March 31, 2013

East Valley Easter Epic

My bike had been down for the count for the past two weeks and I was getting antsy. There are two huge multi-day rides coming up quick and I needed a big day in the saddle. I've been wanting to check out Bulldog Canyon for some time and a couple of riding buddies have been frequenting it as of late. In the spirit of putting a loop together from my front door, the East Valley Easter Epic was born!

I set off under the shroud of darkness at 5:10a, making my way through a series of greenbelt trails - with the sprinklers on! I then connected them up to a generally north-south running canal. This took care of the first 13+ miles on my trek north towards the Hawes trails. I stashed my lights after hitting pavement and churned out the last few miles before finally hitting some singletrack.

I zoomed through the TRW trail, then a few Hawes trails, up & over the mountain via Twisted Sister/Wild Horse out to Usury Pass.
Snack time at the end of Wild Horse.
A screamin' fast descent led me to some rolling roadway before reaching the pullout for Bulldog Canyon. The route through the canyon is on a jeep road, but it's in good condition. The road generally climbs at a good grade the entire way, a few dips and a couple of short grunts to keep things interesting.
Entrance to Bulldog Canyon.
Largest snake I've ever seen in the wild, a 6' Gopher snake out sunning himself.
As the canyon narrowed the views expanded.
The rugged beauty of AZ.
Cool rock formations all around.
The desert is still teeming with color!!
Ran across a few ATV'ers out enjoying the perfect day.
Brittlebush covering the mountainside.
Sure don't mind riding jeep roads like this.
Is this real?
Second snake within 1/2 hour! This one's a bit meaner, but he too was just out catching some AZ sunshine!
Bulldog Canyon dumped me out and a short ride down the dirt road led me to the Goldfields Trailhead.
A few more miles of pavement brought me over to Usury Mtn. Park, I took a few of the low-lying trails, then  without hesitation went for the big effort of the day. Ride up the chunky bits of Pass Mtn to the saddle. I've only ridden Pass Mtn a couple of times, both in the CW direction. Time for something new. By now I was almost 50 miles into my ride, would this be a wise choice? All-in-all it wasn't too bad. Sure there was some HAB and a bunch of dismounts, but I also cleaned more of  the chunk challenges than I thought I would.
Entering Usury Mtn. Park.
Hard to miss a blooming hedgehog.
Ocotillo in bloom.
Pass Mtn. saddle high above.
The trail snakes around in there somewhere.
Pass Mtn. scar.
A look back.
Superstitions playing peek-a-boo.
Saddle obtained!!
Awesome view of Four Peaks from the Pass Mtn. trail.
Hikers taking in the views.
 It was getting a little warm, not hot thankfully, my water was low, but it was all downhill to my refilling spot at the shooting range. I rolled down the road and made the turn into the range....CLOSED for Easter!! Gah!! I decided to slip under the gate to check it out, it's an outdoor water dispenser & soda machine after all. Score! I topped off my water and downed an ice cold Pepsi - oh so good!
Saving the day!!
More road followed as I looped back around to Hawes for a few more trails. At the top of Secret Trail is was almost all downhill or flat back to the house. I made my way through Hawes quickly and started the 20 mile return trek via road/canal/greenbelt.
Red Mtn. from the Saguaro Trail.
Rock quarry by the TRW Trail.
One final snack stop before hitting the blacktop.
Somewhere on the flat trek home my legs had decided they had enough. My left knee was getting stiff and my adductor was really getting sore. I had to take a few more breaks to stretch it out. I was a bit surprised at the effort it took to cover the last 10 miles or so. I was whooped.
For some reason this one gate doesn't have a pass-through!! I just walked it next to the canal.
Almost home, about 8 miles to go from here.
Looking NE, it's neat to see the distant mountains that I rode around earlier in the day.
Finished up on a couple miles of greenbelts.
This was a really fun route, a bit of everything, but nothing too concentrated. It's nice to see something this good can be put together from my front door.

March 17, 2013

AZT: Kelvin Wildflower Hike

The end of the ride into Kelvin was so good on Sat. I just had to bring K down the following day for a hike. We try to get out on at least one designated wildflower hike each spring. This would be it. We would park down in Kelvin where our ride finished, then hike up the trail to the brass cap marking the completion of the AZT. There's not much else to say, I hope you enjoy the pics.
Poppies blanket a hillside along rte 177.
New parking area in Kelvin.
Fancy AZT gate.
There's gold in them thar hills!!
Mexican gold poppies.
How do you make RR tracks attractive? Add poppies.
A fallen desert sentry.
Yellow Bladderpods.
Not sure what these are.
Found my tracks from the day before!
A black cardinal or phainopeplas.
Desert Chicory.
The end of the singletrack below, Ripsey ridge somewhere up high.
Now that's impressive!!
Tailings from the Ray Mine, find it on Google Earth it's HUGE.
At least the mining company did right by converting its construction road back into trail when the road was no longer needed.
Odd rock slab.
At the top!
DS: Dale Shewalter AZT visionary.
The Gila River.
Blue lupines.
K was very pleased to ditch the house chores in favor of this!! So was I!!
We capped off a great hike with some fine mexican food at Los Hermanos in Superior. So good. We'll see how long the wildflowers hang around, time for the cactus to start blooming. Springtime in the Sonoran desert is something everyone should experience. Get out there!!