Friday, October 4, 2013

Quartz Ridge Traverse

Eventually after spending countless hours in your spot, you have to mix it up a little. In the Phoenix Mountain Preserve I've hiked most of the trails, some many times. I needed to keep my spot fresh. Needed to keep the fire burning so I didn't lose interest.
Looking southeast from Quartz Ridge. 
I came up with a simple plan: Climb Quartz Ridge in the north and hike south along its back until I came down the other end, then catch Trail #8 back to the parking lot. Since the temps have finally cooled some, I didn't have to do this hike in 100 degree weather. With temps in the high 80's, and a slight breeze blowing through the park, I hiked in relative comfort. 

Piestawa Peak
Standing on Quartz Ridge looking west
 Hiking along the spine of the ridge took a lot of scrambling and rock hoping. This area is full of jagged rock that I think is schist. Some areas on the ridge are literally stacked vertically with schist and extremely difficult to cross. Other than small lizards and a turkey vulture, I didn't see much wildlife. The park service claims that both Gila Monsters and Rattlesnakes inhabit this area, but I have yet to see any in a year of continuous exploring.

Try walking over that!
The toughest part of this hike was descending the south end. Of course there wasn't any trail, and the slope was covered in loose rock. Every step sent rocks tumbling down the mountain. I almost bit the dust on multiple occasions, but managed to catch myself just in time. 


Descent

Overall it was an enjoyable hike. I got to see a part of the park that I've never seen before, and am just really happy that I live so close to such an awesome hiking spot.