For those of you who were commenting that I hadn’t put out enough cactus and desert photos lately (you know who you are!), your wait is over!
Friday the club scheduled a hike that circled Black Mesa, about 15 minutes from our park. The group was split into 3 mostly equal groups of about 15 hikers each. The first group off at the trailhead were those who were in a hurry, and we never saw them again. The second group consisted of a few of the faster hikers as well as those of us who take all the pictures. Yes, I was in that group again, and mostly at the rear of the group like usual. The last group only signed up for a shorter hike and was only going to travel less than a third of the way around the loop and then head back to the trailhead. We all departed a few minutes apart, and the first group was soon out of sight, while the short hike group quickly caught up to me at the tail end of the ‘camera’ group.
The total distance of the long hike was around 9 miles, depending upon who’s GPS device you cared to believe, with about 1200 feet of elevation gained. Other than a few fairly short sections where we had to make a short climb or drop down into a gully fairly quickly, the hike was quite flat and easy to handle. Several of the experienced hikers left their hiking poles behind, but I’m glad I took ours with us, if only to lend to other hikers for the difficult stretches. It’s definitely hard to climb, balance a big camera and take pictures at the same time without a support prop.
The weather lately has been quite nice here, although today started off quite cool and the day only topped out in the low 60’s F. Most folks were wearing multiple layers of clothing when we started off in the early morning, but I and a few of the other more hardy souls were wearing shorts. Not all of us were Canadians either, so maybe I’m becoming an influence on the rest of them.
At about this point in the hike we said goodbye to the group doing the short hike as they turned around to head back to the vehicles. One guy who’s a very competent and fast hiker confided that he chose to do the short hike because he found the rest of the trek rather dull and boring. You will have to let me know if you agree with him once you see my pictures.
We soon got our first good look at Weaver’s Needle which dominates the entire valley behind the Superstition Mountains. Unfortunately it was almost directly into the sun in the morning, so the pictures are a bit washed out. The sky was nice though. Some of the hikers are looking for plants and rocks to place at their Park Model sites. This guy looks pretty good, but it might be tough to sneak it past the Park Wardens at the trailhead.
This was one of the more strenuous downhill sections. Hans was our hike leader and he has a set of terrain descriptions that range from moderate to dangerous to moderately treacherous. This trek was definitely moderate as it wasn’t difficult, just longer than most of the easy hikes.
Our last peek at Weavers Needle before heading back towards our vehicles at the trail head. There was some discussion at this point on doing a short hike on this trail but in the reverse direction in the future so that we could end up looking towards the Needle before turning around. It’s quite a view.
The rest of the hike was in the sunshine, although the air had definitely cooled off a bit. Sylvia had to put her jacket back on at one point. Well to be more accurate, she had to put my jacket on as the sleeve on hers had somehow become peppered with little spikes from a cactus that she had somehow brushed it against. She didn’t notice the spikes until she had put the jacket on, so it became a rather difficult task to take it back off without doing a fair bit of damage to her hand.
In some ways I do understand what the hiker meant about the second half of the trail being boring. It really was not very challenging from a technical standpoint, but the scenery is definitely first class, and worth the time spent on the trail.
At one point we were stopped for a rest and were entertained by this Phainopepla. It flew onto some branches quite near us on both sides of the trail while we watched. This bird can copy the sounds of up to a dozen different birds, including hawks.
When we got back to the park we got cleaned up and managed to get our laundry done. While we were in the laundry room we ran into some other hikers who had finished the hike long before we did. Our group took just over 5.5 hours to do the 9 miles walk including 100 or so pictures each, but some folks were back at the vehicles more than 90 minutes before we were. Different strokes and different agendas I guess.
By the time we were done with the wash we decided that a dinner out was in order and ended up at a local restaurant called Kokopelli’s. Not a bad meal, but surprisingly the spicy Jambalaya dinner I ordered was rather mild, definitely not as hot as I was expecting.
We were too late to see the sunset from the restaurant, which is one their attractions, but I did manage to catch a pic on our way back from the laundry. All those wispy clouds today made for a great sunset.
Don’t you agree?
We hope your day was as good as ours.