Hiking the Peralta Trail up to Fremont Saddle is very popular hike but the vast majority turn around at that point. It's been years since I was last in the area north of the saddle (when hiking the Weaver's Needle loop) we decided it was about time to hike it.
Again we were a bit lazy, getting to the trail head just before the last parking spot was taken. A quick sign in and being careful to skirt around the rock that bit me last time out here and we were on the trail. No big horn sheep this time so it was uneventful on the way up to the saddle. Arriving at the saddle there was a young man with a few kids who appeared to have camped overnight right on the saddle. Seemed like a weird place to pitch a tent, but then they probably got a kick out of the looks on the faces of the hikers that shook their heads at the scene.
We didn't even bother to slow down at the saddle and kept on truckin' down the Peralta Trail a few miles more until we found a nice big flat rock adjacent to Weaver's Needle. What a great view! Lying on the rock and taking in Weaver's Needle close and personal is much better than viewing it from afar, like at Fremont Saddle. After listening to the wind whipping through the brush and trees for a bit we headed back up toward the saddle. But rather than going directly up to the saddle we took a detour up and toward the east onto the bluff directly south of Weaver's Needle. I always enjoy the scene from the lone pine toward Weaver's Needle.
Back on the trail toward the saddle, we had a thought of taking the cave trail on the return trip but decided to return the same way we came up. Passing the saddle it seemed weird that there was not a soul to be found. It appeared to be the lunch break after the early morning hikers but before the afternoon crowd. And so it turned out as we met many hikers along the way. When we returned to the trail head early afternoon we took a quick scan at the log book and the number of hikers logged in was right at 300. Although most of them jut hiked Peralta to Fremont Saddle, many went out the Dutchman or Bluff Trail. Next week the numbers will probably double. Black Friday may be a big day for hiking, at least for those who detest shopping on Black Friday like us. We'll be hiking somewhere more remote to get away from the crowds next week.
Hike photos are here:http://www.changephoenix.com/10/2010-11-20Peralta.html