Entering the Superstitions
Today was the day I decided to return to the road up to the Reavis Ranch trailhead (Roger's. Trough Trailhead). It was a mixture of experiences. Kids kept me up late Friday night and so I woke up late and didn't get to my starting point until just before 6.
Cholla and Buttes
After parking the jeep and taking off I discovered I was able to move much faster than last year due to the suspension. I also discovered that 2 water bottles and a hydro-pack make for a heavy load when you hit 10%+ grades. It warmed up fairly quickly. I only was passed by 1 car in 3 hours (a mercedes SUV). I'd see it parked at the trailhead later and their entry in the registry said they were bound for Reavis Ranch. More power to them, I hope they made it up to the pines before the heat got bad.
I remember it being quite a hill when I drove it in my jeep years ago but on a bicycle it's a much different story and I confess I did some walking. Only when it got over 10% mind you, but there was quite a bit of that. In fact, there was a stretch of 25% percent near the top. My feet slid on the dirt as I pushed my bike up it (I just don't have the quads to do that sitting down as standing is not an option on that kind of grade on dirt).
I wanted to go over Montana Mountain and descend into Superior on the other side but the hot weather had drained a little more water than I had expected and the day was heating up so I decided to take the route I had ridden before back despite the nice man in the Jeep telling me the road stayed like this all the way to Superior.
Right around where I turned around I surprised some Mule Deer and sure enough up shot the tails to reveal the white butts of danger! When they got to a safe distance the tails came down and all the deer felt safe again. Kind of funny but I guess it helps to keep them all out of dangers way. Glad I don't have a siren on my butt or a strobelight.
Descending a 25% grade on dirt is best done slowly I have discovered. Particularly when there is a switchback at the bottom of it with a drop on the other side of it. I had a really good descent. The suspension really helps with control heading down hills like this. I went through the five miles that had taken me an hour to climb in under 15 minutes.
Hey I think I can see my house way way down there in Mesa. (South Mountain just barely visible)
When the grade let up a little bit and I was crossing one of the nameless washes my "Paul Sense" went off. I noticed a dry stone waterfull off to my left and a narrowish canyon above it with cliff's on either side. Usually Rock waterfalls have plunge pools around them and I thought about walking a little ways up and seeing if there was a plunge pool.
Jimson Weed, Niteshade Family...Poisonous
After hiding my bike up the wash a bit I carefullly ascended the wash keeping a wary eye out for rattlesnakes. It was turning into a hot day and a cool shadow under a rock is just the thing for a snake on a day like today. Fortunately I did not see any snakes but I did see plenty of deer tracks. That's a really good sign. I also noticed dried algae at the bottom and top of the rock waterfall I had seen. I still had that canyon to check out and I had high hopes.
Edge of the wilderness. No Bikes Allowed.
Arizona Trail sign
Really steep road.
Sure enough once I got up the next waterfall there was a pool of water fed by a trickle. There was also the entrance to a very fine set of granite narrows. I entered another world and scrambled my way up the granite slot from one pool to another until I got to a 20 foot waterfall. I entertained the idea of turning around when I spied a crack to my right and a ledge up by the top of the waterfall with a Cactus growing out of it. After a short consideration of how rock climbing would go with biking shoes I started the climb and discovered my Shimano mountain biking shoes actually gripped the rock pretty well.
Entrance to the Narrows of an unnamed canyon.
Having climbed the crack and stepped onto the ledge I made the mistake of looking down. It's been about 15 years since I did any rock climbing and I confess it gave me a brief pause. Fortunately it was a good ledge and was over it quickly. I had high hopes of finding a pool to take a dip in to cool me down for the rest of the ride back in near 100 degree temps.
Cactus on Ledge by Waterfall
My hopes were a little dashed when I ran into another waterfall but once again I spied a crack that I was able to chimney up and traverse over to the top. It was not too far from the top of this waterfall that I did indeed find a small pool to take a dip and rinse all the sweat and salt off. I also was able to wet my jersey down and my cap too. I even got a bit chilly as the sun was thwarted in it's evil plan to bake me alive and scorche all the water out of this dry desert, by the narrow merciful canyon walls above me..
Paul's secret Grotto
I had to be careful from here though as wet shoes would undoubtedly result in a fall on this granite polished smooth by eons of monsoon and spring floods. I was able to keep my shoes dry but still found myself almost falling into a shallow pool or two. Going down the waterfalls was a bit interesting but I made it without a scratch. It did occur to me in here though that sliding on my butt in lycra was a bad idea as it would likely be easy to rip the backside out of it and that would leave me with an interesting situation for the trip back.
Paul's secret coldtub
Leaving the canyon was tough as it was so pleasant inside but I knew if I didn't get going I would likely fry before I got back to the car which I did a little of. It was definitely cooking now when I got back to the bike. fortunately most of it was downhill but there were still some uphills left that were just big enough to get me good and heated up before reaching the top of them.
Paul's secret Grotto...
Fortunately I had learned my lesson last week and carried enough water. I began to chug it like no tomorrow as my body went into high gear trying to cool me down and avert that terrible condition called heat stroke. I had the definite feeling there would be no more people up this road today. I did see one jeep near the bottom but it still would have been bad to go full stop and burn.
Back into the burning stinging scratching world.
I was really cooking when I got to the car. I had about half a pint of water left that I chugged and then I filled a bottle from my store in the jeep and promptly doused myself so I could cool off on the way back with the wind (the Jeep doesn't have air conditioning at the moment). I managed to chug down another litre of warm water on the way out. It sure felt good to have the wind hit that wet jersey. I passed some cows on the way out and pondered on how much I am glad I am not a black cow in the middle of summer in these parts. 29 miles and 3700 feet of climbing in 100+ heat. Not too bad for a mornings work. Today was the next to last day of the double shake deal at sonic I found out so I enjoyed my last two shake recovery once I had returned to civilisation.
Should have parked under a tree
It stinks to be me.