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Quartz Peak Day Hike
Sierra Estrella
January 7, 2017
by Quy Nguyen
  GPS Map 
by Bill Zimmermann
group
Eighteen adventurous Trailblazers.
Kneeing: Louis, Quy, Bill, Lawrence.
Standing:  Ann, Ralph, Michael, Yanis, Tamar, Steve, Andy, Deborah, Darrell, Monika, Kenneth, Tom, Cecilia, Diva.

We left Fry’s Mercado at 7:00 AM and got to the trailhead around 9:00. It’s a long drive, due to the sandy road and some big ditches along the road. Thanks to divers Michael, Steve, Andy, and Lawrence. Without you we can’t have made this hike today.

sun
Sunrise over the Sierra Estrella.

From the trailhead we follow a flat level Jeep road for a quarter mile. The trail turns left, with large cairns marking the way, and the ascent begins. We climb a spur ridge steeply up to the main ridge. The trail goes up and up. The views are impressive. The trail curves around rugged terrain and vegetation typical of Sonoran plants: teddy bear, chain fruit cholla, palo verde, and saguaro. We have to watch out for the jumping cactus!

register
It’s a good idea to register.
grave
This happens without water in the desert.
flat
Hikers head out on the flat old Jeep road.
up
The ascent begins.
bigelovii
The trail winds around a variety of cacti.
climb
It isn’t easy going up.
level
Here the trail levels out, for a little while.

This hike continues steeply uphill. But because we are hiking on the ridge we can have both side views. The first sighting of Quartz Peak pops into our vision as we reach a vista point two miles from the trailhead. The white cap on the mountain looks like bird droppings from a distance.

The trail is faded at the last half mile to Quartz Peak. But the trail is well cairned on this outing. We have to take our time finding the cairns to lead us to the top. It’s not too difficult to figure out, but it does slow our pace. We have to scramble and hop the rocks, boulders, but no technical climbing skills are needed.

trail
Hiking up on some rugged terrain.
boulder
Don’t slide down this way!
flats
Let’s take a break for pictures.
picture
Follow the ridgeline and head toward Quartz Peak!
peak
Don’t see the trail, but I see cairns marking the way.
trail
Do you see the white cap of Quartz over there?
trail
Monika and Tamar enjoy the view.
climb
Yes, it’s smart to wear gloves.
quartz
Quartz Peak is right beside Butterfly Mountain.

The summit consists of some blocks of white quartz mixed with mica. Once we get to the summit, it’s a rock climb straight up the quartz blocks. We enjoy the breathtaking views, take pictures, have fun together. From the top of Quartz Peak, all of us feel like it’s the top of the world.

climb
Bill, no. I stay here!
climb
Not easy at all!
climb
Careful! Wrap tight on the rocks!
top
Yeah! We made it!
top
Nothing can compare with our feelings at the peak! [photo by Diva]
collage
Peek and boo!
top
We rock! [photo by Deborah]
top
360 degree view.
snack
Snack at the top of the world. [photo by Tom]
top top top
While we’re here, let’s enjoy the view.

People said “If the trail seems steep, the view is worth it.”

Great views in every direction!
collage
[photos above by Tom]
collage
collage

Heading down from Quartz Peak is not as easy as climbing up. We are careful, slow in footing and wrapping tight on rock. We return the way we came. All are back to the trailhead safe and sound at different times.

down
Going down from the peak is not as easy as climbing up.
down
... but we rock!
picture
Hiking down and following the ridgeline back to the trailhead.
picture
Yes, take the whole view!
cholla
Teddy bear chollas cheer us the way down.
cairn
Saguaro and Pagoda cairn frame a distant view.
sleep
You deserve a nap after this challenging hike. [photo by Tom]
knobby
knobby saguaro
afternoon
What a day this has been! [photo by Ralph]

Two hikers have to head back right after the hike for personal reasons. Sixteen hikers stop at Diva’s to have a post-hike dinner. Thanks to Herb and Diva for opening their beautiful home and feeding us tasty food!

food
Warm welcome from Herb and Diva.
food
Yummy!
Ralph
Grill Master Ralph.
food
Sure, you may!
table
Happy ending! [photo by Tom]
group
Feeling energetic now.
fire
Cozy fireplace. [photo by Deborah]

Certainly this is a great hike for cardio workout with magnificent views of surrounding mountains and the Sonoran landscape. Beautiful weather, great hike, wonderful companions, and delicious meals. I couldn’t ask for more. Thanks to all for coming to join my hike.

Estrella
Sierra Estrella at sunset. [photo by Diva]

Happy Trails!

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated January 12, 2017