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3 days in December (Arizona)
|2002/12/26 - 2002/12/28||
Arizona is awesome. Where else, in December,
could someone go desert hiking one day, cycling another day, and snow hiking the
following day? The first day i went bushwacking up Saguaro Twins, got lost again
at night, almost walked into a fence and then almost fell down 6ft drop. The second
day i went cycling for 35 miles in 2 hours. The third day i went snow hiking in
Snowbowl in 27F.
||Saguaro Lake, Arizona
||Desert hiking (bushwacking)
Once again i started late going up Saguaro
Twins. Or do i just always go there because it's too late for Superstitions? I
started at 2:30pm. I have been up the Twins about 6 times, but every single time
it feels different going up and down. I never go the same way. Lack of trail is
one reason. Going straight up does not look attractive -- all in the shade, and
the only views are behind you. It's like going up an endless mountain. I prefer
to get on the sunny west side as soon as possible, and see the peaks and hills
hiding on the west side.
2 weeks ago, i got scratched up left
and right....... actually only left, all the bloody scratches were on my left
hand. My pants take the punishment all the time, and i normally go home with 2
leg scratches max, if any. I would never bushwack in the desert without long pants
and long shirt. Everything has thorns and needles. The worst scrape last time
was at night. I was close to the car (I thought) and there wasn't much vegetation,
but then i felt a scrape on my hand. The kind of scrape that leaves a scar. I
already have a cool scar (but hard to see) on my right hand from Sedona -- and
that's enough. No need for mataching one on the left hand. That scrape went away
without a mark.
I got up to the first peak -- the Friendly
peak. Its layout is great for lying in the dirt, while looking towards the west.
The mountain shields the noise from the civilized east side, where the lake is
as well. It takes 2 hours to get up. Elevation difference is 1,000ft. I have never
been up the second peak -- the Outlook peak. I have been up the Hidden twin --
the third of the group. The only sitting area there was on an incline rock. I
spent an hour at Friendly peak, and then headed for Outlook peak. It turned out
to be a trip 370ft down followed by 350ft up, which i did in 40minutes. Definate
picture opportunities from that spot.
Night was coming, so i headed down. I
had a headlamp, but i didn't want to use it. Normally you can see more of the
surroundings without a lamp, and moonlight helps a lot. Since Friendly peak i
was wearing my poncho for warmth. I started from jeep with a t-shirt and shirt.
A good poncho is not the transparent bottom dollar grocery bag material kind,
but something that feels like a poncho and costs $4 or so (from REI, where else?).
Now i was wearing whatever was left of my blue poncho. It was getting torn left
and right, and i was just collecting the pieces. I was walking on all fours, slipping
and sliding and trying to pick a decent path. It's a lot easier going up -- except
for the breathing. When i was in between Outlook peak and Friendly peak, and i
had a choice. Either go up Friendly and down as always, or go around Friendly.
With more daylight, i'd pick the more challenging up Friendly and down route.
The other choice actually turned out
to be more challenging. I walked all the way around Friendly -- or so i thought
-- and then it looked like i wasn't even halfway. And the terrain became less
friendly. I had to walk downhill at an angle, avoiding what looked like riverbeds.
Several times i misjudged my step -- the top of bushes with a rock underneath
looked like a huge boulder. I found that out when my foot didn't land on the "huge
boulder". I was brushing vegetation left and right, ripping the poncho, which
wasn't too bad. However, a few times i brushed real cactus. That caused my vocal
There seemed no end to the hill. Temperature
was dropping, but my poncho did its job. The way i had it on wasn't really "on".
instead of putting my head through the opening, i just tied it around me, without
putting it on. I could see my breath -- so the temperature was less than 50Fahrenheit
(10C). I made it down the steep parts, pretty much all of the 1,000ft . I still
had a fence ahead of me, and rolling hills. Oh, and of course every single time
i got lost here at night. The last time i couldn't find my car. It turned out
i walked too far, and had to return along the road. I wasn't going to miss the
car this time.
I almost walked into the fence. The only
thing that stopped me was seeing the metal bar 10 feet away, i never saw the wire.
If i came at it from a different spot, i might have walked into the barbed wire.
After the fence it didn't look familiar at all -- the terrrain was too rough,
too much vegetation and too dense. It wasn't the easy terrain i was expecting.
I thought i knew where i was going, kind of diagonally towards the road. A few
more rips in the poncho, a few screams from brushing cactus, and...... is that
the road? i was 50 ft from something that looked like road. Couldn't be, no way......
ooooooops. i skidded as i braked. i almost fell 6ft down, the dropoff just before
the road. It was the road. Holy shnikes. Which road is this?
There is only one road over there. It
was THE road. Ok. I think i know where i am. I hate walking along the road. The
dirt was pretty open desert along the road (and 40ft or more above it). So i just
walked in the dirt. I passed the car again! At least i caught myself when i couldn't
see the Twins behind me anymore -- my view was blocked by a hill. I walked backwards
now along the road, and found my jeep. It took me 3hours from Outlooks peak. I
was at the car at 9:17pm.
It came as a spontaneous idea. Cycling.
Now. Snow hiking tomorrow. My tires were getting flat since the last ride -- a
month ago. A measly 15miles that time. I have to do more than that! I started
earlier this time, at 3pm. With 2 hours of day-warmth, 30miles was ok to do. I
started at the same spot as last time -- at the northeast side of town. The road
winds in between hills and besides a small airport there is not much there. The
road leads up to a highway (as far as i have gone before), and then -- who knows.
It was such a warm day! I had to put sunscreen on. It didn't feel like December
at all. On a real sunny day, it might be just as warm in Arizona desert anytime
between October and February. That's my personal belief, but don't quote me because
i'll deny everything.
The first 5 miles can be toughest, especially
if there is some uphill or wind involved. Afterwards it gets easier. Sometimes
i am so eager, i get wasted in the first 5 miles and then hurt for a bit. I was
ok this time. I was up to 28mph on a small downhill, without really trying. 7
miles past and i was by the highway. I did my little turn and went until the "Road
End" sign, like i have before. Then i got back to the highway and crossed
it -- 10.5mile mark. My new plan was to keep going until 20.0mile mark and then
go back. My average was a surprising 18.4mi. So far... likely to go down.
The road kept going and it was nice.
I was concerned for hitting dirt -- my racing bike can't do dirt. The road had
some rough spots, a few little hills, and then there was a 4 way stop. The traffic
co-operated, and I was able to squeeze through without stopping. As i passed a
gas station, i wondered if AAA would show up if my bike broke down. I mean i would
tell them that my car broke down, but when the dude would show up i'd just want
a ride to my car. Now that's a deep thought. I broke a spoke once, which made
the bike unusable. I only have 16 spokes and they're high tension. I have driven
that bike 40mph downhill and if i broke a spoke at that time...... ouch. ouch.
I heard from a nurse about one cyclist who skidded at high speed -- a lot of skin
scraped. (That nurse was at the moment taking care of my 3 inch skin scrape, from
a dirt-bike fall :-).)
I was at around 18 miles when the road
was ending, i had to turn right. No problemo, time to see the residential area.
Then i had to turn right again, and then left. I went by some builder's sites,
then through some bad paved road. It reminded me of cobblestones that Tour de
France dudes have to drive on in some cities -- they're very bumpy. Going fast
on those, you can drop water bottles and air pumps from the vibrations. I had
4 bottles of water with me -- i always do. It's good up to 80miles, even in Arizona
summer (just don't start at noon). Almost there, 19.1miles -- and the road ended.
I had to backtrack and use a little road. I was within feet of houses on left
and right. A lady with a dog, totally unaware of me, was crossing the road. I
was within feet of her when i passed her. I probably surprised her, but not really
startled. Finally, 20.0 miles. I turned around.
I got a smile from that same lady. Now
does that mean that she's single and available? Another deep thought of the day.
I passed a mom with her son on bicycles, and after i passed them i stepped on
it.... or was it before i passed them? I saw 2 cyclists coming against me. The
dude at the front was in his own little world, but i got a little head motion
from the lady behind him :-). I like saying hi to fellow cyclists. As a side note,
all girls look good with helmets and sunglasseses on.
At 30miles, my legs stopped co-operating.
I remember having that feeling near the end of 60mile "Tour of Tucson Mountains"
event. When the cardio system is adjusted, but the legs just don't want to work.
So i crawled at 13mpth on flats for a bit. I tried standing up, varying the gears...
but noooooope. I was at the car. Yes! The best part of the day. I leaned the bike
on the car and lied down in the dirt. What a feeling! To stretch afterwards. To
breathe fully and normally again. Wow. That sure felt good. I had a big smile
on my face as i looked at the sky through my sunglasses. I love Arizona. I could
never go cycling in cold weather -- it's just not my bag baby. But to be able
to go cycling anytime of the year ........ now that's Arizona.
The day's statistics were:
|Distance: 34.65 miles
||Time: 2h 4min
||Average: 16.7 mph
||Max: 28.3 mph
||Total Odometer: 2082.8mi
Snowbowl was open! At 2:47pm i was on
my way. Many people showed up for skiing, and there was enough snow on the big
hills. I crossed a beginner's slope, and headed for the woods only 300 feet away.
Before i could get there i encountered knee deep snow. I tried going left and
right, where i saw vegetation sticking out. I was hoping for shallower snow there.
The snow was deep everywhere. Once in the woods, i found a trail. The "trail"
was someone's footprints in the snow, now covered with fresh snow. It was snowing
now. After a few minutes, i was on a little path in the snow. Now that looked
like a trail to follow. I measured 27F.
...more stuff here please...
At 5:20pm i turned back. Thermometer
was now showing 19F and night was certainly coming. The freshly fallen snow made
it harder to see the trail. The snow also started finding its way into my boots,
and it felt cold.
...more stuff here please...