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Groom Creek Loop Trail #307
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mini location map2014-05-11
35 by photographer avatartibber
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Groom Creek Loop Trail #307Prescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 11 2014
tibber
Hiking10.23 Miles 1,830 AEG
Hiking10.23 Miles   5 Hrs   24 Mns   2.33 mph
1,830 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
 
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trekkin_gecko
what in the world was that? As we drove away from my house we could barely see very far and could look into the sun; it seemed to be a clean haze of some sort. So we decided we would wait until Sunset Point to make our decision as to our hiking destination. We did go with Plan B as Kelly suggested Groom Creek Loop. The roadwork is all done now so it's an easy drive on Senator Highway to the TH.

Boy was it nippy as we prepared for the hike. We went counterclockwise. I think the grade is easier from this side :) . I didn't remember that the initial part of the hike had been so level when I did this a couple years ago so it is a nice warm-up for the gradual elevation change. A few horseback riders passed us by as we continued up the mountain on this crisp and somewhat breezy morning. We stopped a couple times to try and ID the mountains and to check out some birds including a couple of tanagers.

Kelly had just remarked how odd it was we hadn't run into any other hikers and then boom, about 8 or 9 runners came down the mountain before we got to the saddle. Talk about timing.
Finally we arrived at the saddle with the Isabella Trail and re-fueled for the ridgeline part of the hike. It was quite interesting in a couple places where we seemed to notice a good deal of deadfall that had crashed the older gates and fenceline. Definitely looked like wind shear of some sort occurred up here as some of the trees were snapped in half.

We also noticed in several sections that some tree felling had occurred as there were several slash piles; especially on the north side of the loop. We weren't sure if it was to clear the forest or to clear for the APS powerline as quite a few of the poles looked new. It was a big project :o !

The ridgeline hike was as nice as I remembered. In fact, the whole trail conditions, for the most part, is really wonderful. Kudos to the trail crew : app : . Scout II put us at 6 miles at the microwave tower which matched up with the sign. Then it's down and up to the lookout tower. We climbed up the first tier of the tower and WOW, was it windy and cold. I tried to get some pics and video but my hands started to shiver. Next I took Kelly over to this rock outcropping where I had my lunch the last time I was here. We were able to step down into the rocks to protect us from the winds and quickly enjoy our lunch and the near and far views :D .

The squalls of white rain/snow to the north were fun to watch. And your views are really nice here including toward Goldwater Lake, the Thumb, the always breathtaking Granite Mountain, Lynx Lake and this time I spotted Watson Lake. Over to the distance on the right were the longish buttes of Mingus and Woodchute. The chill came back so it was up and at 'em. The top part of the trail was really windy. I actually kept my hat on to keep my head warm. Plus this hat has some side flaps that protect my ears from the wind so I really like that.

Before long we seemed to be out of the worst of the wind. We came upon the area where that one trail crosses over the 307. It's obviously decommissioned as there's no signage. You also pass across an old forest road. Near here is where there are a lot of slash piles. The forest floor looked great except that it's covered with so many slash piles. I have to wonder how they dragged those bigger logs to create the piles. At Hart Prairie, the cutters would make rounds for us to carry; those uncut logs had to be heavy :wlift: .

We wondered why the clearing was done and for/by whom :-k ? We did see a sign that you can see as you come up this north side about "tree felling ahead". Our other questions: how long had the piles been there? what were they going to do with the piles? Surely if there was a fire, wouldn't these slash piles make it worse?

And finally we got to the boulder playground I had noted from my last trip here. It was even cooler than I thot :DANCE: . We walked around and thru and on top of the maze of these boulders. Once again some tree clearing had been done for the power poles so there is less shade... not that we needed it today. Anyway, if you go on this hike, save a little time to play around here; it's very close to the TH.

This was a great backup plan. I felt out of shape for the Plan A anyway even though Kelly is always gracious about getting me up a mountain; even at my pace. So that's twice we've been thwarted for Sedona hikes (both of them involving mountains). But like they say, those mountains aren't going anywhere... darn :lol: .

Didn't shoot many pictures really and most of the video is at the boulder playground but I did get some movie of the western tanager.

Video 1 from TH up south side to Tower: http://youtu.be/8TAgvLzpC-0
Video 2 down from tower (through slash pile area, western tanager, etc: http://youtu.be/RkGpNsmFCGI
Video 3 of the boulders playground http://youtu.be/rLNkRi_Oux0
_____________________
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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