The weather was about 10 degrees cooler Saturday than the rest of
the days in the week for the Apache Junction area, but it was still
a great way to start the day.
Get up at 5:30 AM, drive to the meeting spot, exchange keys with
members from the Sierra Club, and get the hike started.
Talk about a tremendous turnout!
Ted Tenny had four hikers with him for the Sierra Club.
Lee Hamel had 11 hikers for the Motorola Hiking Club:
Chuck Parsons; Michael Humphrey; Laurie Jacobson; Mike Wargel;
Chris Harman, Melanie Harman; Elaine Cobos; Staci Sontag;
Doug Hawkins; Autumn Palik; Jeff Kellum.
I can’t fail to mention the dogs, either—Spackles
(Laurie Jacobson’s dog, a shepherd mix?),
Pepper (Autumn Palik’s dog, a pointer breed), and
Klondike (Doug Hawkins’s dog, a husky breed).
The group started out on the First Water trail at close to 8:30 AM.
The wind was blowing a bit, and it was around 60 degrees, so we all
felt a bit cold.
As we neared the old ranch at the bottom of the descent from the
trail, we came upon a group of people that had camped there
overnight and were making breakfast.
The dogs, who led the way for nearly the entire hike, were VERY
interested in what they smelled.
We said hello and kept on marching along.
As we entered the second canyon, we noticed that Klondike was
nowhere to be found.
Pepper was in the lead and came when called, but Klondike was absent!
Doug and Jeff headed back to find Klondike while the rest of us made
After about 15 minutes, Lee headed back to find the group.
After coming back out of the second canyon, I spotted Klondike
running towards me, and Doug and Jeff not too far behind.
Long story short, Klondike was hanging out at the camp site,
probably begging for some good ’ol camping breakfast.
The Klondike incident cost us about 30 minutes.
Ted estimated that our two groups would meet at the junction of
Boulder Canyon and Second Water Canyon for lunch and to exchange
Because Ted and his group had to drive about 20 minutes
to get to Canyon Lake before they could start on their hike, we
figured it would even out and we’d meet at the junction as
expected (and we did).
No blood, no foul; even Steven; we achieved an even keel with
a crooked boat. As we approached Garden Valley – AKA The
Valley of Jumping Cholla – I expected to see some spring
flowers, but it has been so dry this there that we didn’t
spot any during the entire hike. The group’s spirits were
high and we were enjoying each other’s company, as were
Pepper and Klondike enjoying leading the hike.
This is the point where they both started romping around in
chollas and getting stuck by the needles in their paws.
At one point Pepper had to have one yanked out of the pad on
her right rear foot, and she let out a yelp that made my
stomach drop (I love dogs and have heard my black Lab mix make
that sound). Fortunately, the dogs were fine each time but
never learned from the previous times they romped around in
We eventually spotted Battleship Mountain and Geronimo Head
in all their glory, and knew that lunch was near.
Ted’s group had made it to the junction only minutes prior
to us, and Ted was having fun taking pictures of us as we marched
to the lunch spot.
After refueling and resting for about 30 minutes, our groups
continued on for more beautiful scenery and towards our one big
climb: Cardiac Ridge.
I told everyone at the bottom of Cardiac Ridge that
“I WILL LEAVE NO PERSON BEHIND” and set off on a
moderately fast pace. The dogs were starting to tire at this
point, and I was getting lonely at the lead, so I slowed my
pace in order to get some company. Chuck and Michael were
bringing up the rear so they could snap off some pictures
(I forgot to bring my digital camera AGAIN), but I kept in
radio contact with them. Chris was at the front with me, and
along came Mr. Prez Wargel with his second wind! We regrouped
at the top of Cardiac Ridge, and spotted the cool water of
Canyon Lake in the distance.