This turned out to be the perfect place to get away from the aftermath of the huge dust storm in the valley. When we left Mesa around 6:30 am there was still plenty of dust in the air... enough so we were constantly clearing our throats. Even 12-15 hours after the storm there was still dust so high and it was over a hundred miles north before we could see a clear blue sky.
We were on the trail by 10:30 at 72 degrees under clear skies. As expected though, monsoon clouds were building and threatening with thunder and lightning nearby by 11 am. But having rain gear along we were ready to welcome a bit of rain for a change from the dust of Mesa. While the skies were continually threatening off-and-on we continued toward the dark clouds. What?
Heading TOWARD the lightning??
Of course! It seems the general population has lost the ability to assess the risk of various activities and shrink back into their 'caves' (homes) whenever they perceive a small amount of danger. The odds of getting killed in a car accident on the drive up and back was probably 1,000 times more likely than being struck by lightning, so we continued on. (Oh yeah, we had the choice of staying that day in the valley and hasten our slow death from dust in our lungs or to experience clear and clean air along with some rain... it didn't take a moment to choose: I'd rather die being struck by lightning while out enjoying God's creation first-hand than sitting around hacking in the dusty air) In the end, 75% of our hike was rain-free.
It held off until just under 2 miles to go when it really came down hard and for the next 45 minutes it was a literal deluge. Enough so that were were soaked to the bone within 15 minutes. So when we got within a mile of the car I set the GPS to track us a beeline back to the car which ultimately reduced our hike by 3/4 mile. Thankfully the GPS beeline followed an old road of some kind that while it may have last been used 50 years ago, it wasn't as bad as trekking across country may have been. Having to trudge through water flows up to our ankles in some spots it was good thing we were wearing our Teva's. But with the high winds and temp down to 56? by time we got back to the car we were feeling the early effects of hypothermia. But once back in the car with the heat and defrost going it wasn't long before we could ward off the cold.
Once on the way back, it wasn't 10-15 minutes and the rain stopped and we could see a fog rising from the ground, already starting the drying process of the ground. It wasn't but a few miles on the dirt road before it was almost dry. Instead of going back down to the rim road and out, we continued north until back out to AZ 87. While the drive on 87 was longer as a result, we spent less time on the dirt roads, plus saw some scenery neither of us had seen before.
Overall a great day for a great hike. Then rolling into Mesa 3+ hours later we were greeted with 108? and not-so clear skies again, although it did look much better then when we left home 12 hours earlier.
Haven't got enough time to post the best photos on HAZ yet (maybe tomorrow) but the full set is here: