Friday, October 13, 2017

Backpacking Report: Mount Whitney Trail

At 14,505 feet, Mt. Whitney stands as the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States.  Its status as such is the main attraction for thousands of adventurers who come from all over the map to hike this 10.7-mile trail that rises 2.75 miles above sea level.  This, too, is what initially grabbed my attention and sparked my interest/obsession in hiking Whitney.  After having successfully negotiated the painstaking process initiated back in February of securing an overnight reservation, on the morning of September 26th I was westbound to lay claim to my permit and embark on what I classify as the Mother of All Hikes.

View from the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center

Permits are picked up at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center, about a mile or so south of Whitney Portal Road on Highway 395.  This is a quick and pain-free process in which Forest Service employees touch on the rules of the trail and issue Wag Bags (yes, everything is packed out - I mean, everything).  With me, the Ranger emphasized the importance of never cutting switchbacks.  He mentioned it a couple of times, which I thought was odd.  But two days and countless switchbacks later, I began to understand why he had driven this point home.  By then, a long switchback was about as appealing as another bag of trail mix.  Switchbacks weren't on my mind, however, as I pulled away from the visitor center with permit in hand.  My excitement really began to build as I advanced toward the trailhead along Whitney Portal Road.  This was my first time seeing the Sierra Nevadas in person, and what a truly imposing sight it is to behold.  The signs along the road informing visitors they have entered into bear country added to the mystique of the moment and signaled it was time to begin focusing on the task at hand.  I was firing on all cylinders.

Whitney Portal Overflow Parking

The portal itself is nestled among tall pines in a valley surrounded by impressive rugged granite mountains.  I was there early enough to enjoy a couple of sandwiches I packed and tour the portal grounds, including the Whitney Portal Store.  As day ceded to night, it became time to stow my food in one of the many bear lockers (a requirement) and stretch out in the back of the Tahoe.  Once I was settled in, I was amazed at how still everything seemed to get.  Because it's the furthest parking lot from the trailhead, the overflow lot is your best bet if you are in need of some quiet before beginning your ascent in the morning.

Waterfall at the Whitney Portal

By 8:15 the following morning I had weighed my pack at the trailhead (48 pounds - heavy, I know) and started the nearly eleven-mile trek to the highest point in the lower 48.  Switchbacks are what I remember most about the trail, and not just the infamous 99 switchbacks above Trail Camp.  I'm talking the entire length of the trail, switchbacks are what stand out in my memory.  Of course, you have to have them - they're a necessary evil - but by the time I was coming down the mountain, I was cursing every one of them.  On the climb up, the forced march over all of these dastardly switchbacks is tempered by the freedom you feel as you inch further and further away from civilization.  Keep your feet on the trail and allow your mind to get lost in your surroundings, as there are visual rewards at practically every turn.  Sometimes it's a stream or a lake, other times it's a meadow.  On a couple of occasions there were deer feeding right at the trail's edge.  And always, there are mountains.  It is the most spectacular scenery I have ever encountered.


Lone Pine Lake


When I arrived at Outpost Camp, it was time for a break.  I plopped down on a rock adjacent to the trail and met several folks heading down, including a 67-year-old and two 71-year-olds, who had all summited.  For me, just days away from turning 47, that was encouraging.  Inspiring as their story was, they did give me fair warning that the trail between here and Trail Camp was not quite as friendly as it had been up to this point.  "But it's doable," the 67-year-old told me.  That wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear.  Still 2.2 miles away from Trail Camp, I was beginning to feel fatigued and had failed to take into consideration how the level of difficulty would likely increase as the trail approached the tree line.  I knew my only alternative to making Trail Camp was to remain where I was now, at Outpost Camp, nearly 7 miles away from the summit.  Time wasn't an issue, as it wasn't quite noon, so I put aside my doubts, got back under my pack and resumed hiking to Trail Camp.

Icy waterfall at Outpost Camp

The section of trail above Outpost Camp was a bit of a struggle for me.  I'd walk a bit and pause, walk a bit and pause.  After a couple hours of this, hikers heading down would confirm I was getting close to camp, yet camp never appeared on the horizon.  So the walking and pausing continued.  Through it all,  the magnificent scenery remained.  In particular, Mirror Lake and a little meadow known as Trailside Meadow above the tree line are two points along this part of the trail worth mentioning.  When a body of water I recognized as Consultation Lake came into view, I knew my destination lay just ahead.  Back at the Visitor Center, the Ranger had suggested I find an existing site outside of Trail Camp in order to avoid the large population of marmots living there and known for being a nuisance.  I also did not want to be disturbed in the middle of the night by noisy campers prepping for their pre-dawn hikes to the summit.  With this in mind, when I spied a small, level piece of ground tucked between a pair of rock walls just below Trail Camp, I realized I had found my home for the night.  Now eight minutes past two o'clock, it had taken almost six hours to travel nearly six miles on the trail.

Mirror Lake

Trailside Meadow

My tent was close to a small tarn, perhaps a tad too small to be considered a good source for drinking water.  Because I had read remaining active at camp was a recommended strategy to avoid the effects of altitude sickness, I walked down a bit to the edge of Consultation Lake to filter water.  This is another noteworthy feature of the Mt. Whitney Trail.  I understand there are trout in this lake, and at least one fish was actively splashing about while I was there.  The water here is clear, cold, and refreshing.

Consultation Lake



Campsite - small tarn is barely visible in the distance

Back at camp I visited for a while with a gentleman who was taking a breather by the trail before his final, short push to Trail Camp.  He was carrying 70 pounds of gear and equipment on his back to complete what sounded like a fairly complicated musical compilation project on the summit the following day.  My heavy pack was light in comparison, though there was room for improvement.  What I learned from this experience is that next time I do not need to carry so much food with me.  I didn't eat half of what I brought due to the effect high altitude has on appetite.  There is little doubt I entered into a caloric deficit on this trip, but I just wasn't hungry enough to consume the amount of food I should have.

The weather at 12,000 feet on the morning of my summit was beautiful.  The sun was out, the winds were calm, and the water in my backpack wasn't even frozen.  I was on the trail at 8:30 a.m. with a day pack and trekking poles, which served no purpose on the ascent other than to lean against during my time outs from walking.  Straight out of Trail Camp, hikers are ushered up the mountain via the 99 grueling switchbacks.  As I zig-zagged up the mountain, I wasn't too concerned about my pace.  The name of the game here is to just keep moving.  I feel like it would be counterproductive to try to calculate your speed or estimate how many more vertical feet remain.  On the 99s, it's simply a matter of left right, left right until you reach Trail Crest.

The views from Trail Crest are stunning

Peeping through one of the "windows" along Trail Crest

At sea level, hiking Trail Crest would be a piece of cake.  Approaching 14,000 feet, however, I found the going was slow and laborious.  I spotted the roof of the shelter on Whitney's summit, but I was unenthused, as it was still far off in the distance.  While resting trailside a little later, a passing hiker asked if the altitude was getting to me.  Maybe it appeared obvious to him, but I was quick to answer, "No."  I didn't consider that a lie, as I was experiencing no symptoms of altitude sickness.  I was just maxing myself out physically, though I do believe the thin air was the primary contributing factor to my feeling spent.

About the time I thought I would never get there, I glanced up from the path to see the shelter and several hikers milling about the summit in full view.  The feeling was indescribable.  Still minutes away from actually summiting, it was this particular moment which I felt was the highlight of the whole summit experience.  I relate it to the feeling you get when you leave work on a Friday afternoon.  The anticipation of the weekend is in many cases better than the weekend itself.

Finally!

Looking back at Trail Crest from the summit

Hiker signing the register at the summit of Mt. Whitney

After 30 minutes or so on the summit, it was time to begin the descent.  My permit was good for one more day, but I had been toying with the notion of packing up my belongings and continuing to the portal so I could sleep more comfortably before my nearly 8-hour drive home the next day.  Doing so would also give me an earlier jump in the morning and hopefully have me in my driveway ahead of the Friday afternoon Phoenix traffic. So I hurried down the mountain, now using my trekking poles with nearly every step to unburden my aching knees and calves as much as possible.

I know rushing back down the trail to the parking lot detracted from my overall experience, and I wouldn't recommend doing this.  The takeaway for me is that if I am fortunate enough to get back to Whitney next year, I will leverage the third day by slowing my pace and have a look around at some of the sights I breezed past, such as Lone Pine Lake.  The Mount Whitney Trail, I learned, is not just a one-trick pony.  It offers so much more than a summit, and it's a real shame to deny yourself any of what this glorious trail has to offer.

The beauty of the Mt. Whitney Trail is a faithful companion

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Getting Back to Barbell Squats

We moved halfway across the country in December, and, as part of the effort to lighten our move as much as possible, we got rid of as much stuff as we could.  Because we would be living in an apartment for the better part of our first year in Arizona, I knew I had to part with all of my strength training equipment, save for my PowerBlock dumbbells and adjustable utility bench.  When it came to training legs, for nine months I got by on dumbbell squats and split squats, as well as lunges.  The multi station gym in the apartment complex fitness center did feature a leg developer station, and that added some variety to my workout routine.

As soon as we knew we were moving into a house, I started searching for a squat rack to put in the garage.  Space was my primary concern and cost was a close second.  When I came across a brand-new, still-in-the-box Gold's Gym XRS 20 squat rack at a liquidation store for under $45, I grabbed it.  We didn't know if it would fit, but we figured we could sell it for at least what we paid for it if it didn't.  Turned out that if fit perfectly.  We can still park two cars in the garage; I just have to back mine out a few feet when using the rack.

With a rack now in my possession, my attention turned to securing a barbell and weights.  I searched Craigslist multiple times a day before I found a 170-pound set of Olympic plates.  A couple of weeks later I found a 45-pound CAP barbell (actual weight: 43 pounds) offered for sale by the same individual from whom I'd bought the weights. Including 12 square feet of gym floor puzzle mat which was also purchased from the liquidation store, for a total investment of $200 I was back in business.

Depending on if I decide to include barbell deadlifts in my routine on a regular basis, I may need to acquire additional weight.  But for the time being, especially considering my age and transplant recipient status, I am happy with what I have.  I'm not a heavy lifter anyway and therefore plan on advancing very deliberately with the barbell squats.  With dumbbell squats, the maximum weight I could hoist onto my shoulders was 110 pounds - 55 pounds per hand.  So in week one I went with the same weight I used when performing dumbbell squats.  I increased the weight 5 pounds for week two and plan on advancing in 5-pound increments going forward until I reach my physical limitations.  The video below is me performing my fourth and final set of squats at 115 pounds.

video

Monday, September 5, 2016

Walnut Canyon

On our final day in Flagstaff, we headed south of town to hike the portion of the Arizona Trail that passes through Walnut Canyon.  This is a pretty easy section of trail that still manages to get the heart rate up as you climb out of the canyon and up onto the rim.  We parked at the trailhead adjacent to the Canyon Vista Campground and followed Sandys Canyon Trail into Walnut Canyon.  The day was growing warm, and as clouds formed over the San Francisco Peaks, we would see no relief, as the sun shone brightly for the duration of our hike.

Clouds form in the direction of the San Francisco Peaks

At the canyon bottom, we picked up the Arizona Trail and followed it north.  This is a very relaxing section of trail; it is lightly traveled with exceptional scenery and no elevation change - a truly enjoyable stroll, indeed.  We originally planned to turn around at the base of Fisher Point, but decided at the last minute to follow the Arizona Trail out of the canyon and up to the top of Fisher Point.  I am so glad we did, as we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the canyon and surrounding landscape from this vista.

Looking north from Walnut Canyon

Fisher Point rises high and out of sight on the left

Peering into the canyon from Fisher Point

We didn't spend a great deal of time atop Fisher Point after hearing a rumble of thunder in the distance.  Now several miles from our car and high on the rim to boot, we moved quickly, pausing only for a picture here and there.  As it turned out, the weather never advanced on us, and we had a pleasantly uneventful hike back.  We were wet - with sweat - by the time we finished, as the relentless sun and our two descents and ascents in and out of canyon conspired to turn what was to be a mild-mannered Sunday outing into a fairly decent workout.

Well worth the effort, this Walnut Canyon hike was the exclamation mark on our weekend stay in Flagstaff.  If you haven't done this hike yet, consider adding it to your list of things to do during your next visit to the area.

Near the Arizona Trail and Sandys Canyon Trail junction

Approaching the trailhead, the San Francisco Peaks come into view





 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Humphreys Peak

My primary goal during our July visit to Flagstaff was to view Arizona from 12,633 feet.  This is the height at which Humphreys Peak tops out, representing the highest point in all of Arizona.  The peak soars high above the tree line, the point at which the only patch of alpine tundra in the entire state takes hold.  I had never hiked at this elevation - never above a tree line - and was super stoked when the morning of the hike finally arrived.

At the Arizona Snowbowl Trailhead

We were up in the 4 o'clock hour in order to be at the trailhead by 6:00 a.m.  Under clear skies, I said goodbye to my wife and set off for the 9.6-mile round-trip hike at 6:15.  Getting an early start on this hike is not only desirable, it is mandatory as far as I'm concerned.  July in Arizona can bring monsoons and mountains of such magnitude as the San Francisco Peaks, of which Humphreys belongs, can create their own weather any time of the year.  Only four days prior to my visit a tragedy occurred at the summit when a teenager was killed by a lightning strike.  He was hiking with two friends when a thunderstorm developed over the peaks in the early afternoon.  As there is nowhere to hide on the treeless tundra, I decided I should be on my way down the mountain before 10:00 a.m.

Trail cuts under a ski lift before entering a thick forest

Forested section of trail is a relatively gradual climb

The hike really isn't as intimidating as some texts may indicate.  The majority of the hike carries you through the forest, which generally offers pretty decent footing. Only for the last mile or so, where the trail traverses the tundra, does the footing become a bit more treacherous.  For much of the hike - roughly the first three miles - the grade is gradual.  It helps, too, that the trailhead is located at 9,320 feet, requiring one to climb "only" 3,313 feet of elevation on foot. 

Magnificent views can be glimpsed through the forest

I was making good time.  At the pace I was maintaining, I would summit and be back down below the tree line before 10:00 a.m.  When it comes to exercising, sometimes it's hard to stay motivated.  There's almost a limitless number of excuses available to justify skipping a workout.  It can and oftentimes does become a slippery slope into a sedentary lifestyle.  But when I'm up on a mountain where the only way down is by foot or helicopter, I'm reminded of the importance of consistently pushing through what I openly admit can become stale and boring exercise routines.  I felt strong on the trail and had a sense of confirmation knowing that all of my training was paying dividends.

Approaching the tree line

There is a sign at 11,400 feet informing hikers there is no camping beyond this point.  As the trees give way to barren, rocky tundra, I am not sure why anyone would want to camp up here anyway.  With no trees obstructing the view, you can begin to see just how high you are by this point.  Humphreys Peak is still not visible as you cross the tundra.  Having read about the three false peaks as part of my due diligence, I was not even looking for it; instead, I was busy looking for trail markers, as the trail can at times be somewhat difficult to follow.  Fortunately, Humphreys Peak is a popular place, and you can usually see others up ahead if you don't readily see a trail marker.

Posts guide the way. In the background: 1 of 3 false peaks.

There was a fairly sizeable group of people at the summit by the time I arrived.  I made sure to look for the north face of the Grand Canyon, as I had been told it was visible from here.  Though I was able to easily identify it with my eyes, it didn't show up well in any of my pictures.  I plopped down on a rock to eat my peanut butter sandwich and enjoy a few moments on top of Arizona.  The weather was nice and not very windy at all.  There were a lot of bees buzzing around, but thankfully they weren't interested in what I was eating.  After maybe twenty minutes of R&R, it was time to start making my way back down.

The real Humphreys Peak

It doesn't get any higher than this in AZ

View from the summit

As I made my way down, passing others on their way up, I was surprised at the number of people who hadn't done their homework.  Many were hopeful they were viewing Humphreys over my shoulder.  When I explained to some the three false peaks, it was plainly obvious they were hearing this for the first time.  I was also surprised at how many people were heading up so late in the morning.  By the ten o'clock hour, the sky was darkening over Humphreys.  We were only four days removed from the fatality triggered by a rogue electrical storm.  Were these people even aware of this?

Expansive views along the trail to Humphreys Peak

I was off the trail at 11:35 a.m. with food and water to spare.  Naturally, it's a good idea to carry more supplies than you think you will need without, of course, completely overloading yourself.  As I waited on my wife, I only wished I had had the foresight to pack some flip-flops, as my feet were in need of some immediate relief.

Sitting there, I reflected on the hike.  Truly incredible, I remember thinking, the extremes Arizona offers.  Two hours ago I was 12,600 feet in the sky, atop a desolate alpine tundra region, and I'm only a two-hour drive from a scorching desert valley filled with cactus, yet also nearly void of trees.  In between are some of the prettiest forests and landscapes I've seen.  How truly lucky I am to call this place home.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Red Mountain

Way back in July we spent a long weekend exploring the area in and around Flagstaff.  To kick off our weekend adventures, we made the short drive north to Red Mountain.  This is an impressive volcanic cone, now long dormant, which was breached when an explosion blew out one side, leaving about half the cone standing.  The trail, which is pretty much flat, takes you to what was once the cone's interior so that you are looking straight up the side of what used to be the inside wall of the volcano.

A look inside the dormant volcano

This hiking is easy with nothing strenuous about it whatsoever.  Because there is no official trail leading to the top of the cone, you simply hike the level trail to the base of the mountain and back.  I don't remember the exact mileage, but I believe the round-trip total is less than five miles.  Though this isn't really a "fitness" hike, the trek is totally worth it just to experience the uniqueness and sheer beauty of the place.

Hoodoos along the trail at Red Mountain

As with most Arizona hikes, there isn't an abundance of shade on the trail so bring sunscreen and a couple of water bottles with you.  This is a great hike for the kids - ours enjoyed scaling the walls of the cliff until it became too difficult to continue.  And even though it's a short hike, give yourself plenty of time to comfortably experience the impressive scenery that awaits you at Red Mountain.



Inside the old volcano.  Happy hiking!


  
  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Hiking C. C. Cragin Reservoir from Rock Creek Campground

I joined a large group of Arizona Trailblazers for a hike along the Mogollon Rim on Saturday.  Shortly after 9:00 a.m., twenty-four of us started down Rock Creek's campground trail to a junction with the Arizona Trail.  Staying left, the AZ trail continues onward in much the same fashion as the campground trail, with a very gradual descent along the top of the rim.  Before too long the trail takes a sharp left, dropping into the thick pine forest covering the canyon walls.  This is the beginning of a much steeper descent all the way to the bottom of the canyon and the frequently dry East Clear Creek.

Opposite rim is seen in the distance; East Clear Creek is between

The hike down to the creek bed was no problem whatsoever. Switchbacks and shade aid in the 600-foot descent to the bottom.  Here, the Arizona Trail crosses the creek (which was dry) and heads back up the other side.  For this hike, we turned off the trail and followed the creek bed until we reached the point where reservoir water was backing up into the dry creek.  Because this was as far as we could go without getting wet, we stopped here for lunch and waited on some of the slower members to catch up.

Stepping out of the forest and onto the creek bed

Along the dry East Clear Creek

Barely visible, a group of kayakers following the water to its end

We saw a group of kayakers round the bend.  They asked how much further it was to the water's edge.  We said, "You're there!"  After twenty minutes or so of R&R, several of us were ready to head back.  We retraced our steps along the creek bed to where it intersects the Arizona Trail.  There is an official marker in place where the Arizona Trail begins its climb out of East Clear Creek, but it is much easier to look for the "unofficial" marker: a rock pyramid constructed a few feet in front of the trail post.

Rock pyramid signals the way back to the rim

The ascent is a pretty decent work out, but it's not brutal, provided you're in fairly decent shape.  Again, switchbacks and shade make this 600-foot climb far more tolerable than climbs similar in elevation gain which may not offer these features.  This particular hike turned out to be 8 miles long, but length will fluctuate, depending on the amount of water in the reservoir.  At the time of this hike, the reservoir was about 50% full.  Another option for this hike, which would allow you to precisely predetermine the length of your hike, would be to continue along the Arizona Trail across East Clear Creek, up the other side of the rim and back down to the second finger of the reservoir (and even beyond, depending on your conditioning).

After the hike we drove to the dam.  Even at half-full, this is a really pretty view and a scene quite uncommon in Arizona.  This was a nice finishing touch to a fine day of hiking with the Arizona Trailblazers.

Blue Ridge Dam (now called C. C. Cragin Dam)

  




Monday, July 4, 2016

Mount Elden

I was a guest of the Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club for this 15.9-mile tour of Mount Elden and the surrounding area.  Advertised as a 13.4-mile trip, the listed mileage, pulled from some random Internet map, was, surprise, surprise, inaccurate.  Not that this mattered much.  My daughter's cross country coach in Tennessee would say if you can run three miles, you can run five; and if you can run five miles, you can run eight (I tested his theory once, by the way, and found it to be mostly true, though I am in no hurry to put this claim to the test again).  In the same vein, if we're capable of hiking 13.4 miles, then clearly we can manage 15.9.  Still, from a psychological standpoint, it was probably best that we were blissfully unaware of this mileage gap as we started down the Sunset Trail full of vigor at 9:02 a.m.


Pretty views from the Sunset Trail

The Sunset Trail offers a mostly shaded and gradual climb of somewhere in the neighborhood of 1300 feet.  I was told this was the easiest way to the summit, and, after descending the Elden Lookout Trail on the other side of the peak, I was glad we took the route we did.  Pausing only once along Sunset, we kept a decent pace and reached the summit around 11:20 a.m.  The gate at the foot of the staircase leading up to the watch tower viewing deck was open, meaning visitors were welcome, so our climb continued a little further, now easily surpassing 9,300 feet in elevation.  Because the wind was really howling at this high altitude, it was nice having the opportunity to step into the warmth of the watchman's office. This small room in the sky turned out to be a popular place over the next 25 minutes or so, as our group of six was accompanied by several other curious hikers who came and went during this same timeframe.



At the top of Mount Elden

After the group bid farewell to the fire watchman, we began a sharp descent via the popular Elden Lookout Trail.  This may be a well-constructed trail, but there is no getting around its steep grade. With a drop of something like 1800 feet in 1.6 miles along frequently rocky terrain, I was feeling the pain in my left knee, but through it all I remained very much thankful to be going downhill and not up.


Spectacular scenery is found all along the Elden Lookout Trail

We stopped for lunch in a shady portion of the trail shortly after turning north on Fatman's Loop.  This is where I discovered how much I really like PayDay candy bars.  We chowed down quickly and were back on our feet at 1:15 p.m.  I wouldn't have minded resting another five minutes, but because I'm not sure we were even halfway through by this point, it was the right decision to keep moving.

Fatman's Loop runs through this opening in the boulders

Fatman's Loop delivered us to the Christmas Tree Trail, which carried us to a junction with the Little Elden Trail.  At some point along the Christmas Tree Trail, I noticed the sky darkening.  Later, I heard some faint rumbles of thunder which was followed by a few sprinkles and, briefly, a very light shower.  When I caught up with the point man of our group, he was putting on his rain jacket.  There was no precipitation at the moment, but the sky wasn't getting brighter either.  I followed his lead and slipped on my jacket.  Once we resumed hiking, I remember hoping I wouldn't get too hot in my jacket and start sweating profusely.  Well, I certainly didn't overheat because just a couple of minutes later, Mother Nature let loose a lightning bolt that had to have struck within a mile of us. This triggered the skies to promptly release buckets after buckets of rain and hail upon us.  There would be more lightning - some strikes just as close as that first one - along with enough rain and hail to momentarily turn the trail into a river.

Moments before the thunderstorm unleashed its fury upon us

I was praying for the storm to pass, as we hurriedly travelled parallel to the flooded trail.  Thankfully, with perhaps slightly more than 2.5 miles to go, the storm let up.  The two of us in front stopped at a trail junction 2.4 miles from the trailhead to wait on the other four members of the group. About ten minutes later, two members found their way to the junction.  Soaking wet and now getting cold, as soon as our two remaining members came into view several minutes later, we all jumped back on the trail for the final push.

Muddy and sometimes flooded trails in the wake of the storm

I dried off some during the final portion of the hike, though I was wishing I had brought a change of clothes with me.  I did take some solace in the fact that I had a dry pair of shoes waiting in the car, as my boots were of course completely waterlogged.  We were off the trail shortly after 5 p.m.  That, my friends, is what I consider a full day of hiking.  Tired and hungry, we cleaned up as best we could in the trailhead parking lot near Schultz Tank before heading into Flagstaff for a sandwich and beer at The Museum Club on Route 66.  This was a nice, warm and dry finish to what was a long, tough, but, most importantly, fun and well-organized outing with the Arizona Trailblazers.

If would like to see more pictures from this hike, please click or copy and paste the link below into your browser: