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Friday Fitness Hike

Bob, Janet, Linda, Nancy, and I met at 7:30am, half an hour early, in order to give ourselves enough time to do a long hike with a significant amount of elevation change.  A 7:00am start might have been even better.

We hiked out Dixie Mine to the mine, passed the petroglyphs, and continued up the wash until we hit the Prospector Trail.  We took Prospector up to the Bell Pass Trail and then hiked up to Bell Pass.  After looking at the views afforded by our vantage point at Bell Pass, we turned around and hiked the Bell Pass Trail to the Windmill Trail.  We stopped at the windmill and spent some time looking around that area.  We continued on Windmill until it ended at Coachwhip. Coachwhip took us back to the Dixie Mine Trail, which, in turn, took us back to our vehicles.  We hiked twelve miles with over 1700 feet of total ascent.

Bob pointed out this bright field of quartz on the Dixie Mine Trail:

Linda takes photos of the petroglyphs near the mine, while Janet looks on:


Linda hikes up the smooth and slippery rock of the (dry) waterfall while Nancy and Bob negotiate the bottom section.  It’s not really as far down as it looks in this photo; it’s an illusion created by the wide angle lens I was using.  If you look to the far left, you can see another petroglyph.

This is what it looked like from the bottom:

Linda, Janet, Bob, and Nancy slightly past the waterfall area.

Saguaros on the Prospector Trail.   The saguaros are “leaning” due to the fact that I was pointing the wide angle lens slightly upward.  I had thought about trying to correct the lean in post processing, but Marie convinced me that the photo looked cooler left alone.

The windmill, for which the Windmill Trail was named:

This large cottonwood is near the windmill.  It makes for a better landmark than the windmill itself since the windmill can be kind of hard to see from the Windmill Trail.

Another view of the cottonwood and the bullet-ridden storage tank:

Looking up through the dead tree at the right in the previous photo:

A view from the Coachwhip Trail.

Another view from further down the Coachwhip Trail:

Bob, Janet, and Linda pass the turnoff to the mine on the way back:

Four Peaks at Night

I took this shot from my balcony earlier this evening and tone mapped it with Mantiuk ’06 Contrast Equalization (using -e 0.6).  The exposure lasted nearly 20 minutes.  It’s not as sharp as I’d like, but I don’t think I had the lens focused correctly.  (I couldn’t see anything in the viewfinder to focus it at all!)

Sigma 50-500mm lens at 140mm.  f/11, 1179 seconds, ISO 100.

Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s hike started at the Wagner Trailhead.  Amy had the day off due to the Thanksgiving day holiday.  Susan Davis lead the short hike in her place.

Eleven of us started from Wagner Trailhead.  We hiked Wagner to Granite and then Granite to the Delsie Trail.  At that point, we split up.  Sue took her group up to the Bluff and then back to the trailhead making for a four to five mile hike depending upon the exact route back to the trailhead.

The long hike group, me, Marilyn, Bob, Janet, Alan, Nancy, and Linda, hiked the Deslie to Pemberton.  We then hiked over to one of the Stoneman Wash feeder washes which lead to Stoneman Wash.  We saw horse tracks in the feeder wash, but smaller tracks too and sign of activity under some of the brush along the way.  Stoneman Wash was quite the slog as it had been churned up by the equestrian event from a week earlier.

When we got back to the Granite Trail, we took it back to Wagner and then back to our cars, making for a nine mile hike.

Group photo:

A saguaro on the Delsie Trail:

Bob and Alan take a short break at the new picnic table and shelter near Granite Tank:

One of the views while hiking to Stoneman Wash:

Siphon Draw / Flatiron

On Saturday, Janet, Alan, Bob, Nick, Marilyn, and I hiked the Siphon Draw Trail up past the slick rock basin to the top of the Flatiron.  This was an arduous hike – we were all very tired afterward.  According to the trail description, the round trip distance is only 5.85 miles, but it has 2,900 feet of accumulated elevation gain, or roughly 1,000 feet of gain per mile.  The first mile isn’t very steep.  It gets steeper as you go up; most of the elevation gain occurs in the last half mile.

I took this photo, below, early on.  The Flatiron is at the far right.

Another photo of the Flatiron from early in the hike.  Also of interest is the the big rock at the right which looks like a head with empty eye sockets.  If you look closely, you can see another hiking party ahead of us at the lower left.

Nick strikes a grandiose pose on a wall of the slick rock basin.  This basin is 1.9 miles into the hike.  Many hikers turn around at this point.  I’ll show more photos of this basin later on.

A view looking back shortly after passing the basin and scrambling up the wall just past the basin.  There were a large number of boy scouts out that day.  Some would pass me as I was taking photos (i.e. resting), but I would often pass them during their rest breaks.  There were a few kids who probably didn’t need much of a rest, but the scout leader reined them in to give the others a chance to catch up.  There’s a group of kids hiking the trail in this photo.

From left to right in the photo below are, Janet, Nick, Alan, Bob, and Marilyn, who is still scrambling up some rocks somewhat lower down.  (Someone else is below her too.)  I was standing on a large boulder twenty-five feet or so above Nick and Alan.  There are steep sections to this hike, but there are reasonably large areas such as that shown in this photo where you can rest.  Even though this hike is steep in a few spots, there’s not much exposure.

A view looking to the northwest.  Red Mountain is barely visible at just under a quarter of the way over from the left edge of the photo.

Another view looking in the same direction, but this time, I’m through with the really steep part of the hike and am nearly at the Flatiron.

I saw this spider on my way along the easy portion of trail leading to the Flatiron.

There are still some small hills set back from the edge of the Flatiron, to the northeast.  I hiked around the hill to the right to get a few of the later photos.

A view of Lone Mountain, Pass Mountain, Usury Mountain, Red Mountain, the McDowells, and the Goldfields from atop the Flatiron.  (I think I have this right – I may even be missing one or two…)  A small portion of Apache Junction is visible in the lower right hand corner of the photo.  Fountain Hills can be seen in the right center of the photo.

Marilyn, Nick, Janet, and Alan on the easy section of trail leading to the Flatiron:

There were a lot of Agave plants atop the Flatiron and the other mesa to the north. More than a few of them sported dead flower stalks.  I didn’t see any live agave flowers, but I did see one during a recent hike at Little Saddle Mountain.

A barrel cactus, looking into the heart of the Superstition Wilderness to the west:

A dead agave with flower stalk.  I’ve heard that they die after they grow the stalk and bloom.

Another view looking west.  I started out for that near peak, but the trail that I followed became less distinct as I went.  I eventually turned back as I had been away from the rest of the group for quite a while.

I think this is a view to the southeast.  I like the clouds in this photo.

Once I finished my explorations of the eastern part of the Flatiron, we headed back to the trail junction.  The right path leads to the Flatiron, which we had just visited; the left path leads to the “top”  We didn’t really get to the top of anything, but Bob and I got pretty close.  We would have had to climb / scramble some more to get to one of the actual peaks.  It was starting to get late, however, and we still had a long way to descend to get back to our vehicles.

This photo, below, was taken from that left path that lead to the “top”.  You can see the side of the Flatiron with the town of Apache Junction far below.

Bob and I followed another steep path that lead even higher, while the others enjoyed the scenery from the Mesa below.  Nick, Alan, and Janet are visible in this photo.  I’m guessing that Marilyn is behind one of the trees.

Another view from even higher up.  We went even higher though and ended up circling around to rejoin the others.  (It was steep and loose in spots; I didn’t want to return the same way unless I absolutely had to.)

Not long after starting down, we met a fellow carrying two chihuahuas in his backpack.  We also saw a larger dog at the Flatiron who carried her own pack.

An better view of the dogs:

A view looking back up at Flatiron and at the other, smaller, mesa to the left at around 3:30 in the afternoon.  (We had started our hike at around 9:30am.)  We  were still a long way away from the bottom when I took this photo.  In fact, we still had quite a ways to descend just to reach the slick rock basin.

A view of one of the canyon walls as we were descending:

The pinkish area of rock is the slickrock basin area.  It’s hard to see at this resolution, but there are actually two people down there, one of whom is Bob.  Bob was much quicker at descending the steep terrain than the rest of us.  He stopped there and took a nap while he waited for us.  Bob is the small dark spot on one of the left slopes of the basin.

Alan and Janet beginning their descent into the slick rock basin:

Bob, Alan, Janet, Nick, and Marilyn hiking in and along the slick rock basin:

One last look back at the Flatiron.  Even at this point, we still had over half an hour of hiking ahead of us before we were back at our vehicles.



Friday Fitness Hike

Twelve of us hiked the Scenic Trail today.  At the end of the Scenic trail, Bob, Nancy, Janet, Pat, Mike, Malcolm, Sue, and I split off from the rest of the group and continued on to hike Lousley Hill too.  (The only name I remember from those who split off is Lynn, who is Mike’s wife.)  Those of us who did the long hike covered about eight miles today; the short hike was about 4.3 miles.

Below is a map showing where we hiked today.

View Fitness Hike: Scenic / Lousley Hill in a larger map

This is the group that we had on today’s hike.  The dog was very well behaved.

I noticed that the mountains to the northeast didn’t have as much haze as normal.  In fact, they were startlingly clear.

Below is another shot of these mountains using a shorter focal length (wider angle).  I’m guessing that the burned tree branch in this photo was due to the Rio Fire of the mid-nineties.

I took this photo of Bob, Nancy, and Janet just after they had hiked the hill leading to the top of the Ridge on the Scenic Trail.




Tom’s Thumb Trail

Marilyn and I hiked the Tom’s Thumb Trail on Sunday afternoon.  We parked in the new parking area – this adds a bit of distance to the hike.  I ended up with five miles exactly, though I did have to add a few extra steps in the parking area to arrive at that exact number.  We hiked up to Tom’s Thumb and back down, taking only a few excursions along the way.

Marilyn, near the beginning of the hike.  The trail is fairly steep with lots of switchbacks.  Elevation is gained quickly.

I took the climber’s access trail towards Gardener’s Wall.  Along the way, I got this photo of a climber approaching the belay station on Hanging Gardens (5.5).  If you look closely, you can see a pair of connected chains about seven feet above the climber’s head.  The guy leading it really sewed it up – I think there are at least eight pieces of protection visible in the photo.

A side view of Gardener’s Wall, off to the left:

Marilyn stayed on the Tom’s Thumb Trail and got to Tom’s Thumb ahead of me.  In the photo below, Marilyn is standing on a rock to the right of Tom’s Thumb.

Another photo of Tom’s Thumb taken from a different location and framed so that the “thumb” is on the left rule of thirds line.  The RAW file for the photo below was converted using a custom color profile for the Sony NEX-7.  The NEX-7’s “Daylight” white balance setting was used for the majority of the photo, but a layer using “Shade” was used for the shady areas given them a somewhat browner look.  The opacity of a Mantiuk ’06 contrast equalization tone layer was set at only 20%.  The tone layer helps to explicate some of the detail in the various rock formations.

On the way back, we stopped by a cave dwelling complete with stove, picnic table and a bed made out of sand bags with a blanket spread over the top.  There are additional sand bags filling in a hole in the back of the cave and more near the entrance, probably intended to block wind and rain.

Pinnacle Peak, Troon, and some other small mountains (of which I do not know the names):

One of Marilyn’s photos, taken with the RX100:

A photo of me photographing Tom’s Thumb:

A photo of me with Tom’s Thumb in the background:

Below is a photo of “Glass Dome”.  I’m not sure how it got its name as it’s not really a dome and it’s made from granite instead of glass.   It’s just off the Tom’s Thumb Trail somewhat before the turn off for the climber’s access trail to Tom’s Thumb proper.  It’s a fairly large formation, but is quite a lot smaller than Tom’s Thumb.  (Tom’s Thumb requires two ropes to descend (rappel) from the top.  Glass Dome only requires one.)




Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s hike this week took us out to the Marcus Landslide Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Eleven of us started out from the Wagner Trailhead.  We hiked through the campground, using one of the campground trails to get to the Granite Trail.  From there we hiked, in succession, portions of Bluff, Pemberton, the Rock Knob Trail, the Marcus Landslide Trail, the Boulder Trail, Pemberton, Tonto Tank, and Pemberton.  We ended up hiking the main park road back to our vehicles at the Wagner Trailhead.

Amy and four others split off from the long hike group on the Bluff at the upper Granite Trail Intersection.  Nancy, Linda, Janet, Nick, Mike, and I continued on up the Bluff to finish the route sketched out above   Below is the map of our hike.  My GPS reported the distance as 11.4 miles, but Google Earth reported the track as being only 11.2 miles.

View Marcus Landslide Hike in a larger map

Here’s a group photo just after hiking up the short, but steep hill at the beginning of the Bluff Trail:

Linda took the photo below in which Amy had us all kneel (or squat) down to better see the rays of the sun streaming through the clouds.

We saw this young Queen of the Night cactus as we hiked up the Bluff Trail:

A view of Rock Knob near the end of the Bluff Trail:

A view from the Rock Knob Trail:

One of the mushroom shaped rocks on the Marcus Landslide Trail.  The sign had been put in since I was last out there perhaps a month ago.  The signs are informative, but in some cases, I think they were placed too close to the feature being described.  (In my opinion this photo, below, would have been better without a sign in it.)

Here’s what the sign says:

Nancy poses in beside a pair of mushroom boulders leaning against each other.  I took several shots here, but hated the fact that the sign was in the picture.  Finally, I asked Nancy to come stand in front of the sign.  I think it’s a much better photo as a result.

The hill in the foreground is a portion of the slide mass of the Marcus Landslide.  It extends for quite a distance from the preserve into McDowell Mountain Park.

Nick sits in another abandoned and, this time, overturned vehicle that Linda spotted a short ways off the Boulder Trail.

A pair of saguaros just off the Pemberton.  We saw these near the end of the hike just before crossing Stoneman Wash.


Javelina Mine Trail Photos

Marilyn, Nick, and I hiked the Javelina Mine Trail in the Goldfields last Sunday.

There is a maze of jeep roads at the beginning and it would be easy to get off track.  We thought we must have somehow taken the wrong fork at one point because we couldn’t find the actual trail.  We ended up high on a hill and spotted a trail not far away, but its location didn’t match the trail description.  Still, it was a trail – we made our way over to it and started hiking.  We came to a wash and hiked in the wash for a while, losing the trail along the way.

I spotted some tracks leaving the wash. It was a faint trail, but I checked it out and found that they lead to a well defined trail.  I think it’s likely that the trail crossed the wash and we simply missed seeing the spot where the trail exited the wash on the other side.  We continued on along the trail and it eventually intersected another trail which was the Javelina Mine Trail.  On the way back, we took that other fork and found that we had walked right past the start of the trail without even knowing it.  The HAZ hike description for the Javelina Mine Trail mentions a “rusted old hulk of a vehicle” which is supposed to mark the start of the trail.  We never saw that hulk, but,  on our return, we found the place where the hulk probably once sat.  There are three cairns near the singletrack entrance, but we missed seeing those too.

Here is a map showing our GPS track. If you zoom in, you can see the roads and the trail we followed on the map.

View Javelina Mine Trail in a larger map

Nick thought that this rock formation, below, looked like an elephant head.  I think we saw this shortly after joining the Javelina Mine Trail from the other singletrack that we started on.

This formation (below) is known as Checkmate Arch.  I had my camera fully zoomed at 200mm to get this shot.

A view of the terrain ahead.

Another shot, below, of the hills and mountains in the photo above.  That big rock behind Marilyn in the photo above is part of the big yellow looking rock to the right in the photo below.  I got this photo on the way back.

A tall saguaro that we passed on the way back:

A lichen covered rock formation with burnt cholla remains in front:

Weaver’s Needle:

Three of the Four Peaks – I think the fourth one is hidden behind the others.  I had my 18-200mm lens fully zoomed for this shot.


Friday Fitness Hike

We had a total of thirteen people on today’s hike.  We started at the Trailhead Staging area and hiked out to Stoneman Wash.  At that point, we split into two groups.  Amy’s group continued on to the pond and then returned to the parking area.

My group hiked up Stoneman Wash, veering off to explore several feeder washes along the way.  We eventually wound up on the Pemberton Trail.  We returned via the Delsie, Granite, Wagner, and Tortoise trails.  Total distance was twelve miles.

Here is a group photo just prior to splitting into two groups:

I took this photo just as we were starting up Stoneman Wash:

Nick imagines what it might have been like to drive the old Chevy convertible.  There are other photos of the car in the July 27 write-up.

 The remains of a dead tree, probably burned in the Rio Fire back in 1995:

A small bluff along Stoneman Wash:

We saw these flowers in one of the feeder washes:

We hiked some of the Bluff Trail where we encountered these cyclists.  Note the pig ornament on the handlebar of her bike.

As we were hiking along the Granite Trail, we saw a Palo Verde apparently growing out of a rock outcropping.  Nick and I walked around the back of the rock and convinced ourselves that it really was growing out of the rock and not just from behind the rock.

But that wasn’t good enough for Nancy.  She convinced me to climb to the top where I took this photo showing the trunk of the Palo Verde growing out of the top of the rock.

A view from the top of the rock.  From left to right are Susan, Sharon, Bob, Nancy, Gary, Nick, Janet, and Mike (who is also taking a photo).  Some of the limbs from the Palo Verde are hanging down in front of me.

Another rock outcropping on the bank of one of the many washes we hiked:

Saguaros along the Delsie Trail.  Information about how the Delsie Trail got its name can be found in the August 17 post.

A view of the McDowells from the Delsie Trail.  Tom’s Thumb, Morrell’s Wall, Rock Knob, Sven Slab, and all three of the Sven Towers are visible in this photo.






Nick atop Sunrise Peak

More photos from Saturday’s hike with Nick and Marilyn.  These were all taken from Sunrise Peak.

A view of the Fountain Hills, the Fountain, and Four Peaks in the distance.

Another, closer, view of Fountain Hills and Four Peaks from a somewhat higher vantage point.

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