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Category: Hiking (page 45 of 52)

Hike descriptions and/or photos.

Friday Hike: Gold Ridge Trail

Friday’s hike was up (and then down) the Gold Ridge Trail.  We started at the Deer Creek Trailhead, hiked a short way on the Deer Creek Trail and then hiked up, and up, and up even more on the Gold Ridge Trail.  We split up into several groups for this hike.  Bob and I hiked 12.3 miles with a total ascent of just over 3,000 feet.

View hike-130315-goldridge-track.kml in a larger map

A look in the general direction of where we’d be going as seen from the Deer Creek Trail:

A small cactus seen in the early morning light:

A view to the southeast from the Gold Ridge trail, early on:

Bob, Marilyn, Janet, and Nick taking a break at the gate.  We had to hike uphill to get to this point, but that section was easy compared to what was ahead of us.

A view to the northwest:

The view to the northeast; Marilyn, Janet, and Nick are in this photo, but you have to look very closely to see them.

A similar view, but this time with a boulder in the foreground:

One of many hills visited by the trail.  From where I’m standing, it looks like the hill at the left is the “top”, but when you get to the top of that hill, it becomes evident that you go down a short ways and then up an even higher hill beyond.  This occurs repeatedly throughout the hike.

Bob, topping out on the hill in the previous photo:

A dead, and toppled, agave stalk:

Another view towards the east.  Note the lake – Nick says he thinks it’s Roosevelt Lake – towards the upper right of the photo:

A view to the northeast after we’d hiked up several of the large hills:

We saw a patch of melting snow on the trail.  My hands were sticky on the way back from consuming some gels and a Power Bar.  I used some of the snow to wash my hands.

As we were hiking out, we looked back and saw this rock outcropping on the top of one of the hills:

This area had been burned by the Willow Fire back in 2004.  We saw a lot of dead trees, some standing as shown in the photo below, but others fallen, some of which we had to cross over or under during our hike:

At around the six mile point, I saw this sign pointing back the way we came:

The Gold Ridge Trail meets up with the Mazatzal Divide Trail.  We didn’t hike this trail; we instead turned around and went back the way we came.

Another look at the rock outcropping through some colorful vegetation:

Another view of the distant lake, this time through some trees.

A closer look at the rock outcropping:

A dead tree intermixed with new growth:

Poppies and other vegetation:

Poppies, purple flowers – I don’t know what they are – along with a big clump of grass with a rock behind it.

I saw this boulder field, intermixed with dead agaves and some trees as I approached the gate where Marilyn, Janet, Nick, and Bob were waiting for me.

A colorful flowering bush:

Almost done!  My GPS showed that I had hiked 12 miles at this point.  It was only 0.3 miles back to the parking area.

Friday Hike: Marcus Landslide in the Rain

Janet, Nick, and I hiked the Marcus Landslide Trail earlier today.  It was raining moderately hard when we started – my nylon pants became soggily plastered to my legs within just a few minutes.  But, thankfully, the rain let up to only a drizzle and the nylon dried quickly.  We all had decent rain jackets, so we were fairly comfortable otherwise.  Janet even had rain pants.

A view of Sven Towers I, II, and III.  (Sven Tower I is on the far right.)  This is an unusual view because normally you can see more of the McDowells behind them.  The clouds were so dense and low hanging that they blanketed everything behind.  A stand of chain fruit cholla is in the foreground.

A view of the trail shortly after starting up the “landslide” portion of the Marcus Landslide Trail:

I think this is the Granite Ballroom area:

Nick and Janet hiking up the Marcus Landslide Trail:

Submarine rock is the second large rock – it’s the one that’s broken in two pieces.

A saguaro with more low hanging misty clouds in the background.

Nick and Kevin:

We saw some poppies along the way.

A view through the broken and leaning mushroom rock:

As we neared the trailhead on the way back, we noticed that the sun was almost starting to shine on Troon Mountain off in the distance.

Nick taught me a new word today, gabion.  A gabion is a wire cage used for holding rocks or other materials.  The gabions (and rocks) shown here form retaining walls for erosion control.

Friday Hike: Ballantine Cabin

The Friday Fitness Hikes at McDowell Mountain Park have been suspended for a month so that Amy can lead wildflower hikes instead.  I and several other Fitness Hike regulars are taking the opportunity to visit other areas.

This week, we hiked half of the Pine Creek Loop to the Ballantine Trail.  There is another trail that crosses the Ballantine Trail at the Boulder Flat area.  We took that trail left, up to the top of the ridgeline to the north of the Ballantine Trail and then down the other side to an old cabin built out of galvanized corrugated sheet metal.

Below is the track we took.  We started out on the red track at the west (left) side of the map.

View hike-130301-Ballantine_Cabin.kml in a larger map

The area is incredibly rocky.  These are some of the rock formations (and vegetation) that we saw shortly after turning off the Pine Creek Loop onto the Ballantine Trail.

Nancy and Linda on the Ballantine:

Saguaros and rocks on the Ballantine:

A view looking back to the northwest.  If you look closely, you can see Beeline Highway (State Route 87) in this photo.

This monolith can be see on the south side of the trail at just over two miles into the hike.

Linda climbed up on the big flat boulder next to the monolith for this photo:

The monolith looks quite different when looking back at it from a short ways further along the trail:

We heard water flowing down Camp Creek during sections of hike along the Ballantine Trail.  From where we stood up on the ridge though, we had to look very closely to see any water.

Another view looking back to the west.  Linda and Nancy can be seen hiking the Ballantine in the upper right of this photo:

Nancy, standing by a one-time gate atop the ridge to the north of the Ballantine Trail.  Red Mountain can be see in the far distance at the upper left in this photo.

I had visited the north side of this ridgeline only once or twice before and had forgotten what it looked like on the other side.  This is a view looking to the northwest.

This is the view to the northeast.  If you look closely, you can just make out the cabin which was our eventual destination.  If you refer back to the map, the cabin is located slightly south of the little “Y” at the northwest end of the tracks.  (I explored a short ways beyond the cabin prior to returning.)

We were surprised to see a few patches of snow as we made our way down to the cabin:

Nancy and Linda standing in the cabin’s doorways:

We thought the skull hanging on the wall was a nice touch:

An even closer look at the skull:

When we got inside the cabin, we saw a cot.  The mattress and bedding had been balled up and suspended from the ceiling to keep it dry and to keep critters out.  (I didn’t take a photo of this.)  Some supplies, mugs, and a small pot could be see along the west wall.  I found it interesting that brake fluid had been positioned next to the cooking oil.

We saw a stove and more supplies along the north wall.  There was also a storage bin, half of which can be seen at the far left in this photo, which contained plates and eating utensils.

This is the view out of the east window:

The photo below shows Linda and Nancy taking a break near the cabin.  When I had last visited the area, perhaps eleven or twelve years ago, I saw an enclosed corral near the cabin.  Up high, stretched between two poles was the skin of a medium sized animal.  If you look behind where Linda is standing, you can see, lying on the ground, an animal skin which I believe to be the same skin that I saw those many years ago.

This gate, below, leads to the Pipeline Trail.  I explored a short ways to the north along the Pipeline Trail, but also to the east along another trail that was, I think, once the main Ballantine Trail.

Back when I first started hiking in this area, I noticed that the track on my GPS map went to the north, the way that the three of us took on Friday to go to Ballantine Cabin.  The trail then continued to the east and eventually went up to the same corral that the present day Ballantine trail goes through further to the east.  Back in 2001, this trail was very difficult to follow as a lot of brush had grown up over the trail.  I remember crawling on my hands and knees under some of the brush and climbing up and down boulders in other sections to get past it.  The section that I hiked on Friday, present day, was amazingly clear and easy to follow.

I saw this granite boulder with an arch in it as I was hiking out along that section of trail leading east from Ballantine Cabin.

I went a short ways further along the trail leading east before returning to explore a small section of the Pipeline Trail heading north.   The trail crosses a creek, probably Pine Creek:

I saw another corral as I hiked out along the Pipeline Trail.  There is a sort of corridor or chute constructed with metal pipe, shown towards the left edge of the photo.  Note that the near end of it narrows down so that a cow (or bull or steer) driven down the chute won’t be able to go any further.  I think this mechanism serves the same purpose as the head gate that we used to use on the farm.  The animal would be driven down the chute and would get jammed up at the narrow end of the chute at which point the ranch hand could possibly employ some other kind of restraint for working on the animal – vaccinations, branding, etc.  Once the animal was processed, that narrow end of the chute would be opened up to let the animal out.

Another view of the corral looking east:

A view looking southwest from the top of the ridge as we were heading back to the Ballantine Trail:

Another look at the very textured rock formation to the southwest from lower down:

Nancy and Linda on their way back to the Ballantine Trail.

A rock formation near the intersection of the trail leading over to the cabin and the present day Ballantine Trail.  (I think the section of trail that we hiked also used to be the Ballantine Trail.  But perhaps now, it’s a continuation of the Pipeline Trail?)

One of the views as we were hiking back on the Ballantine:

And another:

Nancy and Linda descending a section of the Ballantine.  It’s largely uphill on the way out and mostly downhill on the way back.  We had over 2100 feet of total ascent for the day.

The trail goes right under the arm of the large saguaro:

We saw poppies alongside the trail on the way back:

We saw this saguaro as we were nearing the end of our hike on the other half of the Pine Creek Loop.  The hike was only a little over nine miles, including the exploration that I did beyond the cabin.

Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s hike took us out to the Dixie Mine (on the Dixie Mine Trail).  We went on to look at the petroglyphs and then hiked further up the canyon past the waterfall to the Prospector Trail.  We hiked the short section of Prospector that took us back to the road and then hiked down the road back to the Dixie Mine Trail.  Total distance was six miles exactly.

Recent rain has made the desert very green:

Group photo – there were too many new faces for me to remember everyone’s name.

Jill and George:

A rocky section along the Dixie Mine Trail:

Petroglyphs; these are a short way past the mine.

George, taking photos of the petroglyphs:

Another view of the petroglyphs:

A view from further up the canyon.

This is one of a number of holes dug into the canyon walls.  I think prospectors started digging at these sites to see if they could find anything of value.

Richard, standing at a plateau in the waterfall area.  Several of our party decided to turn around at this point.  The six of us who went on found the waterfall to be slippery.

A view from the very top of the waterfall:

Janet, beside a moss and lichen covered rock:

Another view from the wash / canyon.  Richard found a trail that lead us up out of the wash for a short ways, presenting some views that I hadn’t seen before.

Three views from the Dixie Mine Trail as we headed back.  Snow can be seen in the mountains in the distance.


Little Mount Ord

Marilyn and I hiked to the top of Little Mount Ord yesterday.  We parked at the junction of forest service roads #626 and #1688.  We hiked #1688 until we got to a trail leading to the top of Little Mount Ord.  The latter trail was easy to follow in the beginning, but it had a lot of brush.  We alternated between bushwhacking and hiking what appeared to be infrequently used trails between the brush.  We found an area where cattle had congregated at one time; it’s possible that we were following cow trails during some of our ascent of Little Mound Ord.

FS #1688 had a mix of mud and snow, though most of it was reasonably dry and in good condition.  There were several spots that would’ve been challenging for me in our truck, but it would be no trouble at all for someone familiar with OHV travel.

A view of Mount Ord.  There is a lookout tower and a bunch of antennae on top.  Little Mount ord is off to the right, but is not visible in the photo below.

The moon, seen through the branches of a pine tree:

Marilyn, hiking FS #1688:

A view looking towards the Phoenix Metro area.  There was so much haze that we had trouble seeing Red Mountain.  (Red Mountain can be see slightly below the horizon, one third of the way over from the left edge of the photo.)  SR 87, also known as Beeline Highway, can be seen in this photo.

A view as we were hiking up Little Mount Ord.  The Mogollon Rim can be seen between gaps in the vegetation.

Four Peaks had snow on at least three of its peaks.  FS #1688 can be seen cutting across the hillside in the foreground.  If you were to follow that hillside leftward to the top, you’d end up at the summit of Mount Ord.  (There are easier ways to get there though.)

After we descended Little Mount Ord, we hiked a ways further on FS #1688 where I got this picture of a peak in the Mazatzals.  A portion of Little Mount Ord can be seen in the foreground.

I stopped partway down FS #626 on the way back, got out of the truck, and took a few more photos.  This one is looking across Beeline Highway into the Mazatzals.

The loading chute of a corral just off of FS #626:

Another View of the Mazatzals:

Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s hike this week started at the Trailhead Staging Area.  A few of us met early to show Jim Burns, a bird photographer, the approximate location where we had seen the long-eared owl in early January.

We hiked out Pemberton towards Tonto Tank in the dark.   The sky became colorful somewhat before sunrise.

We hiked a bit further and saw the sunrise:

This is where we stopped to let Jim continue on his own to look for the owl:

Jim, with his camera and tripod.  He has a 600mm f/4 lens on his Canon camera.  He says it weighs around 20lbs.

On the way back to the Trailhead Staging Area, we saw this raven on a saguaro:

Nancy, Linda, and I joined several others for a hike on the Scenic Trail.  From left to right are Richard, Larry, George, Jill, Bill, Linda, and Nancy.  Amy had started the hike with us but went back for some other hikers who showed up late.

Linda, Nancy, and I split off to explore the trail between the Scenic Trail and the Horse Staging area.  The rest of the group continued on the Scenic Trail.  Below is a photo of them hiking up the first hill encountered when hiking the Scenic Trail in a counterclockwise direction:

Nancy and Linda:

A skull, which we think once belonged to a Javelina:

A view from the Pemberton.  Parts of the scenic trail snake along the high ridge line in the foreground.  In the far distance, the Flat Iron in the Superstitions can be seen.

When we got back to the parking area, we were just shy of twelve miles.  I walked over to and part way up the Hilltop Trail and then back to my truck to put me at twelve miles exactly.  Below is a view of Red Mountain from the Hilltop Trail.

Elephant Mountain

Marilyn and I hiked at the Spur Cross Ranch Recreation Area on Sunday.

We hiked the Spur Cross Trail to Tortuga, at which point we continued straight on Tortuga.  Tortuga branches off to the left, but we continued going straight which is the Elephant Mountain Trail at that point.  The Elephant Mountain Trail descends into a wash, follows the wash for a time and then gradually ascends to a pass which separates the main bulk of Elephant Mountain from a  lower peak to the East.  This lower peak is the site of an old Native American fortress, complete with walls somewhat below the relatively flat top of the peak.  We continued on Elephant Mountain Trail until it met up with the Spur Cross Trail, which we followed back to the parking area.

A view of Elephant Mountain from either the Tortuga Trail or near the beginning of the Elephant Mountain trail from where it connects to the Tortuga Trail.  The fortress peak with the shear sides is in front of the main bulk of Elephant Mountain.

In the photo below, we were on the Elephant Mountain Trail, beginning our descent into the wash.


A view of the Elephant Mountain fortress peak from where the Elephant Mountain Trail dips into a wash:

I think this might be Sugarloaf Mountain with Skull Mesa to the right.  (I’m not certain though.)

Another view of the Elephant Mountain fortress rock:

Great views…

A wall of ridged rock on Elephant Mountain:

One of the views as we were making our way back to the Spur Cross Trail:

Another look at one of the rock walls on Elephant Mountain:

Marilyn amidst some very tall saguaros:

A mountain biker descending the Spur Cross Trail:

Marilyn on the Spur Cross Trail:

Saguaros on the Spur Cross Trail:

White stone and brown rocks along the Spur Cross Trail:

The sun came out shortly before setting, bathing the trail in an orange glow:

Marilyn, waiting for me as I take lots of “golden hour” photos:

More views near sunset…

I noticed these ruins near the parking area just prior to leaving.  I’m puzzled about the wood beam though.  It doesn’t look weathered enough to be original.

Friday Fitness Hike

Today’s hike started at the Wagner Trailhead.  Fourteen of us hiked out Wagner to the Granite and then to the Delsie Trail.  At Delsie, we split up; Amy’s group finished up by hiking up to Bluff and then back on Granite to Wagner.

Nancy, Janet, Linda, Bob, Sarge, and I hiked up Delsie to the Granite Tank on Pemberton. From there, we hiked the new Pemberton re-route to Lariat which we took back to Granite where we retraced our steps back to our cars.  Total distance was 9.75 miles.

Recent rain has made the trails very green.  We even noticed a bit of green in the McDowells.


Linda, Janet, and Nancy on the Delsie Trail:

Bob and Sarge:

A view of the McDowells and saguaros in the foreground midway up the Delsie Trail.  Tom’s Thumb can be seen a third of the way from the right hand side of the photo.  The Thumbnail Pinnacle can be seen at the far left of the photo.

This photo was taken near the Granite Tank.  The Tank is not visible in this photo, but is off to the left.  The road to the left used to be the Pemberton Trail.  Pemberton has been rerouted to the right.

The new Pemberton reroute has lots of twists and turns and is very scenic.  The desert vegetation is very dense in places and, much to our surprise, we saw large boulders along the way.

A closer view of one of the large boulders in the above photo.

I found a way to climb to the top of that boulder.  Linda took this photo of me on the top:

Janet standing next to a somewhat smaller boulder a little ways further down the trail:

A healthy saguaro.  I think this was still on the Pemberton Trail.

A view from the Lariat Trail as we were headed back:

Friday Fitness Hike

This week’s hike was at the North Trail.  Linda, Janet, Nancy, and I hiked the North Trail to the Chuparosa and then out on Pemberton for a ways before returning.  Amy lead Richard, Lynn, and Deb on a hike of the North Trail.

I forgot to check the aperture of my camera; when I got home I noticed that I had it set at f/1.8 for the wide angle focal length.  For the shots where I zoomed in a bit, the aperture was somewhat smaller, but still not small enough to get a decent depth of field.  As a consequence, this week’s photos are not as sharp as usual.

I thought it cool that I was able to get the moon in this photo:

I think the shallow depth of field in this photo helps to isolate the two saguaros in the foregound.  This one ended up being f/3.2 at 1/2000 sec, ISO 125.

We saw these two equestrians riding in on the 150th Street access trail as we were headed back on the Pemberton:

Friday Fitness Hike

Last Friday’s hike started at the Dixie Mine Trailhead at the end of Golden Eagle Blvd.  We hiked out Dixie Mine until we came to the Sonoran Trail.  We hiked Sonoran until it ended at the Promenade Trail.  We took the Promenade Trail a short ways further and then took the Western Loop Trail up to the overlook at the top of the hill.  After a short break, we continued on the Western Loop Trail, which lead us back to the Promenade.  On the way down, we noticed another trail, the Overlook Trail, that none of us had hiked yet.  It wasn’t very far away, so we hiked it too.  We returned via the Promenade, Sonoran, and Dixie Mine trails.

Seven of us hiked on Friday, John, Amy, Lynn, Janet, Bill, Bob, and myself.  (I’m not in the picture this week…)  Bob, Janet and I hiked over eleven miles.  Amy turned around to hike back with John and Lynn at the three mile point.  Bill hiked out to the start of the Western Loop Trail with us and then continued on a ways on the Promenade Trail before turning around.

A view of Four Peaks from the Sonoran Trail:


Bob and Janet at the overlook accessible from the Western Loop Trail.  (This is different from the Overlook Trail which we hiked later.)

A view of some of the McDowells from the Western Loop Trail Overlook:

We saw many more saguaros and other cacti as we descended the Western Loop Trail on the other side of the hill.

Part way down the Western Loop Trail, at the Adero Canyon Overlook, is a bench upon which to rest.  None of us needed rest, I guess, because none of us sat down on it.

I saw this boulder a short ways further down the trail.  Four Peaks in the the background:

We saw this rock outcropping on the Western Loop Trail, somewhat before it rejoined the Promenade Trail.

We proceeded on to the Overlook Trail and stopped briefly to climb a rock pile. I took this photo of Janet from the top.  (It wasn’t a very big rock pile.)

We saw yet another rock pile as we hiked the Overlook Trail.  It’s a very scenic trail, but you have to have to hike perhaps four and a half miles from where we started to get to it.  I would guess that it’s closer to the other access point that the town has planned.  (I’ve never started from that access point, so I don’t know for certain.)

A view of (and from) the Promenade Trail.  It’s actually an old jeep road which can be seen on the hillside from many places in Fountain HIlls.  (I used to run on part of this road many, many years ago.)

Bob and Janet hike up the section of the Sonoran trail with the longest, most sustained, amount of vertical ascent on the way back.  (There are longer uphill sections on the way out.)

Saguaros along the Sonoran Trail:

A view of Fountain Hills from the Sonoran Trail:



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