Saturday, February 27, 2016

Boston Mill and the San Pedro River

One must hike to the old Boston Mill. There are no paved roads to take you to this isolated location near the San Pedro River. It's on BLM land that sees few daily visitors.

The Boston and Arizona Mining company built a mill to process silver and gold ore they mined from Tombstone's Emerald Gulch and the Grodon Mine, located in the Dragoon Mountains. This was one of five mills along the river. It was active from 1879 to 1887. All that remains today are the rock walls (reinforced in part with cement), some rusty equipment scattered in the nearby desert, and sun-bleached railroad ties. It's 4.3 miles from Charleston Road and requires a hike on the old road to get to. The old road is now badly eroded and reclaimed by the earth, but one can walk partly through a sandy wash, or walk along the abandoned railroad to get to this mill. Either way gets strenuous in 80F heat.

I last did this hike with Kevin in 2005 or so, with both Sara and Sammy. Susan led that hike. It's still well-marked with metal signs, but best done in cooler weather and overcast skies.
SteveA hosted this hike through the hiking club and SVH meetup group. Twenty people showed up, including SusanM and Little Steve, whom I don't see much of these days. Little Steve has been hibernating more in Quarzite and Yuma these days, and winters in Quemodo, NM in the summer. I took Sadie and Zeke with me, both who were leashed the first mile. Once off-leash, they stayed right behind me, perhaps because my body provided some shade, or perhaps because they knew I had treats for them in my backpack. They never got away from me, which impressed others. "What good hiking dogs!" said a few. Only one curmudgeon implied he wasn't happy with the dogs offleash.
We started at 8:30pm from the BLM parking lot off Charleston Road. We had quite a few vehicles taking over the parking lot. I drove separately, as I stopped at the recycling center before coming to the hike, and getting to the recycling center from our house is more direct than meeting in town at the Fry's parking lot. I arrived at the lot before the majority of the hikers.

It promised to be a warm day, but it got hot for us as the heat radiated back from the sand and later the railroad rocks. SteveA had planned this hike hoping for cool weather, but today was warmer than normal. We all got exhausted fast. We started out as a long line meandering up the San Pedro Trail, a singletrack that meanders around barren hills near the river. An hour into the hike, I could tell that both dogs were getting exhausted from the heat, and I used what little shade we could find from mature scrub oaks for a few rest areas. The group quickly broke off into two, then three separate groups. SteveA lost control of this group visually, but kept in radio contact with the gazelles: JimA, Joe, Barry and SusanM. I stayed in the middle.

This hike may not be the most scenic hike, as JeffP said, but it is full of history. A pile of rocks with ancient petroglyphs is along this trail, secured by prickly shrubs now growing around it. I stayed off the rocks to keep the dogs off the warm rocks, and then meandered northward to Boston Mills, still another two miles away through an oak-studded floodplain and dead meadow grasses. By now even I felt exhausted by the heat. The river was hidden from view, but the budding cottonwoods were nearby. Even Sadie wanted to run off and dive into the water.

The group overall spend a lot of time at the mill. The ruins are impressive. People climbed them, explored them, and sat on the upper level and ate lunch there. I kept my dogs off the rock wall and instead took them to the shady river nearby and gave them their dehydrated turkey treats (something I got from Amazon and which came in very handy). This, I'm sure, was what the dogs wanted and needed and I was willing to stay here for a while. A few other hikers stayed in some oak shade while others explored the old mill.

The group of 20 now was broken up into even smaller groups as we headed back. SteveA wanted to walk the river going back, something I was interested as well. I even wanted to test my waterproof Keens I recently bought. But water in parts was over a food deep and wading quickly proved slow. SusanM was with me and we did walk along the river until I opted to get back up to the railroad to make sure we wouldn't be too far behind. It turned out to be a silly fear, as we ended up arriving back at the parking lot with the first hikers, who all left in their cars as soon as possible. We all looked exhausted.

I stayed with SusanM the entire return hike. She is such an explorer, and it's hard to see her as a 68-year-old. She has so much spunk! We met up again with Rod, Nina, and another woman on our return hike as we moaned and groaned along the railroad bed. I took Susan down to the river near the graffiti-lined bridge to show her where I like to take the dogs to on hot summer days, but then we got back up to the railroad bed to finish our hike. It was 1pm.

The last people to return to their cars were Gina and SteveA, who surely walked back the entire way via the river. I would have joined them, but today the heat was just too much for me. What happened to our predicted cool, wet winter thanks to El Nino? We haven't had precipitation since early January and our desert is starting to dry up. At this rate, we could be facing severe fire conditions by April again.

Instead of sipping on hot lemon tea upon my return, I was drinking cold lemon shandy.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Carr Reef and the waterfall

We have had some wonderful weather these last few days. The power walk on Wednesday was almost too warm for me, Thursday's walk up to the middle Carr Falls with Marleana was mild and overcast, and today's hike with both HollyO and Marleana a challenging but much-needed hike to one of my favorite look-outs. This was an impromptu hike after talking to Holly about doing a quick hike this morning. Since I had plans on taking my hiking dogs to the local vaccine clinic in town in the afternoon, knew that I had to stay local to get to the vaccine clinic on time. I wanted all three hiking dogs vaccinated for the rattlesnake and H3N2 (dog flu), in preparation for the spring break get-away I'm planning in Prescott in early March.

Marleana, HollyO and I with Zeke and Sadie met promptly at 8am. We were the first cars in the lot. Another couple was returning from their early morning walk. They were the only people we saw on our uphill hike. It was still cool and shaded. Marleana was wearing her shorts and Holly had on a fleece sweater. I wore my favorite hiking shirt with a tee underneath. My thick fleece was strapped over the backpack but I never needed it. We left promptly at 8am. Skies were mostly clear and it looked like it would be hot by the afternoon.

I have walked up this road countless times now, and that first mile uphill can take one's breath away. Again, like Thursday's walk, I was out of breath! That can't be! But we still made it to the middle falls in 41 minutes. The only scare we had was when Sadie ran up a steep incline and didn't come right back for ten minutes, even after yelling out her name. Had she chased something? We heard no barks or whimpers or death cries. This disappearing act is something Minnie and Zeke do. We had seen two koatamundi cross over the road; perhaps that was her curiosity taking over her?

Once she returned back to us, all returned to normal. We stopped briefly at the middle falls for the dogs to drink, then resumed our hike uphill. The icy snow banks there were here along the north face of the road had all melted since Thursday. We had surprisingly little snow or ice the rest of the way. The day temperatures in the 70s all last week surely helped.
HollyO had never been up to the reef, nor had ever been to the upper Carr Falls. That required me of course to take both gals there to share the view. Water from snowmelt was flowing nicely here, disappearing through the slot below on its way to the rocky slabs of the middle falls. Both were impressed.
More impressive for me was the lack of any snow on the reef, which is near 7500'. Even the north slopes had no snow. There were two small drainages with water for the dogs. I was carrying 6L of water in two water bladders, but I always prefer the dogs drink their water from flowing creeks. It keeps me from having to stop to give them water.

We made it to the reef overlook in 2:30 hours. I don't know how much time we spent at the upper falls, but that time was impressive. Having fast company makes me hike faster, too! There was no wind at all. Sitting up at the top was quite relaxing. Both gals agreed. We had the entire valley to look down at. A brown smokey trail traveled across the northern horizon. (Is there a wild fire nearby? I noticed this smoke on Thursday)

The manzanitas looked so green today. The snowfall from early January gave them their color back. The trail was well-saturated and soft, but not muddy. We finally left the reef at 11:05am.

The walk back down was easy. We chatted the entire time. Both dogs were now tired and right by my side. We passed several groups of people once we got to the middle falls for another short water break. A mother-daughter group was heading up to the upper falls, and two young men were backpacking up to the peak for the night. (They should have left earlier in the morning!). The closer we got to the lower falls, the more groups we passed, with everyone wanting to spend some time at the water. I'm glad we started early, though.
We got back to our cars just before 1pm. I got home at 1:15pm, had a quick lunch, then left at 1:50pm with all three hiking dogs to the vaccine clinic at the Tractor Supply Company in town. A marquee in town said it was 80F outside. Geez, that's hot! The dogs barked at other dogs when we first joined the slow-moving line, but they calmed down. Sadie and Minnie took a liking to the young gal in front of me. "Oh mom, you should get a German shepherd!" I heard her say.

I didn't leave the store until after 4pm and $186 poorer, and to reward the dogs for their good behavior, took them briefly to the San Pedro River where they could drink and stretch their legs. Zeke and Sadie acted like they hadn't hiked in days, and Minnie was glad just to get some fetching in. I had to cut my trip here short as there were two other groups of people with their offleash dogs, and one family told me their two pitbulls "didn't like other dogs." I took a nasty fall over a two-foot tall tree stump and landed face first in (luckily) a thick pile of dead grass, but my left thumb took a bad sprain again. My left thumb sprains easily after a bad tendon injury when I was 16 years old and an avid rollerskater.
Trees and shrubs are budding along the San Pedro River. Spring is in the air. I love the warm weather, but was really hoping for
a wet and cool winter to last at least another month. So much for our "el Nino!"


Trump won the South Carolina primary. Jeb Bush dropped out. I always thought he was the more competent of the Bush sons and would have made a much more compassionate yet strong president than his older brother turned out to be. Jeb dropping out ends the Bush dynasty.

(Photos of the dogs and me taken by Holly Olyds)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Power walking with the dogs

I was very much in pain all day today and stayed in bed. My back aches don't usually last past an hour after getting up for coffee. The last thing I wanted to think about was going hiking up Miller Peak.

It was another hot (upper 70s) day and I stayed inside. Even the birds were going nuts outside and wanted their feeders refilled. The dogs were impatient and kept waiting for me to put on my shoes, grab my keys and head out the door so that they could storm out ahead of me and run to the truck so I could take them down to their walking loop. I wanted to hike today, but lacked the energy.

But then 4pm morphed to 5pm and I knew I had to take them somewhere, so I drove down to Oak Estates, leaving Sammy at home this time, to walk five miles. Getting out into the cool mountain shadows invigorated me, and my back pain wasn't so bad once I started pounding pavement. Even though this paved loop is just .1 miles from Three Canyons Road and residential traffic, no one ever drives on this loop and I get to walk the dogs off leash. No one ever drives to me to tell me to get the dogs on leashes. I have much better control of the dogs here than up in Hunter canyon, where they can get distracted by deer and other dog walkers.
Minnie and Sadie were chasing each other the first two miles. Minnie carried one small stump a good half mile around the loop before abandoning it for another stick she found. Even Sadie got in the act, just to annoy Minnie. The next time we do this loop, she will pick up that stump from where she left off, carry it a quarter mile, and then drop it again and leave it for the next walk. Zeke was in his own world, prancing through the dead grass and pouncing on imaginary villains.

I was averaging 17:30 minutes per mile. By the third mile the dogs were calming down and panting. Minnie took drinks from the water bowl I had brought along and placed at one intersection. I had too many ice cubes in the bowl, though, so Minnie was crunching on ice rather than drinking water by the third lap. By the fourth mile she was looking tired.

I got to see the last of the sun set, with the mountain shadows slowly covering the western slopes of the Mule mountains. That last mile was almost too dark for me. I could barely distinguish the dogs from the grass or pavement. I saw the oranges against the Mules turn to reds and then to brown and then dark grey. Lights in the homes in the eastern foothills came on, and the Catholic shrine on the hillside as well. I could even see the traffic light on SR90 from my vantage point. The lights of Naco were now also in view. It was in the mid 60s and it felt good!

Four loops around came to 4.82 miles that took me 1:24 hours. That's clearly no personal record, but now I know how far I can go at a brisk pace and still give the dogs a challenge. Sadie and Zeke have no trouble keeping up with me, but Minnie struggles. She spends so much of her energy that first mile pulling up stumps, dragging branches and teasing Sadie, that she runs out of breath faster than the others.

I got back home at 7pm with three panting dogs. I felt so much better after the workout. I had a lot to think about while walking: the death on Saturday of conservative Chief Justice Antonin Scalia (and the Republican Senate already stating they will not endorse any of Obama's nominees), the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency and his warmongering ways, and all this bickering in the presidential campaign. This promises to be a politically hot year for the US and the world.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Perimeter Trail loop

The Perimeter trail loop is 9.5 miles and a combination of three trails and one road walking counterclockwise: Carr Canyon Road, Clark Springs Trail, Miller Creek Trail and the Perimeter Trail. Most of the trail is exposed, making this either a winter hike, or a hike under dense cloud cover. My last time on this loop was last March. Nothing has changed on the trail.

Predicted highs today were in the mid 70s with some cloud cover. We started at 8:16am. JeffP and Migo, Marlenea and I with Sadie started promptly. SteveT had signed up but wasn't there, so I assumed he decided in the last minute not to show up, which he has done before. He later posted on the meetup that he was there at 8:15 thinking the hike started at 8:25am.

The three of us kept a steady pace. It was cool at first, but warmed up once we were on the Clark Springs trail 1.8 miles into the hike. Trees and shrubs are starting to dry up again; so much for a wet El Nino winter. We could see what looked like fire clouds coming up from Mexico, but the brown faded with the higher sun.
Sadie and Migo didn't seem to mind one another. I'm aware that Sadie is not too friendly with other smaller dogs. She snapped at Migo, but that was it for aggression. She kept by my side while Migo hammed it for the rest of us as he pranced on ahead. We never had anyone come the opposite direction until we made it down to the Miller Creek trail, where we stopped to let the dogs drink water from the creek and take water breaks ourselves. The son of the Beatty Orchard fame walked upstream carrying a rifle over his shoulder and four unleashed hounds by his side. These hounds are the same dogs that chased Sadie around the parking lot several years ago, and were determined to harm her, even trying to barge into my truck where she quickly ran into. I don't trust those dogs and I don't trust that man. The old parking area that once was surrounded by trees and several trash bins has now been removed and that land designated as private land to the Beattys. We let Beatty walk quietly ahead without talking with him. It's always best to avoid contact with an armed man.

Sadie and Migo enjoyed their duck jerky treats which I fed both as I sat on a rusty waterpipe by the creek. The shade felt good. One older man walked uphill as we were resting;perhaps a visitor to the Beatty orchard B&B. Further downstream were younger kids hanging out by a swimming hole, minding their own business.

The creek looks like it did last spring, with big boulders now strewn all over the widened creekbed. I remember how much I enjoyed walking up and down here with Sammy and Sara ten years ago. The creek has changed its character so much since the 2011 fire and monsoon flood.
We kept a good pace for the entire hike. Marleana wanted to be back at the parking lot by 1pm. We got back by 12:19, just over four hours, which included three breaks. The only other people we met coming back on the Perimeter trail were two mountain bikers who intitially passed us as we started northbound on the Perimeter trail, but who had to stop to fix a flat. They were only three miles into what they planned on riding as a ten-mile loop (the same loop we were hiking, only starting from different trailheads). The young men had patch material but no extra tube and the flat looked rather large.

The dogs had water in two more shaded spurs along the Perimeter trail, perhaps from snow melt higher up. The last 1.5 mile seemed hard on me and I was slowing down. When I got back home I was exhausted, went to lay down and read and didn't do much else after that. My back never stopped hurting, either, despite the usual glucosamine-turmeric capsules I take to fight the chronic pain.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Power walk the Fitness Trail (6th week)

This power walk finally brought me out of the day's fatigue. At first I didn't think I had the energy to do this walk.

Jeff was the only one who showed up at the 5:30pm meet-up time, along with his pug Migo. Zeke and Migo get along very well, walking next to one another but not interacting much ("parallel play" in sociology). Neither dog barks at other dogs despite other dogs starting the conversation. Jay joined us 30 minutes later after Jeff and I had passed the two-mile mark. He had jogged all the way to catch up with us, already sweating in his dark pink running shirt. I was wearing my large red fleece sweater, which by now was too warm for me. Today's temperature was much warmer than last week's cold. What a welcome relief.

Zeke had had a bath a few hours earlier, seemingly enjoying the cool water in the tub. He's the only dog who enjoys baths! His fur showed off his nice waves and shined in the waning sunlight. He and his mate Migo were well-behaved as we passed other dog walkers along the Cochise Vista trail section, the prettiest part of this trail as it follows a drainage for 1.5 miles and is away from late afternoon traffic. Our start time at 5:30 seems to be the end of the work day's traffic, as Jeff and I were able to talk at a normal level without screaming at one another. And sun light was plenty. By the end of the month we will be finishing in early dusk. I can't wait to strip down to just a long-sleeved t-shirt!

I told Jeff that I plan on hiking around Prescott over spring break. Kevin and I were there a few years ago, but he no longer hikes so I hiked the paved (!) three-mile Thumb Butte trail alone. There is so much to see and do there, like hike the red rocks around Watson lake, hike down to the Groom Falls, and try sections of the new Prescott Circle Trail, a 56-mile loop through the national forest. I only hope weather is in my favor in early March. I'll be taking two dogs, Sadie and Zeke. If weather proves to be cold and rainy in Prescott, there's still southern California and the Cleveland National Forest.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Guindani trail in Kartchner Caverns State Park

HollyO, MarleanaL and I with Sadie met in town to carpool to this pretty state park north of Whetstone. Holly wants to lead a hike here in March and had started on the Guidani trail several weeks ago, but had turned around and never finished the loop. It's a 4.2-mile loop around a hill that feels more like ten miles because of the climb. I wanted to show her the way. It had been at least six years since I had done this trail. All I remember was the water in the stream and the steep climb to the saddle. Both still exist.

Although the canyon is in National Forest, one must access the trail head at the state park. (Entrance fee is $7 a car load of four people, although AZ military veterans get in for $3 a carload.) There is also some private land in the lush canyon just south of the state park. One can see these trails from the hill top.
Weather was perfect for this hike, in the low 70s with cloud cover. We hiked the loop counter-clockwise, slowly walking up the rocky canyon. We had company early on, but most hikers seemed to prefer hanging by the stream bed. The flora was dry, but there were still small patches of icy snow on the north slopes.
Holly and Marleana chatted and laughed the entire time. They had hiked on Friday in Coronado National Monument and were continuing their conversation. Apparently some of the things one male hiker said on that hike "traumatized" the gals. "He just had a bad day," explained Holly, always the diplomat. I was in the lead, looking for unique rocks and wildlife, and couldn't contribute much to that conversation, although I know the person they were chatting about. With water and rocks nearby, I always fear mountain lions and stop often to look around and watch Sadie's reaction to smells.
We were walking at a moderate pace, enjoying the scenery. At 1.7 miles we reached the intersection with the Cottonwood trail, which goes into the heart of the Whetstones. A dry creek bed meanders downstream. The creek sides have grassy plains on both sides, suggesting flash floods in the past. It's very hikeable. I had never been back there. We went in .6 miles before losing the trail which basically followed the streambed. We saw rock mounds along another hill and other signs of old mining areas. This place definitely needs to be explored more! We also came across some hiddin water jugs that Mexicans leave for their compadres crossing the border. The hillsides are loose rock, with plenty of shin daggers, tall grasses, cat claw (ouch!) and sotols. I wore jeans but Marleana wore capris. How her legs remained unscathed is a miracle. Despite the cat claw, this would be a beautiful canyon to explore in the spring after heavy rains.
We rested at a shallow pool of water and an oak tree. Sadie drank her water and Marleana brought out three cans of beer, a Dieselpunk Porter brewed in New York. That was a treat, but that 6.5% alcohol was my limit. The porter had a slight sweet, chocolatety aftertaste. Very nice. The last time I drank beer on a hiking trail was when Kevin and I hiked the Appalachian Trail 14 years ago. After our liquid lunch we returned to the Guidani trail to finish the loop. Here the trail takes a steep ascent up several switchbacks before it reaches a high point and offers views of the east; a perfect place to watch the moon rise. We definitely got a work out doing this trail counter clockwise! Both Marleana and Holly marveled at the views. Now we were on our return descent along the exposed hillside, with the Huachucas, Dragoons and Mules ahead of us. Two other couples were also descending ahead of us. Sadie, looking tired, was right by my side.
I took lots of photos with my cellphone, stopping a lot to photograph the gals. They were clearly enjoying this hike. We meshed very well. I only met Marleana two weeks ago on a power walk and we get along very well, too. We are even talking about exploring trails in Mexico, since she speaks fluent Spanish and knows people there.

We were back at Holly's car in under four hours. My thighs felt the work-out. We really lucked out with today's weather. The Guidani trail is definitely easier hiking it counter-clockwise because the front of the hill has a 2.2-mile ascent up treeless hillside.
I stopped at Fry's and got the dogs some clearance-priced meats. Sadie got the biggest cut, which she gulped down on the ride home. Two hours later I joined an old army pal at Paul's Pub to watch the second half of the SuperBowl, Denver Broncos vs Carolina Panthers. Broncos won 24-10. I was chatting with my friend Dave for the most part, and didn't even get to enjoy the best part of the game: the commercials!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hiking the Swisshelm foothills

The Swisshelms are a small grassy mountain range just east of the cattle town of Elfrida, AZ. There are no official hiking trails through these dry hills studded with agaves, sotols, chollas, thorny brush and mesquite, but at closer inspection, are worthy of exploring more. Saturday was my first time in these hills and I'm glad I had the opportunity to check them out. I must go back!

David and Karin Stryker from the hiking club hosted this exploratory hike. Karen wanted to make it to the peak but snow stopped the vanguard. Meetup was at 7:45 in town but I opted to go straight to the trail head in Elfrida. I woke up with a painful back and wondered if I could even hike today, but I ended up going and missing the main body. I took all three dogs (Minnie insisted on coming) and decided that if anything, I want to see the Apache metates in the canyon and explore the foothills.
I left the house at 9:15am with three excited dogs. I stopped in Bisbee to drop off the recyclables, then continued east on SR80, then Double Adobe Road to Central Highway, then another 16 miles north into Elfrida. I followed the directions to this trail head. Jefferson Road in Elfrida, on which the area's schools are on, is almost six miles of paved road. Ranches are on both sides of the road. Vision Quest, a rehab center for wayward boys, is also here. The pavement ends at some cattle ranches and smaller homes. Parking is just outside the unlocked gate across from a ranch house and cattle corral. The gate on the sign says "Private Property" but as David told me, "But there is no Do Not Enter sign on the gate." The Strykers had spoken to the landowner before hosting the hike, so all was well.
There was no sign of the hiking group when I arrived after 10am. Beyond the gate is a dirt road that quickly turns into a Y, and a sign claiming that 120 acres are for sale here. Which way from here? I opted to stay left on the road that paralleled a barbed wire fence, which ended at a private home a good mile from the gate. From here the views back into Sulphur Valley are expansive. The snow-capped peaks of the Huachucas are also visible. I could even see a faint semblance of a mining trail beyond the house in the hills, but I was not going to go on that property. I turned around and bushwhacked to the canyon in which the metates are, and found them with little effort. There was even some water in these holes, surely from last Monday's storm. I had water for the dogs, but water from a ground source is better for them to drink out of.
The western slopes of the Swisshelms were once a habitat for the Apache. Shaded canyon slots were potentially old sleeping areas. Today the lower-lying oak groves provide shade for the cattle. The rock slabs meandered uphill and I was tempted to continue on as long as water was available, but I soon saw a group of five people in the distance and yelled "Rob!" Could they have heard me? The group had stopped and looked my way, to which I quickly decided to beat feet back to the dirt road and join them. One couple eventually came toward me from the group, but they were a couple I did not recognize. David and his heeler dog Mata, however, were easily identified. After a equestrian group from Vision Quest trotted past the dogs and me, shepherded by a GSD named Beast, I finally caught up to David near our parked cars. David was walking the two remaining women back to their cars and to retrieve a radio. He was going to walk back up the canyon a bit for better reception and I joined them. He even showed me a few more hidden areas along the rock slabs were once the Apaches rested.
The rocks are so much like the Dragoons. In the summer these hills would be ungodly hot due to the lack of shade trees and the exposed rock radiating heat. But here along the edge of the hills are small oak groves and underground water. Cattle come here to rest and drink. Locals come here to party, as evidence by the beer cans and bottles I picked up. (Seriously people, respect the land!) From the gate to the metates can't be more than a mile. Resting on these rocks and looking westward must be a common activity for the people in Elfrida.
We sat here for a while. The dogs explored a bit, but Minnie was showing fatigue. I had hiked five miles by this point and Minnie's limit is around six miles.
David had made telephonic contact with the hiking group by then. They were on the ridgeline high above but were turning around. There was to be no summit due to the rocky terrain. They were still two hours away. That gave us time to relax. An hour later David took me on the trail that meandered around the hill and along a wide drainage that has seen some serious flash flooding and erosion. This was the path the group had taken going uphill. The trail had become single track, but from here I could see the remnants of what was a mining trail. Near the saddle is an old mine (not visble from my vantage point). David and I turned around here, returning the way we came. The remaining hikers of Rod, Karin, Steve, Paul and Ed were now converging on the other trail and we all met up again at the parked cars. Steve and Rod looked sunbeaten.
I hiked a total of 6.91 miles today. The group had hiked 6.3. Of course my mileage was all in the foothills and I wasn't as tired as the rest of the group. We stopped at a small taqueria in Elfrida, Yoli's, for a post-hike meal. We sat inside the building next door while the local crafts fair was closing for the day. Karin's photos showed me that the ridgeline up these hills is worth exploring again. I hope next time an aching back and other errands don't prevent me from joining another hike up these hills. I'll only bring one dog, though. There are too many cattle in the area.