I had been thinking about hiking on some trails accessed from the Peralta trailhead all week. I got out my map of the Superstition Wilderness on Friday evening and planned my route. I wanted to get pictures of Miner's Needle (strangely, there are very few pictures of that area on Google Earth), so I was going to go in that direction first. I was a little concerned that the parking lot might be full at this time of year, so I had a backup plan to get pictures of the mushroom rock.
On Saturday morning, the paper had an article about the Peralta trail. I figured the parking lot and the overflow parking lot would be full for sure because of that. I decided to check it out, anyway, but was pretty sure I would be going to the mushroom rock. I was surprised to see that the dirt road had had water sprayed on it (to keep dust down) as I left the pavement of Peralta road. Wow, were they expecting a lot of traffic today?
Well, it turned out that there were lots of spaces available in the parking lot. I took my time going up the hill at the beginning of the trail. I might be hiking 8.5 miles, so I didn't want to get worn out at the beginning.
It was a gorgeous day; clear sky and temperatures in the mid 60's. Yes, I had sun screen on. I was a little concerned about the fragrance attracting bees. Sure enough, as soon as I got out of the truck, a bee tried to fly up my sleeve. That was the only one that took any interest in me, though.
The beginning of the trail overlooks what I would call a valley, but maps call the northeast end Miner's Canyon and the southwest end Barks Canyon. I took several panoramas of it and the mountains around it. I uploaded them full-size, so you can zoom way in. I took over 200 pictures and uploaded most of them to the web album. I tried to get saguaros in them so they wouldn't be a bunch of pictures of the same mountains over and over again, but that might be what they look like, anyway. It was the middle of the day, too, so I don't like the looks of most of them. I had to plan to be there in the middle of the day, or I would probably have been hiking in the dark for several hours.
I saw about 10 other people on the trail. A couple that looked older than me saw me taking pictures of Mexican Gold Poppies and told me there were thick fields of them further up the trail. I decided to make seeing them my goal. My left ankle has been acting up lately and if it started to hurt much, I was going to turn back. It was feeling good at the time, though.
Let's see, I need to back up a little bit. At work on Friday, I was walking down the hall and noticed that a spot on my lower calf was a little tender. That seemed odd because I hadn't done anything that could have injured it. So I'm walking along this trail, and that spot on my calf is still very slightly tender but easy to ignore. Then I took a step, just like the hundreds of previous steps I had taken on this hike, but this time it felt like a knife had been jabbed into my calf. It wasn't a cramp. It hurt when I tried to use the muscle. It hurt when I tried to stretch the muscle. It felt fine when I did nothing, which was nice, but you can't do nothing when you're on foot in the middle of the desert. I sat and rested for a few minutes. It felt no better. I walked very slowly, hoping it would ease up. It didn't. I was forced to take very small steps. I felt like I was crawling. I had no choice but to turn back.
Before I turned back, I took several pictures of 3 Mexican Gold Poppies. Most of the poppies have been tattered by the wind or are missing a petal or are stunted or have some sort of defect. Not these 3 (two pictured here). These are the megababe supermodels of Mexican Gold Poppies.
I didn't make as many stops for pictures on the way back, so that made up for moving slower. I thought I was only going about 1 mph, but my GPS track indicates that I was still moving at almost 2 mph. Every step hurt, though. I don't know if it's from me walking funny or if it was going to do it anyway, but my left ankle started getting achy, too. By 2 this morning it hurt so bad I couldn't tell if my calf still hurt. I'm going to have to figure out what's causing that and fix it. I was limping on both legs by the time I got back to the trailhead, which looks really pathetic (the limping, not the trailhead). I tried to walk normally but very slowly and tried to make it look like I wanted to walk slowly. That was difficult because I don't like walking slowly and tiny steps just don't look natural.
Having to turn back was very frustrating. It was such a beautiful day, though, I couldn't be in a bad mood. Click below to see all of the pictures.