Sunday, March 9, 2014

Picacho Peak

March 3 - 9, 2014:

An unusually early start for us pulling out of Desert Trails at 7:30 AM for our 8 AM service appointment at Lazydays RV.  The replacement of our transfer switch took much longer than anticipated, they seemed to be extra busy with many huge Motor Homes.  They have a very comfortable customer lounge with TV and we were able to learn way too much about the Oscar's award ceremony and the reaction to the starlets gowns. We also made good use of their WiFi and drank an excessive amount of their coffee.  We finally were finished and out of there about 3:30 PM and then to the KOA campground.  The KOA entrance is just around the corner and it was an easy park and set-up.  This is a nicer campground than we are accustomed to with a full restaurant, a pool, hot tub, nice lobby, but the campground is pretty much a large open boring parking lot. I immediately made it to the Hot Tub to soak out the kinks from sitting around all day. 

Lazydays pool area

Lazydays sign

Tuesday at 11 AM we pulled out of Lazydays and finally hit the road taking route 10 east to Picacho Peak State Park.  It has a nicely laid out campground with big roomy sites with electric.  There is a dump station with potable water and a couple of bath houses nearby.  It is a very scenic site if you can block out the highway and railroad noise.  The western most civil war battle, the battle of Picacho Peak, took place here and latter this month is a huge reenactment event.  It was a very historic travel route with the Butterfield Overland Mail stage stop here, the Transcontinental railroad in the valley below and the peak itself was a landmark for early settlers traveling west.  Today, it still remains a transportation artery with Route 10, the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Arizona Canal.

Civil War memorial

The Hawk at the campsite

Rocky outcrop behind our campsite

Civil War reenactment sign

After settling in we took a short, but scenic, 1.5 mile hike on the Calloway trail and then did the adjacent 1/2 mile Nature trail.  At sunset, we observed one of those picture perfect Arizona sunsets. 

View from the Calloway Trail

Brittle bush in bloom


Wednesday we took about a 5 mile hike on the Sunset Vista Trail.  It was a great trail, gave twinkles a good workout since she didn't do much hiking at Desert Trails this year.  I need to get her back in shape, way too many food truck meals, cookies and snacks in the past three months.

View of Picacho Peak from the Sunset Vista Trail

1st Cactus blooms of the year

Thursday was a cloudy lazy kind of day, a day off from hiking with Twinkles sewing and a drive for me to explore. THe first stop was the nearby town of so "Eloy".  It has seen better days for sure, the old part of town is very poor and distressed looking. I found a few old vacant bars that don't appear to be reopening anytime soon that I found appealing.  I then continued on to the city of Casa Grande.  Casa Grande has an old historic downtown with one small vibrant section and the beautiful old "Paramount" theater.  Another slice of the historic district appears vacant but at least is saved from destruction.  The newer section of Casa Grande is wall to wall chain stores, Strip Malls, restaurants, fast food, tire shops, pharmacys, etc.  There is a large population of retirees and snow birds from the North wintering in this area.  I stopped for lunch at the "Cook E Jar" in the old downtown section, a good choice.  On return to the campsite, we took a short walk around the big Volcanic rock pile behind us.  We saw a cave in the rocks and went up to look and found many Indian grinding mortar holes around the cave, also the ceiling of the cave was blackened from smoke.  It was sort of spooky, thinking that not that many years ago, Indians were living, working in our very foot steps. 

Eloy Chamber of Commerce

Pinal Martial Arts in Eloy

Diamond Lil's Bar in Eloy

Cotton's Wonder Bar in Casa Grande

Paramount Theater in Casa Grande

Cook E Jar restaurant in Casa Grande

The old Cruz Trading Post in Casa Grande

Indian mortar holes to grind seeds

Friday Twinkles was full of energy, cooked me a full breakfast and then decided we should hike the Hunter Trail up to the saddle and then take the Sunset Vista Trail back to the parking lot, then walk back to the campground, get her bike, then bike to the other parking lot to get the Jeep.  The Hunter Trail all the way to the top of Picacho Peak is a very hard hike involving several 70-80 degree rock slopes with cables to hold onto.  We thought we would be missing all the difficult cable portions as we were only taking the Hunter Trail to the saddle, not  all the way to the peak.  We were wrong, Hunter was plenty tough with some cable sections getting to the saddle, then after getting over the saddle, there were almost vertical downhill sections with cables to negiotiate. We eventually met up with the Sunset Vista Trail junction, but then it also decended steeply with more cables for a long ways before reaching the desert floor.  It was then that I noticed that Twinkles pants were totally blown out in the rear from dragging her butt down those step rocky slopes.  Twinkles was really fading on the last mile of the Sunset Vista Trail when two amazing things happened.  First she found a safety pin on the trail to tie her pants together a bit, then and we ran into another couple who offered us a ride back to our Jeep.  It was a great hike in retrospect, although Twinkles said once is enough ! 

The start of the Hunter Trail

View from the saddle

Twinkles descending on the cables

View from the trail

Twinkles pants did not survive the trail

Saturday morning we are off to Phoenix to visit my Mom, my sister and her family again before leaving the area. It was a great day !  We got back to our campsite after dark, it was so very dark and then it became very windy.   

Sunday was a very sunny but windy day that we spent taking it easy in the "Hawk". We plan to move on tomorrow towards the Apache Junction area, but have nothing reserved at this time.

Looking for 

Twinkles and Slick

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