White Tank Mountains – First Hike of the Season

Though the thermometer doesn’t show it, we are getting closer to winter. Lynn and I are missing our Arizona friends, and our hikes. We are counting the days until we can go south again. My Facebook friends may remember this post, but I want to share it with my WordPress friends. Originally posted to FB, December 2012.

Buckeye,AZ

I only heard the rhythmic sounds of hiking boots hitting the trail and the metallic clank of the aluminum hiking poles as the metal tips strike rock. Lynn and I don’t talk much when we hike. We are too busy putting one foot in front of the other and soaking in the views from the trail. For a Sunday, I expected more people on the trail. I suspect since our choice of trail stayed mostly in the lowlands, the crowds were populating the trails that headed up into the canyons. The only other sounds, besides the wind occasionally whistling by our ears, were other hikers chatting in the distance, or mountain bikers pedaling around us as we walked along the trail.

Since returning to Arizona in late November, we hadn’t yet had a chance to visit our nearby White Tank Mountain Regional Park. We decided to blaze some new (to us) trails. I plotted a route on the Ford Canyon Trail from the trailhead at the base of the mountains, to the Waddell Trail, and then on to the Mesquite Canyon Trail. We had hiked parts of all these trails in the past, but not in the area where we planned our hike. The view would be mostly fresh to us.

As the park is full of people, especially on the weekend, there is very little wildlife to be seen. If you’re quick, and use your peripheral vision, you might spot a lizard scampering underneath a bush, or between a pair of rocks as you approach. Or you might see the rear end of a gopher as he dives into one of the many holes that pock the desert floor. You would have to be lucky to see a deer or a javalina, maybe even a mountain lion. Rattlesnakes, tarantulas and scorpions live in the park as well. On this hike, we had to be satisfied with glimpses of a lizard and a gopher. Though many varieties of birds live in the park, either I was oblivious to them, or they simply stayed away from us on this hike. On other hikes, they have been more noticeable.

Sunday’s hike was 3.7 miles in a loop from the trailhead on Ford Canyon Trail to the Waddell Trail, then on to Mesquite Canyon trail, both terminating in the same parking lot. We were looking forward to hiking Wickenburg’s Vulture Peak on Tuesday, but a conflict arose. We have to be back in Buckeye by 1:00 PM, and there’s no way we can drive to Wickenburg, make a four-mile hike and drive home in that amount of time. Lynn and I will go on a hike Tuesday, probably leave the house earlier than the group, and head to the nearby White Tank Park. It will be a good day to get reacquainted with a trail or two that we’ve already trod.

John Steiner

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