Early morning cold temperatures and rain made this a tough hike to get started but ultimately paid off in the form of great hiking conditions. I arrived at the Mahogany Flat campground at 5:30 and began the walk to the top of Death Valley. The first 1/3 of the hike is pretty steep with teaser views of Badwater Basin all along the way. Soon the trail levels off and it's a walk along a relatively flat ridgeline for awhile with the occasional Bristlecone Pine and an abundance of wildflowers. Finally, the hike to the summit comes in the form of 14 punishing switchbacks. By the end of the switchbacks I had to stop at the end of each one and catch my breath at the 11000' elevation. The views are nothing short of spectacular for the entire hike. Being able to see the Sierra Nevadas, the Spring Mountains in Nevada and Badwater Basin all from the same spot is awesome.
Great morning to do the loop. I introduced a friend recently moved from Minnesota to the White Tanks with this hike this morning and she was quite happy with the experience. Trail's was a little wet in places from last night's rain, but it was a perfect morning to hike. Continued winds made it a bit chilly in places...but that was sufficient motivation to stay moving and generate additional heat. This loop never does get old.
For those inclined to study the night sky with telescopes (as I am)...Portal, AZ is known as one of the finest possible destinations to do so. A group of us were camped north of Portal off of Foothills Road for the weekend and we took on the task of hiking Silver Peak for a daytime activity. Holy cow!!
As fricknaley notes in the hike description, this is one of the unknown gems and definitely should be hiked more often. The trailhead is easy to find, with good parking. The trail itself is narrowish and a little loose in spots but overall is great for walking upon. It's a steady but relentless climb to the peak from the time you cross through the hiker's gate. Rewarded with view after view after view all the way up to the peak - but it all pales in comparison to the 360º views from the peak itself.
Now I have the dilemma on my next visit of deciding to hike something different in the Chiricahua's or tackling Silver Peak again. I suspect the decision will be some form of "both". Do yourself a favor - get to this trailhead and start walking. Your eyes will thank you.
For her 18th birthday my daughter Mikayla decided she wanted to do something epic to enter adulthood and chose a Rim to Rim hike from the north to the south. We were lucky enough to secure lodging at Phantom Ranch even though we were only a couple of months out when we made the decision to do the hike.
Some other friends weren't able to secure their own lodging to make the rim to rim hike with us so they did a hike from the south rim down to the river and up on our second day. Our original plan was to meet at the river when they arrived on the South Kaibab Trail....but we were in the Grand Canyon. We weren't really interested in waiting around so we started heading up the South Kaibab on day 2 to meet them. We met up, hiked back down and then took the more traditional path out via the Bright Angel trail. I can't wait to go again.
After working the weekend at my part time gig at Steward Observatory, my daughter & I used the early morning as an opportunity for a final high altitude hike prior to our Rim to Rim hike in 2 weeks. Starting at the dorm where we stay atop the summit we headed east to Radio Ridge and down the Aspen Trail. At the trail junction we turned onto the Marshall Gulch trail and made a loop back on the Aspen trail. Headed west on Wilderness of Rock and then back to the summit for the finish. A couple of training hikes next weekend back in Phoenix but I think we are ready for Rim to Rim.
Got out this morning for a quick hike of this loop. Always a fun hike for us. I attached a picture of the flash flood damage on the back side of the loop where you briefly hike the Ford Canyon trail. It's impressive how much debris is in the wash after the storm a couple of weeks ago.
A co-worker who has become a good friend over the last few years in Las Vegas had a reservation over Labor Day weekend to camp along La Verkin Creek and asked if I'd be interested in coming along. My family has talked about going backpacking for a long time and we took this as an opportunity to jump in with both feet. So on Saturday we we loaded up packs and headed down for Labor Day weekend. It was a great time and I can't wait to go again.
The hike down was relatively easy. Despite a late start, the hiking gods blessed us with cloud cover for most of the hike in and temperatures were near perfect, probably around 80º. We set up camp at campsite 4 and then explored the nearby reaches of La Verkin creek. There was plenty of water running and I enjoyed soaking my tired feet in it whenever I got the chance.
Sunday saw a trek to Kolob Arch. It was pretty impressive. I really enjoyed the trail getting in for the last 1/2 mile. It was just fun to traverse. After Kolob arch we made way toward Bear Trap Canyon but ultimately turned back not far from the canyon on account of running out of water.
Monday sadly brought the trip to a close and we hiked out early in the morning. My daughter, training for an upcoming rim to rim hike suggested that we hike back down after we dropped our packs off at my truck. So back down we went to put another four miles on our legs and cap off a perfect weekend.
We were still waiting for a couple of people to come out of the canyon so went and bought beer for them when they finally came out. I've come to learn that one of the most appreciated gifts in the world is a dry bag containing beer and ice.
I'm already thinking about the next trip though life obligations will probably prevent me from going on a true backpacking trip again until January. Perhaps somewhere in western Arizona for a winter trip...hmm....
Putting some mileage in this morning in preparation for an upcoming Rim to Rim trip, my daughter and I linked up the near entirety of four different trails at the White Tanks. Starting at the South trail we trekked a big loop along most of Goat Camp trail, down the Mesquite Trail and then back to the beginning via the Mule Deer trail for a total of 15.2 miles With temperatures a little lower than normal for this time of year and an early start it was an excellent day to be hiking.
Got out later than I wanted but the cooler weather held over from yesterday's storms made for some nice morning hiking. I ran parts of the trail in my efforts to explore trail running....and came to the conclusion that I need some different equipment to really give that a go.
My small day pack is just too big to carry comfortably while running and attempting to run in hiking boots was about as effective as sticking my feet in a couple of hams. The idea of trail running continues to fascinate me though.
I did learn one valuable lesson: The ground comes up at you much faster when you trip while trail running. Had a minor faceplant near the Mesquite trail's high point. Nothing hurt, just the quick look around hoping nobody was nearby to see it and then jumping back up all cool like I meant to do that.
Hiked up the Mesquite Canyon trail and took the Willow trail to the Ford Canyon junction. After a few minutes break went back the way that I came. I stopped to watch some javelinas down in the wash on Mesquite. That's the first time I've seen them on any of the White Tanks trails. Also stopped and watched a millipede on the trail for a minute or so.
Weather was perfect (at 5:30am) for a hike and I wanted to get some time on the trail with my backpack in preparation for an upcoming trip in Zion National Park. Beautiful day to be out.
Took advantage of yesterday's extended monsoon cloudiness to make an early morning trek out to the Eagletail Mountains wildnerness - a vastly underestimated desert playground so close to the west valley. Instead of the usual mode - grinding out lots of miles on a well marked trail - we used this opportunity for some "desert time". Off trail exploring, wandering and generally just enjoying time away from the city.
We went in on the southeastern side of the Eagletails and then began exploring. A little bit of up and down on the mountainsides, nothing too serious. I did enjoy the site of 5 different natural arches, the best one being at +33.375146, -113.297334. It is the arch shown in the attached picture. Two more, very small arches lie less than 50 feet away. A fourth sits about 80 yards to the west. And a final fifth one is visible on the south side of the old jeep trail high on the rocks perhaps 1/4 mile to the east.
Not many miles today, but the steep, loose climbing up and down definitely have my legs talking a little bit.
With one of my daughters housesitting at the base of the Santa Catalinas we took advantage of the opportunity to hike on Mt Lemmon. After the monsoon rains of Friday night I was a little concerned that the trail(s) would be a sloppy, muddy mess but that turned out not to be the case at all. It was certainly wet and a lot of running water in the drainages, but the trail was in great hiking condition.
I work part time at Steward Observatory so we parked there and started the hike from the summit of Mt Lemmon right at sunrise with the outside temperature at a crisp 50º. We got off trail pretty quickly on Lemmon Trail #12 and ended up backtracking a bit and starting over. After that, it was perfect hiking weather and conditions. Hiked all the way down to Wilderness of Rocks trail without seeing another soul, just sunshine lighting up the rocks and enjoying some casual conversation with my daughter.
Wilderness of Rocks trail was awesome. Thankfully the spots where the trail gets faint are well marked with cairns and we had not trouble navigating. We took a break at the intersection with the Mt Lemmon trail and ate some breakfast. The backpackers that we had previously passed caught up to us and we chatted them up for a bit. Then it was time for the grinding climb back to the summit. I set a steady, even pace back to the top and we made it with less difficulty than I had anticipated. Ending temperature was 68º - a perfect day of hiking.
My plan was to get up early on Saturday and hit the Goat Camp trail for its entire length and back as it's been about 3 years since I hiked the entire trail. A late return from Las Vegas on Friday night made me slow to get out of bed and I didn't make it to the trailhead until 6:30am - an hour after sunrise. I had hoped to be on the trail an hour before this so that I wouldn't be coming down in the ever hotter sun of July mornings.
The climb up from about mile 1.5 until mile 3 is the meat and potatoes of this hike. It seemed to work me over more than normal on this morning. I'm sure it wasn't helped by the lack of rest prior to hiking. It was just what I needed to get the blood pumping. As noted in the hike description, it's the last three miles of the hike that make the trail worth it. It's hard to believe you're just a few miles from the Valley of the Sun. Great mountain views and absolute quiet. I took a break at the junction of Goat Camp, Ford Canyon & Mesquite trails and then started my hike back to the trailhead.
My concern that the sun's intensity would become a factor proved true. The last mile of the hike was quite uncomfortable but I made it without any real issue. I had hoped to cool off by sticking my head under the water spigot at the trailhead but the water coming out of there is hot as July right now (go figure!). I had the trail all to myself today. Except for a family that I encountered in the first 1/4 mile of the trail I didn't see another hiker all morning. It was hot, but a great way to start the weekend.
While working as a volunteer at the Grand Canyon Star Party (North Rim) we took a trip down to Roaring Springs. Awesome as you could expect. The star party is pretty sweet too...more people should check it out. The trip down to Roaring Springs really re-invigorated the need to hike in me and my family. My daughter and I are going Rim to Rim for her 18th birthday in October. Looking forward to it.
average hiking speed 2.33 mph
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.