Explored Matthiessen Dells area with a guy from work and his family. Took a look at the Lower Dells waterfall from bridge and canyon levels, went up to the dam, looked at the waterfall there from above and returned to horse parking lot.
Explored Starved Rock Park with the guy from work and his family. Walked on the loop: Visitor Center - Starved Rock - Lover's Leap Overlook - Eagle Cliff Overlook - sand trail - northern bluff trail to Wildcat Canyon - southern bluff trail - Upper French Canyon - Lodge - Visitor Center spending some time at each overlook.
Wildcat Canyon waterfall was running, French Canyon not so much.
The park attracts huge ignorant crowds from Chicago and there is noticeable amount of trash along main trails and walkways (Starved Rock, river overlooks, French Canyon).
Figure 8 hike on the south side of Detweiller park: Pimiteoui trail - Dry Run trail - Oak trail - River Overlook trail. Had the trails completely to myself, briefly saw a team of wild turkey-like birds retreating into bushes and two teams of IT-like guys playing sand volleyball near Moose shelter.
Temperature and humidity dropped down a bit (heat index was over 100 degrees before), so we decided to go on a little forest hike with a guy from work and his family. Most people hang out in the developed park area near the parking lot and only a few go down the hollow, so there are spiderwebs hanging all over the trail. In lower sections the dirt was wet sometimes and in the upper sections the grasses were taking over the trail. Saw some deer grazing along the trail, one of them was brave enough to stand 20 ft aside the trail and pay almost no attention to us passing by.
The weather forecast said "strong winds and dust storms" so I headed to Tortolitas to get the full experience of these conditions. The trailhead parking lot was half full. I started hiking and met several groups of folks including those staying at Ritz on the formerly paved section between the trailhead and the junction point with the register. At the junction I turned right to Alamo Springs trail and had it all to myself. Alamo Springs trail is good for AEG but not a winner sightwise: first you see the hotel site, then at one point Avra Valley is seen and then no distant views besides the opposite side of Wild Burro canyon sometimes. Alamo Springs area looked riparian and had some fresh grass. Here I made a short side trip to the old shack ruins and then continued along Wild Burro trail to the next well signed junction. Views from different portions of Wild Mustang trail are great and include Wild Burro Park, Mount Lemmon, Tuscon and Avra Valley. While I was hiking the wind got stronger and stronger, ocotillo were swinging, saguaro were swaying and blowing dust from the valley below reached the mountains. Shortly after turning to Upper Javelina trail I heard a hello and found a photographer on a rock who seemed looking to take sunset pictures but was about to bail because nothing but dust could be seen. The leeward descending section of Upper Javelina trail quite helped with all the dust and had some music accompaniment: loud sounds of ocarina or something similar were heard from Ritz cottages.
After hiking Quartz Peak I decided to check the new Skyline Regional Park.
After turning on Watson Road from I-10 the pavement ends soon, then there's an unpaved section, then the new asphalt begins when approaching the park. Two separate parking lots and a horse trailer lot provide plenty of parking. The restrooms building is located at the main parking lot, but there's no drinking water in the park.
I hiked a clockwise loop: Turnbuckle - Valley Vista and back - Mountain Wash. Turnbuckle trail is newly built, it constantly goes slightly up and down for 1.5 mi around the hill until it starts ascending to the saddle. From the saddle the Valley Vista trail goes to the local summit with some views. This trail is steep and covered by soil dust so it's a bit slippery. After returning to the saddle I continued on Turnbuckle trail and then switched to Mountain Wash trail that is a former jeep road.
Lots of people on trails in the park and some loud ATV riding activities on old jeep roads to the west of the park.
Upon arriving to the trailhead we were the third group to start, but Linda set up the workout pace so we soon passed everyone on the way up. The day was hazy but there are no views on the back side of Sierra Estrella anyway, so we went to the top without any stops on the way. The very top had some cool white quartz and a register that we signed. Soon a Canadian couple showed up (they were even faster than us), told that they came to Arizona for winter and asked about similar hikes in the Phoenix area. We shared some ideas with them. After spending about half hour at the top overlooking Awhatukee and almost invisible rest of Phoenix beyond South Mountain we started descending. Met crowds of people from teenagers to seniors on the way down. Wonder if all of them made it to the top.
Thanks Linda for coming up with the idea of this hike and for driving.
First, I finally took a long helicopter tour over Grand canyon and it was absolutely amazing (although quite expensive).
Second, I finally got to Shoshone Point that'd been on my wish list for quite a while. Went almost all the way to 'shroom rock' but stopped several yards short because of icy trail being close to the edge. Great views.
After that headed to the Village and wandered around there, visited the historical exhibition on the lower level of Kolb Studio (earlier I had no idea that it was there) and then went to several points on Hermit Road. Watched sunset (pretty much masked by the clouds) from Mohave point.
Went to FLG-X Adventure Course with a guy from work, completed 3 of 5 adult courses and got completely exhausted. Recharged at the hipster/student bakery coffee place on Beaver Street and drove to Sunset Crater - Wupatki Loop. Hiked Lava Flow Trail enjoying San Francisco Peaks views.
Visited Gila County Historical Museum that is located in the former Old Dominion Mine Rescue Station and has good exhibitions on the history of Miami-Globe area. Then walked the grounds of Old Dominion Mine that are now a park with some areas closed for access as the mine is still supplying Globe with water. The park is very educational with lots of signs telling about mining technology and showing pictures of the area in the days when the mine was operational. Some of the structures are still intact and also there is a "Bone Yard" with pieces of mining equipment.
Ate an authentic post-hike burger in a historical miner's saloon.
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.