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Windgate Bell Loop
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mini location map2012-03-15
41 by photographer avataroutdoor_lover
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Windgate Bell LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 15 2012
Hiking10.02 Miles 2,057 AEG
Hiking10.02 Miles   6 Hrs      2.23 mph
2,057 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
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1st time hiking in the McDowells and of course, I find a way to do it unconventionally... :sweat: I started from 104th St. and was going to do the Loop counterclockwise. Had the Description with me and still found a way to screw it up....Took Levee, hung a left at Paradise, all is good, but then I hung a right too quick, thinking that the "Trail" I saw was Gateway. Well, I should have kept going straight juuuusssstt a touch longer. The "Trail" that I took seemed like a Trail and was going the direction I needed to go. It kind of took on the look of an old road after awhile and was pretty rocky. I followed it and it got rockier, but it wasn't a drainage, I could see a large drainage below me, it was more like a road or a very wide Trail. I had gone quite a while on it and then something made me look left and behold, against the north side of the canyon was a really nice defined, but smaller trail...

Now I'm thinking that I've made a mistake, but everything's going the same direction so I stay put and keep going. Then all of the sudden, the "road" splits. One goes left and down and the other one stays high. I decide to "split" the difference and go left and down. After a little bit, it quits looking so much like a road and starts looking more like a Trail, but not one that probably is maintained. I keep going and then it starts to finally begin "blending in" with the wash at the bottom and pretty soon, it just a wash, no Trail left. The sides are fairly steep, but it's still going in the direction of the Pass so I just keep going. I figure, either it will intersect with the real Bell Pass Trail or I will end up going up to the Pass entirely in the Drainage. :sweat: Along the way, I run into this circular thing that someone has built, see Photoset, never did figure out what it was for....

Well, of course, with my dumb luck, the wash intersected with Bell Pass Trail and I finally got on the right path just as the elevation really started to climb. Did ok with the ascent with a few sucking wind, take a picture stops, including a longer one as I attempted to catch a pic of a bird coming out of a Saguaro. I knew he was in there, I could hear him, so I laid in wait with my Camera lens focused on the hole....Well, there was a different hole and I pretty much missed him completely. But I got my wind back, so all is good.

Got to the Pass and hung around for awhile enjoying the views and eating lunch under the very scarce shade. Started down the other side and realized that it was really getting hot. Took a few more pics and made pretty good time to Windgate Pass. Met a couple of bikers on the Pass from Colorado. They were commenting on the heat. I asked about their water after noticing the one biker had about an eighth of a small bottle left, and they said they were ok, the other guy had a Camelbak. We parted ways, they were heading clockwise around and I was heading down.

I get just shy of Inspiration Point and see a Mountain Bike laying on the shoulder of the Trail (what shoulder there was), and no one around. At first, I thought maybe someone was taking a break, but it was disconcerting to see the Bike laying where it was, instead of 50ft further up where there was a large resting area....I thought maybe someone had fallen, and if they had, the bank was pretty steep and they could have tumbled all the way down to the bottom of the Gully. I decided to call out and see if anyone would answer. I did, several times and there was no answer. I was starting to wonder if this was an emergency, but decided to walk the 50ft up to the Point and look around first. Well, there was a Biker there from Seattle, who was taking a break and had left his Bike where it was. He was concerned about how much farther it was to Windgate Pass and stated that he had walked alot of the Trail so far, instead of Biking it. And, he had about 3 ounces of water left in his bladder. I was concerned, because now it was pretty warm out and this guy didn't look like he'd seen any sun for months....He was about 1/2 way between the Gateway Loop and the Windgate Pass, so either way, he had a ways to go with basically no water left. I knew that most of the rest of my Trip was going to be fairly easy and I still had about 1 liter in my bladder, so I give him the Liter bottle of Water that I carry as a spare. He was very relieved. I left and continued on my way. I get on the Gateway Access Trail and am now running into more and more people coming up Gateway to do the Gateway Loop. Most have some water, but then I see these 3, about 1 1/2 miles from the TH. The slightly heavy built guy already has his shirt off and has it wrapped around his head. The two women are in tennis shoes and shorts and between the 3 of them, there was not one drop of water to be had. They hadn't even brought any. They asked me if they were halfway around the Gateway Loop yet and I said no, they weren't even close. They mentioned that maybe they should turn back and I told them that I thought that was a very good idea and then I moved on....

Finished up without any incidents, getting lost, or finding anymore ways to get into trouble, so all was good, but man, this is March???? I really am not looking forward to April if this is the trend.....

Used tibber's stats since I went from 104th St and her route most closely matches mine (except she was probably on a real Trail the whole time.) I will not do this Trail again unless I get there super early or I know the high will be below 75 degrees. There is no shade to be had on this Trail anywhere. You are very exposed the whole time.

Good Hike, enjoyed the up and feel like slowly, my legs and lungs are getting better on ascents... :)
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