buettner.to blog

Menu Close

Tag: Friday Fitness Hike (page 26 of 30)

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.

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.

Friday Hike: Butcher Jones Trail

Friday’s Hike started at the Butcher Jones Recreation Site near Saguaro Lake.  Nine of us hiked the Butcher Jones Trail: me, Joe, Bob, Sarge, Janet, Linda, Michaela, Nick, and Jen. We hiked out to Burro Cove and returned the way we came.

Starting out…

An early morning view of the prominent rock formation next to Butcher Jones Beach:

Fishermen in boats were out early too.

My memory of the Butcher Jones Trail was “mostly flat”, but it does have its ups and downs:

Another view of the lake and the rock cliffs containing it.  Butcher Jones Beach, which is near the parking area, can be seen at the far right.

Nick and Janet engage in conversation while Michaela looks on.


Sarge is a big and playful dog!

Linda, taking her own photo of Sarge:

Linda, Michaela, Bob,Sarge, Jen, Nick, Janet, and Joe:

Linda took this photo of me:

The Flatiron can be seen in the far distance:

Brittlebush flowers:

Another view of some craggy cliffs:

Fairie Duster (Calliandra Eriophylla) flowers:

A very tall saguaro:

Desert plants and flowers combine with a view of the lake and enclosing shoreline:

Yet another view of the lake and shoreline:

Burro Cove with Four Peaks in the distance:

Michaela and Linda at Burro Cove:

Jen and Nick:


On the way back, we heard and then saw a rattlesnake.  There are actually two snakes in this photo; we think they might have been trying to mate prior to walking by.  If you look closely, you can see two tails.  I tried to get a better photo of the second snake, but most of it was well hidden by a bush.

Another view of the snake who alerted us to its presence.


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.


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.

© 2018 buettner.to blog. All rights reserved.

Theme by Anders Norén.