It's the Autumn season here in Arizona and that means it's hiking season. At least the 100 degree temperatures are now in the 'mild' 90's. It's time for me to start getting out and being outdoor productive. I thought I'd kick it off with a short foray into the McDowell Sonoran Preservation that sits within the Phoenix city limits. The Preserve is a remarkable vision of conserving a tract of the Sonoran Desert that would otherwise be taken over by developers. Now, there's over 120 miles of trails.
The hike was around 4.5 miles round trip to the base of Tom's Thumb and back. The trail began with a moderate ascent before sharply climbing 1,000 feet through a maze of granite boulders that resembled a cluster of marbles strewn all over the place. The marble-shaped boulders are the result of eras of weathering and erosion. Once upon a time, this part of Arizona was volcanically active. Tom's Thumb itself, above 3,000 feet, is one of the more prominent granite formations in the area now popular with rock climbers.
The desert is extremely lush at the moment. The Valley of the Sun just received one of its wettest monsoon seasons on record. Flowers were blooming and the cactus were full. I passed a couple of hikers, one of which warned me of two Tarantulas on the trail, another, fresh from moving to Arizona from Illinois, witnessed a Diamondback Rattlesnake upon beginning her hike. Welcome to Arizona!
I took all of these photos with my iPhone. I felt like travelling light today so I left my Nikon D700 at home. I also captured this panorama with my iPhone from the base of Tom's Thumb looking to the north.