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Phx Mtn Preserve Explore, AZ
mini location map2020-09-12
5 by photographer avatarddgrunning
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Phx Mtn Preserve Explore, AZ 
Phx Mtn Preserve Explore, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 12 2020
Hiking13.18 Miles 4,296 AEG
Hiking13.18 Miles   6 Hrs   27 Mns   2.32 mph
4,296 ft AEG      46 Mns Break
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
I was planning to head up to the Peaks/Flagstaff for some AEG and a solid tune-up hike in advance of an upcoming R2R, but logistics didn’t align—my brother (who’s is also doing R2R with me) had to work. So, I turned to more local options. I hadn’t done Piestewa Peak in years, and had never hiked any of the other trails in the Preserve, so I decided to make a morning of exploring the area. I knew the Peak was essentially a 1-mile stair climber, and I was sure I could find other stuff in the area to climb up and down for the desired AEG. I also needed a longer-ish hike to get a feel for how my new trail runners (Saucony Peregrine 10) would perform over a long distance. And, after a dozen years with my Costco High Sierra daypack, I finally decided to upgrade to a new pack (Osprey Talon 22). So, lots of gear getting a first workout on this hike.

As it was Saturday morning, and the temps had moderated a bit, I expected it to be busy, but somehow still managed to be shocked that every parking slot was filled, with dozens of cars waiting in line by 6 a.m. I ended up parking a half mile away in a neighborhood. No big deal, since I was there to hike and didn’t have a specific destination in mind.

I had planned to start the trip with a couple of ascents to the peak, but after navigating the “Piestewa rush hour” once, I decided to postpone ascent two in favor of some exploring. (As an aside, the diverse cross-section of humanity hiking Piestewa Peak on a Saturday is quite a sight.) As I peeled off onto the circumference trail to the west on my descent, I concluded that I could probably go another several years before deciding to hike Piestewa again.

Once on the circumference trail, I entered into the much more solitary portion of the hike. I passed a few hikers here and there, but had good stretches of alone time as well—especially in places where I followed a use path or climbed up to one of the intermediate summits or ridgelines.

About a third of the way through the hike, I got a text from my brother with a couple of photos and a note saying he decided to get up early and do a quick ascent of ... Piestwwa Peak and the circumference trail!!! :o :o :o I immediately called him and we laughed about the improbable coincidence of us separately deciding last minute to hike the same trail—which neither of us had hiked in many years. In fact, as we compared notes, it’s likely that we passed each other on the summit trail without even recognizing each other. Crazy! :lol:

After finishing the call, I continued to wander around the western side trails looking for stuff to climb. : rambo : I found plenty of options and was pleased with how my shoes and pack were performing. I was also happy with my new 3L hydration bladder, as well as the insulation bag I had purchased to keep it cold (a must for me, and truly one of the reasons I kept the High Sierra for so long—its insulated hydration pouch).

Eventually, I exhausted my hydration bladder and was down to a water bottle, so I made my way back to the TH, and refilled a bit for my second ascent.

By that time, the temps had warmed, the masses had cleared, plenty of parking was available, and the trail was much more manageable. That said, I was just grinding out another 1K in elevation and ready to be done for the day.

In the middle of my determined but somewhat unenthusiastic grind, I looked up the trail to see a figure that I immediately recognized—even from a distance, though I had never met him in person before. It was the elusive @joebartels, grinding out a few ascents of his own in his native environment. I flagged him down and introduced myself. We visited for a couple of minutes, and as we parted, I felt a bit of ironic redemption in meeting a fellow "hiking brother" after apparently hiking right by my "actual brother" earlier in the day. :lol: Joe indicated that he was planning another ascent, so we would probably pass again on my way down. We did, and I was glad, since I had failed to take a selfie with the legend the first go around. I fixed that on the descent and enjoyed another brief chat about HAZ and my family-focused hiking adventures. I thanked him for the great resource and community which is HAZ and finished out the hike.

Ended up with 4.2K AEG, which was the intended goal for the day, and though I was on top of Piestewa Peak twice, the "summit" experiences on the day for me occurred about half-way up/down, when I made a personal acquaintance with someone I've followed virtually all these years. Thanks again, Joe, for HAZ. : app : It'll probably be another several years before I"m back on Piestewa, but perhaps we'll meet again out in the "wild" someday. :-)
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