South Mountain Loop

South Mountain Park

Bajada → Ranger → National → Bajada

Time out: 7:37 a.m. Weather: Sunny, low 60s, no breeze. Head east on Bajada Trail, slight climb, broken surface, for 1.6 km. North on Ranger Trail a couple hundred meters to cross Summit Rd. Steepest part of the whole trip might have been the 100 meters before Summit Rd. Waved at a few early joggers. No bikes, no other hikers. Continue up Ranger Trail switchbacks, which are mild the first 500m, then get a bit steeper the final 500m with a decent surface. Turn west on National Trail, which is very smooth, but continues with a slight climb. Near Goat Hill, there is a turn off to the summit. Passed at least four abadoned mine shafts. National Trail generally stays on the south side of the ridge, where the cholla were looking very healthy. (Interestingly enough, the parts of the trail on the north side of the ridge had no cholla at all.) Great views of Ahwatukee Foothills. Kept looking for the new trail system (Trail 620/Bees Knees), but could not spot it. After 3.5 km, with the Gila River community of Komatke in site, trail begins steady descent, with surface being rocky. After 1.5 km in a rather isolated canyon — only spotted one trail runner going the opposite direction — trail crosses a small saddle, then turns north into the Western flats. Turn east on Bajada Trail just before the paved road. Breeze began picking up, and it felt good. I thought the western part of Bajada Trail would be flat, but in fact it was a steady climb, with frequent wash crossings — pretty much all 3.8 km back to the Summit Rd. split. Got passed by two guys on a trail running team in that segment, and even they walked on the steeper parts. (I actually gained on them when they walked, which is kind of amusing.) But I was not expecting that long, steady climb, and being fat & out of shape, and this being my longest hike so far, I was getting pretty tired. Weird thing I noticed is that my fingers had gotten swollen and difficult to bend, but otherwise made it back in good shape . Time In: 11:12 a.m. Duration: 3h 35m. Hike time, minus breaks: 3h 20m. Distance: 14.7 km. Pace: 4.45 km/h. (Was hoping to finish in three hours, but that last bit of Bajada did me in.)

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