I took a back way to Picacho State Park but doing so exposed me to the longest line of container laden railroad cars I have ever seen. In the distance, today's destination, Picacho Peak. I was joining a new, Phoenix based group called "Off the Beaten Path". What is it with these Phoenix groups? It's as if all the members took a course in, "How to be a Fun Hiker". Another enjoyable group!
I failed to take any images at the start of the hike or during the ascent to the saddle which is about ,7 miles with an average grade of 30%. Steep! Above and in the distance is the final set of switchbacks to the peak but between here and there, lots of fun challenges.
Readers of my silly blog know of my affinity for pursuing Strava segments.I knew the opening climb to a saddle was a segment and that I had not pushed myself on previous visits so today I did and....
….I'm satisfied with that. The above segment was not the entire climb, just the steepest portion of it. I reached the saddle in under 20 minutes and was happy about that too. For the duration of the hike, I enjoyed hanging with the back of the group and providing any help I could.
Once we all gathered at the saddle, we plunged steeply down the back of the mountain. Without the cables, few would be able to manage the descent. Note everyone is wearing gloves, including Lucy, the woman in red who was overcoming a fear of exposure. I was aware of two points later in the hike that would probably give her pause but she bravely persevered.
On this hike, whenever you are ascending or descending, you are doing so steeply. It's "only" 1.5 miles from bottom to top but we gain over 2000'.
One of the 3 cabled sections during the ascent of the back side of the mountain.
More of our group pours through the narrow gap afforded to us to gain the peak.
At the top of the 2nd section, I see plenty of people following. I'd guess today would see 50+ people visit the peak including a large group from China, two Boy Scout groups, a bunch of people from MN, etc...
No, this is not how people react when encountering me on the trail:) Instead, Shannon and Lori playacting as these two had no issues with any part of the ascent.
The final "scary" section that includes a walk across a plank.
All made it, including Lucy who I am sure had a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when she.....
...reached the crowded peak. The group planned a picnic after the hike and if I had known they would be such an enjoyable gang I would have brought something and participated. I began my descent and noticed....
….the poppies were opening. Well, got to get ready for a good Sunday hike. Finished with a little over 3 miles but what an enjoyable distance it was.