Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Piestewa Break

I hit the trail at Piestewa Peak after work today – truth be told, I left a bit early following completion of my next cover story. I was jonesing for a hike-workout and summit after the unsuccessful Humphreys Peak bid on Saturday. But it was really the weather that made me do it. Right now is so beautiful I can hardly believe it. Seems like February or March. And tomorrow’s supposed to be eighty-four, tops. Amazing.

I crushed Piestewa (still want to call it Squaw), as usual. Because there are more people, I’m always happier when no one can pass me here. My time up was excellent today – 25-30 minutes, I think. Should have timed it.

The sunset in the Phoenix Mountain Preserves always captures my eye – in a way, it’s that typical Sonoran desert look I love so much. The rock here has a brown hue that absorbs the sunlight in a warm way pleasing to the eye. (This doesn’t apply in the summer, obviously, when you could almost fry a steak on that rock). Vegetation is plentiful with lots of green from all the rain we’ve had this year. The wind is blowing well – a good day for sailing. No water here, but the palo verde trees and creosote branches are waving back and forth.

Perhaps the best thing of all about hiking Piestewa: The view of the western flanks of Camelback Mountain. Especially at sunset. Then, the magical pink-orange Camelback rock glows, while the dark shadows of the folds and crevices of the Head provide rich context. The greenbelt of the western edge of August Canyon extends across the Headwall like a terraced, though haphazard, ancient garden. The giant, whitened half-bowl beneath the crux of the George Route is like a fingernail. Homes worth millions of dollars apiece lie nestled in hyper-luxurious Sonoran flora, the ones on the PV side surrounded by acres of buffering land.

Hiking down Piestewa, like hiking up it, isn’t as tough as Camelback. When I choose to leap forward in speed, running down the flatter parts and bounding down some of the stair-like sections, I find there’s far less gravel where I’m stepping. The only problem is that the trail is narrow in places – it may even have more narrow spots than either Echo Canyon summit trail or Cholla. That wasn’t a big deal today, but it does on the nicest days, when the place turns into an anthill.

No comments: