Flyin Tuna, Steve Oxley and others are gathering at 9:00am at Clear Creek Metro Park for a winter hike through the snow. Not sure at which parking lot they are meeting but as you enter the park from #33, just keep going until you see the cars. Likely it is the lot by Starner Road. Typically they pause at the half way point and consume snacks so bring something along that you may be asked to share.
Monday evening, Marty is on the phone and I have set the hook in the fish's mouth. While reeling the fish in, he receives an email from Gord Fraser, yes once again, "that" Gord Fraser, former Canadian Olympian, Tour de France cyclist, retired from pro racing in 2006 but now living in Tucson and lovin it. Marty quickly spits out the hook and wishes me luck. Damn, so I drive alone to the Supersition Wilderness and shove off the Bluff Springs trail.
Less then a mile, I have left the parking lot and its 10 cars. The lot is always full or near full yet I rarely see anyone. I have no idea where they go but not on the trails I take. The views are, as always, spectacular.
Yet, while the views are great, one should never lose focus from the trail because it is almost always rough and rocky and don't want to risk a face plant as I continue towards the first ridge.
Approaching the 2nd ridge, I catch my first glimpse of today's destination, Weaver's Needle, a volcano plug left after the rock around it eroded. Doesn't look like much from this distance but it is spectacular,
Previously, I turned left at the wrong pile of rocks (cairn) so passed it but then later, came to another. I hate the uncertainty, especially since this pile was almost right at the designated turn off the trail. I kept going.
I'm in luck, soon I arrive at a junction with a post that shows my next turn, on to the Terripin trail. My notes say to stay on this for .7 mile to a ridge, cross it for 200 yards then watch for a pile of rocks, indicating where to leave the trail and start bush whacking cross country.
I found the point of departure from the trail and headed cross country. Looking back, I hoped I could make it to the base of Weaver's Needle and circle it to the west side (I was coming from the east) rather than have to retrace my route through this wilderness. Dang, the views are incredible and with temps in the low 70's, what's not to like.....well, it would have been good to have a companion but Marty promised if I ran into trouble, he was on standby for rescue.
The route with rock piles petered out. I was tempted to turn back but so close, I just kept plugging along, working my way up a steep ravine that topped out at a ridge just to the left of this image and then began a very steep walk to the base of the needle. I MADE IT and had a big grin on my face. a trip report I read said this is what would happen if you made it and so it was true.
The needle is on the right while the views, geesh, what can I say? The wind was howling up here and I scouted around a bit, discovering a cave that I think was used by miners as they explored for gold many years ago. On the back side of the needle (north side) the sun never shines but rather than try to hike around the base of this massive rock, counter clockwise, I went clockwise, slowly dropping down a steep slope.
Far below is the Peralta trail, just across a ravine and maybe you can se the trail in the center.
I bid farewell to the way I had come. Doesn't look like much but those rock spires tower over you as you walk through them. From here, they look like ant mounds or something.
Did I say the slope was steep, yep it was. Strange seeing a saguaro so high up. I hiked down a little while working my way towards the north, hoping to catch a route coming down the west slope.
Soon, I stumbled across the route, indicated by the pile of rocks at the top of the image. I was relieved and followed this down to a stream, climbed through it and emerged on the Peralta trail where I found.....
...these 3 heading north on the Peralta trail. Great views, huh?
So, earlier, I reached the right side of the needle at the notch, scrambled up the slope to the base, went around it to the left, scrambled down, crossed a gorge with thick brush and emerged, somewhat triumphant, on the Peralta trail. Ran into a couple at the ridge from where this image was taken that used to live in Cleveland. They had been at this spot back in the 80's and was their first time back.
Kind of steep down the last ravine through an amazing array of rock formations. 8 miles, 3000' of climbing and took me almost 6 hours to finish. On the drive out, 6 miles of which is dirt road, I noticed that the rain had induced some grass to begin growing among the cacti and other plants. Don't think that will last very long.
I welcome input or content from other cyclists so Eve Hush provided the below, very useful information:
Biker Etiquette for the Cycling Male To Attract More Biker Babes of All Ages.
Due to the lack of females not returning to repeat ride it has come to my attention that THE MALE BIKERS need some
1.DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DISCUSS THEIR WEIGHT AND HOW THEY APPEAR IN THEIR SPANDEX OUTFITS.
2.Do not for an extended length of time discuss gear ratios, cogs and weights of certain parts of the bike. This will certainly bore them initially.
3.Do not brag about your average speed and sustaining power up the steep hills. This will scare them away.
4.If there are no porta- potties in sight, please move further into the brush. We do not want the new females to run off the side of the road into a ditch.
5.Do not tell them the all the directions for the ride at once and leave them in the “dust.”
6.Do not as a topic of conversation discuss the conditions of the road for over an hour.
7.Do not traumatize the new person by holding one side of your nostril and blowing your nose on the road.
8.Offer to carry a piece of clothing of hers. This will not damage your average speed tremendously.
9.Do not taut that Male Cyclist make better lovers because of you sustaining athletic ability! She will bolt.
10.Always move aside for the female cyclist and let her get ahead in the bathroom line at the Stop N Rob gas
11.Do not be vulgar on the first ride because you have ridden with the group for years.
12.Do not double fisted eat . This is alternating your food with each hand and talk at the same time. Never brag how
much you can eat and stay slim!!!
It these guidelines are followed our group might expand the female element. These rules do not apply to the long time existing veteran riders such as Janet, Cyndi, Donna and Eve.
I had to go back. I can't say why, just had to at least get to the base of the Needle, which reports say is a cross country slog. From the parking lot, the first objective is the ridge above. some very impressive saguaros that are at least 200 years old.
Some rocks appeared to be teetering on the brink of falling over. What keeps them up?
At the ridge I had awesome views in to the Wilderness. The trail went to the left over another ridge not seen in this image. I was to stay on this trail for 2.1 miles then take the Terrapin trail for about a mile before looking for a pile of rocks that signaled when to start bushwhacking.
After reaching the 2nd ridge, I got my first partial look at the Needle, in the background, slightly left of center.
At roughly mile 1.75, I reached this creek bed and saw a pile of rocks on the large boulder, upper left just above the creek. This was not at mile 2.1 but had to be it, right? Wrong and thus I set off on the wrong route, following the wrong piles of rock.
Geesh, the going was slow through brush and looking for the cairns. Hey, there's one right there. But, frequently I'd dead end and have to walk in circles to find the next pile of rocks (cairns).
I trudged through this valley. A stream crossing especially was difficult. Check out the biceps on that saguaro! Dude has been lifting weights I guess.
One more ridge and I bet that view across the valley to the Needle would be fantastic! Except, I did not make it. The "trail" such as it was and mostly non existent had petered out. No more cairns. Hmmmm, this notch or one off camera to the right but more daunting, another stream crossing that was especially thick......
.....looking back, the rock finger was a return way point if I could not find the rock piles, stay to the left and drop into the valley, then follow a creek bed to a heavy brush area and go up slope and follow it and then.... Screw it, it's guys like me that I read about expiring out here or having to be rescued. Time to turn around but damn it, now it's gnawing at me so I have to go back but this time, take the correct freakin cross country route. I need to bring Tonto along (Marty) to help with the route finding. Ended with around 8 miles.
Kick-off for the Buckeye game was 10:00am, too early to do much but wanted to kill some time so drove to the top of the multi mile climb out of Tucson for the Shootout ride. Maybe Marty would be able to hang with the Cat 1 and 2's who populate this popular ride. Hmmmm, these three were out in front and later learned that's former Olympian and Tour de France cyclist, Gord Fraser leading this group of three.....
....then came two others with a large group in pursuit.....
.....there's Marty. towards the back on the outside. There was some regrouping and then Gord leapt from the pack and only Marty was able to bridge across and the two made their escape. Marty describes the break as Gord taking pulls at 32-35mph then Marty would pull at 28-29, then Gord would take over and they stayed away for 20+ miles back to 4th Street and the finish. Impressive considering the quality of the chasers. Gord last rode with Health Net in 2006 and has many stage wins on the professional circuit.
Marty and I met up with a group of 14 to do an annual hike out of Sabino Canyon via the Phoneline Trail to something called "Laura's Rock". Maybe you can see the trail on the left as it winds in and out of side canyons. We departed the parking lot, crossed a bridge over fast running water and headed up the trail. I had intended to hike at a mellow pace with the others but then some guy wearing black jeans went around me. This is akin to a guy on a recumbent passing you or a "C" cyclist or worse yet, Flyin Tuna passing you. Just not acceptable so I jumped out of the line, set in behind him until I could hear his breathing become labored and turned on the after burners. Marty hung in there while wearing a black backpack that is heavier then what SEAL team members carry when they are going in country for a month. At some point, a water bottle tumbled out of my pack and I had to scramble down a slope to retrieve but then got into a rhythm of jogging and walking.
Marty and I went by whatever is "Laura's Rock" with no notice of it and kept going, eventually dropping down from the slope to Sabino Canyon Road and walking back amid dozens and dozens of walkers out to enjoy the sun and mid 60's temperatures.
After eating a feast of salad and chicken, I jumped on the bike for a 15 mile ride. The summit on the right is Pusch Summit. Been up there a few times but it is cross country bush whacking to the middle summit, Bighorn Mountain. Gotten halfway there once and got weirded out by the solitude I guess so turned around. I'll be back.
Wow, snow up on Mount Lemmon, about 12" I hear. Hmmmm, those trees are beginning to block my view of the mountains. Down here, as I sit, sipping one and only one glass of wine, it is 68. I feel so guilty, talking to my wife, children and mother as they gathered at our house for Thanksgiving today. Fortunately, that guilt was fleeting, it passed in a few minutes. Well, something kind of exciting coming tomorrow.
Long drive to the trail head, especially the last 5 on a dirt road to Peralta trail. Things got interesting early, as noted by many rock spires like the above.
About a mile into the hike I turned to where I had started and saw this cool sight.
Up and up to this....
....higher yet to the same view as previous but from higher elevation and then to the saddle....
....to a view of Weaver's Needle. WOW! The image does not do justice to the majesty of the scene. What you see is a 1000' volcanic plug that was exposed as the softer material around it eroded away. Legend has it that the shadow of the top of the needle shows the way to a vein of gold. Thousands have searched for the gold but so far, no luck. I brought a pick-axe with me to do my share of digging but had no luck, just blisters.
My march continued northward, passing the needle but saw a cool scene to the west, the moon glimpsed over the center of this image.
Continuing my march, I got a good look deep into the Superstition Wilderness.
After 6 miles, the trail ended at the "Dutchman's Trail". I thought hanging a right here would lead me to the east of the needle and back to the parking lot but not certain of that so decided to retrace my route.
Trudging my way back I finally reached the saddle where I first saw the needle and was greeted with this view to the south. Kept going and finished with 12 miles. There is a "way" off this trail to the base of the needle but I did not see it. That would have been fun climbing to the base of the needle. The climb to the top of the needle is rated 4 or 5 so beyond the capabilities of someone without rope but still, getting to the base would be neat so I'll be back, soon.
Yes, just a simple loaf of bread. When my wife arrived about a week ago, we went to Freys grocery store and bought not one but two loaves of bread. I voiced concern that one was ok but two was too many. Like with most things, I was ignored.
Sunday morning, the end of her stay, arrived and I noted there was still an entire loaf of bread and I was due to depart this morning, Monday. Should we throw it away? Should we give it to someone some how or, should I extend my stay until the bread is consumed? At great personal sacrifice, we agreed that I should stay, until the loaf is consumed and so, I will be here for a couple more weeks. Also, Marty Sedluk is here and what kind of friend would I be if I abandoned him, utterly alone in Tucson, rambling about that walled compound of his? Tomorrow, I have a very neat hike to do to something called "Weaver's Needle". More to come.
That's right. One of the blog's cub reporters, Dirty Dan, has taken the assignment to attend the OSU vs. MI game and will call me with a report, which I will file here, if we win. If we lose, an inconceivable idea, there will be no mention here of the sickening outcome. Dirty is foregoing the Pittsburg Dirty Dozen ride, at which the above image was taken last year with Tri-Andrew, but the offer of two tickets and a stipend was too much to turn down.
A gloomy morning met the 8400 cyclists, an unknown quantity of whom abandoned the steady rain, temps in the upper 40's and 30mph winds. As already reported, the Tylers fled to Florida but stalwart Marty was still in town.
Beth and I drove to a point west of the first wash crossing through Sabino Creek on Snyder Road, approximately mile 35 of the 109 route. We had no umbrella or poncho so I asked the woman in blue to signal me when the first cyclists approached, while I sat in the car, and she did.....
.....just as the lead 4 approached (looks like 3 but there were 4 in there. Miserable conditions. Marty Sedluk was very close, like only 10 yards away but that was while he sat in the confines of an SUV, staying warm with Eleanor and watching the action.
Over the top of the hill there is a gas station and one of the front four abandoned. He was shivering uncontrollably as he waited for the team van to appear. From Hermosillo, Sonora and a member of Team P&S, these guys took 4 of the top 5 spots at the finish with Juan Magallanes winning at 4:14. Magallanes rode with the Mexican national team in Tuscany earlier this year where apparently the conditions were similar to today.
The real fun was at the Sabino Creek wash. Here, the cyclists march towards the wash in soppy conditions. Note the guy carrying two bikes.
A fun and wild scene at the first crossing. This is not the main crossing but I could not get across to the main and second crossing. Note the guy in the wet suit with the inflatable around his waist. Also note the while plastic bag around the ankles of the cyclist. That was not enough as the river rose in depth and intensity, overwhelming efforts like this. Considering everyone's feet were already soaked, most just trudged through the water.
Hundreds marched through the crossing but soon, officials closed it, leaving 600+ unable to make it across and given an alternative and quite a bit longer option to get around the water. Of the 8400 who signed up, I have no idea how many started but several thousand did and rode during a day where the rain never relented. After 2 days of rain, this November is already the 7th wettest ever. Two days of rain out of 30 (no rain forecast the rest of the month) and it's the 7th wettest. Several cases of hypothermia reported too, go figure.