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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Moving On: A Tantalizing Tortolita Mountains Hike, Then Back To The Super Superstition Mountains For A Bike, Then One More Bike Around Granite Mountain

A true wanderer never loses their excitement for arriving. Even when, deep down inside, they know they were born to leave.


Last year Hans and Lisa drove down from Prescott to introduce us to a "new dots" hike in the Tortolita Mountains. Bobbie and I enjoyed it so much that we decided a reprise was in order. But oh what a difference a year can make...

Our switchback climb was notable for its bouldered route and vibrant chuparosa, poppy, and brittlebush blossoms waving in the breeze. Well watered saguaros appeared swollen to the point of bursting, their vertical accordion-like grooves wide apart and shallow. Overall, there was a lush verdancy to the landscape as a result of frequent winter rain. Honestly, last year felt more botanical garden than desert.      

Of course the boulders were still there, wildly prominent and relatively unchanged. Though I am a self-professed boulder aficionado, it just wasn't the same. Not even close. 

Every plant seemed either near death or dead. Emaciated saguaros dying of thirst; prickly pear cacti all sick and jaundiced looking. It made me wonder if the desert was beyond recovery.  I had to force myself to even take photos. Of the few I took, only the black and whites came out worthy of a post. 

Fortunately it was a beautiful day, with bluebird skies and random smudges of clouds. We got in 9 miles and grueling 1,200 feet of elevation gain/loss.

Miraculously, we found a few ocotilla leafing out

A desert dying of thirst...

Dead and dying along the trail...

Trip-toeing through the boulders...instead of "flowers"

With our promised (albeit non-guaranteed) second vaccine shot appointment date fast approaching, we began our roll northward from southern Arizona, you know, just in case there is a god and he actually gives a shit about our well-being. 

It made sense for us to return to our previous Superstition Mountain boondock, where we knew our way around and how to avoid burgeoning mobs of nature freaks that suddenly infiltrate every nook and cranny surrounding each and every megalopolis. Still, it was a quiet, restful stop, and we manage a mountain bike ride on single track. 

In the meantime, I managed to score a score a rare three night stay at McDowell Mountain County Park. I know...I whine about their "musical chair" policies, but this time we had an actual "site" instead of "overflow," which meant we could stay put.

With our vaccine appointment closing in, not to mention the 8 hours of "seat time" in a cooped up car, we decided to grab at least a couple bike rides and a long hike with Jim and Gayle before leaving McDowell for home.

The first morning we had a great bike ride with Gayle on the Pemberton loop. That afternoon she returned with Jim for a long walk on the Granite Trail. Then the obligatory post hike/bike beers and chat, one of which I think fell asleep during one of Jim's dissertations on...well, I don't remember.  It is always great to catch up with good Rv friends...even if they don't have an Rv anymore and I fall asleep. 

The next morning Bobbie and I biked the 30 mile "around Granite Mountain" loop. It's a great ride, but we noticed more people this time than ever before. Oh well, we wore ourselves out and that was the point. It was after this ride that I fell asleep during our beer/chat (I had 2...maybe even 3).
The Granite Mountian ride

A short video of the ride to Granite Mountain from our campsited at McDowell Mountain Park

Another short video as we circled around Granite Mountain...

"Watch those blind corners," says the dead biker. From the Pemberton ride with Bobbie and Gayle (sorry, I guess I didn't get more pics)

A convenient pit stop on the Pemberton, with a fully stocked repair station!!!

Time to head home.Considering storage options for Rv Dazy while making a (hopefully) fast trip home to get our second COVID shot, we debated leaving the rig boondocked at one of our spots near Village of Oak Creek. If we were only gone for 3 or 4 days, it should be safe enough. But what if vaccine shipments were delayed and we had to wait? But Bobbie was unsuccessful at locating a short term Rv storage spot and we ended up leaving Dazy at an Rv park in Camp Verde, Arizona. 

And then the long ride home...
All went well and we made it back at the Rv park in Camp Verde. Today we trade I-17 freeway noise for our peaceful  Oak Creek boondock just south of the Village of Oak Creek. It's just an hour from Camp Verde!

After that, we are undecided about whether to head on up to the Klondike Mountain Bike area north of Moab, or go back down to McDowell Mountain Park where Bobbie has a standing reservation for a 5 night stay she made months ago. Certainly the weather will be cooler in Klondike area, with highs in the mid 50s and lows around 30. McDowell, on the other hand, will be in the mid 60s with mild night temps. Hmmmm.

If we go to Klondike, Bobbie would come and go from there to home in Ouray, maybe every other week or so depending on weather and work at Mountain Fever Gifts. I'm anxious to put in some serious miles on the bike, interspersed with hiking from camp into Arches National Park, whose border is only about a mile away.  Love these kind of dilemmas where there are no bad choices :) Life is good, as long as I manage to keep the wheels down :)

That about puts the wraps on our annual wintering over in Arizona. We managed to score some new dots and boondocks, some with fantastic single track biking! Stay tuned to see where we end up.

Till then, I think the opening paragraph bears repeating:
A true wanderer never loses their excitement for arriving. Even when, deep down inside, they know they were born to leave.

Keep moving, 
Peace out,
mark and bobbie


  1. This lack of rain is really depressing and detrimental to our beautiful landscape. Fingers crossed we actually get a monsoon this year that makes up for two years of poor rainfall.

  2. Let's see, the Earth is Warming up, the West is Burning up, our Reservoirs are drying up and the Deserts are Drying up, gosh when is Mankind going to Smarten Up?
    These pictures of the Arizona desert plants shriveling up was pretty shocking, before long there won't be any beautiful natural areas to explore and escape to from our over crowded cites.
    I think it's about time for every one to start concentrating on the Earths problems and make that the biggest part of every day life from now on or else we will be inhabiting a Planet much like Mars.Too bad we have to spend all that effort to go into space when we are creating that very atmosphere right here on Earth .
    Thanks Box Canyon bloggers for showing us the inevitable results of our species way of life and its consequences.
    Wake up America, the parties just about OVER.
    Stay Safe Mark & keep on reporting the sad state of our beautiful great outdoors.
    D & A

  3. Will be sad to miss you both this month but hope those shots are on time

    1. I know...looks like it's going to be two years before our paths cross again :(
      Have fun in Valley of Fire...be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and big floppy hats as the sun can be intense there!
      mark and bobbie

  4. Wow! Seems like your winter in Arid-Zona flew by. Maybe that’s me projecting how I feel about our winter as April 1 is rapidly approaching. Love you guys!

    1. We are leaving earlier this year...heading for Klondike Mtn Biking in Utah. Hard to believe your season is so close. Rest up and buckle down :)
      Love you guys! Next year will be better...

  5. WOW ... you guys are so adventurous and in great shape to do all this! I admire your spirit!

  6. wow that video was the best not a tech guy not used to such cool video stuff was like riding along with you!! whole new world!! thank you! i would not break down and buy a laptop! stubborn-- but my daughter bought me one !! sweet take care getting my second shot this week steve K walden creek rv

  7. Deadly Highline Trail - Goosebumps Brilliant photo!


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