It's a short story. Not on the bike, not on a hike but while sitting on a couch, watching Ohio State basketball I was bitten by a rather large dog. Bad enough but while standing at a sink watching water flow over the mangled thumb and blood gushing, I passed out and fell to a tile floor...funny, right? I injured my left knee and had a problem walking for a couple of days but a few bike rides reoriented the knee and so here I am at the Finger Rock trailhead for my first post injury hike.
The prominent rock in the distance is Finger Rock Guard and to its left is Finger Rock. The route takes one to the Guard rather than the Finger. Climbing the Finger requires rope and a lack of fear of exposure.
However, my goal for today is Pontatoc Ridge which is accessed via the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. Off I go on a probably too steep and too rocky hike, all things considered.
The Canyon trail meanders up the canyon cast by the shadow. It's kind of boring while the Ridge trail breaks to the right at some point and is signed so you can't miss it.
I have reached the trail junction, made the right turn and follow the trail as it goes counterclockwise from the north side of the ridge around to the south side. Plenty of spots to walk to a rim on slick rock and look at the magnificent views.
The trail climbs and eventually cuts back to the south side and in the distance, you can see an old mine which is actually where the trail leads. I have no idea why long ago, someone thought that was a good place to dig into the mountain. Yes, the trail does not take you to the ridge but to the mine opening. I have been there once and not all that interesting a location.
I will gain 2300' on my way up so the Guard, Finger and to its left, Prominent Point (not yet made it to the Point) come much closer.
Within, gosh I don't know, maybe 300 yards of the mine opening, there is an unsigned but fairly obvious trail going up hill to the right. Take this to make the top of Pontatoc Ridge. Fabulous destination but be aware, the trail is very steep having an average grade of 35% for the .45 distance and lots of loose rock. Take a hiking pole.
Gaining on the ridge top. Beautiful, isn't it? Another note, several places have no obvious trail so watch for the cairns, which are not plentiful but enough. There is some route finding required in the maze of boulders that you will encounter.
Far below I can see the Canyon trail. As I said, it goes maybe 3+ miles and dead ends with no visual reward for the effort. Yes, you can bushwhack from there across to I think Ventana Canyon or over to the Finger Rock trail but it appears there is a healthy crop of shin daggers on the slopes above.
Hey! Almost there and when I arrive.....
…..grand views of the Catalinas and of course, the end of the ridge.
The sun is coming in and out of some clouds so the colors change as I look to the.....
….northwest and see Rosemont Saddle and to its right, Rosemont Peak. Beyond that is Pima Canyon. My knee has performed like a champ so I am relieved. Of course descending places different stresses but I was good with that challenge too. Anyway, I begin the descent.
A lot of neat rock formations are navigated and as I previously said, pay attention to the cairns. There's actually a prominent cairn in the above image, just to the right of the vertical rock. I also got off the route once, as others have done when I followed a left breaking path that began meandering down the left side of the ridge. Instead,.....
….the route stays high on the ridge. My route takes me through.....
….a healthy grove of Jumping Cholla. Ended the day with 5+ miles and a fairly healthy knee again. Today was mostly sunny with a high in the low 80's but big change coming our way with 3 days of rain!
A never before visited trail head on Broadway, east side of Tucson. I had recently read about "Pink Hill" and a dam that seemed worth a visit and I am always up for seeing a new part of the area. This hike starts in the Cactus Forest Complex of Saguaro East National Park. Be warned, this area is a maze of trails with confusing signage.
Now there's a fine example of a Jumping Cholla cactus.
The flat with slight rolling terrain is at the base of the western side of the Rincons. Wait...those are the Catalinas.....
….ok, here are the Rincons as I look east with a rising sun slightly above.
The trail is one of the few around here that is very runnable so I do so off and on to quicken the pace. I arrive at Pink Hill and am perplexed that it was ever designated as a hill. I'd like to show you amazing far off vistas but the view didn't differ much from standing anywhere else in the area.
I find my way, while passing through numerous trail junctions to this little wash with some standing water.
I cross the wash and in the distance I can see what appears to be a trail rising from left to right toward what is likely Garwood Dam. Garwood was a rancher who constructed a dam in the 1920's and so eventually, I round a curve in the trail and....
….sure enough, there it is! It is located in Wild Horse Canyon. Upon arriving at the dam, I encounter 3 park rangers who are out spraying the invasive Buffelgrass.
Impressive. The area above the dam has filled with silt so little volume to hold water now. The trail leads me on the only real ascent where I drop into the canyon for a quick visit. Looking up and down canyon at the many slick rock areas, it would be a good place for exploring some other time. I retrace my steps and reach....
….the typical signage. There are dozens of trails and without a map, you are screwed for a first time visitor. During my return, I run into two separate couples who have maps but are lost. I help as best I can and tell them I don't want to read about them in the newspaper tomorrow. In each case, I advise them to go back to the trail head from where they started and not attempt to complete a loop which will have many intersections to navigate.
I became lost. It happened at a point where 3 trails merged and each had a sign with multiple and seemingly contradictory diections. Fortunately, I whipped out my gps navigation devise (cell phone with Strava mapping). While the trails are not named on my app, I can interpret the dotted lines and figure out whether to go right, left or straight. I eventually get it figured out and soon.....
….reach a point where I can see the southwest tip of the Catalinas, pick out other land marks and know I am headed in the right direction. Finished with 9 very flat miles with only 650' of elevation gain and no mountain top views:(
Pusch Peak, at the southwest corner of the Catalina Mountains and part of the 57,000 acre Pusch Ridge Wilderness. That this is in my back yard and able to hike or look at it each day is a privilege. It doesn't look like a difficult hike but damn, it is!
The first mile is straight forward and part of the Linda Vista trail system. Not too much dodging of boulders, just an average grade of 16% but then.....
….yeah, ugh. While yes, this is a walk in the park, it is a very difficult climb with times you'll use all appendages to advance higher and higher. The other mile (it's just over 2 total miles!) to the peak has an average grade of over 30%.
The route stays above a drainage before crossing it but just prior to that, a trail comes in from the right that many have mistakenly taken to.....
….the prominent point which is a good mid hike destination. However, I continue onward, catch a few people and soon.....
….leave them behind as they stop to admire the views.
A sign I am nearing the top, the first of 3-4 "dorsal fin" type features that cling to a ridge. Just then, I hear the rumble of thunder.....
….it's well to the northwest and nothing but mostly blue skies to the southeast so I am good to go. After 2 short/long miles and 2600' of climbing.....
….I make it! From the parking lot, I arrive in 1:22, a bit off my best time of 1:09 but still a good effort.
The peak to the right is Pusch with the Cleaver, Bighorn and Table Peaks. From where I stand it is....
….such a different vantage point. Each of the aforementioned peaks is in this image but you'd have a hard time noticing.
I take a long look to the north where I can see the Catalinas petering out around the town of Oracle.
I begin the descent which always take me longer than the climb. I look back one last time and then....
,,,,enjoy the wonderful view to the southwest with the prominent features of the ridge in the foreground. One of the "fins" looks climbable so I decide to come back and explore.
I notice a couple of damns that someone erected to catch water and provide for the 4 legged types that walk this wilderness.
Almost back to the car and one last look back.
The fabulous fall weather continues, with sun, temps in the low 80s, slight wind, blue sky.... A friend had never hiked to the top of Blacketts Ridge so I was glad to show the way. Most consider this the "hardest short hike in Tucson" except it's not (a new hike report coming to demonstrate) but still a really good workout.
After a flat to rolling start of roughly a mile, we head up the Phoneline trail where a small group stands in the shade at the point where Blackett's Trail goes to the right while Phoneline continues straight. The next 2 miles is kind of brutal with an average grade of 16%.
My hiking buddy, Amy, has persevered with a great attitude throughout and she nears the completion and then.....
….made it! Three miles to the top, the latter 2 having a gain of 1700'. In the distance is Thimble Peak.
We are soon joined by others who have made the trek as I look to the west.
The hiking poles come out for the descent as it can be sketchy in places. It's counterintuitive but going down hill takes longer than going up. When we reach the bridge at the bottom of the descent....
….there are a couple of pools of water and a snake is feasting on the minnows who find their environment shrinking by the hour. Finished with 6 miles and a fun time.
A shirt drive from home is the Tortolita Mountains with a nice variety of trails, none of which is a knee buckler, just modest climbing and plenty of it. There is a staff of paid employees who keep the trails maintained. Most trails start from the Wild Burrow parking lot and pass through this broad wash.
A short walk brings you to this station which has all the typical warnings about heat and deadly critters. From this point I can continue on the Wild Burrow, opt for the Lower Javelina or for today, begin....
….climbing the Alamo Spring Trail. Odd formation that gives the appearance each stone was placed by hand to form a wall. Once I ascend to the initial peak, what follows is a lot of up and down climbing through.....
….fairly thick vegetation typical of the Sonoran Desert.
As this is just west of Oro Valley and on the eastern edge of Marana, there are good views of Kitt Peak and the Quinlan Mountains.
I reach a spur trail and decide to take it back down to the wash but before doing so, this gives a good view of looking to the northeast and what lays out there in the way of hiking. The benefit of hiking here is the rigorous pace you can choose to set rather than monster climbing. The most difficult climbs are in the 600-900' variety.
No matter the time of year, some plant always seems to be flowering and the recent rain has no doubt contributed. Finished with 5.6 miles and 1200' of climbing. Fun day on a beautiful day with highs in the low 80's.
I have lost count of the quantity of cold (but dry) fronts that have moved through the area, each dropping the temperature and bringing winds in which I'd rather not ride. Of course, while driving to hiking trails I see plenty of cyclists but since I have hiking as a back-up, that's what I do. So....
….to the Tucson Mountains I go to ascend to Wasson Peak, the high point in the mountain range. The granite stone work always (my 2nd visit) amazes me.
The initial climb, all of it with the granite steps, is .9 miles having an average grade of 13%. That is misleading because the area between steps is flat but the step up, yikes. Upon reaching a saddle, I look east and the peaks I see hide Wasson Peak. Still a long way to go, almost 6 miles in total.
What follows is some rolling to slight ascending with grand views to the north where I spot Panther and Sombrero Peaks. Going to organize a group hike to Panther soon.
Ascending additional slopes and some meandering around other peaks, I eventually spot, in the distance, a little known alternative to the main trail to Wasson coming out of King Canyon. The King Canyon trail condition is really rough compared to the one I see and of course the trail on which I am walking.
I emerge between the two protrusions on the left and merge with the King Canyon trail for the short distance remaining to Wasson. I put in a good effort and gain the peak 1:33 but later saw that effort is 10 minutes behind my best time. This always produces the, "Well, see there, age has finally caught up with you". But then I see I set the 1:23 time just 6 months ago, the strong east wind was always in my face, etc... I can rationalize pretty much anything given the scantest of evidence:) Oh! Look in the distance and note a dust storm has formed out around I-10.
Another look at the alternative trail to King Canyon of which few people know. The King Canyon trail is on slopes facing away from me.
….are awesome but I am surprised to be the only person at the peak. Typically the place is loaded but maybe the high wind forecast has deterred some from the ascent.
As I began my descent I noticed a couple somewhat below the peak, looking at the Catalina Mountains. I rounded a corner and.....
…..wow, a nonvenomous snake!!! I have heard that high winds do something to the ability of rattlesnakes to detect vibration and so they stay under ground. Not wishing to put that theory to the test, I am always watchful.
I exit King Canyon trail, left at the aforementioned place and see the serpentine trail ahead of me.
An odd growth of shin daggers. At least I think that is what this is as the plant has the scary points. I have always encountered them at higher elevation like this but growing as a field not a clump like this. I just have to become better at identifying native plants.
I descend the stairs toward the end of the trail and again marvel and the workmanship. Finished with 11.4 miles and 2400' of climbing. A good workout!
This is a very enjoyable and fun hike. I've done it once before but clockwise so today I wanted to do it in the counter clockwise direction so I'd climb the mountain and subsequent ridgeline from the back side. Brown Mountain is hardly imposing but the several ups and downs beyond what you see makes for a challenging hike.
An unusual sight, 3 barrel cactus and all producing fruit. Not sure when the fruit is eatable. I usually see the cactus growing as a single.
Above is my route so the first half is a nice, rolling hike.
I'm not an expert but I suspect the future is dim for this saguaro. Can't help but wonder how it became like this.
On the left side of the trail I see this hump shaped cluster of debris. There is an obvious entry/exit path and I wonder what has made a home here. Clearly much of the mound has been created by dragging pieces of cactus, leaves, branches....maybe a Gila Monster? No, I don't stick my hand or pole in and poke around to find out.
The first half of the hike ends at a picnic area and close by is the Desert Museum. A must see for any visitors to the area. I take a short break and then head up.....
….where I top out at one peak and can see the trail before me which circumvents a higher peak. Upon reaching that....
….it's a walk along the balance of the ridge and down to the desert floor. Finished with 5.8 miles and 900' of climbing. Just a fun time to be outdoors, warm temperatures and brilliant sun. The odd weather year continues with several approaching cold fronts that are dry but will bring wind and cooler temps that will keep me off the bike and on the hike.
So I'm off. Activated the Strava app and going for a new personal best time on the hike to Romero Pools. While the first mile is flatish, once you hit the slopes, it's a tough hike to the pools.
I arrive at the pools which are full of stagnant water but still a beautiful setting. I hiked as fast as I could, checked the Strava app and.....NOOOOOOO! I had forgotten to push the start button. That just sucks to put in that effort and discover that. Oh well, some time under 60 minutes. I started the app for the return and took my time to.....
….take many pics.
The wilderness frames civilization in the distance.
A squirrel allows me to approach within arm's reach as it feeds on leaves and later....
…..a desert tortoise! I finish the hike, jump in the car and upon reaching home about a mile away, discover I had forgotten to stop Strava. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.
Not an atypical scene in the fall while driving around east, central Ohio. I spent a few days continuing to work in my mini forest and then....
…..a front came through and dropped the high daytime highs into the mid 50's. I spent one more day in the woods with a nice fire going, burning stumps I had left over from my chainsaw use and then.....
…...drove west. I arrived in Hatch, NM the Chile world capital and then on the final day of driving, something odd occurred....
….Nearing the AZ border I noticed around 100 people standing north of I-10 in a field, all staring to the west. Weird like a scene out of a sci-fi movie. I leaned forward in my seat to see if there was something in the sky but no. Then a few cars had pulled off the interstate so I too pulled over. A couple was standing nearby and I asked what was happening. The world's largest, restored steam engine had just crossed the border and was 2-3 minutes out and sure enough!!! Known as "Big Boy" it was making a tour of the southwest and many people have been following it or seeing where they can station themselves for the rare sighting.
And then, back to the beautiful mountains and AZ sun and warm temperatures.
After Thursday's ride, I met a few long time cycling friends in Dublin on Friday evening. Prior to that, I spent the day in my woods. 20+ years ago this was a field before I planted 500 trees, mostly red oaks. I have an emotional attachment to the land and enjoy cutting dead trees, splitting and stacking the wood to be burned by others in the winter.
Vegetation grows rapidly during the summer so it is also fun to clear the paths and burn the brush. Stella is alerted to the sound of something scurrying in the brush. On Saturday, I made a couple of visits to.....
….the Denison University Bio Reserve. On these acres are many miles of trails through mature stands of various trees. At the edge of a field, a few years ago......
….over 70 (I was sickened by it and counted them several times) very mature trees, some over 200 years old, were cut down to make room for a solar farm. Had a fracking platform gone in the college students would have staked themselves to the trees but for a solar farm, just trees, no big deal.
The invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer, originally arrived from China in wooden pallets, has moved east and in its wake, practically every ash tree has died. Plenty of evidence of what once was but fortunately.....
….the woods are full of other species like wonderful, old Beech and some of the....
…..largest red oaks I have seen.
There are also sections of pines and so the variety of the place is amazing.
It's easy to put in a 6 mile hike without repeating any trails while the hills will quicken your heart rate. It was odd to hike or better yet, trail run, without having to look for rattlesnakes. Granville, OH, check it out.
The sun lights the sky behind my beloved Catalina mountains. It is 6am and I have jettisoned reason so I have flexibility. I am driving to Ohio, all 29 hours of it, with my bike, taking it to Rick Miller so he can fix what two Tucson bike shops could not.
An interesting rock formation as I head east on I-10.
Farther east, lot of standing water indicates this area, famous for spawning dust storms, won't be active for awhile.
A rain cloud in the distance but it avoided me as I enter....
…..NM and take a pic of this neat view and also of.....
….a large Roadrunner statue. I'm cutting it close but I arrive.....
….in Ohio on Thursday late afternoon to jump in for the final Cycling Club evening group ride. Only 27 come out, down from the 70-90 cyclists during the peak of the season. Central Ohio has a very strong cycling community. Hundreds and hundreds of lonely country roads that stitch together small communities and farms. The route variety is awesome with steep, punchy hills to the northeast, east and southeast, flat land to the west. If only the weather wasn't so awful but there is the trade-off.
The race for a better bike is constant among all of us and Scott Billman has an especially nice one.
So too does Chris I, who had a variety of custom decals made for his.
Cycling buddy Larry P in the foreground with John and Jon next to him. Only two groups head out, a Rivet/A mix and then....
…..an A/B mix. My fitness being less than ideal since I am coming out of my "off season" I hoped to hang on and did, finishing the 28 miles with a 19.9 average. Always amazed at how much a difference group riding has on the cycling average. A combination of drafting and motivation to stay in the group. Andrew Clayton on the left, counting down the days until he heads south to FL for the winter. There is another trade-off, great winter weather, a much closer drive but the roads are, for me, flat and boring. I decided to ship my spare road bike to Ohio where I friend will store it so I can fly rather than drive. Will never make that drive again, honest.
I drove rather than flew to Ohio for a visit to check on family, friends and property. Each time I drive I swear I will never do it again yet here I go again. Taking my road bike with me so the guy who build it could do what two shops in Tucson failed to do (he did it!). The diagnosis really makes you wonder how lacking in skill are the mechanics at the shops. Anyway, left the sun and warmth of AZ for.....
….the sun and warmth of Ohio until a front came through and left clouds and cold. More to come.
The day after the Sky Island ride, I joined a group of hikers at the Douglas Springs trail head on the far east side of Tucson, part of Saguaro East National Park. The pace was promoted as being medium slow so I knew what to expect and that would be ok after the previous day's ride.
Early on our 3.5 mile hike to the falls, we passed this saguaro in bloom.
We began rising above the valley. Since Tucson is surrounded by 4 major mountain ranges and a number of smaller, I'd be hard pressed to think of a hike that does not require an ascent.
The Ocotillo have gained their green petals and it won't be long before red flowers adorn the ends of these whip like canes.
OK, so the pace got to me after awhile and I took off, arriving at the falls where there were only two other hikers. Prior to the start of the hike dozens of people had entered the trail system and I assumed most had this as their destination but nope.
The flow of water was small but still a pretty spot. I climbed above the falls via a faint trail on the left side and above.....
….there were some flowers in bloom as I....
….sat in the shade, ate, drank and watched for a sign of my hiking companions. They soon arrived and rested at the foot of the falls. I explored some more....
...found some more flowers, climbed down and rejoined the group
After a short break, we began the return.....
…...passing this barrel cactus, among many others, also blooming. The fall in AZ is spectacular.
Although Sierra Vista is only about a 90 minute drive from Oro Valley, the 7am start kind of required me to stay at a hotel. The sun has just risen as participants gather in the parking lot of the host hotel.
A much smaller turnout then what I witnessed for the Wilcox Flyer about a month ago. This is the 4th annual event and should grow because they have a good route, which is a loop rather than the out/back in Wilcox. Approximately 200 cyclists came out.
Check this out! The mayor of Sierra Vista (guy wearing the tie) made a few comments to the group. Also check out the ghastly orange T-shirt. That is what we received in our bag of goodies when I checked in on Friday.
And we're off. We start on a bike path which was too narrow to safely improve one's position so I missed the front group. Emerging from the path and then navigating a neighborhood with too many speed bumps, I get in with a group of 9 which included a cycling friend from Oro Valley, Tricia. I almost got dropped on the first, modest climb of the day as the road headed toward a mountain but just before spitting the bit, I saw we were to make a turn away from the mountain which I correctly interpreted as the end of the climb. I......
….recovered on the descent, barely survived another climb and then we experienced a glorious, 8 mile descent...yeehaw! Arriving at a bridge spanning the San Pedro River, I knew the gig was up and work would begin anew. The road rolled for a bit and then we began a 14 mile climb. I was going well until I wasn't and at mile 31, with a 21mph average, I had to drop anchor from the 4 who remained from the original group.
The road finally stopped rising, dropped a little, rolled through a roundabout with plenty of volunteers to direct me onto the main road through Bisbee which has a large copper mine at its entrance. Thus began a really hard climb of about 5 miles. I was lulled into a false sense of relief when I reached an exit and descended, assuming the climbing was finished but noooooo!!! The steepest was to come as the final mile via Old Divide Road averaged 7%.
I wonder if the copper color or the month of October was the inspiration for the shirt giveaway?
I reach the top of the climb and pause at a refueling station. Nice views into the valley and the town of Bisbee. Having upped my cycling miles for the month to over 600, my legs were in much better shape than what I had for the Wilcox ride. That I had stayed in the group for as long as I did shocked me but of course, leaving the group the average speed plummeted. But....
….my position relative to my peers wasn't bad. I enjoyed a long descent prior to teaming up with another straggler for the final few miles, finishing with 62 miles, 3000' of climb and a 17.7 average speed. Well, back to hiking.
Whoa, too many activities backed up and I have gotten behind. Plus headed to the land of the Buckeyes, a week later than planned. Got to make this a quick report and hope the images satisfy as I need to drop more reports in short order.
What is up with that little smudge in the upper right corner. Beautiful morning for the fitness hike to the top of Blackett's Ridge. From the parking lot, anything under an hour is a good time. My fastest is 51 minutes.
The water is flowing from the recent rains as I cross the bridge and take the Phoneline Trail until it breaks left and then I pick up the very steep BR trail.
The first mile is flat to rolling but once that aforementioned bridge is crossed, the next 2 miles has an average grade of 16% but seems much steeper.
…...in many places.
Nearing the top.....
….yippee! What a great workout. Make it in 57:09. How did I ever get 51:06, which is 5th all time on Strava?
The trail abruptly ends with a good view of Thimble Peak.
Good views all around including looking.....
….into Sabino Canyon as I sit and rest.
A better look of Sabino Canyon where I can see the new, electric shuttle buses taking lots of people to the end of the road. As I said, much more to come.
The rain began on Monday evening with Tuesday being almost a continuous period of rain which is really unusual. Wednesday was spotty rain, same for Thursday and even Friday morning there was some rain. Of course, it provided some beautiful scenes of clouds and mountains.
The view through the windshield. I had people advising me to check weather radar prior to going out but I told them it is like this every 3rd day from where I spent most of my life.
Between the rain I got in a good hike at Linda Vista and even saw....wait for it......
Got in a 40 mile ride on Thursday and was going back out this morning but was turned away by a persistent light drizzle. Climbing Mount Lemmon on Saturday so missing today's planned easy ride was no big deal. Lemmon, ugh that will be slow and painful.
Dramatic images as I zipped in and out of.....
….Catalina State Park. Going to see U of A's first basketball practice this evening but not to worry Buckeye fans, my commitment to all things scarlet and grey is unwavering.
I know my Ohio friends, you've been asking yourself, "Where has it all gone?" Depressing to be sure but wait! There's more!! OK, not a bunch more but 3 more, rides that is for the Thursday evening, Cycling Club group ride. And so the Rivet/A, B & C routes for the 5:30pm start:
And if you've made it this far, I have more. The author of these silly posts, me, will be visiting you soon. Yes, my bike needs a tune-up and Rick Miller is the only person I trust with it. Meantime.....
….in the land of sun and fun....rain. Not a little but a lot! It began Monday, mostly rained thru Tuesday and now into Wednesday morning. For only the 2nd time in the 6 years I've come out, a group ride was cancelled due to rain. I'll have a bunch of pics to put up as some areas around here have received over 3" of rain.
A long time Ohio friend, Belinda, let me know she would be in Phoenix on business, would have an extra day, was planning to hike the Grand Canyon in April, wanted to check out AZ hiking prior to that so.....I depart Oro Valley at 5am, drive across the desert, pick her up and arrive at the Lost Dutchman State Park.
Above her right shoulder, the infamous Flat Iron. Many dreams of summitting have been dashed on the steep slopes so I thought reaching the top of the Siphon Draw, kind of the midpoint, would make for a good hike if we ran out of energy for the top.
The Siphon Draw trail ascends the western side of the awesome Superstition Wilderness. We mostly hike in the shade but to the northwest, the views are terrific with a nice contrast between the sunlight and shade.
Soon, our destination comes into a better view. Did I ever tell you about the two guys who sat on the edge, had a few beers and later their bodies were found at the bottom of the Flat Iron, heads driven into their stomach cavities? Yeah, probably not. Well, put that out of your mind as we continue our story.
Walls adorn the side of the canyon as we......
...continue our ascent. This is a very popular Phoenix (actually east of Mesa near the town of Apache Junction) area hike. Not as popular as the more centrally located Camelback and Squaw Peaks but always a busy day on this trail.
Ah oh, the sun is gaining on us as it lights a rock feature. I like this image!
My trooper friend, who has been working 12 hour days as a CFO at a manufacturing company, is doing well but the steeper slopes are beginning to take a toll.
The Flat Iron is closer and so too the marvelous Siphon Draw, there in the middle, bottom.
We begin our climb and it is way steeper then the image suggests, way, way steeper.
Having reached the top of the Draw, we decided to abandon the Flat Iron for a more reasonable destination, the "mini Flat Iron" which is more of a rolling ascent. We pick up "John"who joins our revised mission and after awhile, reach this point with great views.
After a short break we head back. Above, The Flat Iron, center right with the ravine to the left that is the approach to the top. My first attempt at reaching the Flat Iron, maybe 6 years ago, I made a wrong turn and ended up where we hiked today so it was good to revisit. Having reached the Flat Iron probably 10-11 times, it did not bother me that we did not make it today. As some of you know, I get a kick out of exposing people to these unique hiking destinations.
Check out the arch!
We reach the top of the Siphon Draw and begin our descent. Kind of tricky but I learned the best way to descend is the zig-zag line so some of the steepness is removed. Ugh, I hate how it looks like a flat walk.
The descent is in full sun now and the temperatures is creeping higher.....I love it but my companion is not such a fan. We finished with 5.75 miles and 2800' of climbing so a good day of hiking even without reaching our initial goal.
Driving back to OV, I take a picture of the western end of the Superstitions (called the Supes by locals). So many stories about the place, the lost gold and subsequent searches, avoided by the Apaches because it was considered haunted, deaths, bushwhacking's, practically weekly missions by SAR teams to rescue distressed hikers, my kind of place and fun.
Out the door as a glimmer of light backdrops the Catalinas. Yes, I am once again being stupid and driving to Ohio, 29 hours of sitting in a car. Hard to explain but I like having the freedom of a last minute decision to depart and the need to take my bike to my friend Rick so he can fix what 2 shops in Oro Valley failed to do.
Heading east on I-10 I pass this interesting rock formation.
Soon I pass an area from where dust storms develop but plenty of recent rain will deter the formation of wind driven storms.
Now in NM, I see rain shadows but my route skirts the rain.
I stop to refuel and see this neat scene as well as see.....
….this huge piece of art. Midway through day 3 of driving I arrive.....
….in New Albany, OH and jump in with the Thursday, Cycling Club group ride. This is the final evening ride of the season and only 26 cyclists come out, compared to 70-90 on mid season rides. The area has a very healthy cycling community and hundreds of miles of lonely country roads that stich small towns. Hilly to the southeast, east and northeast, flat to the west it is an ideal cycling area with thousands of short but steep climbs. So different from slogging up the many 10+ mile climbs in AZ. If OH had AZ weather, I'd never leave but it doesn't so.....
Scott Billman and another new machine. Wait, does he shave his legs?????
Chris I also has a new bike and note the custom lettering on the frame. I've gotten behind on keeping track of all the new bikes.
Cycling buddy, Larry P in the foreground next to John and Jon. Two groups will roll out beginning with the Rivet/A as a split squad followed by.....
…..an A and B combined group. Only 27 miles for our ride but still enjoyable. Andrew Clayton on the left, anxious to head south to FL and a winter stay. I've cycled down there often and it just never appealed to me but it is much closer to Ohio. Flat, boring but close proximity to Ohio makes a lot of sense. One thing I decided, I am shipping my other "BH" bike to Ohio so I can ride it when I visit Ohio rather than drive with my newer version. Drive 10 hours, jump on the bike for a group ride makes for a long day.
First, START TIME IS 5:30PM! Had someone text me on Tuesday and ask if the start location had changed cause no cyclists were seen at 6pm. I don't have a composite map to show, only the Rivet/A route but all routes below. Folks, 24 rides down, only 4 to go so come out and enjoy the camaraderie.
The sun is still below the horizon as I ride 6 miles to the start of a group ride hosted by Cat 4 cyclist, Carolyn Audilet. The third Tuesday of every month, the guys are invited to attend this women's only ride. It's too bad for the guys because Carolyn creates the best routes among the ride organizers for GABA (Greater Arizona Bicycling Association).
Nearing my destination, the mountains to the west are just being touched by the rising sun. Beautiful as always. The somewhat humid air has been swept away so rain chances are nil for a few days while each day's high temps remain well below 100....fall is here!!!
Our group heads south and then turns west, crossing I-10 before eventually heading toward Dove Mountain where I had my lungs ripped out on the Twin Peaks climb, as usual. Finished with a tidy 34 miles. Well, with the increase in weekly miles, I'm ready to venture farther afield with some riding on the big slopes. First though, with the arrival of an Ohio friend this weekend, got to show off one of the premiere hikes, one of the hardest, in the Superstitions. More to come.
I met a friend for a hike around my reliable, stand-by trail, Linda Vista and as usual, enjoyed fine views, here looking to the west and the Tortolita Mountains.
It was a fairly active monsoon inspired weekend although most of the rain was to our east and south. I departed my home at 6:15 freaking AM:) to meet a group and a view presented itself that was magnificent. Of course, the camera fails to capture it but in the distance, sunlight illuminated Kitt Peak and the observatory shone like a beacon. All else was in cloud induced shade but for that one ridge.
Rode out of Oro Valley toward Saddlebrook where there are some good climbs and as usual, although we may be dry, the Catalinas were engulfed in clouds and no doubt rain. I've been coming out here since 2012 and am so glad I don't take the view of the mountains for granted. Awesome.
Saddlebrook has plenty of golf courses but I am too busy for that. Imagine, I have 2 sets of golf clubs in the closet and they are rarely used. I should sell a set. This was my second week of 150+ cycling miles so all going according to plan.