Windgate Pass / Bell Pass (Arizona) 15-Jan-2022

I’m trying to be diplomatic here, but we’re just not big fans of the Phoenix metroplex, regardless of how many people seem determined to move there. Or maybe all its freeways and traffic and frenetic activity are off-putting simply because we haven’t lived in a “big” city in years. How sadly provincial we must seem. Whatever. πŸ™„ But direct flights to Phoenix allow us to visit friends who live elsewhere in Arizona, so we cope with the metroplex for those friends and some hiking. 😊

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Cathedral Rock (Sedona, Arizona) 14-Jan-2022

A long, long time ago, my friend Carol and I were among a group of mountaineers centered in Los Angeles. We did a few climbs together in the Sierra Nevada and at Joshua Tree. Then life took her one way and me another. We’ve kept in touch over the years with very occasional visits – the last being during a 2017 train trip to Washington DC (where Carol was working at the time). Mostly we exchanged Christmas cards – Carol was renowned for having hers arrive by Fourth of July of the following year πŸ™„. Until her 2020 card arrived – suspiciously before Christmas – we thought she’d retired to the Delaware coast. She had but then she decided Sedona was a better deal (and closer to her daughters), so she moved. We found this out just in time to add a visit with her to this year’s Arizona trip. 😎

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Goldmine Mountain (Arizona) 13-Jan-2022

After San Xavier and Titan II, we had time for a short hike on our way into Scottsdale. San Tan Mountain Regional Park sits on the very southern edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area and features a viewpoint overlooking the southern end of greater Phoenix. We reached this county park on a mix of controlled access and country roads – we knew we were getting close to Phoenix when the traffic thickened considerably. We paid a $7 day use fee to enter and park at the park’s Phillips Road Trailhead.

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Dutch John Spring (Mount Wrightson Wilderness) 12-Jan-2022

The last time we were able to visit our friends Heidi and Bob in Arizona was in early 2020. Then the virus struck. Bob turned 100 last year πŸ˜€ and, while a bit frail, is still sharp. They are both deeply concerned about contracting the virus, so we worked out a non-contact protocol for a short visit. We stood (masked) in the their backyard, said hello to Bob through the window, and talked with Heidi (also masked) from a distance of over 10 feet (3 m). We only stayed for a half-hour or so. Not like our visits in the Before Times, but at least we got to see and talk to them in person. 😁

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2020 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

Oh, 2020. You seemed so nice when we first met. You were fun for two months, then you turned ugly. Real ugly. A plague and a recession and wildfires and an election and continuing drought. Yes sir, you threw quite a bit of hurt at us! Yes you did! But we survived. And The LovedOne remained photogenic while social distancing from others kept her within camera range.

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Romero Pools (Coronado NF) 21-Feb-2020

The sunny day we’d had for our climb yesterday of Picacho Peak was but a distant memory when we awoke this morning under a gray gloom. Unlike on previous days, there was no suggestion that this gloom would lift anytime soon. So we adjusted our hiking plans to the Romero Pools in Romero Canyon on the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. These pools are shallow catchments on seasonal canyon streams. Since it had been somewhat of a wet winter, we figured that these pools were likely flowing (they were). We also figured that these pools were probably worth seeing even if shrouded in gloom (they were).

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Picacho Peak (Arizona) 20-Feb-2020

Picacho Peak (3,370 feet / 1,027 m) sits hard up against Interstate 10 between Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. In all the years we’ve been coming to Arizona we must have driven past it dozens of times without once thinking it could be hiked. But after coming across a post by BIT|Hiker we put it on our to do list. After hikes in the Santa Ritas and Tortolitas, we headed for Picacho.

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Wild Burro Loop (Tortolita Mountains) 19-Feb-2020


The Tortolita Mountains lie only about seven miles from the outer suburbs of ever expanding (assuming the water lasts) Tucson, Arizona. Fortunately, a good chunk of this range has been protected within the 5,000+ acre Tortalita Mountain Park administered by the Town of Marana (Tucson’s neighbor to the north). There are a number of trails in this park but we opted to do the Wild Burro-Alamo Springs Loop for an easy visit to the varied flora of the Sonoran Desert – including the iconic Saguaro cactus.

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Rogers Rock (Mount Wrightson Wilderness) 18-Feb-2020

Heidi and Bob live pretty close to Madera Canyon in Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains. So after saying good-bye to them, we headed back up into the canyon to do a loop to Josephine Saddle, passing Rogers Rock along the way. I’d learned about the Rock from an AllTrails post and making a detour to it sounded like a nice way to add a viewpoint to our loop.

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Tumacacori NHP (Tubac, Arizona) 17-Feb-2020

We made our way to the desert again – this time Southern Arizona – to visit our long-time friends Heidi & Bob and do a little hiking. Heidi and I go back almost 50 years – she was a “big sister” to me back in the day when I didn’t have, but sorely needed, one. She was a much admired middle and high school science teacher in the old mining town of Bisbee. Bob will be 99 in May! πŸ˜€ He’s squeezed a lot into those years – cowboy, hard rock miner, WW2 bomber pilot, Korean War fighter pilot, and city communications director. He also collects Victorian glass salt dishes. While staying with them south of Tucson, we took a little time to go a little farther south to visit Tumacacori National Historical Park.

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