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That Kicked our Butts

On Friday 21 of us took off for a hike we call Miner’s Needle Loop. My GPS tracker kept a pretty accurate recording of the hike when compared to our club notes from previous years, so a 9.5 mile hike with 1500 feet of elevation gain accurately describes the day’s adventure. You can see from the track below that we had most of our climbing in the first half of our loop, especially at the very beginning when we hiked up Cardiac Climb. This is a route we can take in either direction, but coming down that steep section at the end of a long hike is not my idea of fun.

Miner's Needle Loop

The day was quite cloudy, but quite comfortable for hiking. Most of us wore long pants, as we expected it to be rather cool, but at times when the clouds thinned out it was pretty warm.

No blue skies today, but the subdued light and the recent rains we’ve experienced made for some decent pictures.


Before long we were looking down from Cardiac Climb onto Bark’s Basin. The end of our hike would have us walking right across this section.


A Saguaro Cactus is a tough Desert Dweller. I thought this fella was just another Dead Soldier until I blew it up a bit and saw the living arm still hanging on. We’ll see how long it survives though.


For whatever reason we’ve seen an abundance of Jojoba nuts still on their bushes this year. Usually the birds have stripped them all off by now. They are related to Almonds, and once you peel the husk off they’re quite edible. Could use a little salt though.


I did say we’ve seen a bit of rain, and some of it was collected in Bark’s Canyon. That allowed us to get at least a partial fill of Reflection pictures and keep several of our photographers busy for a bit. In the past, we’ve seen lots of water in this section, and last year I had to get my boots wet to get through here. (Ok, I was just being clumsy)


Weaver’s Needle keeps popping up no matter where we are in the Superstitions.


This little bush has managed to find some soil and moisture somehow. If it can survive this very dry fall and winter it likely will continue to grow for a long time.


One hiker in our group considers every hike that doesn’t provide a view of Weaver’s Needle a waste of good hiking time. I figured I’d catch a picture of Hans and his favourite piece of rock. This part of the hike was in the shallow center section of the track I posted above. It was a welcome respite from all the climbing, but we still had some elevation to gain.


Our lunch stop was above Miner’s Needle. This is the last high spot on our track, and most of the rest of the trail is downhill from here. Dana and I have made a promise to climb the needle on the right at some point. I don’t think it will be when we are on this particular track though, as it’s about 6 miles from where we started. I think we’ll come in from the short side of the loop to do this.

That’s Bark’s Basin in the background, and once we reach it we have a few miles of rolling desert before we get back to the trucks.



This particular group of rocks always keeps us busy trying to figure out what it looks like. Everything from Winnie the Pooh to a St Bernard to a sleeping Lion complete with whiskers and even a Water Creature from the movie The Abyss.

It is unofficially called The 3 Dogs. If you can find 3 pups in there, you’re either a better observer than I am, or you are having flashbacks from what you injested in the 70’s.


There were lots of blooming Ocotillo on the way down to the basin. It added a nice bit of colour to our day.IMG_5141


Not all Saguaro are as resilient as the one I posted above.


One final view back where we came from. It was a great day, but our legs were a bit worn out by the time we were finished. I heard from a few fellow hikers who were planted on the couch for the evening, or had put their PJ’s on by 5:30.


And that was the end of our day wandering in the desert.


A Week’s Work

It has been just over a week since the work got started in earnest on our Park Model addition. Things really started to pick up the last couple of days when we’ve had 2 guys working on the project and things are starting to come together nicely.

Last Thursday.


This Thursday.


The lower deck has been raised up to the correct height, and the new front deck is framed and sheeted. We’re thinking of having a Dance Party there on the weekend before the interior wall goes up and we have to dance around studs.

Mind you with no railing on the deck it might be a bit dangerous, as it’s 5 steps down to some very hard, very thick concrete.

All of the old carpet has been removed from the deck, and I decided to tackle that as it is very time consuming and I just wanted to see the contractors do more construction and not waste time on stuff I could deal with. It was a difficult process and I was given some much appreciated help by my friend Jim.

There is still a storage room to be built at the back of the parking pad, and we don’t really know when that will happen. The contractor hopes to start pulling off the awning tomorrow and the walls for the Arizona Room should start going up early next week. Once they’re in place the trusses (which are already here) will go up and it will look just a bit different.


Where the new stairs are is going to be the end of the Arizona Room, and everything in front of it will be deck. We’ve had a few friends pop by already wondering what we’re going to do with such a large area. My stock answer is ‘Enjoy It!’


More pictures next week.

Back in the Day

Most of us who are old enough to attend Geezer Camp (requirements are being of Retirement Age but having a Young at Heart Mentality) will remember a day when Colour Pictures were a novel idea.

My first Camera as a kid was a Kodak Brownie of some sort. It had previously been my Grandmother’s camera and I enjoyed it for quite a few years.


I kind of wish I still had it, as it might be worth a few bucks these days. When it was in production it sold for about $5.00.

This camera was not the first Camera I ever used, as my Grandmother also let me try a few shots on her pride and joy another Kodak from the 1920’s.

For those of you from the digital generation you had to purchase rolls Film and load it in the camera. Once you had taken all of your 12 or 24 pictures you had to take it to a Photo Shop (or usually the local drugstore) to get them developed. The idea of the instant gratification we receive today from our digital cameras was unthinkable. You also had to be careful to load and unload the camera in a darkened room as any light would negatively impact the images stored on the Film.

Once I started taking pictures I soon learned that purchasing your own film was expensive (at least for a 9 year old) and that Black and White film was quite a bit cheaper than the New-Fangled Colour film that Kodak made available for what Kodak seriously called Point and Shoot cameras  in the early 60’s.127-film-beside-box

Therefore, most of my early picture taking showcases only Black and White photos, and I still have some of them in a chest in our storage room.

All this is a lead up to today’s hike and the associated pictures. I had a project to do at the Park Model as we have had a fair bit of trouble pulling off the Indoor Outdoor carpet on our deck, so bright and early Sylvia packed up her backpack and headed out the door. I wasn’t expecting her to take any pictures. but she stopped back at the house before leaving the park and had me hand her the camera. I didn’t have a chance to even see if it was charged, but thought she’d have enough juice to take a few pictures at least.

While I plugged away at the carpet (with the welcome assistance of my buddy Jim) Sylvia went on a 6 mile hike to Wishbone Junction that turned out to be almost 8 miles and not that close to Wishbone Junction as one of our hike leaders led our 35 hikers astray for a bit. It was a cloudy day today, and even rained a bit on the hikers, and Sylvia ended up tracking a fair bit of mud up onto our deck. She did tell  me it was a wonderful hike and she figured she got some great pictures but couldn’t figure out why all the previews on the screen at the back of the camera looked washed out and  had no colour. Uh-oh. It turned out that the camera was on the Black and White setting, and as she wasn’t familiar with the settings didn’t know that she needed to change it to Auto to get the shots she wanted.

So, we have some great pictures of a great hike, but you’re going to have to use your imagination to visualize the usual scenery and blue skies (which didn’t exist today) that we normally show you.


Personally I think she did a fine job of picture taking, but she really wishes she’d taken them in colour.

And just to prove that there was colour in the desert today I stole this pic from our friend Kathy’s Facebook page.


Not Another New Hike??

For the third hiking day in a row Sylvia and I experienced new territory on our little walks in the desert. This week we were convinced to head to a spot called Robbers Roost.  This involves climbing up a trail called Carney Springs that we have heard about for several years but never managed to get to. It is about a 3 mile trek that is quite a stair climber on steroids.

In the attached sketch it is represented by the first third of the track. The leisurely  flat section was a side trek between parking lots because we were starting from one trailhead and finishing at another. We parked in the middle of both of them to try and eliminate long walks on a dusty desert road trafficked by drivers who didn’t seem to care that they were showering us with Arizona’s Famous dust as they drove by. Once the leisurely walk was done we seemed to go almost straight up for 90 minutes and climbed almost 2000 feet. In case you’re wondering, my phone app is set up for metric, and on top of it, it seems to record a bit short compared to the GPS units used by my fellow hikers. According to the pro units this was an 8 mile (12.8km) hike with 2400 feet (730 M) of Elevation gain. I feel even more tired now.

It was another gorgeous sunny day for a hike, and for the most part we were in brilliant sunshine all day. It made for a warm afternoon, but a great start in the morning.

We were on our way to the top, and even further.IMG_4842-001

There were 23 in our group, but unfortunately 3 had to turn back due to previous injury and health issues. (we found out that a pacemaker can’t quite keep up with the stress of a sustained climb).


Partway up.


Still Smiling.


Ninety minutes later we were at the top of the ridge. That peak in the distant background is 5057, the highest peak in the Superstition Mountains. The route we took is a common path to get there, but I sure wouldn’t want to climb down it after a hard day’s hike.


By this point we were at almost 4000 feet of elevation and I was surprised to see how many Pinon Pine trees were thriving along the ridge. We found some water and evidence of a spring that obviously feeds a little gully. This area was greener than almost anything else we’ve seen this winter.




At this point we were still looking up at Peak 5057, the highest point in the Superstitions, but not too far up.


We stopped for lunch in a great spot with interesting rock formations and spectacular views.


We passed by Lizard Rock. There’s a story here, but I can’t repeat what someone called it.


Before long we found yet another view of Weaver’s Needle. Over the years I have posted dozen’s of pictures of this pinnacle. It is a favourite of all the hikers in the club. The views up here were special.




Before we knew it we were at Fremont Saddle and walking back towards our vehicles. We were on this same route a few weeks ago, but the views were just a little bit different. I’ll let you figure out which are this week’s pictures.









This last picture was done for a purpose. I have captioned it ‘The Tough Girls’. A few of these ladies were told that they shouldn’t come on this hike as it was too tough for them. They were thrilled to finish, and just to put a shine on it, the fella who said they shouldn’t go came up lame with a pulled calf and had to go home half way up the climb. Don’t get in these ladies way, EVER.

There is yet another new (to us anyway) hike planned for Friday, but (fortunately) some friends of ours from Campbell River called and want to drop by on Friday. I’m not sure we could go if we wanted to. We’re a bit worn out.

And so it Begins

The first step in our Construction process is dismantling the old Laundry and Storage rooms. Any progress is a good thing right now. Finally.

Some New Hikes This Week!

We haven’t been blogging that often lately as we have found that most of the activities that we are doing are duplicates of prior years. There isn’t a lot we haven’t done in regards to hiking around Gold Canyon, so doing two entirely new hikes this week was quite a treat.

First a bit of an update on our Park Model build………….

That’s about it, nothing has happened but we have been promised that Monday is the day the construction begins………….maybe. I told the contractor that we have reserved spots for chairs out on the street that our friends are going to be sitting in on Monday so he had better be here. We’ll see.

We have been working on little projects inside the existing home and are continuing to make it look more like our own home. We have an entertainment center built into the Park Model that is mostly a series of cubby holes that we store ‘stuff’ in. Previously it looked like this:


We decided to get some of our pictures developed into large prints and Sylvia got a great idea to mount them in Picture Frames we found at Hobby Lobby. After a couple of days figuring out how to mount the frames the finished product looks like this:


We’re quite happy with the finished product and we can change out the pictures anytime we want as it only cost $12 at Costco to purchase all 4 large prints.

Our first hike this week was to the White Canyon Wilderness. Our Club has been there a few times, most recently last year. As it was a wet year there was a lot of water in the canyon but it’s been so dry this year that the large pool people saw last year was hardly a puddle this year.

This is a pic I stole from Greg Nowakowski from our club taken a few years ago.

White Canyon

This year however the pool is quite different.


The rocks are still pretty, but the water was all but gone. One consequence of having little or no rain this year is that there are no cattle are wandering around the canyon. This means the various nasty plants that live in the desert are not being trimmed back as the cattle try and find something green to feed on.

One particularly nasty shrub here is called Cat’s Claw and it seems to reach out and scratch your legs as you wander past. My legs as well as many of my fellow hikers are sporting some new ‘Arizona Pinstripes’ and so is my truck as the road into the hike was just a bit too narrow to avoid getting it scratched up.

It was a great hike, and this time there was only 22 of us as there was a second hike scheduled. It was nice to hike with a smaller group for a change.


One special find on this hike was this poor little Desert Tortoise. I don’t know what caused his demise, but he made a neat souvenir for one of our hikers.


On Friday we went with an even smaller group, as 8 of us took off on the Three Arches Loop which is not a hike that the regulars in the club will be taking. The first thing we had to do was cross the Salt River. Since we have had very little rain we anticipated an easy crossing, but since it was cool and shady at the start of the hike we certainly didn’t want to fall in the river. IMG_4721I

I stole this pic from our friend Debbie, but she wouldn’t tell me what Sylvia was saying as she hopped across the boulders.

Salt River CrossingOur first Arch was Sunrise Arch, which is strangely named as it in full shade during any Sunrise. It is in the very middle of this picture and looks more like a cave from below.IMG_4726

It is a very steady climb up to the Arch and on our way we ran across this shy little guy. The shell was almost a foot long front to back.IMG_4733

We had a great view of Saguaro Lake and the dam on the Salt River.IMG_4735

Before long we reached the Arch and wandered right through the large opening.


From there we continued to wander up the hill and ended up in a narrow chute that had us on all fours trying to get up to the top.IMG_4768

By the time we reached the top of this mountain we’d climbed almost 1000 feet, all of it in the shade.




Originally this was only going to be called the Two Arches Hike as that was all that Debbie and Dana had ever seen before. By a lucky fluke Debbie spotted Precarious Arch off to the side of our path.IMG_4782IMG_4786IMG_4789IMG_4798

It really is a precarious bit of stone as it is very fractured  and looks like it might fall down in a strong wind. By this point we had climbed close to 1300 feet of elevation in less than 3 miles. Our next destination was Delicate Arch, but not before some serious downhill trekking. At least I thought it was serious. A bit later on I found out I was premature.IMG_4800

Soon we walked right up to Delicate Arch and stopped to enjoy the view .IMG_4807IMG_4811IMG_4818

There are lots of Geodes in this particular spot. Rockhounds will know that they are hollow, Crystal Filled rocks that look really cool when you cut them in half. There were a few examples that were already exposed, but they weren’t all that pretty. Hopefully some of the larger Egg shaped stones our hikers brought back will look good once they are opened up.IMG_4805

From here it was straight down the mountain. This shot was taken with a long zoom on the camera and was our last peek at Delicate Arch.


From there we were on pretty flat ground all the way back to the Salt River and another water crossing. Just before we finished the hike we ran across another special treat.


There are a number of Wild Horses in the Salt River Valley, but we don’t see them that often. This was a real treat, and they certainly aren’t spooked by our presence as we wander up quite close to them.

And that’s it for this week’s hikes. Back to the regular stuff now.