November 5th, 2016 ~ Day 225
Tackling a 13 mile hike in the White Tank Mountains today, my first time here since I’ve begun this journey, I was so excited. Our hike begins at the Ford Canyon Trail. The Ford Canyon Trail, along with the Waterfall Trail, are the only two hikes I’ve ever done in the White Tanks, and I was anxious to explore new territory!
Today’s hike was a Meetup with Hiking for Hops. This would be the third time I’ve hiked with this group, although I’ve known Bob, our leader, a few years. A story we got to share a few times today, of how we missed a turn while hiking the National Trail on South Mountain and ended up hiking over 18 miles on our 13 mile hike. A day I’ll never forget!
The Ford Canyon Trail begins as a flat desert hiking trail with a slight incline for the first mile. The desert views are beautiful right from the start. We took off at a quick pace of 16 minutes that first mile.
Once into our second mile, we began hiking up through the canyon. We encountered beautiful rock walls and a little bit of boulder hopping as we continued along our hike. The white granite was glowing a bright white. Everything about this canyon was amazing.
Climbing over the enormous slabs of granite, we made our way through the canyon. It had rained a couple days ago and there were still small pools of water from the rain. Years of erosion had created these natural pools. I only have to assume the name White Tanks comes from the “granite pools”.
Once we passed the last wall of granite, which looked possibly like a damn, we were done with climbing over boulders. On to the next terrain, hiking through a dried sandy river bed. I’ve always found walking through sand is harder than anything. Your feet tend to sink down farther towards the earth and you have to work harder to get them up again.
The trail was difficult to navigate through the river bed. I followed the foot prints of the hikers who were in front of me. Bob was with me, but he let me lead the way.
After hiking through the dried river bed, we continued a gradual uphill climb. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I had thought after we made it through the rocks and boulders, we’d have a nice easy hike on somewhat of a level trail. I was completely wrong!
We stopped in a wash to take a break before our next climb. I found a little bush and sat down under it for a little shade. There wasn’t much shade out here, but luckily the temperatures weren’t scorching.
Not too long after our break, we came to an intersection where we then began the Goat Camp Canyon Trail. Luckily I was with the group, because I wasn’t paying attention. That is definitely one thing I love about Meetups, I just follow the leader and enjoy the outdoors.
Seeing the White Tank Mountains from afar on a daily basis, you never realize how deep this mountain range is until you hike it. We continued on a gradual uphill climb through the mountain. It looked like a desert prairie with cacti scattered about.
It was beginning to seem as though the uphill was never going to end. From the higher elevation, you could see the small specks of the granite wash we just hiked through below.
Seeing the valley from a completely different view today. Having never been in this portion of the White Tank Mountains, I was amazed at how far I could see. It looked like I was above the clouds. With the highest elevation in this range being 4083 feet, I believe my perception may have been a little off.
Finally after ten miles of mostly uphill hiking, we were on our way down. Although, the downhill climb was treacherous. After all my complaints about going uphill, I would have rather done uphill both ways than climb down this. I had to be cautious with every step I took. My pace slowed to a 28 minute mile as I navigated my way down the giant rocks and slippery gravel. Luckily it was only a couple miles before we were on level ground again.
The view of the range I just hiked down was spectacular. Looking back at this scene, made this entire hike worth it. In the last mile, I couldn’t wait for this to be over, but seeing this, I’m so grateful to have enjoyed the journey today.
After five and a half hours and 13 long miles, we were done. A portion of the group headed out to have lunch, and since the group name is Hiking for Hops, they all had their beer of course.
It was a great day and an amazing group! I’m looking forward to the next hike!