Saturday, February 27, 2016
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 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.
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
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
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.
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.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
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.