Hard to believe 2017 is almost over. Here is a quick wrap up of our past couple weeks at McDowell Mountain Park.
They can’t see in for the window tint but they know we’re in there.
The feeders continue to get lots of visitors.
One of many lovely sunsets.
That is Randy and Sunaree’s Airstream in the next site up from us.
It was my turn for annual doctor appointments and all is well. Just need an eye exam and I will be good to go until next year, I hope.
We’ve been doing some hiking in between biking, as usual. This is Sunaree, Ellen and Jim on the Granite trail.
Randy, Ellen, Sunaree and Jim on the Bluff.
Before Randy got back from his month long job in Georgia, Sunaree and I did another early Friday Fitness Hike. This time we went out of the park to Spur Cross Conservation Area north of Cave Creek for a hike to Skull Mesa. Kevin, who leads these hikes, and his wife Marilyn, had room for us in their car so we hitched a ride to the trailhead. Turned out only one other person showed up, but not surprising given that it was the Friday before Christmas.
It looks warm but was only 40 when we started, still better than the 29 degree temperature when I got up that morning.
Our lofty goal was Skull Mesa in the Tonto National Forest, almost 2,000’ higher than we started. It doesn’t look that far in the photos but it was over 5 miles to get there, and that was with a shortcut.
Being uphill most of the way with bright sunshine we warmed up quickly, although the highs only got into the 50s that day. It wasn’t long before we were all shedding layers and gloves.
Pam, I thought of you when we came across this elaborate crested saguaro.
Also found some petroglyphs as this area was home to the Verde Hohokam around 800 years ago.
From this sign we were still 1.1 miles and 1,100 feet to the top of the mesa.
That last mile was a challenge, with narrow, steep, rocky switchbacks to the top.
Finally up on the mesa it was surprising to see a mostly flat grassland.
It was still a bit of a walk to the edge, but worth the effort for the views.
Mitra, Sunaree and me.
Coming back down was trickier than going up, as the rocks wanted to slide out from under our feet, but we all made it unscathed other than having to pull out some cactus spines.
We then returned on a different trail through Cottonwood Canyon, where we spotted another crested saguaro.
Fall colors in the canyon.
Can’t believe we were just up there. It was a great hike, and we plan to join Kevin again one of these Friday mornings.
While we were off on our 7 hour hike, Jim was busy babysitting Randy and Sunaree’s dog Beau. He is a sweet French bulldog and very low maintenance. Jim didn’t pay close attention to Sunaree’s instructions and he thought she said whenever Beau stares at you he needs to go out. Jim said he stared at him most of the day but would never go to the bathroom when he let him out. What a face!
Before dinner we had a nice Christmas morning with cats.
Jim was very taken with Elton, and vice versa, although the white cat hair all over our clothes negated any desire to adopt him.
We saved the kitten room for last, as we knew we would spend a lot of time in there. There are five of them and they just crawled all over us. It’s almost impossible to get photos as they are in constant motion.
One of them kept sneezing so I was trying to figure out which one by their bio pictures. You can see I had plenty of help.
They are just adorable.
Jim ended up buying another mountain bike, a used Giant that’s kind of beat up but has better components, carbon wheels with tubeless tires, and is lighter and actually fits him better than the old one. He really liked his first ride on it, since he’s been missing getting out on the trails here. The recumbent is now for sale as we can’t carry three bikes. Besides, riding it was bothering his neck, and he missed having suspension. Live and learn.
Tonight we’re having dinner with friends and will no doubt be in bed long before midnight.
This was our last sunrise of 2017. Happy New Year to all!