Another cool little hike

Yesterday, my SAT and I hiked up Picacho Peak with our friend Julia. Picacho Peak is located in Picacho Peak State Park between Casa Grande and Tucson just off of the I-10. The summit is 3,374 feet (1,028 m) above sea level and the name means “big peak” in Spanish. Total distance is about 6 miles (9.7 km) and total elevation gain is about 1780 feet (543 m). Near the top, there are short steep sections that hikers have to climb with the help of steel cables and handrails . When you arrive at the summit you are rewarded with a beautiful 360 degree view of the surrounding Sonoran desert. Fun facts: Picacho Peak has been used as a navigational landmark for hundreds of years, was the site of Arizona’s only Civil War battle, and sits on top of an ancient volcanic lava flow!

(Top row, L to R: early morning light; Picacho Peak is in the top right of the photo; Julia and my SAT at the base of the first set of cables. Middle row, L to R: Julia and I posing on the first set of cables; more cable-assisted climbing; signage. Bottom row, L to R: many Saguaro cacti near the top; can you see the black, volcanic rock in the middle of the photo?; another photo from the summit.)

Beautiful day, beautiful hike, beautiful company…and sore legs. 🙂 I’m glad we did this hike in February; Picacho Peak is NOT recommended in the late spring and summer months, as there is no shade along the entire trail. Bring lots of water, snacks, sunscreen, and hat.

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My new friend, Polly

Last weekend, I made a new friend. Her name is Polly. Polly has promised to help me get back into shape and to challenge me in pursuing new outdoor adventures. Some of you may wonder who Polly is and how I met her….well, Polly is really my new mountain bike! Polly is a Pivot Mach 4, black and pink, and pretty cool looking. Here she is: IMG_2130

I ordered Polly from our friends, Carl and Lifan, in Las Vegas. They own Irwin Cycles and are the friendliest bike experts ever! Last Saturday afternoon, my SAT and I drove out to Vegas, picked up Polly, and I test-rode her that night. Despite the ridiculous wind (30 mph), cold (a few degrees above zero celsius), and darkness (it was past sundown when we rode), I was quite happy with my new 2-wheeled buddy. Everything worked perfectly and the pink was an added bonus. The next morning, we joined Carl and Lifan for a lovely inaugural ride in Red Rock Canyon.

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(I am smiling while riding a bike! Will wonders never cease?)

On the way back to Phoenix, my SAT and I stopped in Kingman, AZ to check out Monolith Garden, a slightly hidden “blink and you’ll miss it” area off of the freeway just before entering Kingman. Monolith Garden has a number of trails that are perfect for hiking and mountain biking and feature a lot of volcanic rock. The scenery is really pretty and is worth a visit if you’re in the area. We only rode for 2 miles because it started to rain, but made plans to come back! FullSizeRender-11

(Polly and I checking out Monolith Garden.)

The challenge at the moment is finding time to hang out with Polly. Due to my day job AND my music job, finding spare time to ride is going to be tough. I’m already finding that mountain biking is a totally different ‘animal’ than road biking:

  • no cars to worry about!
  • mountain bikes are heavier than road bikes, which makes for a harder ride (to me)
  • there are rocks on the trails! and my mountain bike is ok with that!
  • mountain biking is harder than road biking (oh, I said that already)

One of my first long-term goals is to ride part of the Arizona Trail in November. I would like to try bikepacking, i.e. biking + backpacking, but I need to build up my fitness, stamina, and mountain bike skills. Wish me (and Polly) luck!