Haunted Canyon Hike

On Friday we decided to head to Haunted Canyon with 4 of our friends. The club actually did a version of this hike last Friday, but for various reasons none of us were able to make the hike last week. In fact, Al and Donna only arrived in Arizona last Friday night after finally figuring out that Winter in BC wasn’t so much fun after all.

In the past, our club has done this hike as an In and Out adventure from the top of the trail down to an old ranch called Toney’s Cabin. This involves climbing 900’ up to a saddle, and then 1100’ down to the creek and the cabin location. All of this in about 4 miles of hiking. The problem with this is on the way back that the 1100 feet of climbing the way out is all in the sunshine, and even with the slightly lower temperatures it can be a real slog. Last year a couple of our hikers ended up being in a bit of distress by the time we reached the summit due to the heat.

Last week when the club did the hike they figured they’d be a bit smarter and start at the lowest point of the trail and just walk along the creek up to the cabin and back to the starting point. This was fine, except you have to cross the creek about 30 times each way, and this became an issue for some hikers. One fella even decided that he’d head back the way we had gone in the past to stay dry, and made arrangements for some other hikers to pick him up at our historic starting point. Unfortunately he made a wrong turn, and missed the trail back to the road. People were out searching for him for several hours before he ran into some people heading out camping and they drove him back to where our hike leader could pick him up. By this time it was 9:00 and he was stumbling around in the dark. When he finally got home about 11:00 I think he might have been in a bit of bother with his wife.

For our hike we decided to try and have the best of both worlds. We took two trucks out to the trail, dropped one off at the lower end of the trail and piled into the other vehicle to head to the upper trailhead. This way we figured we could have a bit of a climb in the morning, walk down the sunny hillside before it got too warm, and spend the afternoon walking along the cooler section of the creek. It actually wasn’t a bad plan, although the 30 plus creek crossings meant that there were some wet feet (and in Rod’s case, pants, camera and phone) by the time we finished the day. Our total hike was somewhere between 9.5 and 11 miles depending upon who’s GPS readings you believed, and even though it was cooler in the creek, it meant for a long hot day.

The hills in the distance are above Roosevelt Lake, which supplies the Salt river with water and fills up the Saguaro, Canyon and Apache lakes we all enjoy.

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There’s nothing wrong with looking back sometimes. (or resting for that matter).

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Sycamore trees grow in strange ways.

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At the top of the 900’ climb we posed by the Old Man of the Mountain. That’s it next to Dana, the other Old Man. Sylvia and I both wore hiking club shirts. We soon discover that the resident bugs in the vicinity really like this colour, as we were covered in little black Gnats almost all day. Time to retire the shirts I think.

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Indian Paintbrush.

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LYF’s – Little Yellow Flowers, that we don’t know the name of. There were a lot of different LYF’s LOF’s and LPF’s all day.

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I think this was dammed up to provide water for cattle, but we didn’t see any livestock until we were almost finished our day.

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According to Rumour one of our hiking buddies ate one of the Cholla fruits a few years ago. He’s never done it again, and may still be pulling spikes out of his tongue for all I know.

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Our lunch spot was Toney’s Cabin, and Sylvia was looking through the sign in book to find our club’s entry from last week.

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As we still had almost 6 miles to hike, we headed out soon, but not before wondering if we could use this rather strange Cholla as a Christmas tree next year. All it was missing was the ornaments to be a Charlie Brown special.

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I don’t know for certain if there were 30 creek crossings, as I lost count around 18, but that number is pretty close. I fell in around number 10, and having wet squishy boots for the rest of the trip wasn’t ideal. The water was never deep, but certainly was cool and wet. The creek runs year round, so it must be spring fed.

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I know this one! California Poppies.

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This is the first Hedgehog we’ve seen in bloom. Many more to come I’m sure.

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There’s a story to this tree, I just don’t know what it is.

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The last 1.5 miles of the hike was along a jeep road that has been gated by the mining company that controls this stretch of wilderness. It would have been nice to drive this and not deal with the rather boring section, but at least it was flat. The water doesn’t come from the creek as much as from all the leaking pumps they have alongside of the road providing water to the Pinto Mine.

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And that was our day. A rather long hike in the heat, but certainly enjoyable. When we left the trailhead it was about 82F, and over 90 still when we got back to the RV. I’m certainly glad we didn’t get lost and have to stay up there any longer in the heat or the dark. As it was we didn’t get back until about 7:15 pm.

I Was Right About the Flowers

I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing me whine about the cool, wet weather we’ve had to endure this winter in Arizona. The only saving grace was I thought that the wet weather followed by some heat would bring out the flowers in droves.

Actually the median temperature this year has surprisingly been higher than normal, but certainly hasn’t felt like it. The only reason I can think of for this being the case is that we haven’t had more than a couple of nights below freezing, but we certainly haven’t had any days in the 90’s either…..until today.

This week has been warming up more and more each day. When I played in the softball tournament on Monday, the high temp was 67F. By Wednesday when we took the hike into the higher elevations, the temps were in the high 70’s. Yesterday, we were subjected to low 80’s as we spent several hours being referees at a Pickleball tournament in Mesa and standing in the full sun. It was a fun day, and by the time we were finished our duties, we both were thinking that we enjoy the referee duties more than we think we’d enjoy playing in a tournament.

That brings us to today. The hike that the club had planned was again in higher elevation where it would be cooler, but as we missed last Friday’s hike while I played softball we thought it might be nice to revisit this location as the flowers were starting to show in great numbers. I think we made the right choice, and convinced our friends Jim and Cheryl to come along.

As we were heading out on our own we decided to leave a bit later, and didn’t have to get up at Stupid O’clock like regular hiking days. It was also a strategy to give the flowers an extra hour of sunshine before we arrived so they would be on full display by the time we arrived at the Kelvin Trail. It turned out to be a good decision, as they were spectacular. It also meant that we would be hiking in the warmest part of the day, and by the time we left the trail just before 1:00 it was 83F and by the time we got back to the RV it was 90.

Now it’s time to let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Our club has been involved in some trail maintenance twice this winter. We had to bring along hand pruners and gloves, and kinda wish we’d had one of these babies along to assist us. The trail was a lot narrower and congested once we passed this Big Boys toy.

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I couldn’t resist.

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One last picture of the Ray Mine that dominates the skyline on the other side of the valley. I’m glad we have the wilderness to walk in.

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And so goes another week. We’re down to just over three weeks left here in the sunbelt. Spring can start showing up anytime it wants to in the Okanagan.

Barnhardt Trail Hike

Today we went with 31 members of the hiking club to see the waterfall at Barnhardt. This is a hike we’ve been on several times, but usually much earlier in the season. The elevation of the trailhead is almost 2000 feet above that of Gold Canyon so when the weather gets hot we usually head here to find cooler temperatures. The fact that we’re a month later than usual and can finally schedule this hike tells you all you need to know about how cool it’s been this winter.

The drive to the trailhead is 77 miles away from our park, but the trip is definitely worth it as the waterfall is usually full of water. At least it has been 3 of the 4 times we’ve been here, the first time it was barely a trickle and we were wondering if we’d been had, but we were convinced that was an anomaly.

The waterfall is 3 miles from the trailhead, and is 1650 feet in elevation higher. All but about 50 feet of the trail is a steady uphill grind and by the time we get there, we’re about ready to sit down.

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There was a fair bit of water all along the trail, more than we remember seeing in the past.

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Spots like these appeared all along the lower section of the trail, and proved that we’ve had a wet, mild winter. Yep, that’s moss mixed in there.

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Even the Hedgehog cactus look particularly thick and healthy. No flowers yet though.

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We didn’t see many flowers, but there were some Primroses (?) around.

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Before long, we were far above the level of the trailhead.

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And then suddenly we were at the waterfall pools.

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Somebody was happy to finally get here. Then I informed her that she had to climb up even higher to see the waterfall. The route into the cavern where the waterfall was visible was rather difficult to reach as there was quite a bit of water, and footing was rather precarious in spots.

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When she finally made it into the base of he waterfall it looked like she was pretty comfortable clinging onto the rocks with Bill and Kay.

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There actually was quite a bit of water running down the hillside, but not much more than we saw last February.

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I do have a video of the waterfall, but you’re going to have to see it on Facebook, as I can’t get it to display here. Youtube seems to have forgotten who I am. Here’s the LINK

After lunch it was time to head back. The temperatures were quite comfortable, about 50F next to the waterfall, and 70 or so in the sunshine. By the time we got back to the trailer at 4:30 it was 82F in Gold Canyon. We did pick a good day for this hike.

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It’s amazing how these cactus, succulents and ferns can all grow in the same spot, right out of the rock.

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One of the treats on this hike is the rock formations present in the ravine we walk up. I have forgotten what they’re called, and it’s too late to start looking them up, but surely somebody can remind me?

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And then we were done! None the worse for wear, and ready for a cold drink!

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Tomorrow is another day of Pickleball officiating at a tournament in Mesa. We seem to have earned ourselves a job. Oh well, if we can’t play we can at least be in charge of the matches.

Yet Another Hat

When you consider that I really don’t like to wear hats, it is odd that I have so many new ones this winter. The latest one for the collection was obtained at the annual Cal-Am resorts softball tournament on Monday. Unfortunately it is a second place hat, and comes complete with a Silver Medal that I can’t find for the life of me. 

I must admit it was much more enjoyable to win the Gold pin the last 2 years, but it gives us all the  more incentive to come back next year and try and win the championship again. This is the end of the softball season for me, and I have to admit it’s about time. Even with all the rainouts and a trip back to BC I have played more than 30 games in the last 2 months, as well as numerous practices. It’s cut into our Pickleball and hiking time and has left me leaving a few chores undone. 

I tackled one of those chores today, and finally finished waxing the trailer this morning. Considering that I started the job about a month ago, it’s almost time to do the sunny side of the trailer again, and I have already purchased some wax to do just that.

This afternoon we had a chance to visit with another couple from Kelowna who are visiting the East Valley. We had never met Mr and Mrs Maxxtrails before, but had been kibitzing back and forth on our blogs for a couple of years. We had a great few hours, and are hoping to get together at home this summer. 

This couple is much more inclined than us to go out and do some real camping / boondocking and you can find some excellent sunset and scenery pics from isolated desert locations on their  blog at Maxxtrails.wordpress.com

Tomorrow we’re back to hiking, and if we’re lucky (?) we’ll even see some snow. Considering it’s supposed to be 87F here, the snow might be welcome. We’ll let you know.

I Won a New Hat!

As I predicted, the Jokers Softball team was awesome, and we went through the playoff tournament undefeated with convincing wins in every game. Not bad for a 3rd place team in a 4 team division. We did have some help though as 2 of the other teams were missing key players, and we had our whole team firing on all cylinders. We also had the best cheering section, and one of the teams that didn’t make the final hung around to drink beer and watch Sylvia and the other wives harass the umpire.

I still have one more tournament to play on Monday. We’ll see if I can bring home another hat.

They’re Never There!

A couple of days ago my neighbour was sitting on his patio and enjoying Happy Hour as I was locking up the trailer on my way out. He good naturedly called over and said ‘Hey, leave that trailer alone, I know the owners!’. When I replied ‘Don’t worry, I know them too. They’re never home’ he broke out in hilarious laughter. As the joke wasn’t that funny, I wondered what was up. It seems that he and his wife were just discussing that very fact. We’re hardly ever home, and certainly haven’t had much time to sit on the patio and read (or drink, which does seem to be a favourite pastime with Snowbirds).

That’s not particularly a problem for us, as we do like to keep busy (remember our motto? You Rest, You Rust!) but it has been another busy year. With playing softball 2 days a week, 1 or 2 days of hiking, squeezing in some pickleball and trying to find time to get out and buy groceries it hasn’t left much time in the schedule for relaxing or visiting friends and family outside the park. We haven’t even been in the pool once this year, although it really hasn’t been warm enough to want to cool off in the water. Mind you after watching a news story tonight that an average community pool contains up to 20 gallons of urine, I think we’re quite happy to stay dry. Ewwwwww.

We have had some special events recently though. Our regular monthly trips to the Hale Theatre have continued, and this month we were pleased to see the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. It was a great show as always. We also travelled to Chandler to attend an event at the Center for the Arts there. This was a night of Accoustic Guitar music presented by the Montreal Guitar Trio and the California Guitar Trio. Each group performed individually and then finished off the evening by playing together. It was a very good show, and we’re glad we went.

Our pickleball playing has been severely curtailed lately, but part of that was due to the courts being tied up for 3 days as our park hosted the Cal Am Pickleball tournament. Both Sylvia and I volunteered as referees for this event, and had a lot of fun. It was Sylvia’s first try at being in charge of a match from the sidelines, and for most of our 2 days she was the only female ref. She had a blast, and handled the responsibility well. She was still getting compliments on her work several days later. Me on the other hand, I got nada. Oh well.

Softball has been busy as ever. The year end tournament for the Coyotes was on Monday, and we didn’t finish up too well. Most of the years we’ve been in this league we’ve made it to the final game but never finished on top. This year we finished 4th out of 5 teams. One of the reasons for this was that we were forced to play without 3 of our best players this year, as they were considered too good for our league. Unfortunately 3 of the other 4 teams didn’t seem to get the memo and stacked their team with high level players. It wasn’t a lot of fun getting beat on by these teams all year.

My Tuesday team ended up in 3rd place in a 4 team division, but due to bad weather a number of games were cancelled, and we didn’t get a chance to play one of the teams ahead of us all year. The tournament for this team starts tomorrow, and we’ll really see how good we are then. I have great hopes for this team, as when we play our best we’re just about unbeatable. I’ll let you know how it all works out later. Next Monday we play in the softball tournament against all the other local Cal Am parks. We’ve won this trophy the last 2 years running, and don’t expect anything less this year. Then softball will be over for the year, and I think we’re all in agreement that it’s about time.

One other special event was a hike up to the top of the Flatiron last Friday. This was a special hike as our buddy Jim wanted to do this trek one last time before he turns 75. He also had some friends visiting from Ontario who are approximately half his age, and we dragged them up to the top of the mountain as well. We were a small group, and this was by design. The smile that was on Anne Marie’s face was never absent all day. You can certainly tell that they are Canadians, as they were in shorts. We thin blooded types  stuck to our long pants.IMG_3825

We left pretty early, and it was a while before we saw some sunshine.

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Several years ago a small plane crashed into the mountain above the Flatiron. The lady on the right was the wife and mother of the family on the plane and was part of a group going up to celebrate what would have been her daughter’s 15th birthday. It was a special moment to meet her and hear her story.

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Half way up the hill we still felt pretty good.

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Then we met up with this fella who’s actually 85 years old. I saw on some local hiking sites that he does the hike to the Flatiron regularly, and there were pictures of him in a similar shirt only a different colour the following two days. The back of the shirt says 85. I guess it’s up to us to guess which age he actually is. I wonder if I’ll be doing this hike in 25 years. I really don’t think so.

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As I said, the smile never left.

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Near the top we found this intricately carved Memorial staff. I hope it stays put, as it is quite the piece of art. I wonder what the story is?

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At the top of the mountain we are at 5024 feet of elevation, just over 3000 feet and 3 miles from where we started.

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There’s that smile again.

About 7 hours later we were back down enjoying the view in the sunshine. A good day was had by all.

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And maybe we were enjoying a few other things……

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And of course, we’ve been enjoying a few special sunsets.

And that’s been the last 2 weeks or so.