Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It’s a Wrap


Our last couple weeks here at McDowell Mountain Park are just about over. We were visited by Mark and Bobbie for one night on their way from Sedona to Madeira Canyon. We had happy hour and a few hours of chit chat, and Bobbie and I went for a hike early the next morning before they left. I failed to take any photos but it’s always good to see them.

The next Friday fitness hike I joined was back at the Dixie Mine trailhead but a longer hike of 11.6 miles on numerous trails. The parking lot is at the entrance to an exclusive gated subdivision.


And involves walking on a sidewalk through the neighborhood to get to the trails.


It was a beautiful morning for a hike.




We went off-trail to check out a water escarpment for wildlife built by Fish and Game. When it rains water runs off this aluminum panel and is collected into a tank where it fills a trough for the wildlife.


Apparently they installed a camera at one point to see what was visiting the tank but it was vandalized a couple years ago and was never replaced. What is wrong with people?


Kevin stepped right over this fellow and I was right behind him and almost did the same until I realized it was not a stick.


We think it was just a friendly gopher snake.


Colorful rock.



Haze over Phoenix in the distance.


Field of saguaro on a hillside.


One of the women in our group had missed the hike to the petroglyphs a couple weeks before, so some of us took a detour to look at them. I didn’t care about seeing the rock art again, but I liked the hike through the canyon to get there so I tagged along. It was another fun morning on the trails.


One pleasant Sunday afternoon we met Alex and Ellen in Fountain Hills for a walk around Fountain Park and a hike on the Fountain Overlook Trail, followed by lunch on the patio of La Botana.


Alex and Jim strolling along the paved path around the lake.


View from the hiking trail above town.


The final Friday hike I did on the 16th started at Tom’s Thumb trailhead, where we did the very strenuous and panic-attack inducing hike last month. Kevin assured me this one would have quite a bit of elevation gain, but not all the rock hopping and exposure like the last one, and he was right.


We took a climber’s trail up to a ridge but unlike the last hike this trail was not very rocky, although it was quite steep.


The views were great once we got up there, although it was really windy and cool, being an overcast day.



The rocks are so interesting in this part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.




Happy hikers. From left, Kevin, Linda, Sunaree, Kay, Ben and John.


Kevin took this one so I could get in it.


We walked along the ridge to Tom’s Thumb, where Kevin was pointing out a climbing route and hardware in the rock.


No climbers that day.


We continued down the Tom’s Thumb trail to the Lookout trail.



Then ended up making a loop around the Marcus Landslide area.



More interesting rocks. We hiked a little over 6 miles with about 1400’ of elevation gain, which mostly came in the first mile and a half up the climber’s trail. I’ve really enjoyed hiking with the fitness group this year.


The rest of our time here has consisted of biking, socializing and a few more days spent at Fearless Kitty. One day last week we did laundry in Mesa and then met Debbie for lunch in Chandler at Fired Pie, an excellent fast-food style pizza place. We had a fun three hour lunch catching up. (Sorry, Pat, we were so busy talking I forgot to take a photo.)

The hosts had a big jambalaya cook-out last Saturday evening and although we didn’t eat we went to visit. It was actually fairly warm so we didn’t feel the need to be close to the fire and avoided smelling like smoke.


We had another great dinner with John and Sandy at La Botana, which is now our favorite restaurant in Fountain Hills. It was a very cold, windy night so we couldn’t sit on the patio for the view but the food was excellent.

Charlie and Marti, Lazy Daze friends from Seattle, stopped by the other day. They are spending the winter in Tucson but came up to visit friends in North Scottsdale and wanted to check out McDowell Mountain since they had never been. We haven’t come up with a route for our trip to Canada this summer but if we get near Seattle we hope to see them again.

Yesterday Alex and Ellen came out for one last hike since we thought it was too cold and windy to bike. We did see quite a few people out riding but we would have had to wear too many clothes to be comfortable on the bikes.


And of course I couldn’t end this post without more cat photos. This is sweet, shy Mistletoe.


Either Elwood or Jake. We can’t tell these brothers apart.


The Big Adoption Room, which is in our zone to clean, has eight kittens right now. They are all adorable but some of them are a bit shy.




But not crazy Deacon, who has more energy than we have ever seen in a kitten. He is relentless at attacking and trying to play with the other kittens or anything else that moves.


My favorite kitten is Beau. Have you ever seen markings like this? Makes us smile just looking at his face! I will miss our Fearless Kitty days.


Tomorrow we’re moving on to southern California and Jojoba Hills to begin a new chapter. It’s been a great winter here but we’re looking forward to a change of scenery. Stay tuned!


  1. Lots of friends connecting with you all and enjoying those hikes and incredible views!!
    I will really miss hearing all about the cats/kittens at Fearless Kitty!!!
    Safe travels and enjoy your new scenery!!!

    1. Agreed with you Happytrails, this post was a joy to read and the photos of the rocks were beautiful. And I will miss stories from the Fearless Kitty. Hope Charlie Chaplin Kitty gets adopted.

    2. Thanks, I always miss the Fearless Kitties when we leave here. Sadly there is no cat rescue near Jojoba Hills.

  2. I am really paying close attention to this next phase of life you are starting. May it will give me enough information that I can quit making so many expensive mistakes. Thanks for taking me along.

    1. Have you checked out any of the Escapee's co-op parks? Getting your money back when you leave is a great incentive for giving it a try since there isn't really anything to lose.

    2. Yes, several times during my 22 years as an Escapee.

  3. I would love to do the Friday fitness hike but would never make 11+ miles. You're a machine!
    There are actually friendly snakes.
    Super hikes. I love the huge boulders.
    Love the kitty photos.
    Good luck with the next chapter of your lives at Jojoba Hills

    1. You could do the fitness hikes. The longer ones were always in areas where there was not much elevation change, and having so many people to chat with along the way makes the miles fly by.

  4. The boulders look like the granite plutons around Yarnell. Safe travels.

    1. I just love all those boulders. We haven't been to Yarnell but have plans to be in Prescott for a couple weeks in May and hope to check it out this time.

  5. What fantastic hikes!! I love hiking in the jumbo rocks. You're going to miss those Friday Fitness Hikes:) Such adorable kittens. They are going to miss you two:) You've had a great winter at McDowell. Good luck at Jojoba and the beginning of a new chapter!

    1. Yes, I will miss the cats, the hikes and the biking but I have a feeling we'll find plenty to keep us busy at Jojoba.

  6. What a fun winter you had! Great hiking + good friends + birding + cute kitties. Sounds wonderful. Just looking at little Beau (AKA Charlie Chaplin) makes me smile, too! :-)

    1. We had a very good winter, partly because the weather was so great. It's turned to winter the past few days so it's time to go!

  7. Beau looks like a cat version of Groucho Marx ("Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know.") :) Happy travels and good luck with the new chapter...Not many left, and we all know the ending!

    1. Yes, Groucho Marx! They put his picture on Facebook yesterday and got a lot of interest. I have a feeling he will be adopted soon.
      We're trying not to think about the ending ;-)

  8. How exciting to head for your new part time home! Too bad we'll miss you at Mcdowell, we'll be there in a couple of weeks.

    1. Hate that we will miss you guys. Even if we wanted to stay there is no room at the inn. It's been busier than ever here this winter.
      Enjoy riding the trails!

  9. You two have had a great winter in Fountain Hills and I'm sure it is difficult to leave an area you both enjoy so much. Hope you enjoy this next adventure. We are looking forward to seeing you. LuAnn

  10. Sorry not to see Mark and Bobbie in your post although I do the same thing. I just hate to intrude on a good time with something that sometimes feels very plastic. Great picture of the Gopher Snake and of the rocks on your final Friday hike. I’ll bet you will miss those. I sure would. Can’t believe you are at the end of your stay. Those kittens are just darling but I think Beau looks like Charlie Chaplin so I’d call him Chaplin.

  11. More wonderful views from the trail. I love all those beautiful rocks. The snake looked flat in the first pics - glad you included the next one :-) I'd definitely miss those cute kittens. I agree with Sherry, he would be Chaplin to me too!