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Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s hike took us out to the Dixie Mine, past the nearby petroglyphs, and then past even more petroglyphs where we got to scramble up a section of smooth stone in the wash.

Seven of us were on Friday’s hike.  From left to right are Bill, Amy, Linda, Marilyn, Doug, and Jane.  Marilyn and Jane were visiting from Mesa.

Prickly pear blossom:

Some of the saguaros are starting to bloom!

The rest of the group got ahead of me a few times as I practiced photography:

These small reddish-orange berries are wolfberries.  I haven’t tried any, but I’m told that they’re edible and sort of taste like a tomato.

The brittlebush is starting to wilt, but the many of the ocotillo now have blossoms.

The top of Thompson Peak is framed by the blooming creosote bush.

Ranger Amy tells us the story of the Swiss construction company who ended up constructing three roads, each successively less steep up to the top of Thompson Peak.  I have hiked up the current road once.  I shudder to think of what it would’ve been like to go up either of the earlier two attempts as the present road is still very steep!  Scars of the earlier road attempts are still visible on Thompson Peak.

This is the main petroglyph panel near the mine.  There are a few more petroglyphs scattered above, below, and to the sides of this panel.

Doug and Bill wait for the rest of us to examine the petroglyphs:

A cropped version of the above photo:

We passed this area on our way to the next petroglyph panel:

The petroglyphs at the next area are scattered about.  Patience and a willingness to examine the rock closely is required for finding some of them.  Here, Amy has made her way past some waist-high brush to get a better look at some of them:

It appears that the Hohokam drew a lizard here.  I have no idea what the other marking might mean.

A section of smooth, water polished rock adds a challenge to the hike:

It takes some looking, but there are at least four areas of petoglyphs on this wall.  There’s a wiggly line that might represent a snake towards the upper right of the photo.  They’re difficult to see, but when I zoomed in on the unscaled version, I saw smaller wiggly lines below the larger one – perhaps these represent baby snakes?

There appears to be a drawing of someone falling head-first in this photo.  Perhaps it’s a warning to not go too high?  (It would’ve taken some additional scrambling to get up above the drawing.)

Amy poses for a photo at the top of the “waterfall” area.  (I’m not sure that it’s really a waterfall…)

A look at what’s ahead of us:

Amy takes a photo looking down and past the area we just scrambled up:

The canyon was still scenic as we continued on:

We had returned to the Dixie Mine Trail when I took this photo:

California Buckwheat:

Purple-flowered Rhatany growing amidst a Christmas Cholla.  Amy told us that it can be a kind of parasite, though I saw some growing by itself today when I rode my bike.

A View of Four Peaks from the Lost Dutchman State Park

I took this photo in November, 2012 when we hiked Siphon Draw to the Flatiron.

I took this one near the end of the hike.  I looked at it when I was processing the other photos from that hike, back in November, but it kind of looked blah to me then, so I didn’t do anything with it.  I’ve been experimenting a bit more with setting the color temperature to match certain parts of the scene.  This is what I came up with.

Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s Hike was outside the park, starting at the Tom’s Thumb Trailhead, though part of the group may have set foot inside McDowell Mountain Park at some point.  Eight of us started on the Tom’s Thumb Trail; we all turned left onto the Mesquite Canyon Trail after a short ways.  We parted ways shortly after turning east on the Feldspar Trail.  Linda, Janet, Bob, and I continued up Mesquite Canyon while Amy, Bill, Doug, and Michael continued on the Feldspar Trail on their way to hike the Marcus Landslide Trail.

This is a photo of the group at the start of the hike.  From left to right are Bill, Janet, Linda, Bob, Doug, Amy, and Michael.

Here is an uncropped version which shows Morrell’s Wall above.

Linda, Janet, Bob, and I split off just after passing this large boulder near the intersection of the Mesquite Canyon Trail with the Feldspar Trail.  Amy is posing beside it in this photo.

A view of Morrell’s Wall from further up Mesquite Canyon:

Looking back at Troon, off in the distance, as we climb out of Mesquite Canyon; the rock formation with the three large boulders on top is the Morell’s Wall Parking Lot Area.  (There’s no longer a parking lot nearby, but there was at one time.)  Marilyn and I used to climb there a lot.  There is a 5.7 route that tops out just left of those boulders called Seven Up.

There is a prominent pinnacle halfway across the photo which I call the Thumbnail Pinnacle.  (There’s a climb on it called The Thumbnail.)  That pinnacle and the walls just below it form a climbing area known as Hog Heaven. Over the course of the next hour or so after taking this photo, we made our way slightly past and then above Hog Heaven.  When Bob and I hiked this trail back in January, we had an easy time seeing it.  It was more difficult on Friday since the trail was obscured by vegetation that had grown since then.

I don’t remember what Linda and Janet were looking at, but apparently they found it entertaining:

Red Mountain is visible off in the distance through a gap in the boulders:

A good view of Weaver’s Needle and the Flatiron off in the distance:

Taking a break beside one of the many small hills along the way:

A somewhat closer view of the Thumbnail Pinnacle and the walls of Hog Heaven, off to the left, below it:

New Mexico Thistle:

There were sections where we gained more feet vertically than we did horizontally.  There were also some fairly high steps from time to time.

A view of the Marcus Landslide Trail Loop.  The Boulder Trail and part of the Pemberton Trail can even be seen in this photo.  I thought we might see Amy’s group on the trail below, but I think they were probably done hiking it by the time we got to this point.  Submarine Rock can be seen about a third of the way from the right and a third of the way from the bottom.

Bob, with Hog Heaven’s “Main Wall” behind him:

Bob, Linda, and Janet, just below the Thumbnail Pinnacle!

Bob took this photo of me photographing the Thumbnail Pinnacle.  Unfortunately, my footing atop that boulder was just precarious enough that I had trouble getting a good shot. I have a photo of Bob, Linda, and Janet beside the pinnacle on that side, but it’s out of focus.

Linda’s photo of me on that rock:

Thompson Peak is to the left with numerous antennae.  Scottsdale is in the background.

Another view of the Thumbnail Pinnacle from somewhat higher up; it has a distinctive shape that can be seen from the park and even some parts of Fountain Hills, but it looks totally different from this vantage point.

We passed this small rock outcropping as we continued up to the ridge which would eventually lead us to the highest point of the McDowell’s:

We eventually lost sight of the Thumbnail Pinnacle as we continued up the ridge.  The place where I stood to take this photo was close to the last such vantage point.

The ridge still had a lot of boulders to negotiate, sometimes around and sometimes over.

Bob, Linda, and Janet just after crossing to the southwest side of the ridge:

We started seeing a lot of these black and yellow caterpillars; I think it might be a Striped Garden Caterpillar (Trichordestra legitima).

A view looking back along the ridge we had just traversed.  We started on the northeast side to the left and eventually crossed over to the southwest side to the right.  Weaver’s Needle, The Flatiron, Red Mountain, and even the Fountain Hill’s fountain lake can also be seen in this photo.

Linda is sitting on the East End summit boulder, the highest point in the McDowells.

Linda took this photo of me showing where I stood while taking her photo…

There is a cave, of sorts, underneath another large boulder that’s near the summit boulder.  Linda took this photo of me in that cave:

The cave had a sort of window…

A reddish-orange Mariposa Lily with Tom’s Thumb in the background.  (Thanks to Bill Craig for the correct identification!  I had originally identified this as a poppy.)

Tom’s Thumb, The Rist, Glass Dome, and Gardner’s Wall.  It’s possible that some of the other rock formations have names too, but I don’t know what they are.  Tom’s Thumb is the largest pinnacle situated near the upper-right rules of thirds point.  Gardener’s Wall is below and slightly to the right of Tom’s Thumb in this photo.  (If you view it from the trailhead, however, Gardener’s Wall will be below and to the left of Tom’s Thumb.)  The Rist is the smaller cluster of rocks to the right of Tom’s Thumb.  Glass Dome is near the left edge of this photo, protruding somewhat above the ridge line.

Once we got back to the Tom’s Thumb trail, we hiked up towards Tom’s Thumb.  No of us were eager to go to the Thumb that day, so we took a look at a nearby cave / shelter instead.  Instead of taking the main Tom’s Trail, we chose a more interesting route along the Gardener’s Wall access trail:

Bob and I had both noticed this boulder with a saguaro beside it in the past; I think I may even have posted a photo of it at some point.  I think this photo turned out well, despite the sun being high in the sky – it was almost noon when I took this photo.  Troon and Pinnacle Peak are both visible in the background.

Globe mallow flowers:

Prickly Pear Blossoms:

I think this is Miniature Woolystar (Eriastrum diffusum):

When we got back to the intersection of the Feldspar and Tom’s Thumb trails, we hadn’t even gone four miles!  We decided to add in some easy mileage by hiking the Feldspar over to the Marcus Landslide Trail providing a circuitous route back to the trailhead.  Despite that added distance, we had only hiked about 5.3 miles when we finished.  But we had over 1700 feet of elevation gain!  I took this photo, below, from the Marcus Landslide Trail.  The Thumbnail Pinnacle can be seen about a third of the way over from the left side of the photo.

Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s hike started at the Wagner Trailhead.  We hiked the Wagner Trail to the Granite Trail.  At that point, Amy and her group turned left, while Bob, Sarge, Janet, and I turned right.  This is a photo of the group just prior to splitting up:

Bob, Sarge, Janet, and I hiked out to the Delsie Trail, at which point we noticed that it now has a sign!

A view of Rock Knob that’s a bit different from what we normally see:

We came across some rock formations that we hadn’t noticed before:

Globemallows with Weaver’s Needle in the distance:

We hiked over ten miles.  Bob had to stop to give Sarge water several times.

A saguaro at the top of a flower covered bank of a wash:

A view of the McDowells from a hilltop on the Granite Trail:

Hedgehog blossoms:

I have not been able to identify these flowers.  Anyone know what they are?

[Update: Amy tells me that these flowers are California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum).  She says that she likes to call them the “hangover plant” because tea brewed from dried flowers has been used as a headache remedy from drinking too much.]

This is a view of the entire bush.  It’s the only one of it’s type that we noticed during our 10+ mile hike.

Hedgehog Blossom

I used a 10mm Kenko Extension Tube with the 50mm E-mount lens yesterday to get this photo of a hedgehog cactus blossom in my backyard yesterday.  The extension tubes decrease the minimum focus distance – i.e. they allow you to move the camera closer to the subject than would normally be allowable by the lens.  The downside is that they also make it difficult or impossible to focus on things that are far away – or even not so far away.

I took a number of exposures using different aperture sizes.  I liked the depth of field at f/18, but the background was busy and distracting, so I blended an f/18 exposure with one at f/2.2.  I used the f/2.2 exposure for the blurred background and the f/18 exposure for the blossom.  The interior of the blossom is not as sharp as I would like.  I can’t decide if this was due to movement of the subject or if I should have focused on the interior of the flower instead of on the petals.

Background: f/2.2, 1/800 sec, ISO 100
Blossom: f/18, 1/13 sec, ISO 100

Friday Fitness Hike

Today’s hike started at the Trailhead Staging Area.  Fifteen of us, counting Bob’s dog, Sarge, hiked the Scenic Trail.  When we got back, Bob, Sarge, Linda, Janet, and I continued our hike out in the direction of the old ranch homestead.

A view from the Scenic Trail – we saw a lot of brittlebush flowers while hiking the Scenic Trail today.

Robin hikes ahead of me up the short hill to the top of the ridge.  (It’s only about 200 feet of elevation gain.)

Continuing on up the hill…

Looking to the northeast as we ascend the hill:

Looking back down the hill after I reached the “top”.  (It’s not really the top, but it feels like it.)

Group photo by the bench:

This is my favorite photo of the bunch.  We were midway along the ridgeline when I took this photo.

Descending one of the hills on the Scenic Trail:

Hedgehog blossoms:

A small hill capped with a layer of rock near the Pemberton Ranch homestead:

Brittlebush flowers:

Desert Chicory:

Desert Marigold:

New growth on a buckhorn cholla; the bluish purple flowers are lupines:

Friday Hike: Tom’s Thumb & East End

Janet, Bob, Marilyn, and I hiked up to Tom’s Thumb on Friday.  On the way back, we took a side trip to hike up the East End, which is the highest point in the McDowells.

Below is the view of the McDowells as seen from near the trailhead.  Tom’s Thumb is about a third of the way from the right edge of the photo.  Gardener’s Wall is in the middle. Morrell’s is at the far left.

Poppies and Lupines.  I don’t know what the white flowers are.

Bob, Janet, and I split off from the main trail to hike the climber’s access trail leading to Gardener’s Wall.  We didn’t go to Gardener’s Wall, but past it, eventually rejoining the main trail.  This is a view looking to the northeast, not far from the main trail.  In fact, the Tom’s Thumb Trail is still clearly visible in this photo.  Marilyn continued on the Tom’s Thumb Trail and rejoined us later.

Another view of Gardener’s Wall on the left and Tom’s Thumb, above and to the right.

We passed this large boulder which reminded us of a dinosaur head:

The trail became steep and we got to scramble over boulders on our way to rejoin the Tom’s Thumb Trail.

Janet and Bob scrambling up a steep section:

A view of Glass Dome from the east.  We had rejoined the Tom’s Thumb Trail at this point.

A view of the west side of Glass Dome:

The Tom’s Thumb Trail continues onto the Scottsdale side of the McDowells, but we didn’t go that way.  Instead, we took the climber’s access trail to Tom’s Thumb.  This photo was taken when we fairly close to the Thumb.  Parts of Scottsdale can be seen at the far right. The Tom’s Thumb Trail – the part we didn’t hike – is visible in this photo too.

Bob, Janet, and I started making our way around Tom’s Thumb, but we stopped when the trail became difficult to follow.  When we came back, we found Marilyn waiting for us an the large boulder beside the Thumb.

On our way down, we saw these reddish-orange flowers called globemallows.  (Thanks to Susan Davis for the flower identification.)

Bob, Janet, and I took a side trip to the top of the East End.   This photo was taken near the top.  Thompson’s Peak and several lesser peaks can be seen in this photo.

Janet atop the East End summit boulder.  The side of Gardner’s Wall is visible above and to the right of Bob’s head.  Tom’s Thumb is also visible in this photo as are parts of Scottsdale.

Bob takes his turn standing atop the East End summit boulder.

A view of Glass Dome, Tom’s Thumb, and lots and lots of boulders as we were descending from the East End.

Looking up at Glass Dome through some poppies:

As we were hiking down the Tom’s Thumb Trail, I noticed that the side of one of the hills was yellow with poppies.  Also, at various times during my hike, I had been noticing that the desert lower down looked yellow too.

Goldfield Ovens Hike with Joe

Back in late November of 2012, Joe and I hiked the Goldfield Ovens Loop near Saguaro Lake.  The hike ended up being over eight miles long, most of which was through sand of one type or another.

A view of the Salt River near the beginning of the hike:

A saguaro with a lot of twisty arms:

A lichen-covered wall in the wash:

A view of the oven.  We were surprised to see a large oven in the wash a great distance from the water or anywhere else of interest.

A closer look at the front of the oven:

Looking down the chimney of the oven…

We saw saguaros, rocks, and other desert vegetation in the wash.

Saguaro Lake with Four Peaks in the distance:

The trail sees a lot of horse traffic and was very eroded in spots:

A view of Horse Thief Wash:


Another view from Horse Thief Wash as we’re getting closer to the road:

A close glimpse of the cliffs through dense vegetation:

We walked through this tunnel to continue our hike on the other side:


A view of the river with a better view of the tall cliffs:

The path wended its way through dense trees and other vegetation near the river:

It even ran along the road embankment.   We didn’t hear much traffic though because the road was far above us.

The path eventually climbed up to road level where we got some more distant views…

“Cactus Wall” on the Quartz Trail

Marilyn, Bob, and I hiked the Lost Dog Trail and the Quartz Trail several weeks ago.  Bob found this rock wall, below, out of which grew a variety of cacti.

We also saw this saguaro with the many twisted arms:

We saw these poppies at various points along the hike:

Weaver’s Needle

I took this photo in early March during a bike ride with Marilyn.  It was taken from near the Pemberton where there’s a gate restricting access to the service road leading to the Long Loop which is one of the competitive tracks.  I stood near the fence so that neither the fence nor the gate would appear in the photo.  Weaver’s Needle is in the center of the photo far off in the distance.

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