Skull Mesa Trail.

This petroglyph is on the Skull Mesa Trail. Bob and I hiked a ways up this trail why Nick and Mike ate lunch.

Another awesome view on the hike back…

Walk Off the Turkey Fitness Hike

On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, 18 of us hiked from the Trailhead Staging Area to the parking lot for the Dixie Mine Trail. The Sonoran Conservancy of Fountain Hills organized and provided volunteers for this hike. (They even had all of the participants sign waivers!) It was supposedly a 9.3 mile hike, but my GPS watch showed that we had hiked 11.1 miles at the end.  Total ascent was over 1100 feet.

We hiked Pemberton, Tonto Tank, Pemberton, Coachwhip, and Dixie Mine. A few of us took a slight (0.2 mile) diversion near the end to visit the mine and the petroglyphs.

Hiking up the Tonto Tank Trail…

This is the short section of the Pemberton between the top of Tonto Tank and the bottom of Coachwhip:

Starting on the Coachwhip Trail…

Taking a break on the Coachwhip Trail:

A view of Weaver’s Needle and the Flatiron from the Coachwhip Trail:

A view of Four Peaks from the Coachwhip Trail:

A view of Thompson Peak from the Dixie Mine Trail, just before passing the side trail to Dixie Mine and the petroglyphs:

This is the main petroglyph panel:

Rappel Practice

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