Hiking through the White Tank Mountains – Part II

You might remember from the last post that we left-off with an image of two markers, a cairn, and a trail heading upward and out of the creek-bed that was the trail and waterway of Ford Canyon in the White Tank Mountains.  If you want to revisit that last post before proceeding onward, you can click here to be taken to Part I.

I can’t say exactly how far it was now, but after climbing up from the creek-bed and hiking along a couple of hillsides, the trail eventually led to this granite-bedded wash, or drainage that I understood to flow into Willow Canyon.

White Granite of Willow Creek waterway in White Tank Mountains

After another mile or so, I found myself at what would essentially be the halfway point of my day, given that I was going to make the full loop of the Ford Canyon Trail and the Goat Camp Trail.  When I reached the end of this last trail, there would still be another mile and a half walk along the roadway to get back to my truck.

Trail junction in White Tank Mountains

From what I’ve read of the trails on the park’s website, the Mesquite and Willow Canyon trails are the next longest trails in the area and make nice, but shorter, loop-hikes that will compel me to return to the White Tanks on at least another two occasions.

Trailside treasure of arrow through Saguaro in White Tank Mountains

Not far off-trail, heading west on the Goat Camp Trail, I found the curious instance of an arrow shot into a Saguaro cactus.  I can’t imagine that it was an accident….

Antennas and trails in White Tank Mountains

In the image above, you can see two stretches of the Goat Camp Trail…the first being on the lower ridge and heading off to the right, and the second located very faintly just above the “2015” toward the bottom left.

Desert mountainside trail with panoramic view

The photos above and below are of the same area, but from slightly different perspectives…and while it is still apparent in the above image, one gets a greater sense of the openness in the one below.

Mountainside panorama in White Tank Mountains

At any rate, there is a particular sweeping grandness to this desert landscape that I find to be different than the almost enveloping sense of scale that I noticed and felt bodily when hiking in the Wasatch.

Waterway with outcropping off the Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

Other views of a waterway with a rocky outcropping…and the “winter-bare wildflowers” with the Prickly Pear cacti in the background….

Dried wildflowers and Prickly Pear cactus silhouette

You might notice the trail, again, in the below photo, this time just below the shadowed area in the upper right corner….

Desert waterway and hillside

A quick glimpse at the trail, still heading west into the range…still new to me at this point….

Desert green along Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

A bit of diversity in the landscape now, more rocks and different foliage….

Opposite hillside of Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

Do you see the runner in the below photo…that spot of barely discernible pink…on the trail, just above and to the right of the image’s center…?

Approaching runner on Goat Camp Trail

I don’t know the name of the lichen or the rocks in this next image…but I like them, anyway…find them fascinating….

Circle lichen with rock pile

Looking north and west…and way down at the trail that I had already hiked….

Hedgehog cactus and White Tank Mountain panorama from Goat Camp Trail

Wild grass and cactus, slabs of rock-facing on the hillside…

Rocky hillside along Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

…and a far horizon with an approaching trail on folds of the earth…

Long view of Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

Hedgehog cacti growing out of a chunk of rock.

Stone-grown Hedgehog cactus

…and two young singers with their arms spread…reminded me of “The hills are alive, with the sound of music….”  This section of the Goat Camp Trail was probably more difficult in its descent than the Ford Canyon Trail was in its ascent…and I was very, very happy that I was going downhill at this point….

"The hills are alive with the sound..." Rock concert hiking date in White Tank Mountains

Looking upstream just to the left of the above singers….

Stream-bed crossing of Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

I thought about doing an entire post on the Saguaro’s cactus spines, but thought it might be considered grossly redundant.  I think this images captures just about everything….

Saguaro spines close-up along Goat Camp Trail

Back on level ground and approaching the end of the trail, wondering if the goat camp that gave this trail its name might be around somewhere….

Nearing the end of Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

One last glimpse at the white granite boulders that highlight many of the waterways in the White Tank Mountains….

White granite stream-bed at Goat Camp Trail crossing in White Tank Mountains

And what’s a desert hike without a zombie Saguaro…?

Another Saguaro zombie at White Tank Mountains

And finally, back at the starting point…a late afternoon look at the windmill that helped frame the sunrise in the first image of the previous post…now several hours later…with a mostly overcast sky.

Back to the beginning - windmill at White Tank Mountains

While conducting a little bit of research on the name origin for the White Tank Mountains, while trying to find something historically solid to share with you, I came across this WordPress blog, History of Waddell, Arizona, that provides some general information.  It doesn’t list any sources, but it’s “nice” information that hints at a starting place for future investigation.

Thank you, again, for your endurance in making it to the end of another uncharacteristically long post.  I hope you enjoyed the second half of my hike from December 6th of this past year, climbing and walking the Ford Canyon and Goat Camp Trails of the White Tank Mountain Regional Park, Maricopa County, Arizona.

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22 responses

  1. Very nice hike. And, I was surprised to see the runner and singers.

    January 2, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    • Yes, it was, Emilio…and I was more surprised by the singers than by the runner…. I’ve seen runners on a few occasions (I even happened upon a full race of them once with almost 200 of the bastards running past me over the course of an hour!), but had never seen singers out here….

      January 6, 2016 at 7:33 am

    • 200!? . . . did you try tripping any of them? I would have thought hilarity would have ensued.

      BTW, did you ask the singers if they were taking requests?

      Seriously, I can see the attraction of singing in such a place, but question the acoustics. Unless, they had amazing voices.

      January 6, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      • Yes, near 200. I had unknowingly chosen to hike a particular stretch of trail that was being used for a race that morning. Things were fine for the first hour or so on my way out, but then they all started returning (they started an hour or so before I did…) and it was non-stop runners for a solid 45 minutes to an hour…and then the stragglers….

        And no…I didn’t ask the singers if they were taking requests…good acoustics or not. 🙂

        January 6, 2016 at 3:30 pm

  2. Love the starkness and the contrasts in your photos. Always a pleasurable ramble for me.

    January 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    • Thank you, Kristy…I appreciate the comment…and the ramble. 🙂

      January 6, 2016 at 7:34 am

  3. I loved this hike, revived some more good memories of the desert and wished I had been there!
    You know, if you (very carefully) pluck the tips of a Saguaro’s spines, you can get different tones. One night, on a Thanksgiving camping trip near Wickenburg and after a couple glasses of good wine, I found one on which I could play the tune “Red River Valley”.

    January 2, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    • I didn’t know you could pluck the Saguaro spines to make music out there, Terry…I’ll have to keep that in mind for when I encounter more singers out there! That must have taken an incredible amount of patience to find all the spines with their corresponding tones to play that tune. 🙂

      January 6, 2016 at 7:36 am

  4. Interesting photos. The arrow one is quite a funny pic.

    Have a great 2016! 🙂

    January 2, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    • Thanks, Nandini…one certainly doesn’t expect to find arrows through the cacti out there. 🙂

      January 6, 2016 at 7:36 am

  5. Rugged and beautiful in a way that isn’t seen here. I like seeing all the cacti growing as they should instead of as landscape specimens.
    I’m not sure what lichen that is but it looks like it was huge. It could be a shield lichen of some kind.
    I think the view with the windmill is my favorite. Probably because I’ve seen so many views much like it in western movies.

    January 3, 2016 at 6:36 am

    • Yes, it’s very different from your forest covered mountains of the Granite State, isn’t it?

      I had Googled the lichen in an attempt to offer something in the way of a name or category, but aside from the “shield” lichen that you mentioned, it seemed way too easy to give it the wrong name, so I left it alone.

      Those windmills are classic, western landscape features, it seems…while they’re not “everywhere” out here, they’re certainly not uncommon, either.

      January 6, 2016 at 7:41 am

  6. Thanks for the hike. M 🙂

    January 3, 2016 at 11:33 am

    • My pleasure. 🙂

      January 6, 2016 at 7:41 am

  7. I loved part 2 as much as part one. You covered it brilliantly, with sweeping vistas and close-up views of the natural beauty. And what hike wouldn’t be complete without the zombie saguaro! Awesome series, awesome hike.

    January 4, 2016 at 3:22 am

    • I’m very glad you enjoyed it, Laura…more to entice you for a return trip to the desert….to visit with the zombies yourself. 🙂

      January 6, 2016 at 7:42 am

  8. Liana

    There is so much PLACENESS here!!! Luvit

    January 4, 2016 at 10:56 am

    • Excellent description, Liana….thank you. 🙂

      January 6, 2016 at 7:43 am

  9. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed a read and look through these two posts, Scott. The landscape is very different to the type that I am used to hiking through in the European Alps, but it does remind me strongly of sections of the climb up Kilimanjaro in Africa. I am wondering whether some of the smoothing seen in the earlier images could be the consequence of the last ice age when glaciers would have snaked down these valleys and scoured the rock smooth. In the Alps with glacial retreat I see a lot of compelling examples of that.

    January 5, 2016 at 11:26 am

    • Yes, it is very different from the European Alps…and I can imagine that there would be a similarity with the landscapes to be seen in Africa…and probably Australia, as well. I like your idea of the glacier smoothing…I’ve seen examples of that in the canyons up in Utah…very distinct scrapings along the surfaces of the rock masses, almost like what we would see along the sides of dough when pushing it through a cookie press. I’ve not read much on the geological history of this region, Andy, but what I have read indicated that this area used to be the bed of a great lake and the mountains formed when the lake-bed “stretched” and pushed the bordering land upwards….and with the passing of hundreds and hundreds of millions of years that have contributed to what we see out here today, it’s quite likely that this area has been touched by the ice-age, as well.

      January 6, 2016 at 7:57 am

  10. A very enjoyable hike indeed Scott. Thank you so much for taking us along!

    January 7, 2016 at 9:34 am

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Adrian…thank you for being there with me. 🙂

      January 24, 2016 at 5:27 pm

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