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.