Recovery Days then —–Picacho Peak!

After the grind of two long hikes in a row late last week, we decided to just take it easy for a couple of days. We didn’t even play pickleball on the weekend, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have any fun….if grocery shopping is considered fun.

For the first time in quite a while we didn’t set an alarm on Saturday morning and managed to stay in bed until the sun was out and shining. Mind you that happens about 6:30 so we didn’t sleep that late. We had a leisurely breakfast and then proceeded to get the necessary items done around the RV. Sylvia cleaned up the trailer while I took the truck to a car wash to get some of the desert dust off of it. I think I had the better deal out of the two of us, as I didn’t hardly have to move out of the cushy driver’s seat of the pick-up, although I did manage to motivate myself to vacuum out the inside of the cab as well. I learned something about the term ‘PickUp’ this week. Ford, who  made the first pick-up trucks, shipped them to dealers  in crates that the new owners had to assemble using the  crates as the beds of the trucks.  The new owners  had to go to the dealers to get them, thus they had to  “pick-up” the trucks. i just thought you’d want to know that.

After the clean up work was done, Sylvia and I took off to make our rounds of the various stores where we purchase our groceries. On any given excursion we stop in at up to four different stores to get our stuff. Sylvia likes the fresh veggies that can be had at the Sprouts store in Mesa, we get our bread from a bakery also in Mesa, we sometimes stop in at Costco to get things like cheese and cereal, and finally we stop off at the local Fry’s grocery store to get our regular staples and dairy products. We try and get to Fry’s last, as it’s closest to the RV and then we don’t have to worry about our milk and yogurt getting too warm in the Arizona sunshine. Unfortunately Fry’s seems to be too far away to pick up some ice cream, but if you’ve seen my body shape lately I don’t look like I’m too hard done by.

After our errands we came back to the RV and spent the rest of the day just enjoying the sunshine and reading on our patio for a change. It sure felt nice after the long hikes we’d endured the previous two days.

On Sunday we spent our morning at the church service here in the park. I’m still working the sound board for the services, and as the scheduled services are over next weekend it’ll work out great that we’ll be leaving the following Friday. In the afternoon we drove into Mesa to spend some time with my Godparents before they head back to Edmonton for the summer. We’ve seen a fair bit of May and Neil this winter, and it’s been good to see that their health is good this year. Last winter May had some issues and was not doing that well, but seems to be in fine form this year. She has done really well with her painting this year, and as I stated a couple of blogs ago one of her paintings was picked by the judges as the Best of Show in the Apache Wells residents art show. This same painting also won the Peoples Choice award as the most favourite painting by all the people who attended the show and voted for their own favourites.

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We were very pleasantly surprised when May gave us one of her paintings, and when we get home we’ll have to find a special place to put it. They are hoping to be in the Okanagan in late June for a family wedding so we look forward to seeing more of them.

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On Monday we made arrangements with 9 others to head south of Casa Grande to tackle the hike up Picacho Peak. This is a hike that has been described as ‘just one of those mountains you have to hike’. It sits right alongside the Interstate between Phoenix and Tucson, and has been called a Challenge Hike by our Hiking Club. We have managed to avoid it so far, but were encouraged to tackle it when we heard how many of our friends were going. Here’s the 11 of us standing in the parking lot just wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into. One of our number (there’s Frank on the left of the pic) had just recently had hand surgery, and that was a real issue, as part of the trail involves pulling yourself up some inclines using cables bolted into the mountainside. He did OK but I don’t think his surgeon would have approved.

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The beginning of the trail is almost a 1000 foot elevation gain in just under a mile, that’s not that difficult to tackle as it’s an uncountable number of switchbacks, but it is a steady slog up the hillside. That first section brings you to the saddle on the right of this picture, and the peak is only a little more than 400 feet above you. The only problem is that you have to descend almost 400 feet of a very steep and smooth rock face before you can start heading uphill again.

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The view from the saddle is pretty nice, and somewhere down there on the desert floor are our trucks.

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Sylvia (and quite a few others) made use of the bench placed at the saddle. It came in even handier on our return leg.

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Here’s Sylvia starting the 400 foot decent, she may be smiling, but it doesn’t really look like Linda is that comfortable in front of her. Much of the rest of the hike involved holding onto cables like these so you don’t fall off the mountain. It’s definitely an upper body workout.

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We saw quite a few of these Chuckwalla Lizards on the hike. No snakes though.

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This is a picture Frank took of Sylvia and I hauling ourselves up one of the steeper sections. If you ask me, going up was easier than going down, as gravity tries to make you fall down the various chutes. I was quite surprised to see how well Sylvia did on these sections, as she doesn’t think she has very good upper body strength, and isn’t that fond of heights, but she did great.

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Here’s most of us posing at the peak. Debbie and Dana departed a bit early, as she wasn’t feeling well. By the time we were finished heading back down, some others weren’t feeling too great either, as the unrelenting sun and heat was a bit difficult to handle. A few of our number were bent over with their heads between their knees at various points trying to catch their breath.

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This type of view was pretty standard on the way back down. Several of the sections are very steep, and the person just ahead of you seems so far away. The trail is quite busy, and we ran into at least 25 other hikers either going up or going down.

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Here we are at the 400 foot climb back up to the saddle. As you can see there wasn’t much shade on this side of the mountain, but when we made it to the switchbacks most of it was now in shade. It made it a bit easier to head back to our rides. There’s even a Dairy Queen down on the highway, but I couldn’t convince any of our truck to stop for a treat. One fella is Lactose Intolerant, and another wasn’t feeling too good after the climb, so I just had to suffer through with out a chocolate shake!

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At some point in the history of Picacho there were a number of caves with limestone Stalactites and Stalagmites. They’ve all fallen away down the hillside though, and this pedestal is the only remnant we managed to find. The cave or overhang that surrounded it is now just rubble down below the formation.

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Once we finished the hike we high tailed it back to the park as we had tickets to see the variety show at the Arizona Opry that evening. It’s been 3 years since we’d seen any of the 12 different performances they put on there each year, and we were  treated to another great show. They have some very talented performers, including the original singer of The Lion Sleeps Tonight who is the host of the show. Every one of the performers plays multiple instruments, and we were thoroughly entertained by everything from Opera to Rythym and Blues, Country and Classic Rock. Those two long straight pipes at the sides of the stage are like those seen on Ricola commercials, and they played the anthem from the Olympics on them.

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This morning we woke up early enough and able enough to get to the pickleball courts first thing. We thought we might be a bit stiff and sore, but were in surprisingly good condition. The crowds are thinning out a bit for the morning sessions, as we only had all 6 courts full for a short time this morning. People are heading home, and our immediate neighbours are all gone as of this morning. By this time next week, they’ll probably be more holes than people left here in the park.

That was our last few days, and we hope things are going well with all of you.

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7 responses to “Recovery Days then —–Picacho Peak!

  1. Nice. I owe you a chocolate shake!

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  2. Frank & Paula McWhirter

    Our chocolate shakes were WONDERFUL!

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  3. Wow, now that looked like a hiking adventure. Way to go, Sylvia!!! Yes, and Rod too! Beautiful pictures. I’m sure it was well worth the eye full. I loved the lizard picture. xo Norma

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  4. After that hike, you deserved more than a chocolate shake! Good grief, that was well beyond John’s and my ability. Good for you! Great photos.

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  5. Wow – what an EPIC hike. Well done, you two!

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