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Tom's Thumb Loop off Windgate Pass Trail
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mini location map2012-04-06
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Tom's Thumb Loop off Windgate Pass TrailPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 06 2012
Hiking13.00 Miles 3,125 AEG
Hiking13.00 Miles   7 Hrs   12 Mns   2.46 mph
3,125 ft AEG   1 Hour   55 Mns Break
Since I've gone out to the Supes every weekend but one this year AND I didn't have anyone to hike with :( which I prefer on longer hikes in the Supes;
I decided to stay closer to home and give this hike a whirl. I was a little apprehensive 8-[ as the last time I had tried a loop in the McDowells in October, the last part of the hike was almost too much for me even though the hike, technically, wasn't too much.

I started off at 7:10AM and hoped to finish the hike in 6 1/2 hours. I noticed fairly quickly, as the trail elevation gradually rose, that with the backpack on it seemed to slow my gait a tad. I was, however, enjoying the new boots I had bot the day before with my REI dividend and 20% off :) . These Alamosa boots have two areas on top to clip your shoelaces. I only laced up to the first level and didn't tie them very tight for my hike up.

At 2.6 miles you come to the junction with the Tom's Thumb trail. The Lookout Trail is 2.6 miles to go.
Finally a new trail to enjoy and I gladly headed NNE. You can see part of this trail as you come up from the Gateway Junction. As I came around a corner closer to a wash/drainage, I saw a big ole ocotillo and some huge chunks of quartz. I pulled the camera out for the first time to take a scenery photo.

And before you knew it I was already at Mountain Spring. I was hoping it was further up so I could take my mid morning break but that wasn't going to be the case. So I walked to the spring and up further to go look for the pipe I had seen in photos. There is one nasty bush you have to step around to get up to that area. I spent a few moments there eating a couple of my blueberry donut holes before heading back out on the trail. I figured I could make this a destination after-work hike to go look for the glyphs.

I took a little more movie and pics before heading back up the trail. I had seen a hiker behind me and she eventually caught me. I made the comment about it being a big climb and she said, "Yes, but it's beautiful". Well at this point "beautiful" was not quite what I was thinking. However, as you turn up the drainage canyon to those sharp back and forth switchbacks, I could finally say, "this is pretty".
I did have a moment before starting those switchbacks where I suddenly felt sick :-k . I think it was just a flashback to October. I momentarily thot, if you gotta turn around this is the spot. But I continued on and was fine for the rest of the hike... well kind of.

I don't mind switchbacks so much as they usually level out from time to time to give you a chance to catch your breath or take a photo or take in the view. I had 3 people behind me who I thot would catch me but I would see that they stopped as much as me ;) . It really is a pretty area you switchback to and as you get closer to the top, the topography is lots of fun. I had hoped to make it to the top by 10AM. I made 5.4 miles (from the parking lot) and almost 2100 feet to the Lookout Trail junction by 10:03. Whoo hoo!

I didn't read anywhere that you go to the Lookout by going up, up, and up before you get to the over and then up again. I saw 7 people on this trail as I crossed over including 2 of the guys that had passed me toward the beginning of Tom's Thumb Trail. We all commented about the haze being pretty thick :( . Nonetheless, I took some photos and a 360 movie. I walked around the Lookout Point area before heading back to try and find a scenic viewpoint to enjoy my light lunch.

Well trying to find shade and scenic didn't quite work out as believe it or not, with all those house-size boulders on the way to the East End Trail, none provided the right kind of shade at this time of day. So I ended up eating underneath the two boulder bridge (I have a photo in my photo set). It was a bit breezy under there but I was in shade. Ambika told me on my longer hikes where it might get hot it is best to sit in shade.

Surprisingly, my hip joints were killing me :( . I don't know if it was the new boots as the hiking wasn't anything out of the ordinary, even with the climbing up the switchbacks. I am trying to take bigger strides but it's hard to say. I enjoyed my snack and got back on the trail again despite the strong desire to take a nap ;) . I took a couple ibuprofen for my hip flexors, tightened and strapped up my boots to the next level in preparation of the descent.

The East End trail is indeed as steep as they say but WOW, what a scenic one :DANCE: . Needless to say I wasn't disappointed that I had to take my time as there was so much to see between the flora and the lizards and the buzzards and the boulders :y: . I encountered 3 hikers on their way up. I can't imagine having to come up and up and up this steep trail. With my new boots, I was sticking pretty good!

1.4 miles later or so I was at the intersection with the Windgate Trail. I drank some more of my Propel and had a couple donut holes for some energy to go this next .9 miles to the Pass. This is where I started struggling in October when it took me awhile to get up this measly hill as the temperature was rising quickly. This time, in spite of hiking 3 miles further, with the cool temps and slight breeze, it was not difficult at all altho I saw a nice rock to sit on for a couple minutes.

1/2 hour later I was sitting at the Pass eating the last of my snack. The name of this trail was living up to its mantra "Wind" gate. But I didn't mind as other than my hip joints, all was going according to plan though a little behind schedule. I got distracted coming down East End :) . I took a couple more ibuprofen and started with the next 4 miles. I wanted to pull out the chrome dome but because of the wind, I ended up waiting until the junction with the Gateway Saddle Trail.

And yes, the chrome dome really gets the looks but I love using it cuz I don't have to wear a hat and it expands my shade area. One fellow says he thot he was seeing a spaceship :sl: . I was glad there was a stiff breeze for much of this hike. I didn't quite make the time I wanted. I have to do some soul searching to decide if a time goal is as important as taking my time in my own way to enjoy these hikes :-k . Today, I was concerned about the heat though so keeping up the pace : rambo : to beat the afternoon heat seemed like a good idea.

A little less than 1 3/4 hr later from Windgate Pass, I arrived at the Gateway Center looking forward to my piece of pizza and coke at Basha's. But I have to say how nice the restrooms are here. Wow.
I couldn't even finish my pizza, not sure why. Anyway, the day before when I walked out of the office I saw that our resident owl had a baby so I wanted to stop by there on my way home to see if I could get a picture. Unfortunately the baby wasn't up so I just got a little movie and a picture of momma. I'll take the camera to work on Tues to see if the baby is up and about.

Here is a video from the hike and a bonus footage of the owl:
Named place
Named place
Mountain Spring
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Mountain Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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