Had to work again this weekend. Two weekends this month - which is rare for me. I have to go into the hospital for about 4-5 hours Saturday and Sunday and get paged at home with cross-cover. Good to pay the bills but wearing me out this month.
Date hike on Sunday night. Did an easy hike from Fraesfield TH: Black Hill 136 th St Express Morning Vista Black Hill trail. Dinner at Pita Jungle afterwards. Only got paged once while out on the hike. Biblical sky of clouds and light on the drive home.
Friday morning date hike - very unusual but Brad took the day off for our Memorial Day weekend trip to Pine/Strawberry. So it was his idea to get in a hike just the two of us before our trip. Was last day of Kindergarten for Caroline - what a great year it's been.
Picked this loop to explore Old Paint Wash trail in its entirety and to make sure I can legitimately say I'm still in "ATC" all trails club with the newest trails added March 2015. We had hiked Hawknest to what I thought was the end on Christmas Day and sure enough the signs do show it finishing at that bent and chopped saguaro. However - it will extend further west by mid-summer. Construction on Phase 2C trails is complete for the summer - but signs won't be up (and another new Northern region map) until mid-summer. So for now I've done all the signed portions of the "super north"-eastern region of the Preserve.
The 0.5 north/south segment between Hawknest and Old Paint Wash is called "dove valley extension" on our MSC patrol reporting page; however none of the maps call it that. We will see how it all sorts out. There's an old AZ Game and Fish water tank for game at OP11 marker with a bunch of older signs and barbed wire.
Old Paint Wash is not really a trail - it is a natural sandy wash. You have to trudge through it. Seems like bikers would hate it - might have to push bike through some parts of it. Dove Valley Trail runs parallel to it with multiple places you can connect between the two trails.
Took Cow Poke trail (the newly extended part) back to 136th Street Express and saw dozens of beautiful saguaro blooms. A few at eye level. Saguaro stands around Granite Mountain are the best in the Preserve. Now I've done all 6.7 miles of 136th Street Express.
Home for lunch - nap - packed for trip - got to cabin by 8pm. Very nice start to the weekend.
Date hike but left later than expected after piano recital and celebration at CrackerJax delayed start time. Used gym parents' night out for babysitting. Hike started at Hawknest Trail - not enough time to do the loop I wanted - so just went up 136th St Express to the boundary with Tonto Forest - then back down. You can park at the Tonto Forest area as an option for accessing these Super-North trails (besides Granite Mountain trailhead).
Dinner at Troon north golf afterwards.
Side note: 136th Street Express Trail is now the LONGEST trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve at 6.7 miles. It's really beautiful and not appreciated as much as some others in the area.
Wildflowers ObservationIsolated saguaro blooms are lovely right now all up and down 136th Street Express Trail
Date hike to enjoy weather in the low 70's in May. And we lucked out no gnats like usual this time of year. I wanted to see how the signs were coming along now that the City of Scottsdale has added 1/3rd of the new Phase 2C trails into the "Super North" Northern Region of McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
I've done bits and pieces of some of the new ones - nice to have signs out with all the twisting washes and old Granite Mountain Multiuse Area trails from when this was AZ State Land Trust.
We did Dove Valley Trail Soapberry Wash Trail Old Paint Wash Trail Barb's Trail 136th Street Express Trail in a loop. The palo verde are explosively yellow and beautiful. Plenty of saguaro blooms too.
UPDATES TO SUPER-NORTH SINCE MARCH 2015:
- 136th Street Express Trail extended to 6.7 miles total (longest continuous segment in the Preserve)
- Dove Valley Trail now extended to 2.2 miles
- Cow Poke Trail now extended to 1.1 miles
- Hawknest Trail is officially 1.5 miles (I hiked on Christmas Day and wasn't sure where the "end" was)
- Hawknest Trail connects to Old Paint Wash and Dove Valley Trail.
- Area at marker DV7 is still VERY confusing but it's hard to get truly lost around there
- Soapberry Wash trail connects to Coyote Canyon Loop [ description ] - You are just a few feet away from Tonto National Forest at the end of 136th Street Express and Hawknest
Got to Fraesfield TH around 8am and only few cars are there. Did a lasso loop hike by taking blackhill all the way to powerline and came back to turpentine. Took turpentine to granite mtn TH. Took 136th st back down to dixileta, then back to blackhill. Despite gorgeous weather, only saw a few bikers, two hikers and one horse.
Saw 2 Hawks, one new bird, 2 new plants and serenaded by a male cardinal. Found a smartphone with verizon coverage. As I was hiking back, tried to have an action plan on how to return it to it's owner. As I reached the TH, it rang. Answered it and it was his friend locating the phone. Waited for them to drive to TH (oregon license plates)and returned it. They were very appreciative. I hope they had wonderful experience in the preserve.
This was a mountain bike meander-patrol, with the aim of furthering my All Trails Challenge progress as an MSP Steward. Biking these flatter trails is just amazing. I'm getting a real high from looping and turning and dipping along them. Of course the flattest ones are still hilly here and there, and I wound up walking up slopes a few times. For the most part though, sticking to trails labeled on the official map as "easy" was a good bet.
Relatively crowded throughout, with bikers and hikers and a bunch of horse riders too. Balanced Rock had so many people (7-8) crowding around it that I didn't bother taking any photos. I'll come back another day.
The bike ride revealed at least 2 trails that aren't on HAZ yet. Will add them later.
"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." --John Adams
Started the day off with educational and fun MSC steward retreat sitting between @Sun_Ray and @neilends - - and I gave a short presentation on use of Instagram for digital stewardship.
Then I knew I only had 1.8 miles left to hit the 133 mile mark for ATC challenge (all trails club) for hiking every trail in the McDowell preserve. So I told Brad we should do it as a family hike and have some sort of celebration afterwards.
Black Hill Monument 136th Street Express Dixileta Whiskey Bottle parking lot.
So he and the kids plotted a very sweet surprise (although I did sneak a peek since they were working at the kitchen table LOL) that included a "finish line" of gold paper tied between the two kids' waists. And Caroline made four posters that they held up for me as I busted through the finish line paper. They were cheering and playing kazoo/harmonica type noise makers. So stinkin' sweet. I will never forget that moment!!! And it was at trail marker WB4 forever etched in my brain's hiking file cabinet.
I know it's not physically hard to hike every trail in the McDowells compared to Supes or Grand Canyon....but I think @Sun_Ray will agree with me that it's harder than you think to plan out all these segments without repeating a bunch. And doing all the teeny-tiny linking pieces too. Need patience more than anything. Few tough ones (Thompson Peak and Tom's Thumb from south) but mostly the McDowells are very accessible to people of varying knee/neck/back abilities.
So after hiking in the McDowells for 10 years - - I've done every dad-gum single one of them! And to celebrate with the kids and Brad was something super special. Went to Pinnacle Peak Patio (it's the last year of its existence on that property) for drinks, dinner, dancing to celebrate afterwards.
Almost there for ATC! Last few years Brad has planned Thursday days off from work for date hikes and this is our first of 2015. He yields to me to pick the hike and I try to find areas that he hasn't seen before.
It was a very chilly and windy 45 degrees at Granite Mtn trailhead and we layered up with several hats and coats.
Powerline Rd #2 Granite Mtn Granite Mtn Loop Branding Iron Cholla Mtn loop Balanced Rock (lunch at balanced rock) Chuck Wagon Powerline Rd #2 Black Hill Turpentine 136th Street Express the road where Brad picked me up like a hitchhiker
Saw only 5 other people all day. Wind was killer. Branding Iron is pretty and you can see the double crested saguaro over on nearby Coyote Canyon trail. Love the juniper trees on Balanced Rock - crazy to see juniper in MSP (but is 2856 feet elevation).
Went home - took quick nap - picked up kids - ballet class - then with kids straight to community center hot tub spa to soak muscles. Awesome day.
Was supposed to have all afternoon to hike around Fraesfield TH but kids got sent home from school for no hot water. Waited until Brad got home then zipped up to do a little loop of Black Hill segment never done down to intersection with 136th Street Express trail (no segment GPS on HAZ yet) and then over Morning Vista and back down.
Highlight was hearing and then seeing a buck chasing a doe in some love ritual. His antlers were pointed down as he ran. She would stop and let him get close and then she would spring/bounce away. I got a little video of it - posted on my Instagram gallery (same name Crzy4AZ). A few minutes later the buck spotted me and we had a little stare down. Think he was trying to tell me that I had ruined his love vibe - sorry dude #buzzKill.
Met at Granite Mtn Trailhead at 8:45 am for a McDowell Sonoran Conservancy wellness hike. I brought Caroline b/c she begged me and promised that she could handle it. "Is it with your blue shirt friends?" she asked. LOL, yes
Took Bootlegger Granite Mtn Loop trail Coyote Canyon trail Dove Mtn trail briefly to see "Michelin Man" cactus 136th Street trail back to trailhead.
This was Caroline's longest hike to date - and I was so proud of her behavior on the large group hike. She held my hand most of the hike and used her hiking stick a little. She ate all her snacks and carried her own water in her Grand Canyon junior ranger backback with a camelback water pack coming out the top.
There are phenomenal stands of saguaro on Granite Mountain Loop - I think the prettiest trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. When you hit the newly acquired Coyote Canyon trail (old trail but recently changed from state land trust to MSP land) - - it really is a spectacular hike for old stands of saguaro.
Double crested saguaro on Coyote Canyon Loop
"Michelin Man" saguaro on Dove Mtn trail
One of the oldest saguaros in MSP right next to crested arm near the water tank on Coyote Canyon Loop (see pics - they are GeoCoded)
HUGE owl nest on 136th Street trail (i'm going to post pics in a different post to write up that hike segment)
I also got to meet @ezpixels (she doesn't post here but does have an old account - but she's very active on Instagram and has written several books for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. She is a conservation photographer) -- I've "known" her for a year through IG and it was so great to meet her in person even if just briefly as she was biking by our group while we were in the little slot canyon. She created the MSC coloring books, Wildlife Book, Field Guide version 2.0, and makes christmas cards and prints of MSP photographs. Very talented lady!!
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.