Amy and I joined her sister Tracey for a mellow paced ride with ror Fitness group. I liked that the start time was 9:30am but unfortunately, an overnight front came through with a little rain and behind it, ferocious winds. The wind was already 17mph at the start and would become stronger.
We regrouped several times and at one stop, a member of ror happened to be driving by, stopped and passed out cookies. We rode through the 49er neighborhood and emerged on Tanque Verde Road. I noticed the building wind was directly behind us and assumed there would be a Strava segment available so I....
....put in a good effort and zoomed up the standings for a mile segment. If only I always had a tailwind like that whenever I rode, ha, ha. And now, it's Saturday morning and I am an anxiety filled Buckeye fan. Although we are 15-1 in our last 16 games against the team up north (who shall remained unnamed) and have a distinct talent advantage.....
....ours is a very young team, the game is in Ann Arbor, the temp is in the low 30's with some snow. I'm not all that confident. Maybe I should go for a hike.
I organize hikes on behalf of a group that numbers almost 3900 members. My hikes tend to be on the difficult/adventurous side of the ledger so only about 1% of the members sign up which is really too bad. For the one percenters who participate, we have had some awesome hiking experiences. Today was not an exception as we gathered at the trail head and looked at Superstition Peak, the high point in the distance.
The first 1.5 miles has an average grade of only 7% and brings us to prominent hieroglyphics etched into the canyon walls. While way interesting, after viewing them most of us swiveled our heads to look at our destination, the peak.
We had a good look at the Balancing Rock as we made our way, up canyon. The average grade from where we paused to view the rock art to Superstition Ridge would be 21%. It seemed much steeper.
There were several "walls" that were climbed and throughout....
....amazing views. One was the jagged edge of the formations to our east. It's just a surreal landscape and so beautiful.
As we close to the ridge, we pass through another steep section that had a lot of loose, shale-like pieces that made the footing treacherous. It was worth the effort as once we gained the ridge.....
....we had views into the interior of the Superstitions, including the magnificent, Weaver's Needle. Looking just a little to the left...
....we saw a narrow, yellow band of rock, Battleship Mountain. It looks so insignificant from this distance. Above it to the right is Geronimo Head and farther to the right is Malapais Mountain than farther in the distance is the Four Peaks Wilderness. Dang what a great region in which to live and hike!
Surprisingly, we discovered we had cell service so there was some checking of emails, lol. Mostly my fellow hikers admired the views. After a break to refuel, we now had to follow the ridge to Superstition Peak. Hardly a straightforward walk though.
There were several obstacles that had to be climbed or....
A large gap had developed in our line. Marc G, a very generous and giving member of our group who looks after those at the back of the line, notified us that a new hiker, Marcia, had been stuck by a spine and was bleeding profusely. Fortunately, a bandage was applied and she was good to go.
We had been following the Ridgeline Trail until we reached a cairn that indicated it was time to break from the trail for the final ascent to the peak. In the above image, to the right is part of the rock formation known as the "Three Sisters". The hoodoos were numerous and fabulous.
One last wall to navigate and.....
....we made it!!! All were in high spirits but unfortunately, one member of the group had a problem with one of the walls because of the exposure so had to stop and wait for our return. Not the first time that has happened but I was sorry that he was denied this exhilarating experience.
Soon, we began the descent.
While pausing for a regroup, I asked to have my picture taken, hugging a hoodoo. This was one of the smaller ones as others soar well above us.
During the descent, many of us fell. Not doing cart wheels into an abyss but losing our footing and then encountering cactus or rocks to break our fall. I'm sure I've never had so many people fall during any previous hike. Even....
....Amy slipped and had to bend over to have a couple of spines removed from her rear, ha, ha. Tweezers came in very handy today. We all made it back to the parking lot having hiked 8 miles with 3000' elevation gain. A very difficult but enjoyable hike.
Jack, a Wheaten Terrier, is the unusual case of a dog who really dislikes a drive in the car. He seems fine when the car is at rest but once moving, he'll stare into the seat rather than look outside. Oh well, he has so many fine attributes otherwise.
The Cyclefit group planned a 76 mile ride but my cycling endurance wasn't up for that so I drove to Saguaro East NP and waited for them at the top of Freeman Road. Great view from here. We did the long climb up Spanish Trail Rd, made a right onto Pistol Hill Rd.....
....and regrouped at the top. I managed to hang with the group to the regroup point my lack of cycling fitness was telling so I spit the bit at the 20 mile mark and soloed back, finishing with 37 miles and a 17.2 avg. Really need more saddle time. Big, big hike coming later this week.
I'm in Apache Junction and driving to the Hieroglyphics trail parking lot. I've read about an alternative "route" to Superstition Peak (high point in the distance) and want to check it out.
At the trail head, there is good information about some of the early prospectors and the story behind the "Lost Dutchman Golf Mine". There are many cars in the parking lot but 99.9% of the hikers are making their way to the fabulous Hieroglyphics Canyon and along the way.....
....we get a good look at the Flat Iron and higher peaks. After 1.5 miles and a 600' elevation gain, the artwork.....
....appears and is plentiful. I managed to walk by the departure point for the "route" so backtracked and activated the GPS route on my cell phone.
Looking down canyon, just beautiful.
I reached the point on the trail where I should have departed. The sun was rising above a nearby ridge. I had read two hike reports, both of which stated that the route had plenty of cairns and easy to follow in most places. Ahhhhhh......
......no! I found 0 cairns and so, at some point, someone came through and swept them away. I could see the balanced rock (upper right in image). Assuming there were cliff-outs or other obstacles, I checked my phone frequently to see if I was on the route. That of course, drained the battery and soon I was down to 30%. I reached another ridge and....
....saw, ok, the route parallels the above wall and ends up around the balanced rock which is just left of the above image. Upon reaching that, maybe the cairns pop up but if I have to use the GPS route, I'd be out of power. It's not unusual for me to attempt a route a time or two before finishing it and now I know how to reach the balanced rock, I'll be back and finish it. I turned and....
....looked at the Hiero trail to which I eventually returned. Lot of people traveling the trail and I ......
....enjoyed the views to the southeast which included Picketpost Mt, center right with the prominent peak. Finished with 3.6 miles and 1000'+ of climbing.
Slotted in with the Cyclefit group, 15 of us for a 35 mile ride around Oro Valley and one stop to fix a flat. The quality of the pavement in OV and the adjoining Marana is great. Finished with a 17.6 average. And then.....
....hooked up with Amy and hiking friends Katheryn and Brenda to do a 6.5 mile loop hike on the east side of Tucson.
Our route would take us up the left side of the canyon in the foreground via the La Milagrosa Trail, cut into a canyon, climb out of it and return via the canyon in the background.
It's a pretty good climb before a descent into the above canyon that still held some water in spots. Interesting rock formations.
At about the 2.5 mile point, I located the above cairn that indicated where we depart the trail and get on an unnamed social trail where we had good views of....
....Aqua Caliente Hill or maybe that is the false summit and the real one is just beyond. Tough hike either way. We continue to descend and soon....
....have a good view of a canyon bottom that is covered in monsoon inspired growth. There has been enough traffic that the trail was not difficult to follow. We hiked down canyon for a little while before ascending....
.... the trail and having good views to the southwest. Simply amazing growth of grass and other vegetation.
We begin our final descent and pass a water tank made for wild life although there is not much water collected.
A long dead saguaro is tilted toward us and allowed a good look inside.
The gang continues downward and soon finishes our loop hike. Next week I'm guiding a group to Superstition Peak, a truly epic hike but traditionally it is an out/back route kind of shaped like the number 7 except if it was reversed. I've read about a route that essentially finds the missing side of the triangle so I can turn the route into a loop. I'm going to check that out tomorrow!
It was suggested that I take a ride through an east side neighborhood to see an impressive array of Halloween displays. It's fitting that as I begin my ride, I encounter a "good witch" (Amy) who is sweeping glass from a road that caused her a flat tire earlier in the week.
The early morning light was not ideal for taking today's images and some details were washed out but good enough. I thought the above scene was funny.
Another creative display. There was a lot of yellow tape in front of the yards and a local explained it was to herd the people to where candy was given and away from yards. Without the tape, people just swarm from home to home, trampling plants.
Another funny display with a skeleton dressed in black, dancing to the music of the skeleton sitting in a swing.
I talked to 3 residents and the overwhelming sentiment is the scene is insane once people arrive for Begger's Night. One guy said two years ago he gave away 1300 pieces of candy in the first 90 minutes. He had 1500 for tonight and that was likely to be exhausted. One couple used the excuse of the virus to avoid trick or treaters when in reality, they just needed a break from the chaos.
It being early in the day, a lot of blow-up displays were not yet in full bloom but a few were.
The neighborhood is in the 49er golf club development of Tanque Verde Road. Well worth a visit.
I scheduled our group hike for a Friday to avoid the overcrowding typically found on the weekend and glad I did. Plenty of spaces available today at the Peralta trail head. We are on the Peralta Trail for only a few steps before ascending the Dutchman Trail and soon.....
.....stand at the rim of Barkley Basin. The prominent feature in the distance issue Miner's Needle, our midpoint destination.
It's a beautiful hike although the damage left from a fire that swept through here last summer is still obvious. The summer monsoon caused lots of regrowth but we noted there are many saguaros, standing with fire damaged bases. Some of those have yet to topple.
We spend 2.8 miles on a mostly gradual climb which affords good views of the "eye" of the needle and its surrounding structure. OK, my image doesn't do a good job capturing the eye but it is that tiny blue dot, upper right.
Of course, there are other, fascinating shapes to see including....
....the above. Looks like a snake's head on top. We've been paralleling Miner's Canyon on our left before reaching the head of that and then....
....the base of Miner's Needle. Small blue dot on the left is once again the eye. And yes, the legend is the sun or moon, shine through the eye and illuminate a spot on a slope, showing where gold is buried. Good luck as it does so one day a year, briefly at some point during that day. Our group of nine now depart the Dutchman Trail, work our way to the saddle on the right and then....
....ascend a very steep, rock slope where we eventually reach....
....shade! The eye can not be reached by foot but the prominent notch above can and to my surprise, everyone makes it including.....
....a traveler from Australia, Jake. He was a fun and interesting addition to the group, traveling the US and getting in quality hikes.
I crept to the edge and looked down. I have an irrational fear of a wind gust or a push from a fellow hiker so I rarely stand at the edge, instead stretching my arms out and taking the image.
Marc G took the above image of me standing at the base of a formation that some in our group likened to a body part. We rested, refueled and began....
....the steep descent, eventually getting back on the Dutchman. We passed Whiskey Spring Trail on our right and descended into a broad wash. All evidence of the trail had been washed away by flooding so I kept heading up stream, looking for evidence of a trail, leaving the wash. Meantime, certain group members enjoyed calling me the name of a well known hiker who frequently becomes lost when he hikes. One has to have a thick skin to hike with these folks. Anyway, I got lucky, found the trail and eventually.....
....we left the Dutchman and got on the Bluff Springs where we found an animal skull attached to the sign post.
Hard to believe this saguaro is still standing, another victim of the fire.
We entered the above wash that still has some pockets of water, then hung a sharp left and climbed out of Bark's Canyon.
It's all down hill from here as we finished our 10+ mile hike with 2200' of elevation gain. Another fun day in the Supes.
Amy's recovery from knee replacement continues with a big test today' Blackett's Ridge. The elevation gain of 1900' and the steepness and rugged condition of the trail make it a good, challenging workout. If she can do this hike, she'd be able to do almost any.
Joining us is new hiking friend, Marcia, who we meet at the Bear Canyon trail head. This was our first visit as all other times we have started from Sabino Canyon. Marcia leads us across a wash as we begin our 7 mile, roundtrip hike.
A front moved through over night, ushering in cooler temps and some rain. The sky was clearing quickly as is the norm as we take a short break and look to the west.
I've mostly given up on Blackett's as a hike destination because I've done it so many times and the descent beats up my lower joints too much. But, I was glad to be going today to witness what was sure to be a thrill for Amy, once she made it to the top.
About 3/4 of the way, we hike through a slope with monsoon inspired grass growth that subsequently turned brown. I've never seen such an abundance and height of grass on this section. I couldn't help but comment how the color of the grass matched exactly with Amy's hair.
She made it! Blackett's is one of the most difficult, short hikes in the region.
The views always inspire as we look across at Thimble Peak.
There are a few other hikers sharing the views with one couple sitting at the end of the ridge.
Another look west and of course....
....you can't ignore the view down, into Sabino Canyon as ant sized people walk the road. After a brief break, we head back to the parking lot. Mission accomplished.
A 28 hour drive when the most direct route is chosen. Through Indy, St Louis, Tulsa, OK City, Amarillo and onward. The early morning in OK had a beautiful sunrise with mist present in the valleys and over water.
I even went through a fog bank.
The sun rises.
I spent a night in Santa Rosa, NM and got an early start but rather than stay on the highway, I took state routes 54 and 70 through rural NM.
The state is known as the "Land of Enchantment" but I rarely see justification for the title. Although.....
....through White Sands is beautiful and as I approach Las Cruces, NM I pass....
....through the Organ Mountains. I've visited NM State University to give a few seminars and it gave me the opportunity to hike to some of the above peaks.
I reach AZ and am now on I10. The truck traffic is heavy as they return from Long Beach or LA with their loads. Am back in my glorious state, the real land of enchantment and hiking/cycling.
While I was rooting around in the woods, I came upon an oak tree that was only about 7' tall. Nothing remarkable about this except I planted it as a seedling, along with 400 others, about 30 years ago. Somehow, the deprivation of sunlight has not deterred it from surviving as its cousins have grown into enormous specimens. I cut a couple of dead ash trees around it so maybe it can now began growing up.
And now I began an unplanned wood splitting task. I enjoy splitting wood by hand but there was so much wood to split and so little time, I borrowed a wood splitter and began.
After over 40 wheel barrows of split wood, I got through the entire pile and now members of my family who endure the cold Ohio winter, have good, dry wood to burn. For me, allowing the ash trees to rot and fall, unused seems such a waste so if I can cut down, cut up and split the wood for their enjoyment, that's a good thing.
I'm in Granville, OH and it is a really neat town. It's as if someone took a town from the east coast, uprooted it and planted in central Ohio. The school system is one of the best in our nation and I'm glad each of my 3 children were able to attend. It gave them a huge head start in college. I note a two story skeleton in the above image.
I also spent quality time with Stella, who enjoys a car ride and a snack of a Fig Newton.
Ohio has many wineries so I met a couple of friends for a glass (or two) of wine before beginning....
....the drive back. During the drive, I actually visited a Chick-fil-a for the first time! Good food! More to come on my return and a couple of hikes.
OK, so I decided to drive the 30 hours to Ohio, yet again. My daughter had some items she wanted from her condo, in Ohio, I wanted to bring my bike and golf clubs and other things so..... The morning drive is tough with a rising sun in my eyes but it doesn't last long and eventually....
....I am in Ohio and in my beloved woods to continue to cut down more dead ash trees. I have no idea how many I have cut in the last few years but has to be around 100.
It's a dirty job. On this day, the temp was around 80 with high humidity but wearing shorts is a problem as the chips gather in my boots.
Then I checked out my grandson, Anthony at soccer practice. The kid has a real motor and a fast runner.
Back to the woods where I usually have to hack a path through the thicket to reach a dead tree.
A front will move through this evening so thinking the remaining leaves would be removed from both the live and dead ash trees, I walked around and painted the "for sure" dead ones.
A visit to my daughter's house to play with Anthony. Thinking he had already had lunch, we grabbed a couple of popsicles. He revealed he had not yet had lunch and then begged me not to tell his mom. I'm probably a bad influence on him as I agreed and told him we left the wrappers in the garage so he ought to remove the evidence. Above he comes running back, having hidden the wrappers.
There is a ravine running behind their house so I took him there to teach him some bouldering skills. Then....
....we dug a deep hole. He's a fun kid for sure.
I drove to Zanesville to visit my 101 year old mother, who continues to live an independent life. I passed the Longaberger Basket which used to be the corporate headquarters for the company by the same name.
Then another grandson visit where we competed in free throw shooting. He wins because he demands he take far more shots than I. But it was a close match, lol.
Our group of 10 arrived at the First Water trail head for our 7am hike to Battleship Mountain in the Superstition Wilderness. I was very surprised that for a Saturday hike, the parking lot was only about 30% full.
We departed, got onto Second Water trail, continued on a generally rolling route, reaching Green Valley which is still not so green since it was scorched last year. We descended a ravine having plentiful black rocks/boulders on either side, some of which populated our trail making the going tedious and then....
....reached the descent to Boulder Canyon. In the distance was Battleship. We'd already seen a tarantula during our hike, marked by a scream from hiking buddy Lorna so what else might we encounter???
Just as we began the down climb to Boulder Canyon, we encountered "Lydia" who had discovered a rattlesnake laying in the middle of the trail. After waiting 15 minutes, the snake had not moved so she turned around, bumping into us. We proceeded as a group made larger by one and soon....
....there it was. No longer on the trail but just to the side. Each of us raced around it, then Lydia continued on but soon stopped and warned us of another....
....rattlesnake. I've encountered dozens of snakes but never like this. Not coiled to strike but content to curl into a ball and rest its head on its body, in a sleep like state. In zoos, sure I have seen this posture many times but not in the wild. It never rattled, just remained as is, surely cognizant we were briskly walked by.
Our new friend, Lydia decided to throw her lot in with us, cancelling her other hike destination and we were glad she did. Reaching Boulder Canyon, we hung a right and began hiking upstream. I've never seen the canyon so overgrown. So much so, I lost the trail that crossed the canyon many times and just had to....
....head upstream and forget about the trail. There were many pools of water but enough boulders above the surface to keep our feet dry. The landscape was so different from all my 8 or so previous visits that I began to worry I missed a turn but then recognized a feature, gathered the group and we....
....ascended a steep slope, arrived at the base of the Battleship and began a climb up the first "wall".
I so much wanted everyone to at least climb the ship and all did so. We looked at the magnificent views which included Weaver's Needle in the distance and much closer.....
....Lower LaBarge Box Canyon and the entrance to the Narrows. So awesome.
Then we turned our attention to what was ahead. The peak is only 3/4 mile away but it is a very long/time consuming 3/4 mile. Many "walls", poking around to find the correct route, obstacles, etc... One choke point is.....
....Fat Man's Pass. I climbed above it and got this good view of the others squeezing through.
As any of us waited for our group to catch up, we could admire the fantastic views around us. The images just don't do it justice. And then.....
....we reached the "bridge". I was pleasantly surprised that we all made it through this section and then all others until we....
....reached the peak. Canyon Lake in the distance as we were surrounded by many prominent point such as Geronimo Head, Malapais Mountain, Weaver's Needle, etc... We rested, took many pics, ate and then....
...began the challenging descent. Again, everyone got through which, given the level of experience and fitness, should not have been a surprise. Of course, having gotten through all that we previously encountered, there really wasn't an option but to keep down climbing.
We arrived at the initial wall, got through that with good gripping shoes of course, and got back into the jungle like Boulder Canyon. We climbed out of that without a repeat encounter with either of the snakes but checking our water, many of us were low. Fortunately, one group member, Jeff, had over stocked his needs and generously shared. I can't say he saved any of our lives but it's possible! We finished with 12 miles and 1800' of climbing, which seemed far less than what we experienced.
I jumped in with the Cyclefit group for a short ride of 26 miles on Thursday. A guy crashed after his front wheel slipped into an expansion joint as he was turning but he was ok other than the usual road rash. Another had a flat tire and a dropped chain so kind of an unwanted, eventful ride. On Friday, Amy and I drove to Sierra Vista so I could participate in.....
....the Sky Island Tour. A record turnout of 300+ cyclists but really, that's not all that good considering its proximity to Tucson and what is a challenging route that took us through the mining town of Bisbee.
Amy was at the 7am start to take pics with her usual, brilliant smile.
And so we were off on our 62 mile route on a beautiful day having a starting temp of 57...brrrrr. That's me, 2nd from the left with the black sleeves. I did not stay in front for long. I hung with the lead group for 5 miles but then dropped anchor and soloed for a few miles before being caught by a group of 12-15. Really enjoyed riding with them as we climbed for about 10 miles. Drafting in a group is such an advantage.
We crossed the San Pedro River a few times. We descended into Bisbee and then began a fairly steep climb of 4.5 miles to....
....a rest stop at mile 38. Almost all of the 3300' elevation gain of this ride is in this 38 mile section. I was kind of beat but knowing I had a 14 mile section that was mostly descending in front of me, I did not linger and got back on the bike. I finished with 61 miles and an average of 16.5mph. Not great but considering my miles ytd, not horrible either. We drove back and a few hours later were hosting a euchre party. I fell asleep while sitting on the couch but that was after the card playing had ended. lol. Hiking on the near horizon.
Hey, sorry for the lack of awesome hiking images but I continue to prepare for a cycling event on 10/2 and then, back to hiking, honest. I ran my car through the wash as my and everyone's vehicle continues to pick up bug remnants at an unprecedented pace.
Typically, when I take a break during a ride, I just sit on the concrete in front of a market. I must say, with all the dead bugs laying around, it's probably not the healthiest environment. So, I was glad to stop at a market that had nice seating.
More rain moved through and with it, cooler temperatures. Looking up at the front range of the Catalinas, I see clouds lingering around Finger Rock. I wonder how over grown the route to the base of that formation has become.
One evening, the temperature cooled into the 60's so I started a fire in Amy's outdoor fireplace. We really enjoy sharing a fire and between my indoor fireplace and her outdoor version, we'll have many opportunities.
I was going to try out a new cycling group called, "Master's Cyclists" but it appeared rain was not going to move out by the 6:30am start so I bailed on that but then Sunday's group ride with Cyclefit was washed out too. Monday morning arrived and with it an awesome forecast as we enter our glorious fall, winter & spring seasons. It was great to not have to get inside by 10am as I rode 61 miles around Oro Valley.
A scheduled start of 6:30am so I arrive at the intersection of Oracle Road and Willow Springs Road shortly after 6am. Hmmmm, no one around as I check out yet another amazing sunrise. This was to be my first ride with the Cyclefit group of which there are 170 members and each of us has to buy a kit (jersey and shorts) to qualify. I followed the sizing chart but when my shorts arrived, I'd have to be 12 again if they were to fit and the jersey, kinda tight too but wearable.
The 6:30am start was more like an arrival time so now I know. I was glad to know a couple of people in the group from hiking or cycling so that was good. One of them, Jere, does tech support for Garmin and was helping a guy who was calling from Ohio. When he learned she was from Tucson, he said he had a friend in Oro Valley, Mark Wilson (me). Small world moment.
Our group of 15 start and stay on Willow Springs Road for the duration of the 40 mile out & back route. The road passes "24 Hour Town" which is the location of a famous mountain bike event held every spring. This being my first ride on my gravel bike in almost a year, I thought it best.....
....to turn around at mile 10ish. The fit of the gravel bike differs from my road bike and I thought I might be pushing it a little if I did all 40 miles. Sure, working the same muscles but not exactly the same with the different bike fit. Finished with 22 miles and 1100' of climbing. My legs felt fine so guess I should have done all 40. It was a good first ride with a friendly group.
My cycling mileage is now getting in three, 40-50 mile rides each week. That requires getting on the bike no later than 6:30am. The longer rides means I work in a break mid ride where I enter a market, grab a Gatorade to refill a bottle, get ice for the bottle, buy a snack (I've become partial to the pepperoni/cheese rollup thingys) and sit on the concrete in front. I enjoy people watching like the above couple. The man was patiently explaining to the woman how to activate the gas pump.
I also work in a short recovery ride the day after longer rides as I did this morning. Smoke from the CA fires is again having an impact on our views.
Another day, another early start from my home as I note the long shadows. The pavement around Oro Valley and Marana is awesome so that's where the majority of my rides occur. But, I've built up enough endurance and with an eye on a bike event in early October, it's time to ascend Mount Lemmon. Grinding up that beast is really beneficial if also painful.
Rather than ride, we made a last minute decision to drive the 2 miles to CSP so Jack the Dog could get some exercise. It was a good idea. We met a woman who has trained her horse to do a variety of tricks, including taking a bow.
The monsoon fueled growth of every form of plant has transformed our landscape. I've never seen it so lush and green.
It really is like walking through a jungle as plants along the trail have been cut back to allow passage.
Typically, the saguaros and other cactus are the lone representative of the color green but visually, they are a bit lost for now.
We reach a point on the trail that opens to the wash. Wow, a decent flow. Surprising because about a mile down stream, there is no visible flow. We continue up stream a little farther and....
......Jack excitedly enters the water, scampering around. We go off trail and begin to hike downstream.
Beautiful but the flow is broad enough that I can't avoid soaking my best pair of hiking shoes.
Toward that knob there is the "hidden falls". I should schedule a hike to that gem while the water still flows.
Amy recently bought a device called, "Chuckit" and it does a great job leveraging your arm speed to increase the velocity of a ball. Actually, it can hurl a ball so far that Jack is unable to track the ball so I dialed back and Jack loved the chase.
A family with 4 children approach so we turn around and go back to where we entered the wash and return via the trail. We were warned that a rattlesnake had just been spotted about 30' from us and sure enough, there it was, coiled and rattling. Dang, I had not bothered to bring my hiking pole so not much I could do with it. It was under some brush and I would have liked to have coaxed it elsewhere as it was a danger to the many dogs and people who frequent the trail. Maybe after we left, it calmed and slithered away.
Ugh, up at 4am, out the door by 4:30 and on my way to Willcox. AZ for the Willcox Flyer bike "race". For liability reasons it's not promoted as a race but pretty much all 300+ who show up are there to compete against everyone else. I participated in this event the last time it was held, 2 years ago, and like that time, I came woefully unprepared. My longest ride in several months was 45 miles while the Flyer is 66 miles. Driving through Willcox on my way......
....to the historic downtown from where we would launch, I passed a Dairy Queen. A memory came flooding back. It was me, 2 years ago, finishing the event and during the 3 mile ride to my hotel, I had to turn into the DQ so I could sit in the shade at the back of the building! Painful day and so this morning I had an epiphany; ya know, I could ride something less than 66 miles!!!
I arrived an hour ahead of the 7am start and that was about right considering the time it took to pin the race bib on my jersey, register, etc... There was a strong group of cyclists representing Bicycle Ranch and one of this group would win the event with a 20 mile solo from a small, leading group, finishing with a 24.8mph average. Other groups well represented with quantity, if not quality were Sabino Cycles, Cyclefit and Christian Cyclists.
I was still planning to do the full route as we were called to the start line, the Star-Spangled Banner was sung and then we rolled out. I got in with a good group but was burning too much of my very short wick so at mile 7, with a decent 23mph average, I dropped anchor so to speak and began a solo effort.
At mile 18, I crested a hill after a 10 mile climb. I decided that when I reached mile 25, I would turn around. During a descent, a group of Cyclefit people caught me and I enjoyed a few miles of drafting in their group but upon reaching mile 25, turned around.
At about mile 34, I reached a refueling point and then really enjoyed the 10 mile descent off the hill. I finished with 50 miles, 1800' of climbing and a 16.5mph average. I have no regrets about not doing the full 66 mile route. This will kick start a September of much more riding as I prepare for the Sky Island event in Sierra Vista, early October.
Amy, Jack the Dog and I drove a ways up Mount Lemmon to check out the green scene and water falls. I've ridden by Rose Canyon Lake many times but never checked it out so....
....we checked it out. Lots of good camping spots and a stocked lake that attracts quite a few anglers. Amy is now 2 weeks from knee replacement and way ahead of schedule, including....
We paused at Windy Point Vista and took in that always awesome view as behind us, clouds were building for another round of storms.
The view holds so much more green than is typical. It's almost like the Appalachian Mountains.
We also checked out Seven Cataracts parking area and saw a healthy flow of water.
And of course, paused at Thimble Peak Vista. On to the Willcox Flyer ride.
I have to keep it in perspective. If I was in Ohio, during a winter and got in 100+ miles a week....well, I would not be in Ohio during a winter, ha, ha. I signed up for the Willcox Flyer bike event and am ill prepared, unfit, etc... but I really need to get in a good ride. So, I've been riding and admiring the effects of our glorious monsoon.
I ordered two new cycling shorts and went bold on one, black/red. I'm kind of a low key dresser so not sure how frequently I'll be wearing these.
Riding from the east side one day, I visited the Tanque Verde wash and it had a.....
.....healthy flow. A couple of sheriff SUV's were there and they had just rescued someone who decided to try to drive through. Lot of that going on. The 3rd wettest monsoon on record has invigorated.....
....jungle-like growth. OK, also initiated outbreaks of flies, mosquitoes, caterpillars, butterflies, Colorado River Frogs, etc... but it's worth it. I have often said that a summer here is far more livable than a winter in the midwest and that is so true and thinking back on the last 90 days, despite all the rain, probably only 3 days have kept me indoors. The good news is, it's now September and we are on the cusp of glorious weather.
Our epic monsoon continues so when I was invited to join a small group to a previously unvisited, by me, location in Sabino Creek having waterfalls and pools, I gladly accepted. First, we had to trek about 3.5 miles on Sabino Canyon Road, having numerous stream crossing where often, the stream had risen above the road. My companions mostly wore something other than their "first string" shoes while I had not considered that. Hope that isn't a mistake as I trooped through water plenty of times.
Currently, hiking in Sabino Canyon and elsewhere is like walking in a lush arboretum. Flowering plants abound.
The frequent stream crossings provided wonderful looks up and down stream.
Much of our hike was in the shade on a day having a forecast high in the upper 90's. Plenty of humidity so this isn't one of those, "yeah, sure it's 100 but it feels like 85 degrees". No, the conditions felt like hiking in July in the midwest.
The sun begins to crest above Thimble Peak. What a great hike to the top of that earlier this year and due for a return visit as soon as the temps cool. Upon reaching shuttle stop #8, we leave the road and begin....
....hiking upstream. I thought this a particularly beautiful image with the sun shining on the nearby slopes. There were a lot of rocks and boulders, bordering the creek as we continued and soon, glancing to my right....
.....I saw not one but two, black tail rattlesnakes. I suspected a den and other snakes could be in our midst so I let everyone know. Each of us froze, checked our surroundings and determined the snakes were newly emerging for a morning hunt. Both snakes were retreating home so I didn't get the best image...this time.
My eyes are always looking for snakes and I am careful to see where my hands and feet will be before I take a step. On this hike, once alongside the creek, it seemed like a rich environment for rattlers so I was especially vigilant as Diane works her way ahead of me.
We reached our destination and some of us waded in. Since the stream is not fed by snow melt as it would be in the spring, the temperature was refreshing.
We did not linger for too long, regathered our things and unfortunately, the only way to return was past where we had seen the snakes. Oh, while I was waiting for the group, I had been sitting on a ledge and while pushing myself up, dislodged a rock and beneath it, a scorpion scampered away....nice! We approached where we had seen the rattlesnakes and strode cautiously. Sure enough.....
....one of them had reemerged and was laying exactly where we were required to step. The buzz of its tail was rather faint but it was pissed off because once more, it headed back into the den. Since it was taking awhile, most of us dropped down to the stream as an alternative.
We reached a spot that our hike organizer, Bill, described as the criss crossing falls. A guy was posing as his girlfriend took a pic. Some of us again....
....entered the water and even went into an alcove beyond the falls. We eventually got back onto the road and finished with a little over 7 miles. Good times with good people.
August seems to be flying by and I can't wait for the somewhat cooler temperatures to come although the last few days have revisited the 105 degree range. Hard to believe that in one week, the mighty OSU Buckeyes kick off their college football season...yehaw!!! I drove to Canyon Lake Marina to scout a trail with which I am unfamiliar as a short cut to Lower LaBarge Box canyon. I walked across #88 where a finger of the lake stretches up stream into Boulder Canyon.
Unfortunately, the trail peters out at a wall so I retraced my route and headed up Boulder Canyon Trail, looking for a side trail that would cut to the right. The quantity of these Sphinx Moth Caterpillars is ginormous! They are everywhere as I find the side trail and begin following it.
I follow it for a bit but the day is getting hot so satisfied.....
.....although not all that satisfied that I can follow it given grass is growing from the trail, I turn around.
Great view of Canyon Lake and surroundings. I finish with a measly 2 miles of hiking but accomplished what I intended.
I drive out of the area with a last, beautiful look at Canyon Lake.
Amy's recovery is going rather well and after a couple of days, she has eschewed the walker and cane and is hobbling on her own. TP has started and while painful, her mobility is increasing every day. I took a short ride and checked out the wash that crosses Wentworth and Tanque Verde Loop roads. My ride was short, just to keep the muscles loose because....
....I wanted to join the Sabino Cycles shop ride on Saturday morning. Sixteen of us turned out for a surprising short distance of only 28 miles on too many crummy roads. I like the group but the route and lack of distance is alarming for a bike shop ride.
Returning to Amy's we had noticed a new restaurant opened a couple of miles from home called the "Barnyard Crafthouse & Eatery" so we checked it out for lunch. Good atmosphere and menu.
We also took Jack the Dog to a nearby wash where he ran into and out of the water, chasing a stick. Returning home, he was squirted with a hose. He loved both activities. Next day I got in a 45 mile ride and at the end of that day....
....noted the monsoon has shifted east, mostly in NM but it will return as we are now experiencing our 3rd wettest monsoon on record. Well, got a hike coming soon and need to check an alternate trail to get the group to our destination so may do that in a couple of days.