Cottonwood Ranch Hike

After last week’s Butt Kicking hike, we decided to head out with the Club on a fairly simple hike. Most of our regular hiking buddies passed on this one, as this hike was not all that challenging, but it was one we had never been on before so we thought we’d give it a try.

The scheduled hike was to be 8.5 miles and only 300 feet of elevation along a Dry Wash starting at Cottonwood Ranch. The trailhead was about 75 minutes away from our Resort with the last 6 miles or so along a gravel road. We passed multiple parking areas off the main road, and when I researched the route on Google Maps, there were lots of trucks and trailers parked in these spots, which I assumed were Horse Trailers but turned out to be ATV trailers. On the day of our hike we must have passed 100 ATV’s on out way in and out of the road. I thought we were in for a busy dusty day, but despite there being a multitude of trails in the area, and ample evidence of tire tracks on all of them, we saw only one idiot trying to get across a narrow streambed in a fairly new Ford Pickup. He was thoroughly stuck, and had really no clue on how to get himself unstuck. I gave him some pointers, including keep his wheels straight ahead and not gunning the engine to try and levitate the truck out of the sand. Then I pushed him out of the sand pretty easily. But not before he showered Sylvia with sand and gravel. Like I said, Idiot.

The trail started at an old ranch that had a very nice water tank set alongside the creek. I don’t think they are keeping cattle in the area any more, as there was no evidence anywhere of Cow Pies or livestock of any kind. The fences next to the cattle guards we crossed were in poor condition as well.

IMG_6094

A few of our hikers had been to this trail in years past, and informed us we likely would be walking along a dry creek bed for 4 miles. They were wrong.

IMG_6119

We passed over and back across this creek about 15 times, and it got deeper and wider as we went along. As there were few spots where there were sufficient strategically placed rocks in the stream we ended up with a lot of hikers with wet boots. The temperatures were in the mid 70’s F or mid 20’s C which was likely the warmest day of hiking we’ve had since November, so the wet feet really weren’t a big problem.

IMG_6101

We were walking in a pretty steep, narrow valley most of the day, and whether I was facing towards or away from the Sun, the hillside was very green. We made it just under 4 miles before stopping in a sunny spot at a bend in the now rapidly running creek. By then we had hopped over plenty of rocks and jumped over enough water to last us for quite a while.

IMG_6108IMG_6113There were lots of Saguaro along the creek, including this one that was showing the path that most cactus follow. Many start beneath ‘Host’ trees for protection and grow up overtake the trees, and obviously outlive them.

IMG_6117

As this was an ‘In and Out’ hike, we followed the same pathway (mostly anyway) both directions. The beginning and end was pretty wide open, but also pretty warm by the time we reached here. This was about 6.5 miles into the hike, and unfortunately Sylvia’s foot issue came back right about here. She had to rest twice and wait for the pain to subside. It seems we pushed her tootsie a bit too hard last week, so we might be needing to re-evaluate our hiking plans for the rest of the season.

IMG_6126IMG_6129

It was pretty cloudy and hazy when we began the hike, but by the afternoon, it cleared up and allowed some amazing pictures of the 4 Peaks mountain range. For those of you who don’t recall, this grouping is silhouetted on the Arizona License plates.

IMG_6136

In other news, the Softball team lost both it’s games this week. Time to fire the coach.

And, we haven’t had to build, repair or improve anything on the house this week for a change. However, the truck made up for it, as it wouldn’t start the morning after our hiking day. It turned out that the 8 year old batteries decided to pack it in, but at least it happened in our driveway, and not 75 minutes away at a trailhead parking lot with absolutely no Cell Service. A quick trip to Costco to pick up some new ones, and we are good for another 8 years.

And that was this week’s adventures.

I Forgot One

My Son would likely refer to this as my Sunset Porn. I forgot to add it to yesterday’s post.

A Leisurely Walk in the Superstitions?

Not Really. It is not that there are no easy, less challenging hikes in the Superstition Mountains, but it seems that we don’t seem that interested in taking them anymore.

The hike scheduled for this Wednesday is called the Weaver’s Needle Crosscut. I can’t show you the track of our hike this time, as the narrow canyons we wandered through caused Havoc with the GPS receiver on my phone, and I have a couple of massive Zig-Zags on the highlighted track which showed us travelling an additional 3 miles on top of the 8.7 miles we actually walked.IMG_6037

I can give you a bit of a description of the hike though. We leave the packed parking lot at the Peralta Trail head and immediately begin climbing Cardiac Hill. This is a walk straight up the hill where we gain about 800 feet in 25 minutes. This section is done with a minimum of 3 rest stops, and even more if a hiker needs to stop and ‘take pictures’…..OK, I was sucking air into my lungs and trying to keep the camera steady at the same time.IMG_6038IMG_6041

Then we wander into Barks Canyon and continue climbing to the point where we intercept the Terrapin trail.

IMG_6043IMG_6045IMG_6047

We have been on this hike before, and have seen water along here before, but there was lots of water all along the hiking trail almost all day.

We follow Terrapin for a while until we catch sight of Weaver’s Needle. From most of our other vantage point where we can see the Needle, it looks like a single chunk of Rock. It is only when we get off to this side of the rock can we tell that there are two chunks of rock that make up the feature.

IMG_6057IMG_6058We also ran into Darkwing Duck, or the Iowa Hawkeye mascot depending upon your perspective.

IMG_6060Right about here we stopped for lunch and a rest before heading up and over a ridge on a path that is charitably called difficult.

IMG_606420200212_120501

And what goes up, must come down. At one point on the downhill section we followed the Blood Trail left by one of our faster hikers who left his mark on the rocks. Not a pretty sight.

IMG_6070IMG_6072IMG_6075

As you can see, most of the time on this section was spend clinging to rocks and trying not to fall down into the valley. Unfortunately this section of the hike proved to be a difficult section for Sylvia, and her Foot/Nerve issue started to flare up again. By the time we started to climb up out of the valley she had to take a break and rest. Once she spent 15 minutes cooling her foot on the Ice-Pack we use to keep our lunch cool she was OK for the rest of the way home though.IMG_6076IMG_6077

Once at the bottom we hooked up with the Peralta Canyon Trail and made our way back to Fremont Saddle. It was a bit of a strange day in the valley, as we were in Sun almost all of this section of the hike, but Weaver’s Needle was covered by clouds pretty well all the time I was trying to get a decent picture of the Needle.

IMG_6081IMG_6084

Eventually we ended up back at Fremont Saddle, and here’s a picture from when we were there in December when the clouds didn’t interfere with the picture taking.

20191218_110207

So all in all we ended up walking almost 9 miles (or 12 if you believe my phone), gained 2200 feet of elevation (3800 according to Mr. Samsung) and felt like we had pushed ourselves pretty hard. No wonder we only want to hike only once per week. We encountered lots of other hiking groups on the early part of the trail but once we turned towards Weaver’s Needle we didn’t see another soul until we reached Fremont Saddle and started walking the 2 miles back to the parking lot. That section is always busy and we passed a couple of dozen other hikers.

In other news, the Softball team is going along pretty well, and our team is 9-3 over the whole season. We only have 2 more weeks of ball before the playoffs, and I have a good feeling about this team’s potential to finish on top. We’ll see.

We haven’t been quiet on the Home Improvement side of things either as we purchased and installed a new Water Softener this week. And I still have room for other stuff in the Shed as I purchased an All-in-One unit that is quite compact. Now if it only works as advertised we’ll be thrilled.

And that was this past week’s adventures.

Back to the Trails

We’ve been back in Arizona for just over a week, and are back to our regular routines, sort of. Last weekend we actually had some great weather, and were able to enjoy some heat and sunshine. It only lasted for a couple of days, but was welcome none the less. Then we were back to somewhat cool, cloudy weather like we have come to expect unfortunately.

This meant that our softball games this week were played at about 50F or 10C, which is OK as long as you are playing on the field, but was pretty cool for all the fans who travelled along with us to the game. We actually had a pretty big cheering section, as we had a late afternoon game and planned on heading to a local restaurant called Fat Willy’s after the game (Fat may just be a recurring theme for this blog). Several of our better half’s came along to see the game and check out the hot meal, which couldn’t come quickly enough after sitting on the cold Aluminum bleachers for a couple of hours. Fortunately we got the games over with pretty quickly by beating up on our opposition and made it to the Restaurant before it got dark.

The next day was hiking day, and Sylvia had to go on her own, as I was involved in a Ribbon Cutting for the renovated Ball Field here at Canyon Vistas. The destination was South Mountain, which is right on the South edge of Phoenix. The trail the group took was called Fat Man’s Pass, and there were a couple of spots that were rather difficult to traverse.

As you can see, it wasn’t exactly a sunny day in Phoenix. This hike is a tough climb right from the parking lot. and the large group got spread out pretty quickly. As the trail is a bit sketchy as you wander over bare rock, there was quite a few spots where folks were wondering where to go next.

IMG_6017Lots of interesting Rock formations.

IMG_6024The first of a few interesting passages through the mountain.

This spot was pretty wide open and easy.

IMG_6031This one, not so much. I am not certain that I would have made it through Fat Man’s pass with my skin intact.

IMG_6033On Friday, it was Sylvia’s turn to be busy as a small group of gals wandered off to see the wares at the Gourd Festival and I joined a small group of hikers who wanted to head to the top of Battleship Mountain. Battleship is a spot I have seen and walked around for several years, and I was intrigued to see if we could make it to the top. None of our group had ever been to the top, but our leader had attempted it once before, and got turned around by winds and bad weather.

We had a very nice day for hiking, 64F or 18C by the afternoon, and we were in the sunshine pretty well all day.

20200207_093036The monolith in the middle of this pic is Battleship Mountain. As you can see, we had already climbed to a higher elevation than the top of the rock, but we had a lot of elevation to lose before reaching the bottom the mountain that we eventually had to climb again.

20200207_093049

Battleship is certainly not the highest point in the Superstitions, but as you can see from this close-up, it certainly presents a difficult objective. There are no obvious trails to be seen from this side, and it is just as steep on the other side. Our eventual path too us to the extreme right side of this picture and we walked up the narrow spine of the ‘Ship’.BattleshipThere is still quite a bit of water hanging around the desert. We walked through quite a bit of water in Boulder Creek, although nobody got their feet wet.

20200207_094725 (1)

Once we got back down into Boulder Creek we wandered along and Paul saw this feature. His impression was that it was a Pig kissing a Rabbit. Me? I thought it looked like a pretty skinny pig.20200207_100514Pig and Rabbit

After 5 miles we finally came to the bottom of the trail to Battleship itself. It may not look like much from here, but that piece of rock is 700 feet above us, and I still couldn’t see any trail up the incline. Up to this point we had been averaging a mile every 22 minutes or so, and the next mile took us over 40 minutes to accomplish.

20200207_104201

The view from the top was spectacular. Pardon my shadow, but that was the only way I could get a Panoramic photo near the top.

20200207_105553This  is looking back towards Boulder Creek. We walked along it quite a while before starting to climb.

20200207_105522

The other side of Battleship drops down into La Barge Creek, where we have hiked to before. One of the hikers with us decided to not climb the mountain and wandered down to see if there was any decent trail along the creek. There wasn’t, but we ended up meeting back up with him at Boulder Creek.

20200207_105758

This is where we ran out of trail. The knoll ahead of us was only a 100 yards or so away, but there was a yawning open space with a 100 foot drop between us and the high point. It wasn’t a spot I was comfortable trying to traverse so I said I would stop and have lunch, and everyone else decided to join me.

20200207_11050320200207_114806

So here’s the 5 of us resting before the return trip. Pardon the bad pick, but I never said I was good at selfies. One of our group was celebrating a birthday at the top. Roger turned 75 on the mountain. Talk to me in 11 years to see if I am still mountain climbing please…..

And here’s a pic showing why I would not likely fit through Fat Man’s Pass.

20200207_115751

And then it was time to head home. The total hike was 11.7 miles with 1795 feet of elevation gain in total. By the time we were done, I was one tired puppy, and I spent the evening wondering when my legs would start to cramp up, and believe me they did cramp. It had been quite a while since I did any hike near 12 miles, and I could sure tell. It didn’t stop me from heading out to the ball field the next day for practice though. I certainly didn’t do any running though.

Rain is expected to return tomorrow, so Softball might be a bit of a challenge this week. Hopefully it clears up by Wednesday, as we have friends coming in for a couple of days to do some hiking.

And, We’re Baaack

Actually the title of this blog works for both legs of our trip. For the first time since we retired we returned to our home mid-winter,, and after a week of work and a bit of visiting we’re now back in Arizona. Not a moment too soon either.

As I have mentioned previously we had a fairly extensive renovation done on our ensuite bathroom that started soon after we left to head south. The old room had a 6 foot Bathtub that we hardly never used, a pretty small shower and bowl sinks that we grew to dislike. The floor tile was rather strange too, it was used as a backdrop for the tub, and it never really looked like it belonged.

It is actually a pretty large room, but not a great layout so we had planned for a couple of years to change it up and finally decided to take the step this year.

20190913_142347In the mirror, you can see the tub and the window that we decided to remove.

20190923_084626

And here you can see the wall that the shower is behind.  Our plan was to remove the Window, Tub, Wall, Sinks, Mirror, replace the Flooring and countertops and add a new Makeup counter and larger shower. The picture of the new stuff is a Panorama, so it looks a bit wonky, but you can see most of what we added. We decided to put tile on the wall as well. I am essentially standing where the Tub was, and the spot on the right is about where the original window was. With the wall removed and a Glass shower stall in it’s place, the room looks and feels quite large now.

20200129_07430120200129_074335

The plan for the trip home was to sign off with the contractor on the finished product, clean up the construction mess and paint our bedroom and closet to match the new colour in the bathroom.

20200126_102915

Thankfully the new paint covered the old with only one coat required. We only had a couple of days to accomplish the work we had on our plate, and we got it all done, including putting all our paintings, pictures and furniture back in place and now it sits awaiting for us to arrive back home in April. I am sure it will surprise none of you that we didn’t get a chance to actually use the new bathroom or sleep in our bedroom before we returned to Arizona.

We did have a bit of an audience during our stay at home. This fella and his harem have taken over our yard while we are away. He spent a couple of hours sitting in our back yard just watching us work. I guess it wasn’t too interesting as he had a bit of a nap after a while.

20200127_084001

20200127_083939

Altogether there were 6 deer in the little herd and they have obviously been spending a lot of time in our yard judging by the numerous piles of droppings I found when wandering around. I even found a couple of piles left behind by a bear. Once when I wandered out of the garage to run an errand, all 6 of the deer were standing on my driveway just watching me. They didn’t start moving away until I picked up the closest weapon and started throwing things at them. It turned out that the nearest ammo was a pile of snow and they didn’t seem to like me throwing snowballs at them. Not that I hit any of them….

Speaking of Snow, we had a lot of it left in our yard, but it was disappearing quickly while we were there, but not quick enough that I didn’t have to shovel the driveway. There was also quite a bit on the highways between the Coast and the Okanagan, and we went through a couple of snow-showers both coming and going from Kelowna.

 20200125_154533

These following pics are before and after the Pennask Summit. Once we got over the top and started dropping down into the Okanagan Valley the fog rolled in, and it got dark in a hurry.

20200129_105933_00120200125_170852

The picture below was at the Rest Area at the top of the Coquihalla summit on the way back to the Coast. Not surprisingly there was nobody else there but us. The highway is on the other side of that pike of snow.

20200129_105026

Our rental car handled the conditions pretty well, but as I think this is the first time I have driven in or shovelled snow since 2012, I think I handled both of those items pretty well too. I am not volunteering to do either again any time soon, though.

Once we got back to AZ, we soon got acclimatized again, broke out the Shorts, and settled in to watch the sunset. Like is Good when the temps are in the 70’s F.

20200131_180825

And we’re Off!

This evening we fly back to the Pacific Northwest and will be visiting Sylvia’s folks and our Snowbound home for a week.

Not that I am looking forward to shovelling out our driveway, but it is certainly going to be a different experience for a few days.

We managed to get in one last hike before leaving and went out with the club to Pass Mountain, in a local State park not far from out Resort. I would put up the track of the hike like I’ve done before, but for some reason Smile the GPS app never shut off after the hike and I have a 13 mile tail at very high speeds added onto the 8.2 miles of the real hike. It was very entertaining to see us go from 25 minutes per mile to less than 1 per mile very quickly according to AllTrails.

The Pass Mountain hike a fairly flat 8 miler in Usury Park just north of the Mesa/Apache Junction border. And if you’re counting, this is the second 8 mile hike that Sylvia has done lately and she had NO issues with her wonky foot.

20200122_084757As it is a relatively close location to the populated centers here, it is pretty busy and we ran into several other hiking groups and individuals. Not like the empty spaces we see on most of our hikes.

20200122_092712

This Teddy Bear Cholla is covered in Dew as it was a cool morning after substantial rainfall fell yesterday. I don’t care how soft it looks, don’t pet the Cactus.20200122_103003The back side of Pass Mountain is the prettiest (and quietest, as the front side is across a small valley from a VERY active shooting range). The views are towards Saguaro Lake and the Goldfield Mountains which we also hike around regularly.

20200122_11211820200122_112944-EFFECTS20200122_11573820200122_120536

We spent our day hiking with a couple from Edmonton who are visiting friends here. The got a real kick out of seeing the desert as they are heading home next week to break out their Snowsuits and firing up their Snowmobiles. That should be a shock to the system.20200122_121746

As usual we were the last to arrive in the parking lot, and head back to the Resort. I hope everyone else enjoys the pictures we stopped to take.

Next update will be from Chilly Canada. I. Can. Hardly. Wait.