Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Signal Peak - Arizona

Signal Peak Hike
KOFA Wildlife Refuge
Quartzite, Arizona
Mileage - 4.15
Time - 2:30
AEG - 2,309ft

Signal Peak is the highest point in Yuma County and 16th most prominent mountain in the state of Arizona, though it sees very little visitation from a lack of developed trails, campgrounds or services.  The route we chose started from Kofa Queen Canyon "Road" approximately 7.5 miles from the signage along Palm Canyon Road and headed East into the canyon.  The trade off for the remoteness is an absolutely pristine mountain range filled with big game animals like the desert bighorn sheep which we were lucky enough to see a herd on our ascent! 

What better start to a three-day weekend than to check off a top 25 peak on the prominence list and explore another new area of the state.  Matt and I have been pushing hard to reach these remote regions of the desert Southwest while winter temperatures make it possible.   Summertime is out of the questions as daytime highs average 110 degrees and often top 120 in this part of the state!  The hike was pretty straight forward, the three of us climbed directly up the main drainage toward the peak in a gnarly off-trail fashion. It wasn't until we nearly reached the summit that there was a visible trail below our current location.  Once we conquered this rugged beast, having a trail to follow cut our decent time in half and before long my Jeep was in sight (photo credit - Matt K).   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New Trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Marcus Landslide Hike
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
North Scottsdale, Arizona
Mileage - 4.2
Time - 1:28
AEG - 617ft

The city of Scottsdale recently acquired several thousand acres to expand the preserve to the North, and soon to be the largest public land space in the United States.  Along with this acquisition came new trails and trailheads, offering multi-use access to hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, trail runners, and even horseback riders.  I organized a group of people from the fitness center including some of my co-workers and gym members to explore the newly constructed Marcus Landslide trail (pictured below).  The 4.2-mile out and back path begins at the Tom's Thumb trailhead and ventures East through a boulder field, which includes a small loop on the actual landslide.  There are approximately 15 interpretive signs with information about the geologic event, formations, and surrounding landscape.  This trailhead now provides access to the Tom's Thumb trail and the regional park creating an enormous network of trails in the McDowells.  If you haven't been, it's time to go check this area out!

The group parted ways by 10:00am, leaving my day open to look for more of the new construction in the preserve.  After a few minutes of driving I found an access area near Little Granite Mountain (left) and parked on 136th St and E Lone Mountain Road.  I followed a set of power lines to reach a trail to what I thought was a route to the summit.  I believe any existing trails have been mitigated to reduce erosion. So instead, I continued along the new trail which created a loop around the mountain in a counter-clockwise direction.  There were a few intersections at mile 2.4, 3.9, and 4.4 that leads me to believe there will be several options to hike in the future.  By the time I reached my vehicle I had logged 6.35 miles with a little over 600 feet of elevation gain. These stats will most likely change once a trailhead is established. 

I absolutely love the scenery in the Northern sections of the McDowells.  The pictures below should give you some indication of what I'm talking about! 

Giant Saguaro Cacti

 I will name this one Camel Rock

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Mileage - 26.2
AEG - 533ft
Time - 2:47:21
Pace - 6:23
Place - 2nd Overall
(1st Age)

Typically when I go into a race feeling ill, fatigued or coming off of injury I somehow put together a solid performance. On the contrary, when feeling good and ready to go, something just has to throw me off my game. The past few months have been very consistent when it comes to training, and for the first time in a long time I feel good. Needless to say, I was eager to run this weekend. Brittney drove myself and Danny out to Surprise, Arizona on Saturday morning for the Arizona Road Racers Desert Classic Marathon and Half Marathon.

Both races were underway at 7:00am on an absolutely beautiful morning in the desert. Danny and I ran with a small pack for the first 6.5 miles to their turn-a-round averaging a 6:12 pace. Then it was only Ricardo Maldonado and I up front until mile 10. The churning in my stomach forced a pit stop and I handed over the lead. Losing at least a minute I tried to close the gap between us, but he was running way too strong for that. I hit the halfway mark in 1:20 and started back uphill against the wind...and my stomach. By mile 17 I had to take another bathroom break and my momentum was gone. Dealing with that was tough, though just one of a few problems during the race. I dropped a gel that I needed dearly at mile 20, my electrolytes foamed up leaving it undrinkable, and an aid station miscue that contributed to running out of glycogen by mile 22. Once again my plan to negative split was foiled, and I didn't reach my goal time though the challenges always help to build character.

A big shout out to Danny for his 4th place finish in the half! All those Wednesday morning workouts are paying off. Ricardo, you're a machine. I've never seen a 49 year-old so fit in my entire life! Congrats on setting the state masters record for the marathon. Good luck at Boston my friend.


4:00am - Oat Bar (390 Cal)

5:30am - Starbucks Coffee Black

6:45am - GU Vanilla Bean (100 Cal)

7:00am - Race Start

8:00am - GU Vanilla Bean (100 Cal)

8:30am - 10oz Hammer Heed - (70 Cal)