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Hot Day in Phoenix

posted Apr 26, 2019, 4:55 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 30, 2019, 4:18 PM ]
Saturday morning, we had a nice breakfast at the hotel then made the short drive to the Mormon Trailhead parking for South Mountain Park/Preserve.  By 9 in the morning, it was already hot, but at least it wasn't humid.  The Mormon Trail heads straight up the mountain, but it wasn't too steep, just a steady uphill.


As we got up higher, there were great views of Phoenix and the valley.  Ocotillo was flowering.


Although the mountains surrounding Phoenix were steep, the valley was almost perfectly flat.  We saw a number of lizards on the hike, including some "carrot tail" chuckwallas.


They seemed to be enjoying the 90 degree weather.  One was eating brittlebush flowers.


When we got to the top, we took the National Trail to Hidden Valley Loop and went left to hike in the clockwise direction.  There were lots of saguaros in the valley.


Shortly, we came to the natural tunnel through the mountain.


There were some petroglyphs on the wall at the entrance.


Past the tunnel, we had to scramble up the rocks to the next section.  Around here were a lot of desert blister beetles.


The produce a chemical toxin if handled that is a blistering agent.  Many of them were mating.


Just before Fat Man's Pass, we then saw some people coming down a very steep and difficult section.  When they got down, we noticed a much easier way to get up and down.  Then we reached Fat Man's Pass and had no trouble squeezing through.  We finished up the loop and started heading back.  On the way, we stopped to climb up the small peak along Mormon Loop Trail that had more fantastic views of Phoenix way below.


There were lots of creosote bushes flowering in the desert.


Then we continued back to the car.  Our next stop was Mystery Castle.   The castle was built by Boyce Gulley who moved to Arizona in the 1930s from Seattle after being diagnosed with tuberculosis.  It was built almost entirely with local and recycled materials.


When we arrived, we paid and waited for the next tour.  There were nice views of Phoenix from here.


The eclectic nature of the building made for very interesting views.


The first area we toured was the kitchen and was relatively normal. 


We had to go outside to go to the next area.  All of the furnishings were so unique and out of the ordinary.


It was easy to see how random things were used as construction materials.


There were 13 fireplaces in the castle.


The last area we toured was a lower level beneath the gift shop.  It was a little cooler in here.  There was even a little crypt down here.


After the tour, we got lunch and then headed to Papago Park and the Double Butte Loop Trail from the West Parking Lot.  We followed the trail past Little Butte to Eliot Ramada for a short break in the shade.


Next, we got on Big Buttle Loop.  It was quite hot by now, so we climbed up to the butte and took a rest in the shade.  A little Anna's hummingbird was perched on a branch up here.


There were really nice views and it was nice to cool off in the shade.


After a rest, we headed back and drove over to the Hole in the Rock.


It was really crowded but we hiked around to the back.


But it was too crowded to stay long.  From here, we headed back to the hotel.  Embassy Suites had a happy hour with free cocktails so we took advantage.  Then we had dinner at the hotel and started packing for a very early flight home.