In the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate to hike in a few pretty places. Last month, a couple of work friends and I hiked a little 10 mile loop in the Seven Springs Recreation Area, just north of Carefree, AZ. We started our drive at 6:30am and arrived at the trailhead just after 8am. Pros: great chance to get to know some work people, exploring a new place, exercise….Cons: rather warm that day! Our original plan was to follow trail #4, which would be 16 miles in total. However, around mile 5, we lost the trail due to overgrowth so we decided to go back out the way we came in. Despite the name “Seven Springs,” we didn’t see a lot of water, but when we did, we took advantage of it by wading around a bit to try to cool off. Most of the hike was in direct sunlight, which made us all feel rather sluggish near the end. One of the things that kept me going was the thought of the icy cold Coke I had in the cooler in the car!
(Clockwise from top left: lots of cacti; lots of saguaro cacti; Lindsey, Jennie, and I posing for a poorly taken selfie; still hanging in there!)
(Clockwise from top left: pretty cactus “hand” holding a couple of flowers; Jennie and I about to wade in the water; a snake we spotted on the trail; water felt great!)
Last weekend, my friend Lindsey and I hiked Humphreys Peak near Flagstaff, AZ to try and escape the record high temperatures in Phoenix. (As an aside, when we left Phoenix at 5:40am, the temperature was already 85F / 29C. The high temperature hit 118F (47C) and the high temperature that my truck’s thermometer hit was 122F (50C)!) When we got to the trailhead, we noted that the parking lot was full. Apparently, most of Phoenix had the same idea we had: drive to Flag to escape the heat. The hike begins in wonderful, shaded, cool forest (adjectives used to convey the sheer joy and relief we felt at being able to walk outside without the fear of sunstroke) then gives way to numerous switchbacks, until finally, the true peak appears, after 3 false summits. Humphreys Peak is the highest point in Arizona, topping out at 12633 ft / 3851 m and the main trail we took is about 4.5 miles (one way), with an elevation gain of 3300 ft / 1005 m. We saw snow at the top, we felt cold enough to wear a jacket at the top, and we rejoiced in the much cooler temperature! In addition to feeling cool, neither of us experienced any altitude sickness, which is always a possibility when one is at a high enough altitude. After the hike, we stopped in at a local brewpub to devour some well-earned calories.
(Clockwise from top left: The temperature at 5:40am!; snow near the peak; we did it!)
Yesterday, my SAT (self-appointed trainer for all of you who are new to the blog or have forgotten what the heck “SAT” means) and I hiked the Granite Mountain trail just outside Prescott, AZ with our friends Ben and Colleen. I met Ben, a clarinet player, in grad school and we played a number of recitals together. Turns out that he and his wife Colleen are moving to CO very soon, so we all thought it would be nice to get together one more time before they leave us. 😉
Total round trip distance is about 8 miles, with about 1500 ft / 457 m of elevation gain. The temperature was very delightful; Prescott sits at 5400 ft, which makes the town very appealing to us “lowlanders” in Phoenix (elevation 1100 ft), as the temperature is much more bearable higher up. [Temperature seems to be a recurring theme in this post!] As we hiked, we saw lots of burnt trees (evidence of a recent forest fire) as well as rock ledges, which are popular with rock climbers. This wilderness is a protected area for the nesting of peregrine falcons, which were almost extinct just a few years ago, and the protective order keeps the cliffs off-limits to climbers for much of the summer.
Once we reached the overlook at the end of the trail, we sat and enjoyed the views. From this viewpoint, you can see the lake which looks like a puddle from 7186 ft (2190 m). There are lots of extremely large boulders, rocks and huge stone slabs in the area. It would be easy to spend an entire afternoon just climbing the rocks and exploring. Reaching the actual summit would require some bushwhacking, rock scrambling, and navigation skills. If we had more time, we may have considered that. Perhaps next time…
(Clockwise from top left: start of the hike. You can see the granite in the top right hand corner.; Burnt tree; some sort of baby dragon?; view from the overlook. The lake on the left looks like a little puddle!)