Friday’s hike started from the Tom’s Thumb Trailhead. Ranger Amy lead four others (including Bill and Kathy from last week’s hike) on a hike of the Marcus Landslide Trail.
Bob, Linda, and I hiked less than a half a mile with Amy and her group. We parted ways when we got to the Feldspar Trail. I had hoped to hike to the top of Morrell’s Wall. We made it as far as the base of the wall, but seeing no easy way to the top, we made our way over to Mesquite Canyon instead. From there we followed the trail leading to Hog Heaven. We hiked up past Hog Heaven to the Thumbnail Pinnacle and continued on to the East End, which is the highest point in the McDowells. We finished our hike by taking the Tom’s Thumb Trail back to the trailhead. We hiked only about five and a half miles but had well over 2,000 feet of total ascent for the day.
The day started out cool and cloudy. We saw this beam of light shining through the early morning clouds.
Shortly after we got on the Feldspar Trail, we saw this tarantula. I took lots of pictures, but am only including three of them here.
In this shot, it had woken up and was starting to crawl towards me.
We passed this boulder on our way up to Morrell’s Wall.
This rock pile is part of the Morrell’s Wall Parking Lot Area. There is no longer a nearby parking lot, but there was a nearby temporary parking area constructed for Tom’s Thumb Trail not long ago. The area had been named well before that however. In the past, a narrow jeep road lead to the rock pile with a turnaround / pullout that could accommodate two or maybe three vehicles.
We saw a paramotorist (powered paraglider) just after takeoff as we rested on our way up to Morrell’s Wall. We also saw some hot air balloons far off in the distance. I took some photos, but the balloons were too far away to see clearly.
More interesting clouds…
In this photo, below, of Morrell’s Wall, it looks like it should be possible to get to the top by going left, but once we got there, our way was blocked by large boulders and unforgiving vegetation.
I liked this view of two saguaros with a dead tree up on a rock wall. I took several photos from different angles.
Linda took this photo of me as we were hiking up to Hog Heaven.
This is the Main Wall at Hog Heaven.
Bob and Linda make their way up the trail past Hog Heaven.
A wide-angle view from partway up the ascent adjacent to Hog Heaven. The wall is quite tall – it took us a while to get above it. The Fountain (in Fountain Hills) can be seen in the right hand corner of this photo.
Another view of the Fountain. Red Mountain can be seen in this photo too.
Linda scrambles up some more rocks.
A view of the Thumbnail Pinnacle from below.
A view looking down at the top of Hog Heaven. Further below, part the Marcus Landslide slide mass, is a large boulder known as Submarine Rock.
A view looking up at the Thumbnail Pinnacle. I happened to be there at just the right time of day so that I could get the upper part of the pinnacle to partially block the sun.
Once we got to the Thumbnail Pinnacle we were afforded new views to the east. Thompson’s Peak (with the antenna towers) is visible in the photo below.
Linda, standing next to the Thumbnail Pinnacle. It’s surprising how different it looks depending upon from where it’s being viewed.
Getting to the Thumbnail Pinnacle was a goal, but there was more uphill ahead of us. This photo below, looks back at the Thumbnail Pinnacle, before we went over the ridge blocking our view of it.
A double saguaro! And… it’s a long way down!
More saguaros upon the boulder encrusted ridge. The trail lead over and around some of these boulders.
Looking back towards Thompson Peak. The East End Trail can be seen far below.
We saw some very tiny yellow flowers. Each flower was smaller than my pinkie fingernail.
A barrel cactus with extraordinarily red needles.
Yet another view to the southeast.
At this point, but behind the camera, we’re approaching the East End, which is the highest point in the McDowells. This photo, below, looks back at the boulder encrusted ridge that we hiked to get over to this point. The Thumbnail Pinnacle is not visible from here. It is below at the left end of this ridge.
A view of Glass Dome, on the left, and Tom’s Thumb on the right. Gardener’s Wall is below and slightly to the right of Tom’s Thumb in this photo.
We saw a larger yellow flower as we were descending.
A view of Tom’s Thumb from the Tom’s Thumb Trail.
We saw some purple flowers too.
On the way down, we saw climbers on Gardener’s Wall. There are two climber’s at the belay station midway up the wall. A third and maybe even a fourth climber are at the bottom waiting to make their ascent. As we watched, we saw the third climber start on the first pitch of Hanging Gardens (5.5). Here is a crop of the above photo showing the climbers. From the bottom, the climb follows crack system that leads up and left, where it intersects another crack leading up and right. Past the belay station, there are a few face moves that lead to another crack leading up and to the right. My recollection is that you have to work your way left again once you get close to the top.