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Thompson Peak Day Hike
McDowell Mountains
February 9, 2019
by Debbie Rowray
Trailblazers on Thompson Peak. [photo by Li]
front:  Heather, Carolyn, Li, Debbie, Michael
back: Kevin, Janet, Terry, David

Thompson Peak has always been an intriguing hike for me, due to its relentless challenge to the hiker, both mentally and physically, grand vista views, and beautiful treasures if one wants to venture off-trail.

The first eight of nine motivated hikers set off from Dixie Mine Trailhead after wandering the “feather laced” concrete path preceding it. We timed our inception well, with a gorgeous salmon-burnt orange sunrise in our midst.

Sunrise. [photo by Kevin]
The sunrise was spectacular. [photo by Debbie]
Fine view of the Four Peaks. [photo by Debbie]

The frequent rains as of late have made the desert healthy; with plump saguaros, bright green hues, and various wildflowers giving the landscape vivid yellows, purples, and pinks. Along the way, we sighted many quartz inlays jutting from the ground, as well as decorating the sides of the trail.

Poppies. [photo by Kevin]
Mojave Buckwheat. [photo by Kevin]
Quartz outcropping. [photo by Kevin]
It gets steep. [photo by Kevin]

We traveled through this stark beauty for a few miles, and headed left on the Jeep road, with the ascent we were about to encounter towering in front of us. The road is almost surreal from a distance with its steep grade, and sections of the road nicknamed “The Widow Maker” could be seen as we climbed.

No matter what fitness level a person is in, this climb pumps the heart hard, and pushes the mental capacity of the hiker to keep those legs and body moving, step after step. Unless one has actually climbed the entirety of this mountain, words cannot come close to the actual experiences in each individual that has succeeded at it.

I, for one, will always be addicted to its sheer defiance.

The Widow Maker. [photo by Kevin]
You haven’t far to go. [photo by Li]

The top of the mountain was very chilly with a strong wind, yet vastness of Phoenix metro below, as well as views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

As we all enjoyed snacks and conversation, the surprise of our ninth hiker was making his way to the summit, completing this ascent in astronomical time. We were all so glad he was able to join us! Great job, Terry!

The decent is a dare in itself, the steep grade almost pulling you down the mountain. Hiking poles aid some to protect the knees and add stability and balance, as well as switching back and forth across the road in steps.

Ladies standing on top: Janet, Heather, Debbie, Li and Carolyn. [photo by Li]
What a view! [photo by Li]
You mean we have to go back down? [photo by Li]

Michael then took us on an alternate route through a gorgeous wash hunting for petroglyphs. We did spot the petroglyphs, as well as abandoned mines, giving us history of long, long ago.

You have to climb the rocks to get to the petroglyphs. [photo by Debbie]
Yes, we found petroglyphs. [photo by Li]
Trailblazers at the mine: Li, Debbie, Carolyn, Heather and Janet. [photo by Kevin]

We traveled back through the cacti-mesmerizing trail back to the trailhead, and followed the unique feather back to our cars. Having built quite the appetite from the climb, we all ventured to The Vu for quality brews, good food, and great conversation!

Easy on those rocks! [photo by Debbie]
The Vu
A good time was had by all. [photo by Li]

Thank you to all my hiking buddies that joined me for this hike! Thank you, Michael, for co-leading and always being so knowledgeable and helpful!

Estimated 11 miles total with wash excursion, +-2000 feet elevation change.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated February 14, 2019