Month: March 2013 (page 1 of 2)

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.

More Flowers on the Pemberton

Marilyn, Nick, and I saw these flowers while we were riding down the new section of the Pemberton prior to the intersection with Lariat.

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.


Poppies in the Desert

I took this photo while riding the Pemberton Trail earlier today:

Callisto Thinks She’s Hiding

We have a number of scratching pads for out cats scattered throughout the house.  Callisto will sometimes try to hide under one of them, but her hind legs and taill always stick out at the back.  This is what she looks like from the front:

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.