Saturday, December 15, 2018

Chandler Arizona Snowbird Test - Pyramid & National & Lost Mines Loop South Mountain Park, Dec 15, 2018

There are so many options on where to hike in this part of Arizona, all offering amazing experiences.  I could not resist going back to South Mountain Park.  It's in my neck of the woods and when I come back I will probably not be staying in this community.  Once again today I had a 20 minute drive to where adventure begins.  I had a plan to hike the Pyramid Trail, connect to The National, find a way off The National mid way, connect with Bursera, connect with Pyramid thus completing a big fat loop. 

I got to the parking lot early to see it was already half full.  I read where it can fill early on the weekend.  Yet where was everyone!  I thought I got an early start.  I went on my merry way,  paying attention to where I was going, there are many unmarked trails that veer off.  


                          

Once the sun came up the clouds began to dance nicely and created pretty picture opportunities.  I followed the Pyramid Trail which was marked with a "P" every now and then, but it was obvious where I needed to go, I was aiming for a steep set of switchbacks.


The flat section was done and I was ready to ascend.  There were many tall saguaros along the trail like this one.  It was not until I got home that I saw the plane in the top left corner.  

                                        
                                 a bud ready to open soon
                             

It was a real slow go of it, not because of the ascending but because the scenery was so captivating.  I was making sure to savour every second.  I could also start to see ridges with trails near the top and I was wondering would I end up there eventually.


                                           barrel cactus lined trail 
                               

I reached the high point along the Pyramid Trail.  It was time for a break and to eat a banana but not before capturing a shot. It was still early and a bit on the cool side which I was thankful for.

I wondered would I be on that trail over there.  While wondering I watched those clouds form.  When I rounded the corner I could then see where I would be going for The National and it was not those Trails I had been seeing.


                             The flower is pointing to The National.   
                                I was glad to see a trail marker with a big "N".  

It was like a whole different world over here.  I could see Phoenix way down below.  It was crazy windy on this side. 

I scrambled up to a big rocky knob and that put me on the high point of The National.  I prayed my tripod would stay upright, plus I tried to myself, the wind was fierce.  From up here everything was put into perspective.  I could see where I had started my day, where I had been and where I needed to go.  The only thing there were no trail markers of any kind but I was quite sure the trail I saw was the one I needed to take to be able to do the loop I wanted.  

I need to get to those trails down there.  When I was researching the area, I did see a map that showed a trail called The Eliminator that veered off The National mid way.  Also, there was one called the Lost Mines.  Just because of the name I did not want to attack The Eliminator.                                 

The trail to the right looked gentler and I could see an extensive part of it.  As I descended I could then see the lost mine and also caves.  It was a rough trail, steep in parts, narrow at times and winding along drop offs.  It was doable and I was OK with it.


I made it down, found my way to the wash, got through that and up and out the other side.  I looked back and I could see a good section of The National up above.

The trail took me back to the Pyramid Trail. I could see the switchbacks on the right side of the saguaro that took me to the top of the Pyramid earlier this morning.

                                         
                               back on the trail to the parking lot

I arrived back at the trail head in the mid day heat feeling pleased and content.  The only thing left to do is drive the 20 minutes to home, crack open a beer and laze about on my patio celebrating today's accomplishment!






Thursday, December 13, 2018

Chandler Arizona Snowbird Test - Gila & Bursera Loop South Mountain Park, Dec 13, 2018

When I was finishing up hiking the Black Mesa a few days ago, I chatted with a couple of fellows and they recommended I might like hiking in South Mountain Park which is right out my back door.  I put their recommendation on the back burner until I had some time to research the location.  I did my homework and confirmed I need to go there.  This was go there day!

When I walked out my door I took the sight I saw as a sign that I was in for awesome today.  Rays of pink shooting off in different directions was quite the sunrise.

After an easy straight forward drive in 20 minutes, I arrived at the Pyramid Trailhead Parking Lot.  Already it looked pretty sweet.  It was still early enough that those morning golden moments were presented. I geared up at home, I just needed to strap on my pack and hit the trail. 

I hiked the Pyramid Trail for a short section then veered off onto the Gila Trail. At the time, I did not know I was on that trial, I met a runner and he told me where I was and he suggested a great route.  I heeded his advice.  

                               



I continued on the Gila Trail and eventually reached a pass where I could see far off and to where I wanted to head. It was a good thing I met up with that runner earlier and he pointed the way, some trails were not signed.


                  

The Gila Trail was rough but it was obvious until I needed to find the way to cross over to ascend the Bursera Trail.  I could see the runner already over there, climbing to the top.  He did tell me there would be a trail to turn left at to get me over there. Was expecting a signed trail and there may have been further along but I did find a boot beaten path through bushes and I took it.  It got me to where I needed to be.

Now on the other side and on the Bursera Trail, I began climbing.  I could see over to where I was on the Gila Trail.  


The Bursera Trail was such an enjoyable route to follow.  It was a hilly ridge that went on and on with amazing views.  I liked all the cactus that lined the trail.  There were wild flowers in spots.


                                  


                        

Climbing yet even higher and seeing down and across to the Gila Trail.


By now I was high enough to see across and down to the other side, hikers right.  The mountains looked like they were floating in the clouds.  I believe I hiked some of those far off mountains.




It was now time to come down off the ridge and wind my way around to the Pyramid Trail. I could see up to some of the last part of the ridge where I just was.  Gosh, I enjoyed being up there.

While passing a few hours exploring those trails back there, someone decorated a tree close to the trail head.  I tried to think Christmas thoughts but I am feeling I may need to see snow to do that.

I am thankful for the advice I have been receiving on where to hike.  All recommendations have proved to be valuable information.   I thoroughly enjoyed this playground right out my back door.