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699 triplogs
Apr 02 2021
kingsnake
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 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
C&O Canal MP 77.0-88.1, MD 
C&O Canal MP 77.0-88.1, MD
 
Hiking avatar Apr 02 2021
kingsnake
Hiking12.83 Miles 289 AEG
Hiking12.83 Miles   3 Hrs   58 Mns   3.23 mph
289 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
The distance from MP 77.0 to MP 88.1 is 11.1 miles. Duh. But my mileage is greater due to exploring, and backtracking. 😉

-----

in 2019, I decided to day hike the C&O Canal Towpath during our biannual trips to visit family in Hagerstown. My plan was to do two 8-12 mile segments on each visit, finishing in Spring, 2025. Then, Chinese Lung AIDs happened. My Easter, 2020, hikes got delayed to Halloween. Trying to make up for lost time, I stretched my next hike from Edward’s Ferry to Noland’s Ferry ( [ photoset ] ), got a massive blood blister, and had to cancel my second hike. 🤨

That second Halloween, 2020, from Noland’s Ferry to the Weverton Cliffs, was supposed to be this Easter’s first hike. But it was so cold in Hagerstown before Easter, that I did today’s shorter / closer to town hike first, so I could start later in the morning, when — theoretically — it had warmed up.

When I arrived at Snyder’s Landing, on the outskirts of Sharpsburg ( [ photoset ] ), at 9:50, it was 27℉, by three degrees the coldest I’ve hiked. (The Appalachian Trail, on South Mountain, from Crampton Gap to Turner’s Gap.) At least this time I was smart enough to layer up.

⅔ of a mile past the Horseshoe Bend CG (MP 79.7), on the river side of the trail, a rusty fifth wheel trailer frame is wrapped around a tree. Wrecks are a fairly common find in the wilds of Arizona — heck there are three in the small canyon behind my house! — but that is the first I’ve seen along the C&O Canal. 👨🏻‍🔧

About a mile past Big Woods CG (MP 82.5), on the canal side of the towpath, I spotted a cave with a steady trickle of water running out of it. The inside of the cave was wet & slippery, so I only went in about 50 yards. 🔦

Dam 4 (MP 84.6) is heard before it is seen. The original Dam 4 was rebuilt in 1856, after being destroyed by floods. The current hydro-electric gravity dam was built in 1913 and modified in 1994. Dam 4 is 800 ft. across the Potomac River and 20 ft. tall or — more accurately — deep, as none of it shows above the river’s surface. The wooden building over the C&O Canal is the winch house for the stop gate, which prevented river floods from entering the canal channel. The calm waters above Dam 4 is Big Slackwater.

200 yds. past Big Slackwater Boat Ramp (MP 85.5), is Guard Lock 4, its control gate and inlet weir. Together, they allowed boats and water back into the C&O Canal.

Big Slackwater was necessary for canal boats to navigate in the Potomac River, as cliffs made digging a canal bed cost prohibitive. However, the boats still needed to be towed, and starting at MP 86.6 the towpath hugs the cliffs. In 1996, severe flooding wiped out the dirt towpath. From 2010-2012, a new concrete path was built. The wind was strong enough, I could hear waves lapping the underside of the path, like a boat dock. The temp had warmed up to 34℉, but the windchill sucked. 🥶

I don’t like hiking on roads, but the Big Slackwater concrete path was the highlight of my day!

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/535242698
Meteorology
Meteorology
Icicle
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
I had only been hiking on the C&O Canal Towpath for a few minutes when it became obvious that there were two species of flowers which were loving the freezing temperature: common grape hyacinth and Virginia bluebell. Both were common, the latter moreso, and often found in large patches from Snyder’s Landing until the canal disappears at Big Slackwater.
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Mar 29 2021
kingsnake
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 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Charles M. Christiansen Trail #100Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 29 2021
kingsnake
Hiking2.53 Miles 222 AEG
Hiking2.53 Miles      43 Mns   3.53 mph
222 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After visit to CPA, wife dropped me off at Desert Cove for a walk home on Trail #100. About 150 yds. of fresh rock clearing & grading below the city ranger's house. Used to be mildly bumpy, now billiard table smooth. 🤔
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Strawberry hedgehog seem to be doing okay. Also, the usual creosote & brittlebush ...
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1 archive
Mar 20 2021
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Hyde Mountain #6Prescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 20 2021
kingsnake
Hiking5.49 Miles 1,605 AEG
Hiking5.49 Miles   2 Hrs   48 Mns   1.96 mph
1,605 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After a complete lack of flowers at Picacho Peak and Phoenix Sonoran Preserve the last two weeks, I decided to skip this week’s scheduled Phoenix-area flower hunt. Instead, I contacted my hiking buddy @Prescottstyle, to see if he wanted to do something up near him on Saturday? Hyde Mountain Trail #6 was his suggestion.

Camp Wood Rd. crosses Hitt Wash and Williamson Valley Wash before entering a large burn area between Johnson Mountain and Cottonwood Mountain. I tried googling the fire, but found nothing. It appears recent, maybe 2020, due to the lack of new grass or shrubbery. Anyone know anything about it? 🔥

After crossing Stringtown Wash, which had running water, Hyde Mountain Trail #6 climbs 200 ft. in a ⅓ of a mile. At the top of the climb, on the left, is a small Balance Rock. Paul was also mineral hunting, finding several good samples of muscovite, which in the Santa Maria Mountains has thin, silvery, layers. Every time we stopped, Lily would whine to keep moving. 🐶

Past the Balance Rock, Hyde Mountain Trail #6 seemingly levels off the next ⅔ of a mile, but still climbs 300 ft. There is lots of pinyon and juniper along the trail, which was littered with lavender juniper berries. Between the Balance Rock and the junction of Grapevine Springs Trail #9825 — marked by a broken wooden “⬅ Brown Spr.” sign — there are several absolutely massive manzanita. (One had a 14″ trunk, and another may have been two feet!)

Hyde Mountain Trail #6 then begins its summit push, climbing 1000 ft. in a mile. It felt less steep than it is, due to the long switchbacks. There’s a good shade alligator juniper at the Lower Saddle, but the views from the Upper Saddle are much better. Paul and I took pictures while Lily played in the snow. (There was still spot snow in the shade above 6,000 ft. on north-facing slopes in the Santa Maria Mountains.)

Hyde Mountain Trail #6 is rocky for most of the first two miles, but between the Upper Saddle and the summit it is grassy. The sky was sunny when we started, by the time we reached the summit, clouds started rolling in. It was so windy I had to pocket my baseball cap, giving me an earache.

The Hyde Mountain Lookout was established in 1936, and abandoned some time between 1985 and 2004. (The lookout, S. Booth, carved a wood sign each fire season he worked, most recently 1985, and a 2004 triplog [ photoset ] indicated the shelter was boarded up.) I tried the door, but it was locked, so I settled for shooting a few pix through a grimy window.

On the east side of the Hyde Mountain Lookout, was a “power box” containing at least five 12v batteries. There were also several old solar panels on the summit. There were so many ladybugs next to the power box, I horked one! 😳

The Camp Wood 2 benchmark was vertically placed on a boulder on the south side of the Hyde Mountain Lookout. The geocache was a few feet away, next to reference mark 2. (Reference mark 1 is close to the power box.)

After nearly an hour on the Hyde Mountain summit — it didn’t seem that long — we headed back down, reaching the trailhead on FR 95C around 2:00 p.m. It’s a bit of a drive, but I really enjoyed it. Recommended! 👍

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/527530001
Flora
Flora
Manzanita
Geology
Geology
Muscovite
Meteorology
Meteorology
Snow
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation None
Not single one.
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
Mar 15 2021
kingsnake
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 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
North Mountain - PhoenixPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Run/Jog avatar Mar 15 2021
kingsnake
Run/Jog0.74 Miles 600 AEG
Run/Jog0.74 Miles      15 Mns   52 Secs2.80 mph
600 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Set personal best time up North Mountain, beating previous best of 16:10 by 18 seconds, set last October.

I actually wasn't running -- just walking fast -- but that's the only way to enter seconds.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
Brittlebush enjoying life, even if no one else is.
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1 archive
Mar 11 2021
kingsnake
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 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Ocotillo Trail - Sonoran Preserve NorthPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 11 2021
kingsnake
Hiking9.17 Miles 1,124 AEG
Hiking9.17 Miles   3 Hrs   8 Mns   2.93 mph
1,124 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
I originally planned to hike Cave Creek Trail #4 today, which has a great variety of flowers ( [ photoset ] ), but given spring’s slow start, I decided to stick to lower, slightly warmer, terrain in hope that would make a difference: I headed for the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. Since I did the south unit last year, I figured I would introduce myself to the north unit, by hiking Ocotillo Trail, Sidewinder Trail (turning back where those two overlap) and Apache Vista Trail.

I’m lucky I found the Apache Wash Trailhead, as the area was undeveloped eight years ago when I bought my Acura RDX. (I’ve been too lazy to update the GPS.) Note: There is no potable water. The most interesting feature of the trailhead, were cement inlays pointing out the direction and distance to various terrain features, such as Piestewa Peak. 🧭

Just standing at the trailhead, it was obvious there would be very slim pickings for flowers. So, as I headed west on Ocotillo Trail, I was shooting video, instead of stills, because I wanted to have enough material for my hike video. The only non-yellow flowers I found were a couple of tiny lupine not far from the trailhead.

Sidewinder Trail is rated moderately difficult — entirely for the 350 ft. climb up Hill 2199 from Ocotillo Trail. (Or from the northern Ridgeback Trail connector if you are hiking counter-clockwise.) Otherwise Sidewinder Trail is easy. It is a bit rocky in a few spots, but never bad. There is no traffic noise. (Unless you count the planes and helicopters that were overhead all morning.) ✈️

I only remember one dog walker and one trail runner on Sidewinder Trail, but there were of mountain bikes all morning. Maybe I should get my MTB tuned back up? It’s been almost seven years since I went bike riding. 🤔

I didn’t stay long on top of Apache Vista: As elsewhere in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, there is no shade. (The only decent shade I recall was on Sidewinder Trail, in a wash on the east slope of Hill 2199.)

I finished my hike in 3:08, which is over 2.9 mph, moving time — which should give you a good idea how casual a stroll this hike is. Along the way, I only drank two bottles of water and half a G2 Gatorade. Totally forgot lunch, so I plowed through my gorp on the way home!

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/523417814
Named place
Named place
Pyramid Peak
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
One small group of tiny lupine. Scattered withered britlebush. Occasional creosote. Ironically, on the drive back along the parkway, it was going gangbusters with brittlebush, and even plenty of desert globemallow. 😏
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Mar 04 2021
kingsnake
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 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Sunset Vista Trail - Picacho PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 04 2021
kingsnake
Hiking5.56 Miles 1,395 AEG
Hiking5.56 Miles   2 Hrs   28 Mns   2.25 mph
1,395 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After leaving Phoenix at 6:00 a.m., to avoid the worst rush hour traffic, we stopped for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Casa Grande. It would do while waiting for sunrise.

There was another couple at the trailhead when I got there, so I let them get ahead of me while I occupied myself reading the Juan Bautista de Anza historical signs. I lack the shamelessness others do about waving their camera around in front of other people. 😊

Picacho Peak trails are normally quite crowded — especially Hunter Trail — but I started hiking at 9:00 a.m. and did not see anyone else until Sunset Vista Trail intersected Hunter Trail halfway up the mountain. Thursday must be a good day

The stairs nearest the trailhead looked relatively new, and wood, but some are stone or older, even falling apart.

Normally, the first week of March is Picacho Peak State Park’s peak flower season. The park’s last flower update was two weeks prior, and all they were reporting was scattered Mexican gold poppy. I was hoping a few weeks of increasing temperatures had brought out some lupine, or desert chicory, but no such luck. The flowerpr0n was distinctly G Rated: All I saw were a few scattered ocotillo blooms. 😕

At the two mile mark, Sunset Vista Trail crosses a wider, more gravelly, wash marked by three cairns. A number of larger palo verde provide wispy shade. The casual stroll is done: The climb begins.

As Sunset Vista Trail is on the west and south side of Picacho Peak, there is little shade, especially in the first two miles. The only good shade is provided by a large boulder 2.2 miles into the hike.

The Sunset Vista Trail cables start at the 2.5 mile mark. At first it seemed as if they would be no big deal, but I was soon disabused of that notion: I saw this: [ photo ] .

How the hell was I going to get up it? I took a few minutes to plot my route: Left foot in that crease, right foot on that pole, etc. to the top. Getting up is always the easy part: I also had to consider how to get back down. It wasn’t far, but it was steep, and falling would suck. I put a bottle of water in my front pocket (so it wouldn’t fall out) and dropped my pack, so my center of gravity would be more forward.

I seem to recall making it up a second cabled section before Sunset Vista Trail intersected Hunter Trail. Fifty yards past that was another vertical cable section, this time with side netting … in case you fall. I looked at it. Looked at my GPS. Looked at it again. At that point it was 500 ft. in only a ¼ mile to the summit. My main goal in hiking is exercise. I had done that. So, I bailed. ↩️

I went forward, but scootching back down the first Sunset Vista Trail cable section, so I could see where I was going and not have to feel with my feet for footholds. I actually wrapped my arm around the cable, using it as a brake, which is why the next few days it was my lats that were sore — and, for some reason, my abdominals? — rather than calves.

After I met back up with my wife at Sunset Vista Trailhead, we headed across I-10 to the Dairy Queen. From what I gather, it is tradition to have a cherry-dipped cone after hiking Picacho Peak. I forgot to stop at the Battle of Picacho Peak memorial. 🪦

At the DQ, over lunch, rather than talk about my hike, I mostly listened to my wife talk about her visit to the nearby Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. Besides ostriches, they have rabbits, sheep, goats, cownose stingrays, and even some sort of parrot called a “lorikeet” — all of which you can feed. She’s wanted to see the ostriches for years, so she was happy. And a happy wife is a Very Good Thing.

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/520583188
Flora
Flora
Ocotillo
Named place
Named place
Picacho Peak
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
Just a couple of ocotillo during what is usually the peak flower season in this area.
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
Feb 25 2021
kingsnake
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 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Governors PeakPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 25 2021
kingsnake
Hiking6.09 Miles 1,854 AEG
Hiking6.09 Miles   3 Hrs   20 Mns   1.83 mph
1,854 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Since Governors Peak is so close to Sunnyslope, I ate breakfast at home, instead of picking up QT. Driving past Lake Pleasant on Castle Hot Springs Road, the only confusion I had was when the road makes a 90° turn to descend to Garfias Wash. (Left goes to Spring Valley.) Garfias Wash had water for hundreds of yards upstream of the bridge, as Lake Pleasant’s water level is currently 30 ft. above “full” ( http://pleasant.lakesonline.com/Level/ ).

Parking at the small pullout just past the cattle gate, I could see the white backcountry sign-in stand across Castle Creek, where Spring Valley Trail begins. But the short bluff down to the creek is steep, so instead I walked 100 yds. north on Castle Hot Springs Rd., down to the creek, before doubling back to the stand.

Currently, the Spring Valley Trail and Hermit Trail (go right) split is marked by three cairns. I spotted some burros who waited for me to take several photos. On my way back, I had forgotten about them, so when they snorted I was quite startled. More so than the gunfire which accompanied my final half mile.

My favorite view of the day was from the second saddle, north across Four Tanks Canyon, towards the Governors Peak ridgeline. More so than the pollution-obscured summit view of Phoenix. Even Lake Pleasant was hazy.

From the bottom of Four Tanks Canyon, the trail — Bell Trail? — follows plentiful cairns up a steep wash between Hill 2992, on the right, and the now visible summit of Governors Peak, on your left. It is 390 ft. in 0.4 miles to the third saddle, with some boulder steps and marble-covered slick rock to be negotiated. (Which I slipped on several times while later descending.) The saddle is marked by a large cairn. A trail begins to descend north, towards the Castle Hot Springs Resort, but you should turn left.

The trail climbs 450 ft. in the final 0.4 miles, first along the yellow cliff band, then most steeply up an easy chute, before crossing a grassy slope towards the hidden Governors Peak summit.

For some reason, the sign marking the Governors Peak summit is facing away from the trail. The summit log was a jumble of loose papers. The oldest I found was from December, 1995. As I was perusing the entries, I was surprised by a young gal approaching the summit. I didn’t want to weird her out, so I ate lunch on the side of the summit opposite Lake Pleasant, while she enjoyed the better view. Or the more polluted one.

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/517839799
Fauna
Fauna
Wild Burro
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
One ocotillo, one redstem stork's bill, both between the saddle (2800 el) and summit (3200 el).

dry Four Tanks Canyon Dry Dry
No sign of water, or moisture, at the trail crossing.
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
Feb 11 2021
kingsnake
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 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Maricopa PeakPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 11 2021
kingsnake
Hiking8.10 Miles 1,833 AEG
Hiking8.10 Miles   3 Hrs   50 Mns   2.11 mph
1,833 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
I plan on finally tackling Picacho Peak during this spring flower season. As Picacho is a 1,200 ft. climb in just under a mile (a very steep 25% grade), and my knee has been feeling better, I figured I ought to do at least some climb training. Maricopa Peak is what I chose. ⛰

On my previous Maricopa Peak summit, six years ago, I hiked Alta Trail east from 35th Ave. This time, Central Ave. was open — if you don’t count the construction zone all the way from downtown — so my trailhead was the intersection of San Juan Rd. and Summit Rd., in the middle of South Mountain Park. (I actually got stuck behind a bum & his junk on a recumbent bike hogging the only lane!) 🧟‍♂️

I went a ½ mile west on Bajada Trail, then crossed San Juan Rd. onto Alta Trail, which rises a leisurely 100 ft. in a ⅓ of a mile, before the real climb begins in earnest.

Alta Trail climbs 700 ft. in a hair over a mile to the top of the Ma Ha Tauk ridgeline. There’s a ton of switchbacks along the way. About halfway up, there is a stone bench, which I somehow didn’t see until I was on my way back down. 😎

From the Warrior Trail intersection, Alta Trail descends 200 ft. in the next mile, as it snakes along the ridgeline. Being mostly on the northside of the ridgeline, Alta Trail still had decent shade, even late morning. On my return trip, two hours later, the shade was gone but for one small spot. Alta Trail then climbs 250 ft. in the next ½ mile to the spur which marks the trail’s highpoint.

The ¼ mile long Maricopa Peak summit trail may at first appear obvious, but you may lose it: Keep heading east, towards the obvious high point. Take care with your footing going over the various rocky outcroppings. The summit will appear as two rocky knobs: The right knob may appear higher, but the left one is the summit.

There is a small, shady, flat between the two knobs. I left my hiking poles there, so I would have my hands free for the short, but tricky, scramble to the summit. I did not have a great deal of confidence negotiating the graffiti rock, but I went right, edging face-first along a ledge, maintaining three points of contact. (Except when my shirt go caught on a rock, and I had to very carefully unhook it, so I could continue.) Slipping would have resulted in a long tumble down the mountain.

There’s no shade on the Maricopa Peak summit, unless you count a small palo verde. But I took what I could get while I ate lunch. The smog over Phoenix was so bad, I could not see Camelback Mountain. 🤢

Even though I took a summit photo of my hiking beer, I did not drink it until I was back on Alta Trail, as I wanted all my faculties while descending the summit knob: I went around the opposite side of the dark graffiti rock, butt scootching along that ledge.

I took two breaks on the way back down Alta Trail: The first in the one bit of shade remaining on the ridgeline, to swap liquids, the second in the one bit of mid-afternoon shade on the switchbacks (hour long business call I had to take). 📱

I took 16th St. back to Sunnyslope, which went pretty quick, especially by rush hour standards. *MUCH* less stressful than driving to Sky Harbor at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday (of all things)!

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/512297321
Culture
Culture
Cag Shot HAZ - Selfie
Named place
Named place
Maricopa Peak Mount Suappoa
Meteorology
Meteorology
Haze
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
One blooming ocotillo.
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
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Feb 04 2021
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Anniversary Arch LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 04 2021
kingsnake
Hiking8.71 Miles 888 AEG
Hiking8.71 Miles   3 Hrs   55 Mns   2.22 mph
888 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The last time I hiked in the Goldfield Mountains was when AZLumberjack and I bailed on attempt to climb Dome Mountain. I guess that was 2015. Seemed longer ago. Too long, anyway, so off I went.

My plan was to hike from the Horse Trails Trailhead, on an unnamed, unnumbered, foot trail northwest past Cottonwood Spring. After three miles, I would head north for ¾ of a mile on a jeep trail through an unnamed canyon. I then planned to turn south onto another unnamed, unnumbered, foot trail ¾ of a mile to Anniversary Arch. From the arch, it is not quite three miles back to the trailhead.

The Goldfield Mountains are riddled with jeep trails, foot trails and side canyons. It is very easy to wander off in the wrong direction. I saw no trail signs, so unless you have a REALLY good sense of direction, you should take a GPS loaded with the route attached above, which includes waypoints such as “split left” and “sharp right turn”.

After breakfast at Denny’s in Apache Junction, I arrived at the Horse Trails Trailhead about 8:00 a.m. There were a number of horse people and offroaders camping out in the large dirt lot. I managed to wander 50 yds. down Apache Trail / AZ-88 before finding my way around a fence, but the hike actually starts straight across the road.

The loop begins on a apparently decommisioned jeep trail, which is riddled with horse hoof prints. The singletrack continues another 1½ miles to Cottonwood Spring, winding between distant rock outcroppings, through grassy hills, and across dry washes. The saguaro were generally young, but I saw several that had large, apparently spineless, darker green sections that resembled alligator skin. I wonder what that is?

The wash between Cottonwood Spring and the spring box was muddy, though more likely from recent monsoon flooding than the slow drip of overflow from the spring’s catch basin. The spring box had some water in it, but again from rain, as the pipe was totally disconnected.

At Cottonwood Spring, I picked up a jeep trail, following that off & on down wash for the next mile. A ⅓ of a mile north of Cottonwood Spring, a foot trail splits left for a longer loop. Instead, I stayed on the jeep trail / followed the wash bottom as it instead turned northeast into a small canyon with close, lichen covered walls.

Just under four miles into the hike, on the south side of the wash, there (currently) is a cairn. I turned right onto the foot trail, which climbs 200 ft. in a ½ mile, the only real elevation gain on the loop, past nearby cream- and rust-colored rock formations. From the top of the climb, it is a ½ mile across a saddle to Anniversary Arch.

Both across the saddle, and from within Anniversary Arch itself, there are great views north and east, with the old standby — Four Peaks — easily visible. The reddish mountain that looks like it is about half way to Four Peaks is El Recortado, on the north side of Canyon Lake. Anniversary Arch is not large, but there is enough room for several people to comfortably sit. The arch also funneled a pleasantly cool late morning breeze.

From Anniversary Arch, the trail winds a ½ mile down to the flat below the backside, then turns south, following a wash 1¼ miles back to the base of the the loop. There’s some decent shade in the wash. Although the trail is going up, the elevation change is barely noticeable. From the base of the loop, I booked the mile back to the Horse Trails Trailhead.

🎃, 2.22 mph seems slow. I wonder if I got the hike duration wrong. 🤔

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/509527859
Flora
Flora
Saguaro
Geology
Geology
Natural Arch
Meteorology
Meteorology
Moon
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
Some a small cluster of penstemon (?) on the climb up to the Arch.
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
Jan 21 2021
kingsnake
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 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Pyrite Summit - Skyline RPPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 21 2021
kingsnake
Hiking7.06 Miles 1,236 AEG
Hiking7.06 Miles   2 Hrs   46 Mns   2.55 mph
1,236 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Working my way around the Phoenix metro area doing winter locals’ hikes, today was Skyline Regional Park’s turn.

I did the Pyrite Summit loop clockwise: The climb is more gradual that way, 650 AEG over 1½ miles (an 8% grade), whereas counter-clockwise is 550 AEG in only ¾ of a mile (a 14% grade), even with plenty of switchbacks.

Rain was expected off & on through the weekend in Maricopa County, and it was steadily drizzling as I headed out. 🌧

Skyline Regional Park’s trails are well laid out, and well maintained. Probably better than any other park in Maricopa County. You never have to worry about your footing, not even crossing a wash, so you can spend your time looking around, rather than staring at the ground. (Though the scenery is not the greatest, unless you are on a summit.)

Other than the Pyrite Trail, Pyrite Summit Trail, and the bit of Turnbuckle Trail on the west of Valley Vista, I had previously hiked the trails on this loop. I started hiking at 8:30 a.m., and made the turn onto Pyrite Trail 30 minutes later.

If you see an antenna on a peak just south, that is some sort of aviation beacon, not Pyrite Summit. I suspect the beacon is for Luke Air Force Base, as pairs of F-35 Lightning IIs headed south over it all morning long. Even in the rain. Probably headed out to the Goldwater Range, south of I-8, to play in the box. ⚡️

*** Correction. I just looked at a Flying Flyver set, and it's just an old wooden signal tower, no longer in operation.

Pyrite Trail reaches its high point at the junction with Pyrite Summit Trail. If you look back, you can see the Pyrite Trail winding back down into the valley, with the trailhead in the distance. You’ve come all this way, no sense skipping the summit!

Pyrite Summit Trail climbs 200 ft. in a ⅓ of a mile to the summit, which is marked by a cairn and one of many numerous marker poles. I should have checked for a geocache, but blanked it while enjoying the view. (And a trail beer.) 🍺

Despite not being very prominent, Pyrite Summit has some solid views, particularly to the south and west, across flatter surrounding terrain. Though they do not show up well in my photos, I could easily identify Woolsey Peak, in the Gila Bend Mountains, Saddle Mountain and, of course, the Sierra Estrella.

After enjoying the Pyrite Summit views, I headed down the steep northern section of Pyrite Trail to the junction with Chuckwalla Trail. Other than a brief stop by the aging saguaro just north of Granite Falls Trail, it was a quick jaunt back to the trailhead.

I drove partway home on I-10, before exiting at 35th Ave. to head up to Indian School Rd. Just south of Grand Avenue, in Maryvale, there was a traffic snarl at an apartment complex where a bunch of cops were pointing long guns at someone. (Or one of the apartments.) Another cop came barreling down the turn lane as I cleared the area. I wonder what that was all about? Hopefully I captured it on my dashcam!

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/504093661
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1 archive
Jan 14 2021
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
CCRP to New River Road - Maricopa TrailPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 14 2021
kingsnake
Hiking7.09 Miles 454 AEG
Hiking7.09 Miles   2 Hrs   29 Mns   2.86 mph
454 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
A couple of days after my previous hike in Estrella Mountain Regional Park, I took a walk around my neighborhood. The first mile, no problem. But then my right knee started feeling wonky. The further I went, the more it hurt. By the time I finished the second mile, I could barely walk, it hurt so bad. 😫

Without hiking, I have nothing: Hiking keeps me relatively healthy, relatively sane, and fills my time writing the post-hike blog and editing the video. I have to admit: I was scared.

Long story short, I got my knees x-rayed and my doctor recommended Osteo Bi-Flex Glucosamine Chondroitin pills to maintain cartilage structure, slow cartilage deterioration and hopefully reduce pain. 🙏🏻

Since I have already hike the two Maricopa Trail segments before this one — Bronco Trailhead to Spur Cross and Spur Cross to Cave Creek Regional Park, both counter-clockwise, I decided to hike CCRP to the Anthem Trailhead / Daisy Mountain Fire Department, the same direction.

*** The community where road construction & other infrastructure was being put in March, 2019, up at the end of 40th Dr., has seen no further work. No houses, not even a demo unit. ***

West of 32nd St., the Maricopa Trail skirts a ranch property area — complete with loudly barking dogs — for ¾ of a mile, before turning northwest up a small canyon, for the only climb of the day, 150 AEG in a ½ mile. The best views of Apache Peak are along that climb. 📸

From the Apache Peak saddle, the Maricopa Trail follows a contour line west for ¾ of a mile along the north slope of Hill 2875. More ranch properties are to the right, just downslope, in New River. Straight ahead is a very striking, free standing, formation that apparently has no name. It is marked Hill 2565 on the topo. [ photo ]

Take care crossing paved, 2-lane, New River Rd., as the Maricopa Trail intersects it in the middle of a descending blind curve. 👀

The first mile of the Maricopa Trail west of New River Rd. passes within 100 ft. multiple sketchy properties, littered with debris, boarded up windows, and broken down trailers. Despite the meth-y vibe, no barking dogs.

Halfway into the Spear S Ranch to Anthem Trailhead segment, the Maricopa Trail crosses Rodger Creek for the first of three times. All were dry crossings. Not a spot of water.

The final ¾ of a mile, after the third creek crossing, splits more horse properties to the south (left) and Anthem golf course homes to the north (right). The area is dense with stinknet, aka globe chamomile, an invasive species.

Knee held up well, with no crippling pain the next morning. 👍

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/501544037
Named place
Named place
Apache Peak
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation None
El zilcho.
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Jan 01 2021
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Coldwater Trail - Estrella Mtn RPPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 01 2021
kingsnake
Hiking10.06 Miles 1,023 AEG
Hiking10.06 Miles   3 Hrs   42 Mns   2.72 mph
1,023 ft AEG
 
I spend late fall and winter hiking closer to Phoenix. The coldest I can remember hiking in Phoenix was 32℉ at South Mountain in 2017. The coldest I’ve seen in the low desert was 27℉ in the Butler Valley, south of Alamo Lake: There was even snow on the ground. 🥶

The coldest I’ve actually hiked in, was 30℉ on the South Mountain in Maryland, while hiking the Appalachian Trail, and again in St. Vith, Belgium (where it was -1℃ at the local bank). In the latter case, I didn’t even have a windbreaker and, to compound the fun, it sleeted. St. Vith [ photoset ] , that late May morning, was officially the coldest place in Europe — even colder than Norway!

It is ironic, then, that it was 34℉ today when I planned to hike Coldwater Trail in Estrella Mountain Regional Park. I’d been on Coldwater twice before, inbound, so today I would head out on it, go a ¼ mile west on Gadsden Trail, then 1.6 miles north on Toothaker Trail, before looping 4.2 miles back to the rodeo arena on Rainbow Valley Trail.

Because it was New Year’s Day, “rush hour” traffic was very light, so I cruised west on Indian School Rd. to Avondale. I only saved one dashcam capture, and I think he may have been a late drunk. As it was still dark, I stopped for hashbrowns, biscuits & gravy at Waffle House. 🤗

The first mile on Coldwater, to the secondary horse lot, was mostly in shade cast by Knobb Hill (aka Hill 1801 on the topo).

Estrella Mountain Regional Park, especially in cold months, does not have a lot of photo ops, other than saguaro. (No flowers.) As a result, I was rolling tape for my hiking video, because as a “slide show” it would have been less than a minute long. So, I took a break on the saddle on Toothaker Trail to record voiceover bits to make the end result more interesting. Also, the temperature was finally tolerable to where I could remove my hoodie and woolie cap.

It was nearly 11:00 a.m. when I turned onto Rainbow Valley Trail, so I started seeing other hikers — presumably without hangovers — on a regular basis. 🥳

The west end of Dysart Trail intersects Rainbow Valley Trail a mile north of the saddle. Just past Dysart, I went off trail in one of the larger washes for pee break privacy, a snack, and to record more voiceovers. Plus, the wash had shade, which is otherwise in short supply in Estrella Mountain Regional Park.

I thought Rainbow Valley Trail was shorter than it actually is, so it seemed to drag on forever. The final mile of Rainbow Valley Trail was a steady stream of people and dogs, making it hard to tape video without looking like a goober.

I took a short break at a picnic table after I finished. Instead of a hiking beer, my refreshment was a V-8: No sense in tempting any cops on the ride home who might still be monitoring the New Year’s chaos … 😉

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/496695397
Named place
Named place
Knobb Hill - Estrella
Meteorology
Meteorology
Moon Sunburst
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1 archive
Dec 17 2020
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Black Mesa - Superstition MountainsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 17 2020
kingsnake
Hiking8.48 Miles 1,065 AEG
Hiking8.48 Miles   3 Hrs   58 Mns   2.14 mph
1,065 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Everybody on Haz has been through the Garden Valley area a jillion times, so I'll skip the hike description, and just tell you about the Superstition Fire damage I found along my Black Mesa loop.

My plan was to not only hike up to the Black Mesa “summit”, but to traverse the entire Black Mesa ridgeline, then climb Hackberry Mesa, before taking some trails along First Water Creek that I had not been on before. More mileage, more AEG, and two different perspectives on the damage wrecked on Garden Valley by Superstition Fire. 👨🏻‍🚒

Between First Water TH and the 104/236 junction was burned quite thoroughly.

Second Water Trail #236 crosses two branches of First Water Creek. The area between the branches was devastated. Ironically, the ½ mile climb from the second crossing up to Garden Valley was untouched by the Superstition Fire. That’s the thing I’ve noticed about hiking burn areas: Wildfire tends to skip around. When the Forest Service says a wildfire has burned “x acres”, what they really mean is that the fire’s perimeter contained that many acres, not that all of those acres were destroyed. 🤔

Garden Valley also got hit bad: I saw one large cluster of chain fruit cholla that had nothing left but black stubs. (Chain fruit cholla can grow to to 15 ft. tall and 6 ft. diameter.)

Near the high point of Black Mesa Trail #241, I made the short off trail climb 100 ft. up to the Black Mesa ridgeline. When hiking, it’s always a good to look behind you: I’m glad I did, because there was an amazing view of Weavers Needle framed by dozens & dozens of surviving saguaro: [ photo ] .

I found it slow going navigating the jumble of boulders on the western edge of Black Mesa; movement was much smoother 100-150 ft. to the east. Black Mesa was one of the last areas to be affected by the Superstition Fire, so damage was particularly spotty. I can say though that two things will survive any fiery apocalypse: cockroaches and catclaw. 😖

I followed the Black Mesa ridgeline north for 1½ miles as it peaked, then gradually descended back to Second Water Trail #236. As I hoped, Black Mesa did indeed have good, relatively high angle, views of the damage in Garden Valley, particularly where the Superstition Fire burned out at the base of Hackberry Mesa. Also nice views northeast, past Tugboat and Geronimo Head to Four Peaks.

I wasn’t too tired yet, but looking up at the rocky approach to Hackberry Mesa, I decided to skip it. I hiked west, back into Garden Valley on Second Water Trail #236: Burn to my left, unburned to my right.

I cut a ⅓ of a mile across Garden Valley on a faint trail that may have been from horses, or may have been from fire crews digging line. Near the arch, I picked up the well-travelled, but as yet unnumbered trail that descends towards Hackberry Spring.

A ¼ mile south of the Hackberry Spring signs, if you look up and to your left, at the top of the yellow hills, you can just make out the Garden Valley arch. On the slope between the arch and trail were reddish orange swathes from several retardant drops. I didn’t see any Superstition Fire burn damage, so I guess it was in case the fire either burned west over the hills, or north from First Water Ranch.

The slick rock of First Water Creek had several small pools. I walked right over some retardant as I approached First Water Ranch’s windmill, corral and shed. No burn damage along the trail or in the facilities, but climbing up from the ranch along FR 1455 to the First Water Horse Lot was torched. 🔥

I felt okay when I finished my Black Mesa hike, but HOLY COW was my knee stiff & sore that evening. I could barely move the next 48 hours! I think I’ll take it easy with a Shaw Butte hike Christmas week ...

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/493737244
Culture
Culture
HAZ - Selfie
Meteorology
Meteorology
Fire Burn Area & Recovery
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Dec 11 2020
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Hidden Treasure Mine - Antelope Hill, BCTPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 11 2020
kingsnake
Hiking11.93 Miles 1,330 AEG
Hiking11.93 Miles   4 Hrs   15 Mns   2.81 mph
1,330 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
It was chilly Thursday morning, and I expected it to be 5° cooler up at Government Spring, so I wore a hoodie and wooly hat. Normally, I would not bother, but the last thing I need is some Corona Crusader mistaking sniffles for Chinese Lung AIDs. The cattle tank was very low, though the spring box did have plenty of water.

At 1.5 miles, there is a saddle which has one of three good views on the Government Spring to Cordes segment of the Black Canyon Trail. The switchbacks between the saddle and the steel gate, have really nice views south towards Sunset Point. (The antennas at the rest stop are visible to the naked eye.) The final — and BY FAR the best — view is the panoramic vista west towards the Bradshaw Mountains from the Antelope Creek Rd. trailhead. Stunning. Would be an awesome car camping sunset spot. 🌅

Regarding the switchbacks, there’s got to be dozens of them in the 1½ miles between the saddle and the cairn. No lie. The Black Canyon Trail could have just followed the spur up from the saddle, halving the distance, but is instead highly optimized for mountain bikes. It gets old after awhile, especially on the return trip.

Just past the square steel tube gate at 3.5 miles, I looked up canyon and thought I saw a foundation, which I believed to be part of a nearby mine. ⚒️

At the jeep trail, I turned south towards the mine. No artifacts laying about, unless you count a shot up metal tank. The adit had a locked door and warning signs, so I settled for aiming my camera over a gap in the transom. After the mine, I hey diddle diddled up to Antelope Creek Rd. Turns out Cordes is a mile east. 😏

I did a little off trail on the way back to the gate. Turns out the “foundation” was a very pronounced vein of white rock. Looking at satellite view, there are many other obvious veins in that area. There is Verizon reception south of the gate, probably because of the antennas at Sunset Point. After a short lunch break, I hauled butt back to Government Spring.

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/490547461
Named place
Named place
Bradshaw Mountains
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Nov 18 2020
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Dixie Mine Trail - MMRPPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 18 2020
kingsnake
Hiking11.65 Miles 1,460 AEG
Hiking11.65 Miles   4 Hrs   21 Mns   2.68 mph
1,460 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
After two weeks of minimal physical activity, including seven days sitting in my car, driving to & from Maryland, I needed to do some real physical exercise. Not just walking around my neighborhood, or to the post office. With November temperatures in the Phoenix area typically a moderate mid-70s, I figured it was time to start my winter routine of lower elevation locals hikes.

Since I hiked the Windgate Pass-Bell Pass Loop, in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, around this time last year, I figured I would return to the area. My orginal idea was to hike up Thompson Peak, but I reconsidered after comparing my lack of recent climbing to a hike that has been described as “extremely steep” and “laughably steep”. ✋

The easy first 2.5 miles of the Thompson Peak climb are actually on Dixie Mine Trail, so I settled for doing that out to Dixie Mine, then looping around the hill that hosts the mine on Prospector Trail, Bell Pass Trail, Windmill Trail and Coachwhip Trail, ending with a short mine explore, before heading back to the Golden Eagle Trailhead.

The Golden Eagle Trailhead has his & hers restrooms, but some gentleman chose to instead use the baby changing station. 🥴

Walking along the sidewalk, I dreamt about hitting the PowerBall, so I too could afford one of the luxury villas. 💰

On Thompson Peak Rd., I was passed by a work pickup, that took longer driving up to the antenna farm than I did hiking up to Prospector Scenic View.

As I was hiking clockwise, Prospector Trail was the only real climb of the day, gaining 500 ft. in 1.3 miles. The scenic view was okay, but there is no shade or rest bench. In fact, no shade anywhere on the Dixie Mine Loop, other than in the wash below Dixie Mine’s tailings pile.

Other than an occasional wash crossing, from the southeast slope of McDowell Peak, it is gradually downhill all the way back to Golden Eagle Trailhead.

It never occured to me there might actually be a windmill along Windmill Trail, but there is: If you turn right into the wash just past the tool box, the windmill is about 200 yds. “downstream”. No idea what remains of it.

The McDowell Fire burned 615 acres just to the north of the Coachwhip Trail back in August. Since our summer monsoon was non-existent, I could still see some of the red retardant drops.

I turned right back onto Dixie Mine Trail, from which you can see the tailings pile most of the way. In ¾ of a mile, it rejoins Thompson Peak Rd. After just a few feet, turn right up a rough path. In 300 yds., you will be at the top of the Dixie Mine tailings pile. I found a few feet of wood oar cart tie and several small concrete foundations. The shaft was covered with both chicken wire and, atop that, a heavier, wider-spaced, rebar “net”. The rebar could handle human weight, and you won’t fall through the space, but I didn’t feel comfortable stepping into the middle, so I flattened myself and crawled out to take down-shaft video. There was water at the bottom. 📸

I waited for the famous Fountain Hills fountain to erupt at the top of the hour, but could not see it from the top of the mine. Instead, I headed down into the wash, where there are two adits: The smaller just “no trespassing” signed; the larger gated & locked. The highlight though, was the really cool mine diagram (see photos).

After checking out Dixie Mine, I booked it back to the Golden Eagle Trailhead, whose baby changing station hadn’t been cleaned. After a swing by the Fountain Hills Mickey D’s for my standard post-hike Filet-o-Fish meal, with large fries, extra salt, I was back home by 2:30 p.m. And THAT is my favorite part of locals hikes: An early end to my day. 😁

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/482268881
Flora
Flora
Saguaro
Meteorology
Meteorology
Sunrise
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation None
Nada ... unless you count the purple ones planted along the sidewalk in Eagles Nest.
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Nov 04 2020
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Tucker Creek TrailCentral Little Rock, AR
Central Little Rock, AR
Hiking avatar Nov 04 2020
kingsnake
Hiking6.36 Miles 50 AEG
Hiking6.36 Miles   1 Hour   48 Mns   3.53 mph
50 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Flying is miserable enough without adding coronavirus masks, and subtracting airport bars. So, I decided to drive 2,200 miles from Phoenix to Hagerstown, MD, for Halloween.

I was going to leave on Monday, but then I saw a forecast for an ice storm in the southern plains, and I wanted to get ahead of it, so I threw a bag together and headed out the door. I made 700 miles to Amarillo the first day. On 4½ hours sleep, and despite three hours of driving in that ice storm across the Panhandle, followed by 10 hours of heavy rain, I made 940 miles the second day to Terre Haute, IN. Even though I-70 is one long construction zone across Indiana, the third day was a relative breeze. But it was a lot of driving. 🌨

After Halloween, and another hike along the C&O Canal, I took four relatively leisurely days to drive back to Phoenix. I spent the second night in Conway, AR, but I arrived at only 2:30 p.m., so I decided to go for a leg-stretching hike. (Read the description I just added.)

The Tucker Creek Trail rail is is clean as it winds through some nice neighborhoods. There is some garbage in Tucker Creek though.

Something I forgot from the description, is that there was a bicycle tire pump stand along the path.

The water was enough that I spotted both a heron and an egret. I’m sure there’s frogs or toads as well. 🐸
Named place
Named place
Tucker Creek
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation None
I could tell the hills of Arkansas would have been spectacular a month ago, but there was very little color left.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
Kinda late in the year.
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
Oct 30 2020
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
C&O Canal MP 31-44.6, MD 
C&O Canal MP 31-44.6, MD
 
Hiking avatar Oct 30 2020
kingsnake
Hiking15.23 Miles 208 AEG
Hiking15.23 Miles   4 Hrs   40 Mns   3.26 mph
208 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
I had originally planned to hike the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath eleven miles from Edward’s Ferry to Monocacy Aqueduct for my first Easter hike, and then nine miles from Monocacy Aqueduct to Lander Lock 29 for my second Easter hike, but the coronavirus panic scotched those plans.

I really want to be able to complete the C&O Canal’s 184 miles with two day hikes, twice a year, so to get back on schedule I planned two 14-mile hikes for our Halloween visit: First Edward’s Ferry (MP 30.9) to Noland’s Ferry (MP 44.6) on Friday, then Noland’s Ferry to Lock 31 (MP 58.0) at Weverton Cliffs on Monday. 💪

Since the C&O Canal is basically flat as a board, and the towpath is smooth & obstacle free, that effort was within the gift of a 58-year old fat man’s abilities.

This year, rather than flying, I drove from Phoenix to Maryland. Having passed through the hills of southern Ohio, West Virginia and western Maryland, the fall color was well past peak. Basically browns, with only scattering of rotten banana yellow leaves. So, I was not expecting much from hiking the C&O Canal, other than the usual array of interesting engineering and Civil War markers. (Primarily from the Antietam Campaign.)

At Edwards Ferry, we saw some folks walking in the door of Lockhouse 25, , so we followed them, figuring it was a tour. Nope! They were staying overnight as part of the Canal Quarters program. That was embarassing … 😊

There is some controversy over whether the C&O Canal structure at Broad Run was a culvert or aqueduct. There are tons of culverts along the towpath, but none I have so far seen have the heavy stone structure that is at Broad Run. On the other hand, if Broad Run was an aqueduct, it’s awful small compared to Seneca Creek Aqueduct or Monocacy Aqueduct.

At Whites Ferry, it was cold enough, I bought a hot coffee in the bait shop. (There is a restaurant open in warmer months.)

Woods Lock 26 had a lockhouse, but all that’s left is the foundation. I assume all locks had a lockhouse at some point, but many I’ve spotted on my C&O Canal hikes have not. The cool part, though, was that perched on the edge of the lock, right in front of a spooky old tree, somone had left three jack-o’-lanterns. 🎃

Rather than refilling my water bottle from an iodine-treated campground well pump, I met my wife at the Dickerson Conservation Park trailhead for a fresh bottle. My left foot was getting tingly, but with only a ⅓ of my hike remaining to Nolands Ferry, I pressed on.

Where the trees were mostly empty of leaves early on, the fall color got steadily better — though never great — the further I hiked.

The massive 853MW Dickerson Generating Station is powered by coal, gas & oil. The plant borrows up to 400 million gallons of water out of the Potomac River every day, to cool steam pipes. The warmed water is returned to the river via a 900 ft. long concrete discharge channel lined with boulders. The discharge channel doubles as an Olympic-level kayak course. I was not expecting to see any kayakers training, but was hoping to at least take a look at the course. No such luck: It was gated & locked. 😕

By the time I got to Spinks Lock 27, I was starting to suspect my left foot tingle was more than just a hot spot: It was getting painful to walk on.

The Monocacy Aqueduct — whose seven arches span 516 ft. — is one of the highlights of the C&O Canal. Each aqueduct was made of whatever stone could be locally quarried, white & pink quartz sandstone in Monocacy’s case. Of particular note, Monocacy Aqueduct is so massive, Confederate general D.H. Hill was unable to blow it up during the Civil War. 🧨

My ever faithful shuttle driver, aka wife, was at Nolands Ferry waiting for me. I had left loafers and regular socks in my SUV. When I took my left hiking shoe off, I discovered a massive blood blister under my big toe callus. Yikes! Even after two days of resting, I did not think it was wise to push the matter and do my second planned 14-miler to Lock 31 on Monday. Relucantly, I cancelled. Not sure what I’ll do now about completing my C&O Canal “thru” hike …

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/477365633
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
Oct 19 2020
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
North Mountain - PhoenixPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 19 2020
kingsnake
Hiking2.55 Miles 624 AEG
Hiking2.55 Miles      45 Mns   3.40 mph
624 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Got some travel coming up, so not going for an “away” hike this Thursday. Instead, I will be climbing North Mountain by the steep dirt trail that heads up from near the National Guard armory.

In preparation for that, a few weeks ago, I figured I ought to start including some elevation gain amongst my normal weekly expeditions to the Mogollon Rim. Per usual, I take the less steep paved access road.

Today, I set personal best time, falling a hair short of the sixteen minute barrier at 16:10. 💪

So, that’s the only reason for this blog. 😆
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
Oct 15 2020
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Loy Canyon Trail #5Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 15 2020
kingsnake
Hiking8.39 Miles 1,064 AEG
Hiking8.39 Miles   3 Hrs   9 Mns   2.66 mph
1,064 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Google Maps recommends getting off on AZ-260 in Verde Valley, but then you have to negotiate traffic and a bajillion roundabouts in Cottonwood. Instead, I got off at Cornville Rd., and that went smoothly. My wife dropped me off at the trailhead, then went to explore the Honanki Ruins. (Which has pit toilets.) 🚻

The ranch dog barked at me as I hiked along the Hancock Ranch fence line, so I did not stop to photograph the buildings against Loy Butte. Hancock must not be a working ranch, as I did not detect the presence of any cattle (i.e. no cow pies).

The first ½ mile of Loy Canyon Trail #5 is through typical desert scrub. Despite previous triplogs to the contrary, I found the next 3½ miles, to the foot of the switchbacks, has mostly pretty good shade throughout the day. Just hints of fall color on some of the smaller shrubs. After a dry summer monsoon, flowers were scarce.

The best red rock photos were on the west side of Loy Canyon, partly because the canyon wall is closer to the trail, and partly because the sun is not backlighting it. The trail passed within feet of several interesting rocks, the first a red sandstone alcove, the second a lichen-spotted number at a wash crossing. All the wash crossings were bone dry.

The further the trail goes, the canyon walls start changing from orange- to cream-colored.

At the foot of the switchbacks, I swapped water bottles, then started back down. I figured I'd save the Secret Mountain-top trails for a drive down FR 538 from Flagstaff. On the way back to the trailhead, I took a longer (15 minute) lunch break back at the alcove. No vinegar chips, because for some reason the QT had been out. 😢

On the drive back home, we saw a big, dark, smoke column that from our angle was rising over I-17 at Sunset Point. "Thankfully", rather than being the daily I-17 blockage, it was the Horse Fire, deep in the Bradshaw Mountains. 🔥

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/469547237

(My first new video posted to Vimeo: I've been gradually posting my catalog there, and updating Haz triplogs, as YouTube still has me suspended ...)
Named place
Named place
Loy Butte Secret Mountain
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
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Sep 30 2020
kingsnake
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 Guides 92
 Routes 213
 Photos 8,826
 Triplogs 699

59 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Maverick Canyon - Merritt Draw LoopPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 30 2020
kingsnake
Hiking6.24 Miles 453 AEG
Hiking6.24 Miles   2 Hrs   44 Mns   2.28 mph
453 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
On the drive up AZ-87, my wife & I hit a construction delay a mile north of Payson. In 10 minutes, no car moved either direction. Thirty more cars had arrived behind us. So, I doubled back into town, then took paved Houston Mesa Rd. to Whispering Pines, then dirt Fire Control Rd. / FR 64 to the town of Pine. The bypass doubled my distance, and halved my speed, but at least my wife & were moving. 🚧

As I’ve mentioned several times this year, Rim Rd. / FR 300 is in the best shape I’ve ever seen it. Despite being in such good condition, as we passed by Milk Ranch Point, it was obvious there had been even more recent construction, including fresh gravel. At the top of Miller Canyon, we had to stop for another road crew. At least were the only vehicle waiting, and we enjoyed chatting with the flag guy.

Four hours into a three hour drive, we finally arrived at the head of Merritt Draw, parking at the intersection of FR 139 and FR 9735P. After my hike, rather than repeat the agony of construction delays, we headed east to the end of Rim Rd. / FR 300 — stopping at Woods Canyon Lake along the way 🍦🍺 — to AZ-260, then back into Payson. It was longer, but took less time, due to no construction.

There are three “corrals” in the prairie, I assume to protect the vegetation. The corrals are each surrounded by 6 ft. high non-barbed fencing, that used to be electrified:

Corral #1, at Whistling Spring, was 72 paces wide by 214 paces long. (So, about 200 x 600 ft.) Corral #1 contained a small cluster of youthful aspen that had not yet turned.

Corral #2, at Merritt Spring, was 78 x 142 paces. There was some, but not much, water in the drainage below Merritt Spring.

Corral #3, the largest at 78 x 342 paces, has no named spring. There’s a gate at the southwest corner, but I did not open it. On the south edge, there is a small, non-functional, solar panel that used to power the fence. Inside the corral, several trees were individually fenced. Odd. 🤔

After checking out the bird station, I left the prairie, crossing FR 9735P into the tighter part of Merritt Draw. Though it never got really bad, I did feel the effort of low crawling several logs, as I had not hiked the previous two weeks. (House issues. Yippee.) There is a goat trail up the west bluff a ½ mile before Maverick Canyon, that looks like it connects to FR 9732P or FR 9709F. There were several small pools of water, but no flow.

At the junction of Merritt Draw and Maverick Canyon, bailing up the bluff did not look difficult at all. On satellite view, Maverick Canyon looked more tangled than Merritt Draw, but from the junction it at least started out okay, so I continued my fall colors search up Maverick.

Whereas Merritt Draw was mostly pine (with a few aspen), there was oak, and especially bigtooth maple, on the floor of Maverick Canyon. The first 200 yds. or so, there was some early color high up in the maple, but none yet in the oak. After the maple, Maverick got a bit congested. I side-sloped for maybe a half mile, before it opened back up. From that point back to FR 139, Maverick was smooth sailing, as clear as Merritt Draw had been, but with more golden, fallow, bracken fern. 🍂

A mile up Maverick Canyon, it splits: Grasshopper went left; I went right, and am glad I did. In another half mile, I encountered a grove of bigtooth maple that was only a mile from my trailhead, if I'd gone clockwise. Gorgeous trees full of lime, yellow, orange and crimson. Often mixed amongst each other for bold contrast. I was the best fall color variety I have experienced in 10 years of hiking Arizona! 🤗

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Unfortunately, YouTube has "suspended" me, for what I do not know. Especially given I don't talk politics, post pr0n, harass / cancel people, or anything similar. (Social media companies rarely tell you what you did wrong: The fear of the unknown causes most to self censor themselves. Hopefully, I get unsuspended, but in the mean time, I am looking around for a new video hosting site. Probably Vimeo.

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/464744541 ⬅ My first Vimeo effort, so please give it a 👀 and let me know if it works / how it compares. Thanx! 🙂
Culture
Culture
Cag Shot HAZ Food
Named place
Named place
Maverick Canyon Merritt Draw
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
Two spots in Maverick Canyon -- one near the top, the other near the junction with Merritt Draw -- are really good for maple right now.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
I found one paintbrush (at Corral #3), occasional dandelion, one Richardson's Geranium (in the dense part of Merritt Draw), light fleabane, one Canada violet, and one small cluster of Wheeler's thistle in Maverick Canyon.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Maverick Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Merritt Spring Dripping Dripping

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Whistling Spring Dripping Dripping
_____________________
http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
average hiking speed 2.45 mph
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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.

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