October 29th, 2016 ~ Day 218
Complete darkness yet again when when I arrived at the trailhead. Waking up at 3:30 for the second day in a row, is killing me. I like to wake up early, but even this is too early in the morning for me. Meeting a group of friends at 5 am, the plan, to hike five summits of the Seven Summits Challenge. The event is coming up quickly and everyone is trying to get in as much training as possible.
We heard the coyotes howling just as our hike began. A little eerie as it is so dark out. It’s my understanding that they won’t bother you, but I am always cautious of any wild animal.
We started out on the Sidewinder Trail to head up to the first peak, Apache Vista. An easy 1.37 mile hike one way, with little elevation. Hiking up to the peak, Sabrina thought there was a snake on the trail, when it was only an owl. Scared me to death when she had us all stop, but once we figured out it was an owl, I was laughing.
We made it to the top in no time at all. Still in total darkness we took the best picture we could possibly get. I can’t see anyone’s finger holding up a one. Something we do once we reach the top of each peak.
As we were hiking in the dark, I could tell I was breathing in the dust. I couldn’t see it but I could smell the dirt in the air.
From Apache Vista Summit, we headed back down to the Sidewinder Trail until we came to the Ridgeback Trail. About the time we began the Ridgeback Trail, it was starting to get a little brighter out, but we still needed to use our headlamps. There is a side trail off the Ridgeback that takes you up to the Ridgeback Overlook. This peak is a little more difficult than the first one with the elevation gain being higher.
Making it to the Ridgeback Overlook, our second summit, daylight was finally truly upon us. From Apache Vista, this summit is 4.52 miles back to the trailhead. My tracker doesn’t always read the same numbers as the maps. Usually my tracker never reads the same numbers for the same hikes either. I think I’ll stick to the maps, they always seem to have more mileage.
We only stayed at the top of the summit for a moment to take a quick picture, this is a training hike after all.
Heading downhill back to the trailhead, the sun was finally rising over the McDowell Mountain Range, a glorious sight! One thing good about hiking in the early morning, the temperatures are much cooler because there isn’t any sunlight.
Our total for this hike should be 5.89, but my tracker read 5.58. I can’t wait to see what it says the day I hike all Seven Summits. We kept a good pace of 20 minutes a mile, which is great for five+ miles.
Once we were done we immediately left the Apache Vista Trailhead, and headed over to hike our next summit, Deem Hills. It’s about a 15-20 minute drive to the next trailhead.
Arriving at the trailhead for Deems, with the sun brightly shining, it was beginning to get warm. As we began climging up the mountain, I could see the dust flying in the air. Now that is was daylight and we were heading east, the sun accentuated the dust.
It reminded me of Pig-Pen from the Charlie Brown cartoons, the little boy who always had a cloud of dust around his feet. Walking through it, the dust was at least a foot high.
Our third summit Deem Hills, was the last one for me today. We made it to the top, keeping a great pace. This trail is a 3.7 mile hike in and out style trail and according to my tracker a 568 foot elevation gain. Again, taking a quick picture we headed back down again to go on to the next summit.
I on the other hand, was off to show a home to a client and with hiking the Grand Canyon tomorrow, I didn’t want to wear my legs out. Total, I hiked nine miles and I am happy with that. I was able to enjoy my day with some wonderful people who love getting outside as much as I do.