Since I last posted we finished off the park’s Pickleball tournament, and while I did pretty well and ended up in the top 8 or so of our category, Sylvia had a rough couple of days, and called it a learning experience. It was not a real good indication of our skills though, as I seemed to get grouped with players who weren’t that skilled, and one of Sylvia’s groupings was with 3 guys who ended up at the very top of our bracket. We had a lot of fun, and learned a lot, so we have to say we did enjoy the experience.
As you can see the sunshine came out for Saturday’s games, but it wasn’t that warm. In fact we’ve been dealing with temps in the low 60’s since last Friday, and can’t wait for the weekend when we’re going to be back in the 70’s and heading for the 80’s later in the week. I think Sylvia has pretty nice form though.
Sunday was a pretty quiet day, and we spent some time playing pickleball with friends and relaxing. On Monday my regular softball game was held outside the park and we ended up splitting the games in Mesa. On Tuesday I was again asked to play with the top team in the park as they are short quite a few players. We ended up with only 10 players at the start of the first game, and while we usually play with 11 (this is senior softball after all) we held our own for a while and were leading the top team in the division until the last inning when they showed us how the game is supposed to be played. They also ended up smoking us in the second game, and since I joined the Jokers they haven’t won a game. Despite that, they still figure that I’ll be playing with them for at least one more week, as they have a real shortage of healthy players. One fella cracked some ribs in the game I played last week, and another came up lame during the game on Tuesday.
Wednesday is our regular hiking day, but both of the hikes scheduled didn’t interest us all that much. One was to a trail we both considered boring, and the other was a challenging hike that we would like to attempt, but later in the year when it’s a bit warmer as most of it is in the shade of a narrow steep valley. We spoke to our friends, Dana and Debbie, about the hikes and found that they weren’t interested in them either and were planning on attempting another challenging hike up to what is called the Ridgeline trail.
A few years ago they had tried to make it to this location a couple of times and were stopped by the difficulty of the terrain. They figured they were now better prepared for the climb, and definitely more determined to finally get there, and we asked if we could tag along. We also brought along our friends Keith and Linda, and at 8:30 (a really civilized time to start a hike if you ask me) we headed out of the park to the trailhead.
It was a bit cloudy in the morning, and over the course of the day we saw conditions ranging from completely cloudy to mostly sunny and everything in between. We even got sprinkled on a couple of times although you couldn’t say it was raining. The temps were in the low 60’s all day, and we kept our jackets on for most of the hike. When the sun did come out it did feel very comfortable though.
The trailhead is only about 5 minutes from the park, sitting at 2100 feet of elevation. I keep mentioning it, but the desert is really green this year.
In the morning, the sun was shining elsewhere, but not on us.
Somebody ahead of us on the trail had some time and patience as we saw about a dozen of these balanced rocks. Some of us thought that there must be glue holding them up, and I had to test it out. There was no glue, and for the life of me I couldn’t get the rock to stand up again after disturbing it.
The beginning of the trail is called the Hieroglyphics Trail which we’ve walked a few times, but we’ve always stopped at the ancient Petroglyphs carved into the rocks. It’s getting hard to figure out which artwork is legitimate, as people keep adding their own graffiti to the collection.
Our ultimate destination was up on the ridge, and out of sight to the right of this picture. It sure looks like a long way up!
Our directions were to turn right at the big Saguaro…this looks like it.
Various flowers are just starting to come out in the high desert, and hopefully we’ll see some flowers on the cactus in a month or so. This is a brittle bush that is blooming.
The only thing missing from these pics is the usual blue sky in the background.
Looking back we got a nice view towards Apache junction.
When we finally reached the Ridgeline after about 3 hours and 4 miles of climbing we were at 4353 feet of elevation. Our total ascent was about 2500 feet after all the ups and downs we had to endure, and some of it caused our hearts to race a bit as we had some steep slopes and loose rock to deal with. We all made it to the top without incident though and stopped to enjoy the view.
We had a great view of Weaver’s Needle to the east. And yes, that looks like rain in the background.
Just beside us was a small peak that the guys in the crowd couldn’t resist. It was only a few hundred feet above us, but gave us another nice view. The red X is our RV park, about 2700 feet below us. We ended up at about 4550 feet of elevation, less than 500 feet below the high point of the Superstitions, which is a mountain called 5057 and was only about a mile away from us.
I even managed to put this picture up on Facebook while we were at the ridge. Technology is a wonderful thing.
Before too long we had to begin our descent, which was actually more difficult than the ascent. At one point I was helping Sylvia down a particularly difficult section and lost my footing as I was facing backwards. My first reaction was to reach out for the nearest handhold. Unfortunately it happened to be a Cholla cactus, and I had to pull a handful of it’s spikes out of my palm. All’s well though, but my hand did still feel a bit swollen that evening.
As the afternoon wore on, the sun managed to make an appearance, and really brought out more of the colours in the rocks.
At least 3 of us banged our knees on rocks as we were coming down the trail, but only Debbie needed some minor repairs. We couldn’t figure out how she could cut her knee so badly without tearing her pants, but after applying a bandage we proceeded on our way. At least we all fared better than the secretary of our hiking club. A couple of weeks ago on her first hike of the season she tripped over a rock and fell, breaking her kneecap into a few pieces. As she’s from Northern Alberta, her insurance company put her on a plane back to Calgary where she had repairs done quite promptly, by Canadian standards. She’s recovering at a condo in Calgary owned by someone who’s here in the park, and hopefully will be able to return to Arizona to complete her convalescence.
By late afternoon, the sunshine returned, and the high point where we stopped for pictures was quite a bit different than when we were there.
We made it off the trail and back to the park around 5:00 and while it was a long day, we really enjoyed the time we spent with our friends. It definitely qualified as a ‘Wow Day’. We also enjoyed heading to the Hot Tub for awhile before we started making dinner. I think it really helped us recover well, as we’re in pretty good shape this morning.
I’ve been asked a few follow up questions regarding my synopsis of life in Gold Canyon compared to Palm Springs. The rates for our RV park are quite similar to what you can get in Desert Hot Springs, around $750 – 800 per month plus utilities. Of course, the longer you stay the more discounted the rates become. An annual site here is $4750 plus utilities, which isn’t bad per month. The facilities there compared to here are quite similar, but the RV sites here are quite a bit bigger and less dusty I think. The smallest sites here are 35 by 50 feet with some of them ranging up to 60 feet long and fully covered in gravel with a large concrete patio. The rates in Indio are up to $300 a month more than here, and if you want to be in a nice park in Palm Desert or Rancho Mirage, bring your gold plated credit card. Some of them are charging $1600 to 2500 a month for a fairly small site. You can also find cheaper spots further out in the desert around here for less than $600 a month. There won’t be too much in the way of amenities there for that price. Then there’s always the option of boondocking for free on public land in the desert. Absolutely no amenities are available there, and make sure you bring your solar panels along to provide power.
In most cases, you get what you pay for. As far as your personal sense of value goes, you just have to decide what is important to you, and then see if what any area or park offers is what you want to spend your money on. Friendships have also played a big role in our choices at least, and right now, Gold Canyon really works well for us.
The weather is definitely cooler here than Palm Springs or Florida, or even Yuma. We had that figured out the first year we came here and it snowed in February. In fact, we’ve seen at least frost if not snow every winter we’ve been here except this one so far. It’s usually only cold for a few days and the rest of the season is very comfortable. As Sylvia and I are relatively active with Pickleball, softball and hiking we appreciate it not being in the 80’s with high humidity most of the time. But on a day like today when it’s 61 and cloudy it certainly isn’t sunbathing weather either. I’m still not wearing a jacket, but I have pulled out the long jeans while we’re not doing any strenuous activities. It’s only about 5 degrees warmer in Palm Springs today, and we’re both heading for the 80’s next week so we won’t be missing out for long.
The flat floor of the desert can never be described as lush, but it has a very special beauty, especially when it’s as green as it has been around here this year. Once you get up in the mountains I challenge anyone to say that the vistas and rock formations are anything but spectacular. You just have to get off the highway and out of your car to appreciate it fully.