It’s almost funny how the best images from the hiking trip were from before I even arrived at the trailhead….
Taking Lake Mary Road from the freeway takes one, not surprisingly, past the stretch of mountain meadow that has been turned into upper and lower lakes/reservoirs…and then to another forest road turn-off that leads one to the Lowell Observatory, or to Marshall Lake. My destination was the Marshall Lake trailhead that would lead me down into the canyon and eventually to Fisher Point. Six or seven hours later found me with less than 100 photos of the excursion…and substantial joy (?) at how well (to my thinking) the images turned out from the lower Lake Mary….
It was five months ago yesterday that I took the hike and made these photos, so I should probably finish the series and post the images that have been sitting here in draft form since February…
You might remember from the previous posts that there was a chance of rain and that the skies were overcast for most of the hike…. You might remember, as well, that the significant landscape feature of the hike was Weaver’s Needle….
I had hiked out to that lone pinion pine in the above photo and made some closer-up images of the Needle…and also in the above photo, if you can imagine us to the far right and out of frame, that is where I was when I made the first image of this post, looking south and east from that bit of a plateau that leads to the pine tree. I was heading back to the Fremont Saddle to descend the trail on the hillside that would take me down and to the west of the Needle when I made the above photo.
On the level trail now, still looking at the southern aspect of the Needle…in among the rich desert foliage that was largely unfamiliar to me, but contained some type of willow, mesquite, and occasional palo-verde.
It had rained earlier in the week and the park ranger said all the streams had stopped flowing. The rushing course had stopped, but the water was still seeping slowly in the deeper parts of the canyon, still moving enough that I could hear the occasional trickling that seemed so out of place in my surroundings.
The desert is not all dessication and waste….
If I had more time, I would have enjoyed climbing the hill, walking around the Needle, and capturing some images of what the prominence looked-like up close and personal.
Looking at Weaver’s Needle from the north…the Fremont Saddle is reached by going back through that rich path of green toward the right and climbing the switchback trail up to the lower portion of the horizon just below the patch of blue in the photo above.
Clearing skies on the way back…looking toward the north…
And then the broader view, looking north again, from the beginning of the switchback trail leading up to the Fremont Saddle.
One of the last photos I made of the hike back, heading down the trail from the Saddle, through the “hordes” of other hikers making their way up to it; I stopped to capture an image of the rolling purple waves of the Superstition Mountains…and the Tolkienesque sandstone spires that adorned the ridge of the western aspect of Peralta Canyon.
As always…thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the little glimpse into Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.
By far, I have found it best to be on these desert trails shortly after sunrise, or within the first hour thereafter….
…the light is more pleasant and provides for greater character in the subjects found along the way.
Two Sundays ago found me hiking south on the Black Canyon Trail from the Bumble Bee trailhead. I have hiked this stretch of the trail once before…on a sweetly cloudy day in July of last year.
I didn’t go as far with this present hike, as the day’s heat was growing more oppressive and casting something of an ugly hue on everything that caught my eye.
I didn’t get out hiking in the earlier part of Spring, and have therefore missed the rich greenness that all of these wild grasses and flowers must have added to the area.
I love the pearl-like clusters of the creosote or grease-wood bushes…especially when the morning light is behind them.
The desert, overall, wasn’t especially attractive on this particular morning, but when I stopped along the trail to look more closely, I found plenty to admire.
And in the photo below, a glance skyward brings a reminder of what can happen if one tarries too long…..
This second installment begins where the first one ended, right at the Fremont Saddle…the geographic/landscape feature that appeared to be a resting and turning-around point for many hikers. That was my impression, anyway, as there were a few people who walked out to the lone Pinon Pine in the distance, and many fewer people who actually went down the trail that eventually led to the base of Weaver’s Needle in the background…and swarms and tons of them at the saddle and back down on the first half of the trail as I made my return trek.
This second image is the view to the left of Weaver’s needle, made from the same location as the one above….
There is actually quite a gulf of rock-filled space between that lone pine and the southern edge of the base of Weaver’s Needle, even though some of the following images offer a view that appears somewhat contrary to what I just stated.
If you can return to the first image above, find the two people, and then travel in your mind in a sort of quarter or third of a circle off to your right, you will come to the location where I made the below image…it’s looking somewhat off to the southeast…over a further expanse of rocky and bouldered desert that contains dozens of other trails.
Crazy waves of mountain tops and yucca stalks….
Approaching Weaver’s Needle now, coming from the southeast where the above image was made…with a somewhat serpentine trail drawing us closer. You can see two people on the trail….
And below, facing somewhat northeast over the rocks and mountains of the Superstitions. I shared this image in a black and white rendering a few weeks ago….
It appears that we’re getting really close now….
Don’t forget to look down…and pay attention to what’s there….
Final yards up to the lone Pinon Pine…a feature that is discussed on-line as another favorite destination and turn-around spot. I encountered a man and woman (and their dog) who appeared to have spent the night under the pine…and were packing to leave as the other hikers and I arrived…rested, lingered, and then departed to continue our respective journeys.
This is the view from the ledge just down and to the left/west of the pine tree…there is quite a bit of space between the tree and the Needle…..
More to follow….
The Peralta Trail is just one of the almost 40 trails that one can find in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. The mountains are part of the Superstition Wilderness that lies within the confines of the Tonto National Forest. I might have mentioned it in the earlier post, but my visit to this bit of desert a week or so ago was my first…. I have only driven “close” to the area a few times in my two-decades-plus of living in Arizona…and by “close,” I mean maybe within 20 miles…or more. The photo below was made about 17 minutes before “sunrise” proper, so it’s a little dark…even with some “fill light.”
I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived at the canyon. I did know, however, that I would be following the trail, out and back, so I didn’t research the actual trail, other than to learn where to find the trailhead. I did not check-out Google’s images of the trail or the mountains. I wanted everything to be fresh…wanted the neuronal memories to be of things that I actually saw….
I spoke with one of the National Forest attendants who was milling around the parking lot and he said that all of the streams had stopped running by then, said they were going earlier in the week with the rains, but that I shouldn’t have any difficulties crossing the stream-beds during the hike. This one was still actually “running” when I encountered it on the way out, and back several hours later…but it was much nicer when this photo was taken, as I was the only witness of that particular moment of the day….
Above and below, two images of the same mountain from different perspectives, different times and elevations…further along the trail with the second. I suppose I could mention here that all of the photos are presented in time order…for this and the following two posts…all the way out and back.
It was all quite new to me, as I mentioned earlier…a richness of green in the middle of the desert…green at the present because of the Winter rains and cooler temperatures…a seasonal reprieve from what I understand to be hideous temperatures that ride there in the middle of the year months. The rock battlements in the lower photo were an accompaniment for the greater portion of the first part of the trail…they subsided somewhat…changed, rather, as the trail went further up the canyon.
Looking back-trail again in the below photo…amazed again/still at the greenery…
And then comes the company…at least it was a dog…with a human trailing behind…two of them, actually, but quite ones…a girl-pair with their purple hair…and lip piercings…and water bottles and backpacks…on the trail of a Sunday morning…
I guess the one above is a closer view of the one below…climbing higher again.
…and this one, too….
….anyway, it was damn beautiful out there and my sense of amazement only grew as the trail climbed in elevation….
Pretty and crazy rocks….
It was almost 85 miles from my drive-way in the far northwest valley to the trailhead in the extreme southeast valley, just across the county line, just beyond Apache Junction, just past Gold Canyon…and well worth the drive.
Seven hours on and off the trail, almost 300 photos later…an overcast day with the sun barely peeking out from behind the clouds for an hour, and then retreating back behind them….
While I was hiking in near solitude on the way out…it was like fighting an infestation of lice or mites on the second half of the return trip…walking people, talking people, loud people, colorful people, children people, slow people, dogs with people…and people people….
But before the people…the views…the cool morning air…the rocks and greening desert…and the slight murmuring and chuckling of a diminishing canyon stream….
This was my first trip into the Superstitions…and I will be back.
More to follow….
I’ve driven past this landmark on the way to and from Tucson innumerable times over the last two and a half decades…finally climbed to the top….kinda cool.
Tried to get there at sunrise to see the grand walls adorned with the fresh morning’s light….
Parked outside the gate to Picacho Peak State Park…in the below image. For anyone who enjoys the Wikipedia take on things, here’s another link…which addresses the redundancy of the name. “Picacho” means “peak” in Spanish….so this is Peak Peak State Park….
The trail is going to take us up to the uppermost point on the prominence to the left…the eastern summit.
Hunter Trail goes in a zig-zag switchback manner up the front of the slope in the above image, reaches the saddle at the notch on the right, and then drops down over 200 feet and then skirts along the south side heading east, and finally climbs up and up and up…..
The above photo shows the view looking north and south from the front of the slope in the image just above it….and the photo below shows the saddle…looking east. And yes, that is the “peak”….the destination…at the far left side of the image.
Hmmm….lovely defacing of the placard…the peak is believed to be about 22 million years old….
Looking north and west from the saddle in the below image….a crumpled-blanket-looking-desert….
And now heading down from the saddle (below) with the double steel cable hand-rails…going waaaaay down the steep slope.
Looking directly south from the above slope…out over the irrigated desert’s fields….
In the below image, we have made it safely down that severe slope and have headed east along the south side of the mount…climbed up a bit, and have arrived at something like an arena or amphitheater in the rock’s backside….
Saguaro cacti, Palo Verde trees/shrubs, and Creosote/Grease-wood bushes…. The below photo is what is inside of the shadows in the right side of the above photo…
A singular cross on Golgotha….?
Another incredibly steep climb upward with the double cable hand-rails….nearing the top….
My only company on the summit….
In the below image, we’re looking north and west from the top….fascinating green veins where the water runs in its season…
And looking north and east from the summit, in the below image, over the irrigated fields…over the freeway heading toward Tucson to the right…and over Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch…in that white hangar-like structure…toward left of center…
Looking west from the east and highest summit…over the western summit….
And now looking further west from that western summit….
In the below image, the eastern summit proper…the Picacho Peak….viewed from the slope of the western summit.
Looking up at the “trail” we just descended…heading down on the Sunset Vista Trail…which loops back around the Picacho Peak massif, heading west….
The southern side of the mount just west of Picacho Peak massif, from the Sunset Vista Trail….
And the western end of the massif…looking east….with Picacho Peak proper being around and behind….to the far right.
So, now we’ve seen Picacho Peak up close and personal…which will change how we “see” it from this day forward.
I hope you enjoyed the hike…thank you for coming along with me….