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mini location map2021-09-04
25 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Dome Mountain LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 04 2021
Hiking10.74 Miles 2,446 AEG
Hiking10.74 Miles   8 Hrs   19 Mns   1.90 mph
2,446 ft AEG   2 Hrs   40 Mns Break
1st trip
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Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
It was a hot weekend in Phoenix, but my friend didn't want to battle Labor Day traffic on I-17 to hike somewhere cooler up north, so we decided to stay local and start early to beat the heat. After doing a loop hike in the Goldfields in March, I've had my eye on Dome Mountain and suggested that for today. We started at Bulldog Canyon Gate, and there was only one other car in the lot when we started north on FR 10 and FR 1356, making our way around the west/northwest side of Dome Mountain. Early in the hike, we saw a huge scorpion squashed in the road, probably the victim of an ATV, and a frog that had suffered the same fate. We also saw some wildlife that wasn't dead--a frog or toad with red markings near the eyes hopped across the road.

Bulldog Canyon Wash was full of butterflies and moths, and there were a few pools of water along the way. We didn't bother going over to the cave that was marked on the official route--I'd seen it before from a distance, and it was a unique rock formation but didn't look particularly cave-like. We left the wash and went up and over the ridge with Mask Arch, stopping for a few photos there before continuing back down the other side and reconnecting with FR 10.

Once we were west of Dome Mountain, we left the road again and started making our way up the drainage, circling back to the southeast toward the saddle. The route had a lot more brush than I'd expected and really slowed down our pace. The temperature wasn't too bad, but the humidity was terrible--it didn't take long before our shirts and shorts were completely soaked, and the bill of my hat was dripping with sweat.

We picked up a lot of scratches on the slow hike up the drainage, and near the top, I heard a loud rattle that lasted 15+ seconds coming from some bushes up ahead. We never got a look at the rattlesnake but were happy to have the warning and steered clear of that area. The last mile up to the saddle took over an hour, and it was clear we were in for a longer day than originally planned. We took a break at the saddle and then did an out-and-back up to peak 3269 to the southwest, which was marked with a large cairn. It was a steep, rocky ascent with more brush, and I went over to 3239 a little farther south to check out the views before we headed back down to the saddle.

From there, we did a second out-and-back up to the summit, where we signed the register and took a break while enjoying views of the Superstitions, Four Peaks, and Red Mountain. We headed back down to the saddle and hoped the descent off the south side would be less brushy than the climb up the north side had been. The brush wasn't quite as bad, but the pace was still slow because of the steep slope and loose rock. Partway down, I heard my friend call out from behind, "I think I'm in trouble!" His legs were cramping so badly that he couldn't walk. Unfortunately, we were still on the steep slope--not in a position where I could safely help him or try to support his weight.

He was laying in the shade under a small tree, and I sat down with him while he slowly drank water. I had cell reception, so it was going to be easy to call for help if needed, but I hoped his leg cramps would pass so he could hike out on his own, or at least get to flatter terrain so I could do more to help him walk. I don't know how long we waited there, but his leg cramps eventually improved enough to try standing again, and we got off the steep, loose part of the slope.

We eventually connected with one of the forest roads that was visible from the saddle, and on a short uphill stretch, my friend's leg cramps returned again, so we took another break in the shade until they passed. Once we got going again, Route Scout failed on both of our phones, which I suspect was heat-related since the camera app on my phone had warning messages about overheating issues. The app still seemed to be recording, but the route I'd downloaded on RS had partially disappeared from the screen, and the app wasn't showing our position or zooming in/out correctly. My friend's phone screen wouldn't turn on at all, but RS was still announcing waypoints and mileage, so it was still active.

There wasn't any risk of getting seriously lost since we could just hike south and hit neighborhoods, but it wasn't a day when we wanted to add any unnecessary time or miles given my friend's leg cramps. Fortunately, the area was familiar enough that we made it back without any issues. The parking lot was still empty when we finished, and we'd only seen one ATV and two dirt bikers all day. It's a beautiful area, but not a hike I recommend on hot/humid days like this one...things got a little more interesting than I'd expected, but I was just happy my friend was able to walk out on his own.
Natural Arch

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