Friday, January 26, 2018

That Which Doesn’t Kill Us…

DSC09207                              Looking down on the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Scottsdale, AZ

Last Friday’s Fitness hike was the Hog Heaven Loop, a trek up to East End Peak, the highest point in the McDowell Mountain range. This was Kevin’s description, which sounded a bit challenging, but I was confident I could handle “fairly strenuous”.

“I'm thinking about doing the Hog Heaven / East End route which is steep, loose and fairly strenuous.  However, the payoff is that it has some truly outstanding views.”

What he failed to mention was all the exposure, meaning there is a high risk of injury in the event of a fall. I won’t go into details of my panic attack about half the way up the mountain, but somehow I managed to get a grip and hop boulders across a chasm that definitely tested my fear of heights. After that, all the scrambling, crawling on hands and knees, and sliding on my butt were a piece of cake.

Here is Kevin, posing on the spot that nearly did me in. It never looks as bad in photos but it was two big jumps that would have resulted in serious injury or worse had any of us fallen. Out of seven of us on the hike only one other woman besides me had a bit of trouble getting up the nerve to  jump across.


It was a beautiful day for a hike.



Yes we’re going up there, via the climber’s trail.


Yes, Randy, I’m taking your picture again.


Randy and Kevin checking out the view from atop a boulder.



Sunaree and Randy making their way up the granite boulders.




Nice scenery and interesting rocks.



Thumbnail Pinnacle.



Thompson Peak with the towers on it is just a bit lower than East End.




After two slow miles we finally made it to East End, elevation 4,069’, with about 1,600’ of rough, rocky climbing to get there.




Coming back down wasn’t much easier since there was a lot of loose rock, but we all made it unscathed.


Glass Dome, left and Tom’s Thumb, middle.


The following day I attended a talk given by a local geologist about the McDowell Mountains, where we learned that all the granite we hiked on was formed 1.4-1.6 billion years ago. It’s hard to wrap your head around numbers like that.



Although relatively short, for me this was a very challenging and strenuous hike. I’m glad I did it but it’s one I don’t ever intend to do again. Kevin has a good write up and better photos on his blog if anyone is interested.

Of course I couldn’t do a post with nothing but photos of rocks, so here are some cats we spent a bit of time with this week.

This is Elf who is new and a bit shy.


Harriet lost her home after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.


Timid Dennis  won’t let me pet him but I can get him to come out and play with the laser light.


And lastly, my buddy M&M. He was just a kitten when we were here last year but had some stomach issues that required lengthy treatment. He is doing fine now but since he’s grown up and most people want to adopt kittens he hasn’t found a home yet. He’s very affectionate and playful and I’m confident the right person will come along one of these days.



  1. Way to push back on your panic attack. The view is worth it, right?
    Box Canyon Mark

    1. I would have turned back at that point but the group wouldn't let me. Hiking with others is a good way to push yourself. And yes, the view was worth it!

  2. Thank you for taking me to places I never will get to go. It is really appreciated.

    1. Not sure how much longer I'm going to be going to places like that, either!

  3. I can't even imagine jumping across those rocks - good for you for tackling your fear successfully. Definitely beautiful views across that beautiful desert. Such cute kitties!

    1. I feel that panic come over me just thinking about jumping across those boulders again.

  4. Gayle...You must learn to question a man thoroughly. He tends to leave out some facts...hehehe
    The view sure was worth you risking your life for. Gorgeous photos.
    Thanks for the kitty photos. They are so dang cute. I could never work there. I would either cry or be bringing a new one home each time I visited. Neither would make Paul very happy. lol

    1. You are so right about men leaving out facts, but I should know better!
      Some days it's hard to hold back the tears when we work at Fearless Kitty, but we are NOT bringing another cat home. Learned that lesson the hard way.

  5. Stunning views! Good for you for overcoming your fears...thanks to peer pressure!

  6. Awesome scrambling hike! Well, except that boulder jump. I have a real fear of hopping across a deep open area no matter how narrow the opening may be. I would have been very hesitant, too. Congrats on conquering that and being able to move on. You don't need long miles when the four miles is a continuous workout:)

    1. The next day my legs felt like we had done at least a 10 mile hike!

  7. I would have been a little reluctant to jump across a chasm. Congrats on making it. My knees were aching a bit as I was reading this post. Love your kitty photos. Looking forward to seeing you two soon.

    1. Coming back down was really tough on my knees, and definitely harder than going up.
      We look forward to seeing you too in a few weeks ;-)

  8. Oh my…. It may be short but it sure does look challenging. At my height, with the length of my legs and "hoping ability", hoping over chasm would give me a fear of heights I don't currently have. Congrats to you for taking on the challenge and seeing it through. Great pictures of the beautiful views and natural area. Particularly like the one of the thumbnail from above and the one of the mountains that follow it. But they are all so good. Thanks for doing it and sharing it.

  9. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a beautiful, rugged area, but you have to like the desert to appreciate it. It always amazes us that there is such a large natural area so close to Scottsdale and Phoenix.