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Thompson Peak Day Hike
McDowell Mountains
May 5, 2018
by Debbie Rowray
Michael, Li, Tom, Tamar, Debbie, Ramona. [photo by Tom]

The early morning was mild in temperature as six of us, not-so bright-eyed yet bushy-tailed, adventurers took off into the Sonoran beauty for a brutal climb to the top of Thompson Peak. Saguaros surrounded us with the bright hue of blooms, welcoming us to the land ahead of gasping for air; staring at a peak of towers that beckon, no matter what efforts it takes.

There are many glittery inlays of quartz on the Dixie Mine Trail heading west, and after a few miles you can see the remnants of memories from past mining.

After leaving the winding desert trail, we turned to gaze at what had been lurking over us for a couple miles: a steep, concrete grade of unforgiving elevation. It seems with every step, the peak stays the same distance apart at times. The grade has been stated as 58%, with an estimated 30-35 percent angle. It feels like 90. All six of us pushed hard, taking breaks as needed to try and have our minds, hearts, lungs, and legs all stay motivated, in unison, to reach our goal.

It’s quite a climb. [photo by Li]

There are some peaceful vistas to enjoy while climbing: Four Peaks, The Superstition Ridgeline, The San Tans, and the Phoenix metro valley, with inner-city mountains below.

The last few hundred feet are almost a mental and physical conundrum. Your body is screaming from so many various aspects, that your mind just screams back “You ARE going to DO THIS!”

Debbie. [photo by Li]
Tom. [photo by Li]
Li. [photo by Tom]
Ramona. [photo by Li]
Once at the top, the peak welcomes you with a refreshing breeze and a panoramic view of the valley and mountain ranges in layers all around. Looking back from where we had come, it is almost a sigh of relief to ponder what we have just accomplished. After a quick moment of recollection comes the realization that we now have to climb back DOWN the steep grade. Trekking sticks were a great assistance for some of us, to help with traction on the loose rock scattered across the steep descent.

Once at the bottom of Thompson Peak’s relentless wrath, a few of us ventured up a wash to check out some of the abandoned Dixie mines and petroglyphs.

hikers mine
Some of us went on to explore the Dixie Mine. [photos by Li]

The last 2½ mile trek back was warm, yet beautiful. We started early enough to beat the most intense heat.

Overall it was a strenuous, physically demanding conditioning hike for the Grand Canyon, amid so much Arizona beauty to behold.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated May 14, 2018