Dang, not a great image but there, center left is a black rattlesnake, the first I have seen. This also is wilderness encounter #15 of meeting a rattler. I extended my hiking pole, reached in and managed to bring it to the center of the trail but by the time I grabbed my camera, it had gone back into the brush. He was rather agitated. My 3 brave hiking companions, even with the sound of the rattle, skipped past and we continued our hike. More to come and soon.
I headed south again to Madera Canyon to complete Monday's intended route to Mount Hopkins. The trailheads are at approximately 5000' so the day's high will only be in the mid to upper 80's. It's early, 7am, when I shove off but it has been light since 5:30am. It's not as important to get a super early start as it would be if hiking elsewhere.
From a parking lot filled with cars I begin ascending. I pass Old Baldy trail on my left, walk past the wickedly steep Vault Mine trail on my right (which I had taken last Monday) and continue on the Carrie Nation trail. As I climb higher, well above 6000', I find an.....
….old boiler and soon thereafter....
….walk by the entrance to the Carrie Nation mine which dates back to the early 1900s. I have read the mine was mostly used to extract copper. There is a pool of water in front of it. I walked to the entrance and peered into the blackness but that is as far as I would go. I continued up as the trail transitioned from rocks and boulders to.....
…..smooth dirt covered with pine needles and even found a nice campsite. Other hike reports state there is an "End of Trail" sign either down at the mine or around here but it is long gone. What follows is a well worn route and easy to follow. There are enough.....
….side routes that you ought to have a gps track to follow. I went right at the above intersection interpreting the logs laying across the trail (sometimes people use large rocks) as an obvious sign that right is the way to go. At another intersection, a trail went left but down hill so I went right and continued a steep slog up to the Aqua Caliente trail. By steep I mean an average of 24% for about half a mile.
I make a right at the Aqua Caliente trail and enjoy a flat walk of .02 miles until I come to a rock cairn indicating this is where I make a left and climb .06 to Mount Hopkins Road. Along the way the views open up of mostly forested hills. It reminds me of the drives in WV, VA and PA when on my way to obscure towns where crazy 100 mile/10,000' biking events are held. Crazy too is knowing today I will walk 8 miles and gain 3100' of climbing. Makes one think a 100 mile ride with "only" 10,000' of climbing would be easy but of course it's not.
I pass an impressive stand of Juniper trees and this one is one of the largest I have encountered. While it doesn't appear too healthy, it is and doing well.
The unnamed trail from AC to the road is also steep and seems longer than .06 but at last, the final slope to the road.
An abrupt change as I now walk about 1.5 miles to the peak and the observatory. Don't have to watch for rattlers or cars as it is Saturday and the pavement is wide. In the distance, the peak and observatory.
Plenty of butterflies visit plenty of flowers along the road and at last....
…..I reach the peak. It takes me exactly 1:59:59. The average grade for the entire hike is 14%. In the distance is Mount Wrightson.
There are three signs that identify the various mountain ranges, some at a distance of 97 miles and they are easily seen. I also am watching the horizon for a sign of storms approaching from the southwest as monsoon season is upon us. It is becoming dark in that direction so I begin the descent and see....
….the bend in the road where I will exit and start the series of trails, which I manage to negotiate, to find my car. A good day without incident but tomorrow....I see my first ever black rattlesnake!
My friend Decent Dan, a cyclist of some very modest repute in central Ohio, sent me a link to an article listing the top 100 cycling blogs from around the world. There in the 80th place on the list was this silly blog. How about that!?! That mine could be above something called "Cycling Galicia Blog" is quite the honor:)
Recently, I presented evidence that I was more than just a cyclist and hiker but also a kick baller. To that I can add a ping ponger too. This is approximately the 6th such event I have hosted at a place called the Culinary Dropout which has 3 tables.
The common thread among us all is that we haven't played since we were kids but it doesn't take long before everyone becomes at least competent at it. I've had groups ranging from 15 to 30 attend and some people are content to simply eat, drink and watch. If you are wondering, I'm about as good at this as I am a cyclist so pretty average:)
Well gang, life goes on. I took a short ride this morning but back to hiking soon including giving Mount Hopkins another effort while sticking to the trails this time. On to your routes and ride from the church in New Albany. Whoa, only a 3 mile difference between the Rivet/A and B routes? Ride hard Baristas! Below the Rivet/A, B and C routes.
The sun rises over the beautiful Arizona landscape once again. I hardly slept for a variety of reasons, the unique opportunity to help solve a missing hiker case, worry about retracing my route back to the scene, the possibility of letting down the SAR team and their many associates who had been notified of the find, etc... At 4am, I did not need the alarm to wake me and was glad to start the day.
The sun briefly hides behind the iconic Elephant Head, a feature at the western end of the Santa Ritas. The ascent up the right side is exciting with some mild exposure. I arrive a little before 6am and soon....
…..sheriff SUV's come rolling up. The last time I had 2 of them parked behind me was when fleeing the scene of a crime. Ok, just kidding but the deputies got a kick out of my comment. It was a great group of search team members, totaling 11 and one very small.....
….dog who had been trained to search for what we were hoping to find. I assumed a dog with this skill would be a Lab or similar dog but nope, this little guy was very capable if not especially fast when walking through the woods.
Everyone gears up and begins the steep descent from the road.
I led the group down and down while one of them would periodically tie green tape to mark our return. Noting each of them carried a sidearm, I stated I had never felt so safe during a hike. Later, while opening their packs, numerous snacks could be found and they confirmed not only was I safe but if we became lost, I'd be well fed too.
Yes, steep was the hill side and the bed of pine needles made the slope slippery but we all navigated it just fine. We were about .5 of a mile into the descent when it appeared I had reached an area similar to where I made my discovery on Monday. I notified the group and we fanned out into a line. Soon, a guy announced he had found the log with the hiking poles. I turned to walk towards him.....
….almost immediately saw a bone and a couple of steps later, I found a group of clothing. I was briefly overcome with emotion for realizing I had successfully navigated the group to the correct spot, which was not certain, and that human remains were there too. What a relief and of course knowing the hiker's family would finally have closure.
Both hiking shoes were close together and I am certain that on Monday, one had been close to the hiking poles a little higher on the slope but I could be wrong. The leader of the group called us all together and announced this was now a crime scene. I asked if I should return to my car but he said no so I participated in the search for more remains.
Nature's predators had done what they do so the remains were spread over a broad area. As remains were found, green tape was fixed to the location. Communication was made to the Sheriff's department giving updates and soon word got out to the media. I was told the interest was high and all the local media outlets created updates.
The forest was relatively open beneath the canopy so walking is not difficult other than the steepness of the slopes and occasional boulder fields that prevent direct walking up the ridge.
Everything that could be recovered was recovered. GPS devices were consulted to compare past search segments with where we were now. I heard conflicting distance comparisons but the 120 people who contributed to the February effort and done a comprehensive job given the evidence they had. The hiker, once a 911 call had been made, should have stayed in place and he would have been found but given the conditions on the ground and an unknown mental state, it made sense to him to continue to walk.
I was given permission to hike out but they insisted I have an escort. It is a steep ascent out of there. I reached my car, thanked my 3 escorts and was told I would receive a certificate of appreciation from the Sheriff's department which I will value.
I began the long drive from the peak, a combination of pavement and scraped dirt. It has been an interesting 3 days and I am glad I have this blog to record the experience. I have purposely excluded some images and content and maybe some of what I did post was borderline suitable given the audience. If so, I apologize.
I am pretty excited to be part of a group effort that hopefully will result in the discovery of the remains of the lost hiker described below. It would thrill me to help bring closure for the family but first things first, I have to find the site which I am pretty sure I will be able to do. I'm prepared for a long day of searching but hopeful for a short day. A local paper, the Green Valley news, ran a story this evening if you would like an update. The family of the hiker has been notified so that's good. https://www.gvnews.com/news/items-belonging-to-missing-hiker-discovered-in-santa-ritas/article_e499e36a-a2be-11e9-9f95-4b6ceaffd293.html
Out the door by 5am and driving to Madera Canyon which is within the Santa Rita Mountains which is within the Coronado National Forest. Running north/south the area is 23 miles in length and somewhere merges with the Patagonia Mountains. A rugged, mostly forested area.
I arrive at the end of the road and park in the circle parking lot at the base of Old Baldy and Super trails. This is Monday. In February, a car belonging to an Ohioian was towed from this lot because he had become lost on 2/5, called 911 to report he was lost and apparently kept hiking. Search crews were organized and several days spent at first looking for the hiker prior to transitioning to body recovery. Until today, no evidence of him was ever discovered. Yes my friends, it was quite a day of hiking for me.
I start on Old Baldy but where it breaks sharply left, I continue straight on the Carrie Nation trail. Pretty rugged to start and then I made a mistake. I misread a hike report that stated I was to stay on this trail but instead I made a right at the Vault Mine trail. By doing so, I had left the far simpler route for a much more difficult one. Checking the gps track on my cell phone, I was still on the loop route but now going counterclockwise rather than clockwise. The difference is huge. Going clockwise I would have ascended an obvious series of trails to the peak and returned the same way. Now though, geesh was I going to be in for it.
Occasionally there were breaks in the trees but mostly fairly thick forest.
This Vault Mine trail was designed by a sadist. Almost a mile in length, 27% average grade.
I pass an abandoned mine and do not venture into it. I have seen a lot of bear and lion scat so..... I reached the Aqua Caliente trail where I make a right. Had I stayed on the intended route, I also would have made a right on the same trail but farther west so still, I am oblivious that I am not on my intended route.
In the distance on the right is Mt Wrightson and to its left is Old Baldy saddle.
Walking the Aqua Caliente trail I can see far below the parking lot. It is always comforting to be able to see that for some reason.
I reach Aqua Caliente saddle where I am to pick up an obvious trail raising steeply to the left. Hmmmmm, looking at the route, I am right on it but again not the part of the route I should have been on. I scout around, can't find a trail to the left but start following the gps track and ascend a ridge and it is steep, to the left just no trail. I have a hiking pole and bang it on everything to alert the critters that I am to be avoided.
I was supposed to be on a trail for about .6 miles before emerging on Mt. Hopkins Road for a 1.5 mile road walk to the peak. By now, I have figured out, after hiking in the wilderness for at least a mile, I am on the wrong part of the route but the destination is the same so at last, I spot an embankment and sure enough.....
….yahoo! I emerge across from living quarters for observatory employees. The views are.....
….awesome. Additional facilities are seen below. Instead of a 1.5 mile road walk I only have.....
….about 500 yards and dang that too is steep.
Beautiful and there is Wrightson again on the left. Somewhere over there is Josephine Saddle and the place from where the lost hiker called 911. Most search efforts were directed over there and although they had cell phone coordinates, the lost hiker must have departed the area with a battery that had lost its charge. I had hiked 4.5 miles with 3500' of climbing.
Speaking of lost battery charge, I look at my cell phone screen and I'm down to 12%!!! Apparently since cell service is spotty in the mountains, my phone was always looking for a signal. Note to self: Use Airplane Mode next time. I shut off my phone to preserve what life I still had. I turned it back on a few minutes later to alert a friend that I would be late for an event and yikes! I have no power.
I sat on the base of the observatory and think things through. It rotates and has a small plow to clear snow. No map, no gps track but also, I was pretty confident I could march back down the ridge I had ascended and find the Aqua Caliente saddle and subsequent trails. So I.....
….walked the short distance to the point I had emerged from the wild and plunged back in. I discovered a couple of cairns and followed them but they petered out but came to a faint trail and began following it but it was taking me off the ridge and down an east side before petering out. I kept going down and at times I sat on my rear and scooted down as it was that steep. I began to see hills closing in on my right and a new ravine. I concluded I was lost because I was. I never panicked nor despaired but I recognized the predicament I had placed myself. I climbed to the ridge, found a rocky point, looked out and said to no one in particular, "Mark, the only way out of this mess is to turn around and climb back up the mountain." So, I turned around and began ascending the beast. At some point.....
….I heard a rattlesnake and there to my right it was ready for action. Geesh. I was always on guard not to do something stupid such as slip and crack my head or impale myself on a broken limb or....yes, get bit by a rattlesnake. I kept working my way up and then.....
…..I discovered this scene and I immediately understood the implication. The lost Ohio hiker had sought shelter beneath that log and in front of it was a pair of hiking poles, a waist pack having a set of car keys and other items and one, hiking shoe. I of course also realized another hiker had been here, searched for hours and died. I did not see any human remains but I also didn't look. I had my own issue to solve. I took the waist pack and put it in my back pack but left the other items. I continued up and probably 1/2 mile later.....
….I found the ravine that led to the road...Eureka…. walked into the building shown in an image way above, yelled, "Hello" and this woman emerged from a room. I explained my predicament, she called John from the observatory, a mechanical engineer who brought a battery charger for me. John had been part of one of the SAR crews back in February and all of them were nagged by the question of what had happened to the lost hiker. He examined the contents of the waist pack and confirmed it was Mr. Smallwood's. John called the region's SAR administrators and the sheriff department. I could have hiked back to my car but the cell phone was charging slowly and I wasn't keen about retrying the down climb so John gave me a ride down from the observatory to the base camp at the visitor center for the Whipple Observatory and then around the mountain to Madera Canyon where.....
...I met a couple of deputies and retold my story. Today, Tuesday, I took a call from the Sheriff's department and so tomorrow morning, 6am, I am meeting a crew and will attempt to locate the site. It would thrill me to help an effort that recovered the body and bring closure to the Ohio family. I'm not sure the family even knows what is happening but I hope to have another story to tell tomorrow, assuming the crew and I do not get lost, of course.
I did a 2 mile group hike in the morning and had a nagging sense that just wasn't enough (it isn't) so saw a Meetup group was playing kickball at 5:30pm. Hmmmm, that could be a decent workout so drove south into Tucson and was prepared to turn around, as who would come out in this heat (104)? Well, 10 of us did and was told typically they have at least 20 but the holiday weekend must have kept some away. OK, full disclosure, I was the oldest by at least 20 years and have not had a kickball kicked my way in at least 45 years.
I stroll out to the field and the shortstop position is vacant!!! Nooooo. The only thought is, "please don't kick it towards me.". 2nd kicker, fly ball, wind blowing in, I jog forward and.....CATCH IT!!! I am stunned and try to be nonchalant about it. Next inning, 3 consecutive balls are kicked in the air toward me and I catch each of them....how bout that?!?! Our team wins 11-5 and the "kids" were a lot of fun. Well, back to hiking and a big one coming tomorrow.
6:15am and the parking lot at Sabino Canyon is rather full, for a summer morning. When I left my place at the crack of dawn it was already mid 70's and warming rapidly. The morning outdoor window is open for about 4 hours and during that time the humidity is very low, the sky is clear and it is beautiful.
Headed towards Blackett's Ridge, 3 miles distant. The first mile is flat and then the ascent begins, 2 miles having an average grade of 17%. In the distance, the sun shines on the canyon but for much of my ascent, I thankfully hike in the shade.
From the parking lot to the top, my best time is 51 minutes (5th out of 448 for we Strava users) but any time under an hour is good for me. I reach the top in 1:01 so kind of disappointed as I was going as fast as I could for the duration of the route. My fitness just isn't great right now but that will change, probably for the worse, ha, ha.
Looking to the southeast. Many wasps were buzzing around the flowers.
After about 15 minutes, I headed back down. Not nearly as green as it was a month ago but monsoons should begin any day now and will dramatically change the color.
How about that!? 99% of the time they skitter away too fast for me to get a shot but this guy or gal posed for a long time and what a long tail and beautiful colors. Hope he doesn't end up inside a rattler. Finished with 6 miles and 1776' of climbing. I kid you not, on July 4th, I hiked 1776 feet.
It was temporary to park at the Heit center (back to the church for next week) but good luck finding a parking spot in the sea of cars. I finally found a spot, got on the bike and....
….ran into Lisa A who has had to manage a knee issue that has limited her cycling time. But, while expressing interest in riding with the non existent C group, rode with and hung with the B group.
A small group by Thursday standards, only 38, gather in a corner of the parking lot.
Marty, Jon M, new guy and Sandy listen to Don N make the usual pre-ride comments. There have been several new people showing up for the Rivet group which is welcome. However, the bike handling, by a few, can be squirrelly so some of the usual Riveters are not coming out for the rides.
A happy bunch but why not? Weather radar looked ominous earlier in the day but it was all clear at 6pm.
The Rivets head out, then the A group and then my happy bunch of B's begins....
….our 50 mile route to the east, through Granville and farther east until the return.
We regroup a few times and at each stop, we are reminded of how freakin hot and humid it is. With my cycling miles way down, I began to wonder if I had it in me to keep up for the entire route so.....
…..I went south on Burg and was surprised that two of the HH boys came along too. They had a race on Saturday so chose to take it easy this evening. Lisa too came along and we rolled into Granville and stopped at the CVS to await the others.
Yes, getting dropped east of 661 in the Badlands would be a very bad thing for me although after the ride I concluded I would have been ok but stopping at the CVS allowed me to....
….catch three Riveters who had been dropped at some point as they tank up at the fountain. Then....
...the A group rolled in to also replenish the fluid levels.
Yes, the fountain was a popular spot as cyclists took turns filling water bottles and hurling barbs at me.
A line of very nice bikes.
It was getting kind of late by the time the rest of the B group rolled into Granville so we decided to go off route and take a more direct approach back to New Albany. It was a good idea as we just made it back prior to the sun disappearing below the horizon. Above, we regroup at the top of Jersey Mill. I finished with 40 miles and a 18.8 average. Meantime, the Rivet group finished with a 23mph average for their 55 mile ride.
I dislike being the bearer of depressing news but the days are now getting shorter!!! Yes my numerous friends, since my birthday (6/21) the amount of daylight is diminishing and thus our distances are starting to wind down a bit. A fine route for a hot, humid evening bike ride. See you out there:
If you wondered if there was a Thursday ride, given the threat of rain and the persistent wind, why yes there was. Not a lot of people showed up, only 19 but they did ride albeit a shorted version of the scheduled summer solstice route which can be seen below.
Mike McClinche has a new bike, a BH so now the ranks are growing of BH users, Mike, Peggy C and me. OK, "ranks" is a bit of an over statement.
Weather radar showed some small cells and everyone bought into the, "it's all moving away from us." story but alas that was not the case.
Kristie and Amanda wearing their game faces and somewhat matching jerseys.
The peloton rolls out into the cloudy, windy (tail at this point) and soon to be misty evening but the precip did not exceed the mist level and the group got around ok. Now....
….Saturday. I was late arriving in Canal Winchester for a group ride that was going to follow Tuesday's Summer Solstice route of 55 miles which of course included the ascent of Revenge Road. I think my longest ride in the last month was 35 miles so I was rather worried about this ride. Above, Kenda Janet crests the end of Cedar Hill Road with Paul close behind.
Our group of 9 included Kevin H, aka Pepe LaPew and beyond him Carlos and Ron to go with Ryan, Jeff S and....
…..the Rossi tandem. The group split in two and those that wanted a faster pace took off, which was good. At mile 35 we discovered.....
…..a new market at the bottom of Delmont Road has opened. But, they do not allow you to use the rest room so when ya got to go ya got to go and a few people visited the back of the building. Probably over time they will reverse the rest room use policy.
A decent selection of what we typically buy and they make sandwiches too! Finished with 55 miles, 2300' of climbing, a paltry 16.9 average and a realization that time off the bike has consequences. Yeah, who doesn't know that.
The hidden gem of Mount Lemmon Pools is today's destination, which requires our small group to ascend the 26 mile drive to Summerhaven and park at the Marshall Gulch trail head.
At an elevation of 8000+', we are surrounded by thick pine forest, ravines and some blue sky peaking through areas that were lost to the Aspen Fire back in 2003 (I think). It being a Sunday and Father's Day, the parking area and surrounding trails are busy not only with hikers but also....
….a lot of dogs and as we passed each, members of our group just had to stop and fawn over them:)
We reach the Marshal Gulch saddle and can see the rock projecting from the surrounding forest, right of center and on it, barely visible, a fire watch station.
I walk by these Columbine flowers without notice but a member of our group expresses delight in seeing them so a round of pic taking ensues. It would be a close vote between which drew more attention, the abundance of flowers or the.....
….dogs. I've never seen so many but they are all well behaved and it was good to interrupt the hike with well deserved pauses.
We descend off the saddle via the Wilderness of Rocks trail and eventually are walking through....
….a pine needle covered valley floor having gigantic Ponderosa and other types of pines. The above image gives some perspective to the size.
Occasional breaks in the trees provided good views to the southwest. We would go off trail to stand and marvel and then.....
...return to the trail that is aptly named. At about mile 3.5, I lead us off trail, poke around quite a bit before finally entering.....
….the pools. A woman was swimming in one of them and seemed a bit miffed when we settled in a small sandy beach area where she must have thought squatter's rights existed.
Above us boulders are balanced and it really is a beautiful spot.
Some of us removed our shoes and socks and waded in but the water was very cold. Calf deep was my limit. You'd think the pools got their name from the color of the water but no, they are in Mountain Lemmon Canyon.
I scrambled higher and got some good looks at other pools and pour-offs but the bottom pool is the best. We soon began the kind of arduous climb out of the canyon, did some more route exploration before I stumbled upon.....
….the trail and a return through the forest. Previously, someone had given us an idea where there was a hummingbird nest, something I had never before seen and with good reason as.....
….upper center between the crossing of the two trees. I was surprised to find it and could see the bird's beak moving around but that's about it. I suspect this is a rare find?
Cathedral Rock in the distance. I still have not made it all the way, almost but not entirely within the "inner sanctum" as it is known. Such a hard hike but I'm not getting any younger as today, 6/21 is my birthday! Happy birthday to me. Finished the hike with 9 miles and 1800' of climbing.
June 20th, not the longest day but close enough for our Summer Solstice epic evening of cycling. 6pm start but I wonder if anyone wants to shove off earlier, around 5:30pm for an easier paced affair? See you in the parking lot.
I returned to the Santa Ritas to head up to a new peak, Josephine. The first segment would be to Josephine Saddle, accessible either via the Old Baldy trail or the Super Trail. Baldy, which I hiked last week, is 2.2 miles having an average grade of 14%, Super is 3.7 miles and an average grade of 8%. I went for the Super Trail this go around.
Arriving at the trail head at 6:30am, a herd of deer are having breakfast.
There's Mount Wrightson but not on today's agenda.
Like the Old Baldy trail, a large portion of the morning is in the protective shade of the mountains.
The sun highlights a nearby peak as I enter Mount Wrightson Wilderness. I bring a hiking pole and bang it on rocks to alert the bears and lions of my presence. In January, a guy was hiking, became lost and a massive search ensued. They never found his body, likely dragged into a lion's den, never to be recovered.
While longer, the trail is much easier to hike without as many rocks protruding from the ground.
A stump has accumulated enough debris so plants are now growing from it.
I reach the Josephine Saddle but had wrongly assumed there would be markings for the peak. I had failed to do much research other than if I proceeded on the Super Trail, the Josephine Peak was somewhere off that trail.
A guy came through and provided some insight. Yes, Josephine Peak is off the Super Trail but there is no trail to it, merely a route and it is not marked with many cairns. Hmmmm, maybe I should leave that for another day when I am prepared.
In 1958, a group of Boy Scouts were at the saddle when a freak snowstorm moved in without warning. Some of the boys huddled under a picnic table, others tried to get down the mountain. Snow fell 4-7'. Three of the boys died as rescuers on horseback struggled to reach them.
I descend the Old Baldy trail and ya must keep your eves glued to the trail. It's amazing I do not fall more often than I do.
It is pleasant to hike through the forest, high above the valley where today's high temperature was 107.
A beetle enters a concave area of a tree where a spider awaits.
Check out the color of the lizard's tail.
I enter the parking area having hiked 7 miles with 2000' of climbing.
As few will attest, no one is more optimistic than I but dang, look at the forecast. If the rain doesn't get you the wind will but this group is mostly comprised of hearty, cookie eaters so get out there and ride!
I had been reading about a Cooper's Hawk dive bombing residents, pecking their heads when they walk below the hawk's nest. I had forgotten about it when I arrived for my short visit and then discovered the nest is outside my 2nd floor unit! Been fun watching two youngsters take their first tentative steps outside the nest, wings flapping but not yet ready to take flight. Now on to an epic hike.
ON a day having a forecast high of 98, I head south and enter Madera Canyon where the road rises and the temperature cools a little. Above, Elephant Head on the right and to its left but out of sight is Mount Hopkins and higher up, Mount Wrightson, my destination, today.
I park in a generous parking area, still driving Rick's mumbo van that I hope to transfer in a couple of days. It was great to have the van as a transport to get some heavy items out here but driving a vehicle that gets 16mph kind of sucks. Beside being at a higher elevation of around 5000', the trail is in shadows for much of the day and when not, ample tree coverage picks up the slack.
There are a couple of options to ascend to Mount Wrightson so I choose the most direct and steep route, Old Baldy Trail. It will be a 5.5 mile hike to the top, gaining 4050' of elevation gain at an average of 14%. I sure seemed steeper than that!!!! The tree canopy breaks occasionally and provides awesome views as I make my way to Josephine Saddle at mile 2.2.
Reaching Josephine Saddle, I continue my trudge on to Baldy Saddle, another 1.8 miles farther up trail. My legs are surprisingly ok despite not having done a hike of similar difficulty for quite awhile.
At Baldy Saddle, I am directed to make a right and continue on for .9 miles. Mercifully, the steepness abates a bit for the remainder of the climb.
And there it is, the granite peak looming above me....ugh, so far, so high.
Still steep at times but also the ascent moderates, rarely, I work my way up the switchbacks while the trees are now absent and the views...awesome!
And here it is, the peak. Always an emotional rush to make it on a climb of significance as this one is. The high point in the Santa Ritas and of course, higher than....
….Mount Hopkins and its observatory. The names of the two summits are derived from the names of two surveyors who were bushwhacked by Apaches in the mid 1800's. That climb to Hopkins, oh wow, so steep.
In the distance, the Catalina Mountains and there are multiple mountain ranges in the wonderful 360 view afforded to me.
A few decades ago, a fire watch tower was maintained here but now nothing but the foundation exists, along with an ammo can that contains the summit registry which I proudly sign.
A nice man from St. Louis arrives.
For Strava followers, I finish 10th of 242 which is ok but my hiking fitness is not great so yeah, I will go back and do it again, soon. Maybe take the longer but shallower "Super Trail" but for sure do it again.
Soon, I begin the descent. Rounding a corner I see....
...an incongruous site of a small grove of trees on a south facing slope. Seemed out of place but beautiful.
A long dead pine stands alongside the trail.
Descending, the temperature rises. I recover a fluid bottle that I removed from the freezer in the morning and stashed off trail on my way up. Geesh, did that cold drink taste great but I was also glad to be in the shade during my return to the trail head.
The hike to Sombrero Peak, one I have done many times but a good hiking friend stated she has never experienced the hike so I was glad to show her the way. We park at Sanctuary Cove and begin the hike, quickly gaining elevation.
The peak, in the distance, is only about 1.5 miles from the trail head but several steep sections to arrive at the peak.
The views.....geesh I love it.
The route goes through a small grove of mature Saguaro cactus.
My buddy climbs through a steep section and ready for more which.....
….arrives. At this saddle, hiking poles are dropped, excess weight and thus we begin a hand a foot effort to the peak. A fun section of the route.
We reach the peak, sign the summit register, snack and head down where I....
….hug a Saguaro which provides a representation of how large these things can be.
About half way down I look back at what appears to be a formidable obstacle but there is a way and I was glad to share it with another fellow hiker.
And so here we are in June and faced with a somewhat troubling forecast for this evening's festivities. We once had a club weather forecaster, Steve Nelson, but he was shoved out the door (gold parachute attached) for a rather deplorable forecasting record. Throwing darts proved to be more accurate. I'd plan on being at the church, 6pm, for the roll out following the Rivet/A. B or C routes seen below.
I departed Ohio under the all too usual clouds and some rain but the worst of it was to my south and soon.....
….I could see blue skies as I emerged from the system. Going farther west I pass....
….the Arch in St Louis. How about that. Throughout the drive, I had to be really careful to check the mirrors when making a lane change as there was a huge blind spot. That secondary mirror is very helpful.. Driving the van was like driving while sitting on top of a ladder. I could look across at truck drivers.
The terrain through IN, IL, MO, OK is all pretty much the same but once in New Mexico, things change.
The billboards for "The Thing" begin appearing going south out of Albuquerque.
Mountains begin to emerge above the horizon as I depart the interstate at St. Rt. 26 for a shortcut down to I-10. I drive through Hatch, NM which calls itself.....
….the Chile Capitol of the World. Could be I guess.
Lot of restaurants and markets involved in the Chile selling business. Lot of large figurines adorn the buildings.
I head west on I-10 and drive through the areas known for sand storms but the wind is not strong enough to stir the sand and dust. I have been through here when the Highway Patrol shut sections of the interstate. I had departed a hotel at 5:30am as I was anxious to arrive in AZ and once there.....
…..unloaded the van, scattering boxes in the guest bedroom and living room, putting book cases together and enjoying the sun, warm temps and blue sky. Now I'm ready to hike and ride so more to come. Not sure I want to drive the van on to CA for Rick. He dangled the option of picking it up on his way to CA with a driver friend. I need to get back to Ohio to kick ass in the B group:)
Yeah, hey, sorry for the pause in posts here gang. I did not ride last weekend as I was having too much fun in my woods where I saw a turkey and the.....
….cutting and splitting of wood went well and I am finished for the year. A kind of sore back made me think I'd be up for something different so.....
…..Rick Miller had 3 vans he needed to get to CA for the start of RAAM (Race Across America) so I volunteered to take one at least as far as AZ. Plus, there have been heavy things I wanted to advance to my condos so.....
….I loaded the van (note the bunkbed for the race participants) and began the 29 mile drive. Much more to come folks.
Rick Miller makes a rare appearance at our Thursday ride, this time riding with his wife on a tandem. I was telling Rick I was thinking about renting a van and driving some heavy things I always wanted to take to AZ but the drop fee was $750! Shazammm, he has 3 vans that he needs to get to Oceanside, CA for the start of RAAM so I volunteered to drive one as far as AZ. I head west on Thursday but no fear, I will be back.
Paul Stock riding a loaner bike because his Trek is in the shop for repair.
5:40pm.....what to do, what to do? Should I let the old timer continue to sleep as he obviously requires it or wake him so he can scramble to organize things and be on the bike at 6:00pm? I woke him from a deep sleep.
Tonight, Don had the "golden key" the one that opens the doors to the church but he was late and the natives were restless. Philippe, French Climbing Machine, on the right after a hard weekend of riding in NC with Doug McConaha.
Yay! The Queen of Treats arrives and took a pizza box, made some improvements and can not keep her tasty treats cool until we return from our ride.
The Riveters gather to plot strategy.
The wind deterred some from coming out so we only had around 50 participants. We gather to hear any comments about the route or whatever needs said prior to.....
….shoving off on our 48 mile route. Actually, I should not use the word "we" as I was headed back to work in the woods. Almost finished.
Steve Nelson, on the right was a nice guy and made public his route so a few of us gathered in front of Starbucks on this warm, humid and foggy Saturday morning. The Cooks were there, councilman Kasey K and new guy Dwight. Always good for new guys and gals to check out our rides and who knows, maybe we can convert some into regulars?
Todd Fry in the foreground and in the background, just back from a visit to Dallas, Marty.
All smiles as we prepare to head out.
And so we do into some rather thick fog but of course it eventually burned off. We entered Granville and swung back west before heading north toward Utica. But, I was losing enthusiasm and in Granville, I overheard Kasey tell someone that he had to get back to participate in a New Albany parade so I explained I needed to get back to secure a good curbside viewing spot and away the two of us went.
But the fact is, for the 3rd time in four years, a crew representing the electric company came through and cut more ash trees and really made a mess of things. I asked that they just drop the trees and I would cut into pieces but none of them spoke English so that was a problem. Now I have this urge to cut and split it all and organize the area. It being a Tuesday and the usual New Albany ride on the calendar, I'm glad the high will be only 66 so I can use that as an excuse to play Paul Bunyan for another day:)