Yes, I was hiking with the gazelles today but they were moseying on my account I'm sure so I appreciated not being left too far behind as bait
. It was a nice morning for my fifth time hiking in South Mountain Park.
Alta Trail from east side
The hike starts off on a very slight incline until it starts going up the side of a mountain switching back and forth in a very nice and pleasant grade. Linda led the way and was keeping a very moderate pace as we made our way up to a bit of a ridge crossing on both sides of it. She pointed out some items of interest and Denny showed us his favorite tree as it appears a few times along here. I heard the group speaking about someone down below but I thot they were talking about any hiker, I didn't realize they were talking about John9L and suddenly he was at my six as they say. He was breathing hard though as he had made quite the effort to get caught up as he had started on the wrong trail.
And now there were four ducks in a row hi ho, hi ho....oh wait, that's dwarfs, hi ho, hi ho (channeling my inner Joe Bartels
) We continued along the upper side before crossing over to the north side with views of the city and ahead to the Estrella. You could see the peak right in front of you and I thot, not too far but then John informed me we would be going all the way around and up the back side. Well shoot. And now we're going down and down and back up and then down again before we finally just continued up the back side. Todd did a little stop for me to catch my breath during all this.
Finally we arrive at the saddle looking at the west side of Maricopa Peak and a ridgeline hike up slightly to it. So over we went, John was already there by the time we got done chatting at the saddle. The view from the saddle is 360 so it's pretty nice. We made our way over to the peak and up on top. We hung out for longer than I thot they would. Chumley fixed Joe's hat (my hat) as the rim had separated from the body. They each took the opportunity to see what they would look like in the hat [ photo ]
with great results I think.
And now to get down from here and down and down and down. We paused at the saddle to make some observations and then started the switchbacks to the valley floor... This took awhile as the footing is not the best in some areas and it's just a longer trek than it looks from the saddle. We encountered quite a few hikers on the way, passed one group on their way down otherwise everyone was headed up. We reached the bottom and headed southish on the National Trail
. From here it is a slog just as promised. As we were going thru this one section, Chumley mentioned something about buffalo.
We took a break at the big wash where I explained that there aren't any buffalo here, it would be bison
. Todd warned me that for the last two miles there was 300 feet of negligible elevation gain and he was sure right. I mostly noticed it because I was a little tired. I still don't have my stamina up to where I would like it and I think that's just a matter of consistently hiking more higher mileage hikes. John took off and I didn't see him until we got back to the TH. Soon Linda and Chumley also built up space between me and Denny. Denny was kind enough to hang back which was nice as the conversation made those two miles go by faster and easier. It's actually not a bad grade but it seemed a bit warm, even with the breeze.
Finally we crossed over the wash and to the cars. While having some Tibber snacks and a beer and gatorade I shared, we saw a hang glider in the distance and watched him sail with the wind until he didn't and he came to the ground. It was a good hike but I agree with the others, an out and back to the Peak via Alta would be the preferred route. I thot the hike to the Peak was pretty cool, especially the first up on the Alta to that ridge.
Thx Todd for putting this together. It was great to finally hike with Linda for the first time altho I feel like I somewhat knew her already. And good to catch up with John and Denny too. The drive on 7th St from the freeway to the Park is always interesting too. And as promised, a video of the hike and some hang glider at the end. The new stabilization on youtube starts the pics out a little blurry and then brings them into focus. It didn't used to do that so hopefully they'll get enough complaints. Update, I learned that it was my slide transitions that caused the focus issues so I adjusted the transitions and now it's much better. Here is the new link - [ youtube video ]