Friday, December 17, 2010

A Great Hike

Tuesday we drove to Phoenix's South Mountain Park for a hike. South Mountain is almost 17,000 acres of desert mountains, sometimes said to be the largest municipal park in the world. I wish it was closer to Mesa. We had to drive over 30 miles to reach the trail head, including seven miles in the park. We were right on the edge of central Phoenix.

And the park must contain the highest point anywhere around, judging from all of these antennas.

It contains really beautiful desert vegetation.

Unfortunately, because of all the budget woes faced by Phoenix and Arizona, the visitor center is closed, no one staffs the entrance booth and we couldn't find any trail maps until we happened to run into someone who went inside this great old building and sent out a park ranger.

We were looking for the Buena Vista trail head and Fat Man's Pass trail. Once we learned where we needed to be, we drove to the trail head and started out on the National Trail. This is one section of a hiking trail that goes from the Mexican border to the Arizona-Utah state line, one of a number of trails designated under the National Park System.

Following directions given by the park ranger, we hiked the National Trail till we reached a sign for Hidden Valley. He recommended making the loop through Hidden Valley and Fat Man Pass in a counter-clockwise direction, which we attempted to do. We couldn't see where to go, so we turned around and sat down to eat lunch. Just as we finished, we heard voices and encountered two women hikers. We asked them if they knew were Fat Man's Pass was and they said yes. We followed them right where we had hiked before, then they pointed out a very narrow passageway through the rocks. When I say narrow, I mean narrow.

After we had squeezed through, we hiked with our two "angels" for a little while. We never would have gone the right way if we hadn't encountered Maria and Maria from Gilbert. Thanks, ladies.

The hike continued over and through large boulders.

And through a tunnel.

It required a little scrambling and scooting over the rocks. But it was a great hike. We hope finances improve for the City of Phoenix, so the park can be maintained and services there improved. It adds so much to the ambiance of the city.

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