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!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Same Old, Same Old

IMG_2199                                                                  Last week’s full moon rising

Yes, we are still here at McDowell Mountain Park for another couple of weeks. Enjoying the warm, dry weather this winter which has allowed us to get out on the trails frequently either on foot or bicycle. Still going to the gym a few times a week, working at Fearless Kitty and hanging out with friends. It’s hard to believe we’ve been here three months already.

The past two Friday Fitness Hikes have been much tamer. One week we did a 6.5 mile loop to Dixie Mine and beyond to some petroglyphs. This crested saguaro is at the trailhead parking lot, which is at the end of Golden Eagle Blvd in Fountain Hills.One week we did a 6.5 mile


It was barely over 40 at 8am when we started out but it always warms up quickly once we get moving.






Looking down into the mine shaft.


Heading to the petroglyphs.


A couple of mine tunnels along the way.


I found a bit more information about the mine on the internet.

“The Dixie Mine was established in 1877, when scouts noticed expanses of red quartz in this area. Red quartz often occurs in proximity to gold and silver deposits, so the mine was established. Although some silver and gold was extracted from the mine, it seems that its major profits derived from selling, and then re-selling, the mine to hapless investors from the East Coast. It finally closed in 1917 and was given to the state.”



There are lots of petroglyphs, thought to be created by the Hohokams about 1000 to 1500 years ago.




We had to do some scrambling to get out of the wash where the petroglyphs are located.






Last Friday’s hike started at the trailhead staging area in McDowell Mountain Park. We hiked almost 10 miles on a few different trails but mainly stayed in various washes for a little variety.





I’m never quite sure where we are on these hikes, as we all just follow Kevin. It’s nice to walk and talk and not have to plan a route.


We had what we think was a barn owl fly ahead of us several times through this arroyo. I’m sure it was happy we finally climbed out of there.



While I was hiking last Friday Jim took the car to a place in Tempe called SubiWorx that only works on Subarus. He wanted to get the brake fluid flushed and have the brakes, steering and a few other things checked out. He was happy he got out of there for just over $60, as the dealer quoted $130 for the brake flush. And they did not think the lower control arm bushings needed replacing, although the Subaru dealer in Scottsdale said they did two years ago. Now that he’s discovered this shop, Jim doesn’t want to take the car anywhere else. Let’s hope we don’t have any issues before we come back here, probably in November.

Below are some murals being painted by a talented volunteer in the two main adoption rooms at Fearless Kitty Rescue. You can get an idea of how big these are by the one on the right and the location of the light switch by the door. I love how she painted the tail on the door.

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She wasn’t quite finished with the rest of these, but they are still impressive.


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Just a couple more weeks of cats and we’ll be off to Jojoba Hills. And rumor has it we may have a visit from our Box Canyon buddies tomorrow, always something we look forward to.