March 25, 2017

Springtime in the Desert

Ahh, springtime in the desert southwest is one of the most incredible outdoor experiences. As long as you don't suffer from pollen allergies, the only downside is it means summer is Enjoy it while you can. So, I did.

I mixed in a few rides and a hike after my back-to-back bikepacking weekends.
Out at Hawes the poppies, firecracker bush & brittlebush ruled the day.
Spotted my first blooming hedgehog of the season.
Red Mountain dominates the landscape out here.
I hadn't been over to South Mountain in a while, so a short after work spin was in order.
Ocotillo getting thick.
The vibrant hedgehog blooms.

Over the weekend the temps soared into the mid-90's, too early for that stuff, so I tracked down Scott & Eszter who were Scamping up in Prescott. Low 70's up there!! They had been riding with Craig Stappler of Tour Divide lore and he was going to hang around for another ride. It was great to meet him after following his dot down the spine of the Rocky Mountain west a few years back.

We started our ride with a climb up Wolverton Mtn. It was a comfortable, steady pace, but about 2 miles in I wasn't feeling quite right. Perhaps the jump in elevation got to me?? Whatever it was, I felt like crap until we topped out and luckily, for me, we ran into Jeff & Nancy. The extended break was enough for me to feel back to normal and the rest of the ride was more down than up.
All the cool kids were in P-town.
On our search for singletrack.
Thanks to a tip from Kaitlyn, we found Moby or is it Moooby??
Yep, there's a bike in there somewhere. Now it felt like a Scott Morris ride.
Pixel train!!
If these bikes could talk...

Craig wasn't messing around, besides it was only 2 miles to camp.
It was a fun day (after the first climb) checking out a few new-to-me trails and riding in the cool pines of Prescott with these three. Back at camp Craig grilled up some juicy steaks & veggies, now that's roughing it!! Thanks! Hope we get to ride again soon.

The next day, K and I went down to Kelvin for a short wildflower hike. She's been wanting to get out and this part of the AZT always delivers in the spring.
All shapes, sizes & colors were popping!!
Some areas were now getting past their peak bloom, but others were still ablaze in color. I met up with Kelly for a quick ride through Sonoran Mountain Preserve North. It was my first time up there in over a year and did not disappoint.
Brittlebush painting the hillsides.
Green & gold as far as the eye can see.
Down in the lowlands, the grass is beginning to fade.

I had to take K down to the airport for a work conference and I figured I'd spend the rest of the day exploring some new stuff up at Brown's Ranch. As luck would have it, Ray and some buddies did just that a day earlier and had some good intel for me.

The new Maricopa Trail connector from the Tonto NF gate at the north end of Brown's Ranch is nearing completion up to the Bronco TH. Plus, there were a couple of new or reworked trails on the far west end of the BR trail system I wanted to ride.
I want my MTV!!
I think this is part of the old West Express.
New dirt and a friendly reminder to stay off the trail when wet!!
When in doubt, buff it out!!
The new Maricopa Trail may be a fluffy brown pow dirt sidewalk now, but give it time. 
I had hoped to ride farther than Bartlett Lake Rd, but a new fence went up over night.
Plenty of flowers still blooming up high. It was chilly up there too.
Nice connection back to the trails from a nearby neighborhood.
Reworked trail among the boulders was really fun.
Golden brittlebush dominated the landscape.

With April around the corner our springtime riding is winding down. This year has been phenomenal, so much green, flowers everywhere, I'm going to miss it when it's gone.

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