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Sunday Hike – Usery Mountain Regional Park

Marilyn and I hiked the Pass Mountain Trail at Usery Mountain Park. Marilyn stuck to the Pass Mountain Trail while I extended the loop a bit by adding in Bulldog Saddle.

We hiked the loop counter-clockwise starting from the southwest corner. This is a view of Pass Mountain shortly after setting out.

Looking east along the southern portion of the Pass Mountain Trail:

Looking NNW from roughly 1.75 miles through the loop.  The pass though which Marilyn hiked is just right of center in this photo. My loop continued to the right around the high points to the right (through another pass not shown here). I ended up on the other side of the pass.

The path that I took after leaving the Pass Mountain Trail crossed this wash:

I’m on the other side of the wash now, on the Bulldog Saddle Trail, looking back toward Pass Mountain:

I’m making my way up to Bulldog Saddle, again looking toward Pass Mountain:

This is the view to the northwest after passing through Bulldog Saddle.

I don’t know what these flowers are.  I saw them as I was descending from the other side of Bulldog Saddle. We saw many more flowers in this area than we’ve been seeing at MMRP.

It’s said that a saguaro’s twisty arms are caused by extreme cold.

Looking back at Bulldog Saddle.  (At the far right, I think.)

Looking ahead toward Pass Mountain. The pass through which Marilyn hiked is just out of frame at the far left.

Wolfberries:

Making our way around Pass Mountain – we’re well over half way around at this point.

A view of Fountain Hills and the McDowell Mountains:

There are some magnificent saguaros along the western part of the Pass Mountain Trail.

Marilyn, hiking south along the western portion of the Pass Mountain Trail:

More saguaros…

Crossing another wash on the western part of the Pass Mountain Trail…

Friday Fitness Hike

On Friday, the 8th, Linda, Mike, Nick, Bob, Marilyn, Nora, Sara, and  I hiked the Wagner, Granite, and Bluff trails.  At the next intersection with the Granite Trail, Marilyn, Nick, Linda, and Bob returned via Granite and Wagner for a 5+ mile hike. Mike, Nora, Sara, and I continued up the Bluff Trail and then hiked Pemberton, Rock Knob, Gooseneck, Delsie, Granite, and Wagner for an 11.5 mile hike.

Mesquite seed pods (along the Bluff Trail):

Goldeneye:

Linda, Mike, Nick, Bob, Marilyn, Nora, and Sara:

Views of the McDowells…

Looking toward Four Peaks from the Gooseneck Trail:

The skeleton atop the ramada at the intersection of Pemberton and Delsie:

A view from the Delsie Trail:

Friday Fitness Hike

Nick, Sara, Mike Heather, Nora, Bob, Marilyn, and Yasmina joined me for a hike in the Dixie Mine area.  After visiting the mine, Nick, Bob, and Marilyn returned while the rest of us went on to hike Prospector, Bell Pass, Windmill, and Coachwhip back to the Dixie Mine Trail. Those of us doing the longer hike went about 10.7 miles.

Mine entrance:

Main petroglyph panel:

A smaller petroglyph further up the canyon:

Kevin, Nick, Sara, Mike, Heather, Nora, Bob, Marilyn, and Yasmina:

View from the Prospector Trail:

We saw this tarantula along the Prospector Trail:

Another view from the Prospector Trail:

A view from the overlook which is midway up the Prospector Trail. We were speculating that the haze obscuring the Superstitions might be smoke blown in from California.

A view of Four Peaks from the Bell Pass Trail:

 

Friday Fitness Hike

Linda, Sara, and I hiked a little over 10 miles starting from Tom’s Thumb Trailhead. After hiking along the ridge to and past Tom’s Thumb, we returned to Tom’s Thumb Trail and then turned west to the Scottsdale side of the mountain range. On the Scottsdale side, we hiked all the way to the end of Tom’s Thumb Trail and then turn left (east) onto Windgate Trail. We hiked up Windgate and over Windgate Pass, then down Windgate and Windmill to East End Trail. We hiked up (and up) East End and then back down Tom’s Thumb Trail back to the parking lot. My GPS watch recorded slightly over 3200 feet of elevation gain.

This is a view from the climber’s access trail leading to the ridge. The low angle wall in the upper center of the photo is Half and Half Wall. According to Mountain Project, there are 5 routes on this wall rated from 5.3 to 5.8.

I think this is Desert Four O’Clock:

Looking NW from the ridge:

A view of Tom’s Thumb from the ridge:

Looking toward Scottsdale and Phoenix:

Nearing Tom’s Thumb…

At this point, we’re back on Tom’s Thumb Trail, hiking towards Scottsdale. There are some good views of Tom’s Thumb from this section of the trail too.

Descending Tom’s Thumb Trail on the west side.  There are some good views on this side of the mountain too!

Linda and Sara, hiking up the East End Trail:

Looking toward Pinnacle Peak from near the intersection of Tom’s Thumb Trail & East End Trail:

Gardener’s Wall (left) and Tom’s Thumb:

Friday Fitness Hike

Mike, Sandra, and I hiked nearly 12 miles starting from the Four Peaks Trailhead (which is in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, but nowhere near Four Peaks). We hiked through the competitive track area to the South Wash, taking it northwest to the Dixie Mine Trail. We returned via Pemberton and some roads through the competitive track area.

A view from the parking area. The dead saguaro at the right used to be alive just a few years ago.

A view of Red Mountain from the Long Loop:

We were puzzled by these catchments on the South Ridge. The water that they catch empties out onto the ground nearby. Why bother?

Tarantula in the South Wash:

Sandra gets a closer look at one of the holes in the wall.  She and Mike saw spooky tooth-like formations in the hole…

…which turned out to be a beehive.

Further westward in the wash, we saw butterflies:

Sandra:

There is a corral with some old ranching structures just off of the Dixie Mine Trail. Sandra hadn’t seen them before, so we stopped to take a look. There are some initials carved into the concrete of the watering trough. I think that’s “H.P.”, at the far right for (likely) Henry Pemberton. I don’t have any guesses about the names associated with the other initials.

There’s also a largish water tank in the corral. Just left of the tank is an entrance, choked with vegetation, to a second smaller corral.

This is the smaller corral.  I hadn’t noticed it before.

Friday Fitness Hike

Sara, Mike, Linda, Marilyn, and Laura joined me for a 10.7 mile hike in the Dixie Mine Area.  (Marilyn and Laura turned back after visiting the mine for a 6.5 mile hike.)

This is the Dixie Mine entrance (though you can’t go in):

Petroglyphs…

Laura, Marilyn, Linda, Mike, and Sara:

Heading up the Prospector Trail:

This is the view shortly after turning onto the Bell Pass Trail from the Prospector Trail:

Friday Fitness Hike

Linda and I hiked nearly nine miles on a hike starting from the Wagner Trailhead. Marilyn joined us for much of it, hiking perhaps seven miles.

This is a view of the McDowells from the Granite Trail.  I had hoped to hike up the wash through the boulders at the lower right, but erosion has made an already high step to a crucial ledge even higher than it used to be.  (It’s been that way for several years now, but seems to get periodically worse.)

Senna:

I haven’t seen an ant hill this large in quite some time!

Another view of the McDowells; I think we were on the Bluff Trail at this point.

Four Peaks behind the dead tree and boulders…

At this point Linda and I are at the top of the section which has become more difficult to scramble up.  It’s still easy to slide down though.

Friday Fitness Hike

On Friday, the 27th, Linda and I hiked 10 miles starting from Tom’s Trailhead. We hiked a big loop: Marcus Landslide, Boulder, Pemberton, Coachwhip, Windmill, East End, and down Tom’s Thumb (adding in Feldspar with a return on Marcus Landslide to get us up to 10 instead of just 9).

Sunrise from the parking lot:

An early morning rainbow!

Prominent boulders near Sven Slab:

A view of the McDowells from the Boulder Trail:

As we were hiking up the Coachwhip Trail, I stepped over this rattlesnake, thinking it was a rock.  Linda called my attention to it, allowing me to get this photo…

Two views from the East End Trail…

This is a view of the pinnacle known as “Glass Dome” from near the intersection of the Tom’s Thumb and East End trails.

A view of Gardener’s Wall and Tom’s Thumb as we hiked down Tom’s Thumb Trail:

Friday Fitness Hike

On Friday, Sept 20, I hiked a little over 13 miles starting from Four Peaks TH (in McDowell Mountain Regional Park). After hiking through the competitive track area, I wound up on Pemberton and then took Dixie Mine to the South Wash. I then hiked this wash back to the competitive track area, taking the Long Loop back to the parking lot.

Four Peaks from the parking lot:

Another parking lot photo, this time of some saguaros with the Superstitions (including Weaver’s Needle and the Flatiron) as the background.

A view of Red Mountain from the Technical Loop:

Looking back towards the Superstitions from my ascent of T-Bone Ridge (still on the Technical Loop):

Another view of Red Mountain as I descend T-Bone Ridge on the west side:

Red Mountain again, but this time I’m in Stoneman Wash:

Looking toward the McDowells from one of Stoneman’s feeder washes:

A view from the Dixie Mine Trail:

In the South Wash now…

We’ve gotten quite a lot of rain since my hike on the 20th, but it has been very dry for a very long time before that. Thus, I was surprised to see these flowers in the wash.

I like the high vertical banks of the South Wash.

The wash goes on and on – perhaps a quarter of the hike takes place in the South Wash.

Mule deer antler:

Looking toward Four Peaks from near the Long Loop:

Looking towards the Superstitions, again from the Long Loop:

Chia:

Friday Fitness Hike

On Friday, Sept 6, I hiked nine miles on the Dixie Mine and Sonoran trails.

This is a view of the crested saguaro at the parking lot entrance.

A view of Four Peaks on the way to the start of the Dixie Mine Trail. (There’s about 0.7 miles of residential sidewalks to walk between the parking lot and actual trailhead.)

A view of the McDowells:

The route I took provided a good view of Weaver’s Needle!

Saguaros were dense along this hillside.

Looking back down the wash towards the road:

This is the “waterfall”. Seeing bees around one of the puddles at the first landing, I turned around at this point. If you look closely, a few petroglyphs are also visible in this photo.

There’s a cave (which was probably created from mining activity) at the left in this photo.

Mine tailings:

Views from along the Dixie Mine Trail:

When I got to the intersection with the Sonoran Trail, I decided to hike it to the preserve boundary and then a short ways into the preserve. On the way back, I saw a deer!

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