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Category: Hiking (page 45 of 46)

Hike descriptions and/or photos.

Friday Fitness Hike

Bob and I met at the Wagner Trailhead today for the Fitness Hike. Ranger Amy showed up briefly to tell us that she had a sore throat.

Textured clouds made for a brilliant sky just prior to sunrise.  I’ll admit to enhancing the sky in the photo below; the real thing was colorful too, but perhaps not quite as saturated.  I could easily dial it back a bit, but I happen to like this edit.  Marie is usually quite critical of such things, but she likes it too.

The sun rose while we were talking to Amy.  She pointed it out, so I turned around and snapped a few more photos.  Here’s one of them:

Our plan was to hike out to Rock Knob.  We took Wagner to Granite and the started up the wash that parallels Bluff.  Just after that first little scramble up some rocks, I encountered a Western Diamondback who promptly slithered into a nearby hole.  Bob and I could easily see into the hole though.  Here is one of Bob’s photos of the snake:

I wasn’t very quick on the draw as I had reassigned the button for setting the flash, but for me, being able to set the metering mode quickly is more important than the flash.  But I finally found the menu option for turning it on and managed to get this shot:

Bob climbed up and around the snake, avoiding its hole.  We proceeded on up the wash.  We crossed Pemberton, staying in the wash leading up to Rock Knob.  Below is a view of Rock Knob from that wash.

As we made our way northward to go around Rock Knob, we came upon a very impressive looking saguaro.  Bob and I spent perhaps ten minutes in the area taking photos of it from various angles.  Here’s one with Bob standing next to it.  You can get a good feel for the size of this saguaro from this shot.  Note, too, that each of the large arms have arms of their own!

One of the hazards of walking in an area with lots of Teddy Bear Cholla is that, sometimes, one will stick to your shoe.  I got this one out with the aid of a stick.  One of the past rangers who worked at the park, Crash, told me that a pocket comb works great for removing cholla.

The blue and white gaiter I’m wearing helps to keep sand and other detritus out of my shoes.  Even so, a few grains of sand managed to work it’s way into my left shoe and found it’s way down between the first and second metatarsals.  I now have a small blister there.

Here is a view looking up the saguaro.  If you look closely, you can see a large nest off to the left.

Here’s a view of that same saguaro with Rock Knob behind and off to the right.  I think we’re looking roughly southward here.

When we got to the Preserve side of the fence, we saw a very bleached bone sitting on a rock.  Here, Bob is taking a photo of it.

Here is a closer view of the bone:

An interesting looking rock…

Bob noticed this tortoise along the way.  I would’ve walked by it without noticing it.  Bob said that he gave it some water and it perked right up.

Some flowers, thanks to the recent rain that we’ve gotten.


Hedgehog Cacti:

A view of Rock Knob from a vantage point to the west.  We’re looking east, towards the park (from the Preserve) here.

There used to be a pretty good road in the Preserve which lead back to the Rock Knob Trail.  The preserve managers churned it up so that it’s impassable by most vehicles now.  It was even hard walking on it.  It was easier to walk in nearby washes.

Once we got back to the park boundary and crossed the fence, we took the Rock Knob Trail to Pemberton.  We took the Bluff, Granite, and Wagner trails back to our vehicles.  We hiked exactly ten miles today.


At the Intersection of Pemberton & Boulder…

Below is a photo taken during last Friday’s Fitness Hike.  It had been a while since I had been on that section of the Pemberton and that was the first time I saw this sign.  The Boulder Trail isn’t really new; people have been using it for years.  It’s even been on the Park’s master plan for some time, but up until about a month or so ago, was not an official park trail.  It leads up to the Marcus Landslide Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Friday Fitness Hike

Today’s hike started at the Trailhead Staging Area in McDowell Mountain Park.  We had a small group today consisting of Bob, Janet, and myself.  It was humid and partly cloudy when we started.  We had cloud cover off and on during the hike.

We started by hiking clockwise on the Pemberton Trail.  We made a brief stop to look at the old homestead site and walked around the watering hole.  The water level was lower than I remember it being in the past.

Below is a view from the Pemberton, shortly after passing the intersection with the service road leading to the competitive track area.

I think this is a group of Hedgehog cacti just a short ways further on along the Pemberton.

Bob and Janet beside a healthy looking saguaro:

A scared bunny.

Me, looking through a stand of buckhorn cholla:

Another healthy looking saguaro, with the McDowells off to the left:

Bob and Janet, with Rock Knob behind and to the right.  We’ll be going to Rock Knob next week!

A baby saguaro arm:

At this point we had reached the Bluff Trail and proceeded to go down it.  Here’s a view looking back up the Bluff Trail.  Part of Rock Knob is visible just to the left of the big saguaro in front.

We turned right when we got to the Granite Trail.  Along the way, we saw another saguaro that’s growing a bunch of new arms, even more than are shown in the photo below.

Right next to that saguaro was this ocotillo:

Granite took us back to Pemberton, which took us back to the Trailhead Staging Area.  We covered eleven miles total today!



Friday Fitness Hike

It was raining today as I drove out to the Friday Fitness Hike at McDowell Mountain Park.  It was still raining when I got there.  Linda had already arrived.  We rolled down our windows, said hello to each other and wondered whether anyone else would show up.  We didn’t have long to wait as Amy, Janet, and Bob all showed up within the next few minutes.   The rain wasn’t bad, just a light drizzle.

We hiked the Wagner Trail out to Granite, where we turned right.  Along the way, on Granite, I learned that the new trail which leads up to Granite Tank has been given a name; it’s now the “Delsie Trail.”  Apparently Delsie was one of the matrons of the old P-Bar Ranch.  Much, if not all of McDowell Mountain Park, and much of Fountain Hills too, was once part of the B-Bar Ranch.

According to the River of Time Museum,  the B-Bar ranch was operated by Henry Pemberton in the early 1900s.  Operation then passed to the Coles and then to Delsie’s husband Lee Barkdoll in 1935.  Lee died in a train accident a short while later.  Ranger Amy tells me that Delsie operated the ranch after Lee’s death, marrying Lee’s friend Dick Robbins in 1939.  She had a busy life, driving kids on the ranch and the nearby reservation into a school in Scottsdale.  She’d drop the kids off and then go to her job working at a cafeteria in Scottsdale.  Later in the day, she’d drive the kids home, and do whatever needed to be done for the ranch.  Delsie and Robbins ran the ranch until 1955.

We hiked the Delsie Trail today, taking it all the way to Granite Tank.  Along the way, Amy stopped to show us a plant known as The Queen of the Night.  It doesn’t look like much in the photos below, but Amy assures us that it has a very spectacular flower which only opens after dark.  In the photo below, Amy is telling us about this Night-blooming Cereus.

Here is a better view of this otherwise unremarkable plant with Four Peaks off to the left.

A bit further up the Delsie Trail, Amy turned around so that she could open the Nature Center on time.  It was still drizzling, but we stopped to take pictures before she turned back.

As we hiked further up the Delsie Trail, we noticed that some of the barrel cacti had bright red needles, perhaps due to the rain.

The Delsie Trail connects to the Pemberton Trail at Granite Tank.  We turned left and hiked a short way to where we could see this crested saguaro:

The rain brought out a lot of color that we don’t normally see when it’s dry – which is most of the time.  This photo is from a little ways further along the Pemberton.

A short while later, we came upon this “quadruple” saguaro.  It’s one plant that appears to have split into four very long arms when the plant was quite young.

Bob noticed the sun starting to make its presence known and suggested that I get a photo.  Bob is good at spotting these shots.

We saw this dead tree just as we came upon Stoneman Wash.  We decided to hike Stoneman Wash today.  If you’re going to hike this upper section of wash, the best time to do it is just after a rain because it firms up the sand.  It’s still a wash, but it’s not quite as loose as normal.  It can still be quite bad, however, if equestrians have been out with their horses.  Janet and Linda suggested this photo.

We came across this unusual Palo Verde tree as we were hiking Stoneman Wash.  I thought it odd that the tree had a dead looking spot above which were living branches.

Ranger Amy, who in turn double checked with Ranger Kevin Smith at Spur Cross, tells me that the colorful plant in front of the Palo Verde is a Turpentine Bush.  We saw many of them on the hike.  The rain seems to have brought out the color in them.  Amy tells me that they have yellow flowers when they bloom.

Here is my attempt at photographing water droplets on a Palo Verde branch.

Linda had the idea for this shot.  She took the photo too.  I think it turned out very well.

Bob and I walked right past this snake, a Western Diamondback, and had trouble seeing it even when Linda and Janet were pointing right at it.  I had a hard time photographing it too as I took one shot where I missed the snake completely!  This shot, however, came out fairly well.  Notice though how well the snake blends in with the gravel of the wash.

Here’s a 1:1 crop showing more detail:

We ended up hiking Stoneman Wash all the way to the Bluff Trail.  Once we got to Bluff, we turned left and headed back on the Wagner Trail.

Large black ants were out in force today.  I guess they like the moisture too.  Bob had been bitten by some black ants earlier in the hike.

I got this photo just after taking a few shots of the ants.  I really like the clouds in this shot.

We hiked a little over nine and half miles today in only a little over three hours.




Friday Fitness Hike

Today’s hike started at the Lousley Hill Trailhead where Amy, Bob, Linda, Janet, and I started off.  We took Lousley Wash up towards Pemberton.  Amy turned around about a hundred yards shy of hitting the Pemberton.  The rest of us continued on, hiking the Scenic Trail and then stopping briefly at the Trailhead Staging Area.  From there we took Pemberton back to Lousley Wash which took as back to the Lousley Hill Trail, just a short distance from the parking lot.  Total distance at that point was just over seven miles.  Bob wanted to get in even more mileage – he’s been averaging over eight miles a day for the month so far – so I did one lap of Lousley Hill with him, bringing our total distance up to a bit over eight miles for the day.

I drank all of my water today, three liters worth.  It was warm out, with the temperature at 88 degrees when I checked it at 4:45am.

Janet, Amy, Bob, and Linda:

Janet, Amy, Kevin, and Linda:

We saw a mountain biker while hiking the Scenic Trail.  He’s the only (other) person we saw during our entire hike.

A raven perched on a dead tree branch near the Trailhead Staging Area:

Ranger Amy says that this yellow flower, below, is a Desert Senna flower.  The Senna seedpod contains the active ingredient used in some over-the-counter laxatives, including Senokot.  (Thanks again to Ranger Amy for the flower identification!)

Sonoran Trail Photos

I hiked the Dixie Mine and the Sonoran Trail late in the day yesterday.  The temperature was a comfortable 104 degrees, but for some reason, mine was the only car in the parking lot.

There is a crested saguaro at the trailhead.  This is what it looked like on my way out:

I saw this cactus on my way out while hiking the Dixie Mine Trail.  I think it is a type of hedgehog cactus.

I got to the boundary between the park and the preserve just as the sun was setting.  Here’s a photo of Four Peaks off in the distance.

Here’s another view of Four Peaks, with a field of Teddy Bear Cholla in the foreground.

Even though it was dark, I continued to take photos on the way back.  I kept the ISO at 400 or less, so some long exposure times were needed and not all of them worked out so well due to the fact that I was hand holding the camera.  This one, however, looks okay.

I took another photo of the crested saguaro when I got back to the trailhead.  The EXIF info says that this was shot at ISO 800, f/3.5 with an exposure bias of -1.3 for half a second.  I had it in auto-HDR mode, however, and one of the exposures took a lot longer, perhaps several seconds.  I’m not sure that exposure was used however since one of the Sony Specific EXIF tags indicates that an error occurred during processing.  I probably moved the camera too much for that one exposure.

I sharpened this photo in GIMP using a grain extract / merge with a Gaussian blur radius of 25 pixels on the extract layer.  I merged those layers together and then duplicated it and used screen mode to combine the layers.

Friday Fitness Hike

Today’s hike took us half way around the North Trail to the Chuparosa.  At that point, Ranger Amy headed back so that she could open up the Visitor’s Center on time.  Bob, Janet, Nancy, and I continued on the Chuparosa to the Pemberton.  From there we made our way over to Lousley Hill and hiked to the top.  We then found our way over to the Verde Trail and then back to the North Trail and our vehicles.  Total distance today was 7.1 miles.

Sunrise at the North Trailhead:

I think this is just one saguaro, below.  It’s kind of weird how it grew up a very short ways and immediately branched off with some very sizable arms.

Bob, Janet, and Nancy:

Kevin, Janet, and Nancy:

A view of Four Peaks from the top of Lousley Hill:

Resting at the top of Lousley Hill:

Lousley Wash:

Three Saguaros that we came upon shortly after leaving Lousley Wash:

Buckhorn cholla with saguaros in the distance:

A hummingbird.  Unfortunately, the camera that I used today couldn’t zoom in very closely on it.  These shots were taken less than half a second apart.

Recent rain has brought some of the flowers out again.  This one is on a creosote bush.  (Thanks to Ranger Amy for the identification.)  The Sony RX100‘s aperture was set to f/1.8 for this shot.  Note that it does a pretty good job of providing a short depth of field.



Friday Fitness Hike

There were five of us today for the Friday Fitness Hike, me, Marilyn, Bob, Janet, and Pat.  Bob did indeed get a new bird, but he says it’s loud and that he needed the solace of a hike for some peace and quiet – or something to that effect anyway.  Bob brought his friend Pat along this time.  Pat says he’ll be joining us next week too.

Today’s hike started at the Trailhead Staging Area.  We hiked a very short ways on Pemberton to the Tortoise Trail.  We hiked all of the Tortoise Trail, crossed the main park road and got on the Wagner.  We hiked all of the Wagner and then turned right on Granite. When we reached Stoneman Wash, we hiked the wash, downhill, back to Pemberton.  From there it was less than a mile back to our vehicles.  Total distance was just under six miles.

We had some nice cloud cover today which kept the hike somewhat cool for this time of year.  The clouds also made for some nice photos…

Bob, as he often does, spotted a good photo opportunity.  The sun was hiding behind some clouds showing some interesting rays of light.  We’re in Stoneman Wash here.  You can see Four Peaks off in the distance.

Another view of Stoneman Wash with the rest of the group hiking on ahead of me.  I had fallen behind while taking some photos.

There’s the shell of an abandoned car from the late fifties or early sixties in the wash, but sometimes you have to look around to find it.  We found it easily today as I had a waypoint set for it on my GPS.  It’s amazing that the chrome is still very shiny after all of these years.  Sue looked at this photo and told me that she thinks it’s a Chevy.

Another photo of Janet near the car.

Bob and Janet examining the car.  They made them really big back in the day.  It looked to be as long and as wide as one of today’s full size vans.

Nearing the end of Stoneman Wash:

A view from the Pemberton Trail:

The photo below is a late addition.  I had worked on this one, but was not sure how well I liked it.  I took another look at it today and decided that it’s not too bad.  There was some bad lens flare off to the right in the photo.  I spent some time using the clone tool and the healing tool, trying to touch it up, but in the end I just cropped it away.  I think there are still a few lens flare spots in this photo that I did touch up, but I can’t tell where they are anymore.

The major problem with shooting into the sun without using some sort of filter (e.g. a graduated ND filter) is that the sun ends up blowing almost everything else out.  For this photo, I had clouds obscuring the sun, but the sun is very bright and that area is still blown out.  The foreground was very dark.  I took this shot using the RX100’s auto HDR mode, but the foreground was still very dark.  It took a bit of work to lighten it up – it doesn’t look great, but it’s acceptable.  (I had this same problem with the first photo posted for this entry too.)


Friday Fitness Hike

Today’s fitness hike started at the Trailhead Staging Area.  We hiked about a mile of the Pemberton to the Scenic.  We then hiked the ridgeline of the Scenic Trail and descended the big rocky hill towards the wash.  Just before entering the wash, we turned left onto the new trail which took us to the Horse Staging Area.  From there we crossed the main park road and hiked the service road, crossing the Sport Loop twice.  That dumped us into Stoneman Wash where we hiked back to Pemberton.  From there, we hiked nearly a mile back to the parking area.  Total distance was 7.1 miles.

There were five of us today: Janet, Bob, Linda, Marilyn, and me.

A view from the Scenic Trail:

Another view from the Scenic Trail.  Red Mountain is visible in both of these shots.

Moab Rim Trail

On Wednesday during our week’s stay in the Moab area during June of 2012, we hiked the Moab Rim Trail.  Known locally as “Moab’s Stairmaster”, it climbs over eight hundred feet within the first mile.  The trail description at the bottom exaggerates a bit, claiming an elevation gain of one thousand feet in a mile.  It is popular with some of the locals though because it’s close to town and provides a heck of a workout just hiking up to the rim and back, about two miles total.

The Moab Rim Trail is actually a jeep trail and a very difficult one at that.   Here is how the sign at the bottom describes it:

The Moab Rim Route follow the Kayenta sandstone ledge from here to the rim above the town of Moab.  The route is used by hikers, bikers, motorcyclists, and jeepers.  It gains 1,000 feet in elevation in about a mile.  The ledges make it particularly challenging to motorized vehicles.  The Moab Rim Route is rated as a “4+” route by the Moab Red Rock Four-Wheelers Jeep Club – its most difficult rating.  (4+ trails are not suitable for stock vehicles, and over 10% of modified vehicles can expect “major mechanical difficulties”.)

Hopefully, this shot will help to convey a sense of how steep the first section is.  Even though it’s steep, the footing is excellent.

Marie took this photo of her Mom along the way:

Marie took this photo of herself standing on the rim.  The town of Moab is in the background.

When I got up to the rim, I saw a plant standing alone with these yellow flowers:

Marilyn and Marie amidst the sandstone:

Marilyn took this photo of Marie hiking along side large potholes in the sandstone.

Marie took this photo of the trail wending its way into a valley.

Marie, admiring the view just shortly before she and her Mom turned around:

I continued on and saw, from afar, this pass through the wall of rock.  I don’t know if there is a trail which goes through that pass or not.  I’d like to hike closer sometime to find out.

Another view from a bit further on down the trail.  At this point, I was perhaps halfway around the loop that would bring back to the girls.

Another shot from the same location:

A shot looking back in the direction from where I had come.  I didn’t hike either of those roads visible off in the distance though.  But I would like to walk them sometime though.

I eventually met up again with Marilyn and Marie and we hiked back to the rim together.  Here’s Marilyn somewhere near the rim:

A view of Arches National Park from the Moab Rim.  The arch visible in this photo is the South Window, I think.

Marilyn took this photo of Moab, below, and the La Sals in the distance.

A view of the Colorado River while descending the Moab Rim Trail:

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