Category Archives: Hiking

Hike Report: Romero Canyon Trail to Romero Pools (near Tucson, Arizona)

One of a string of pools

This was a 4.5 mile round-trip on the Romero Canyon Trail to see the Romero Pools, which are about 2.2 miles from the trailhead. I was fortunate to have my daughter with me. Her house is a 30-minute drive from the trailhead. Elevation gain, if memory serves, was 800 or 900 feet.

This is rugged and wild land. I’m sure there are bears and mountain lions here.

There were not many people on the trail when we did this on May 14. At the pools per se were 10-14 folks, including a couple topless women.

My hiking buddy

This trail is difficult due to the rocky footing and steepness. It was a good workout. We never came close to losing the trail, and we never had to scramble over large boulders.

View from first part of the trail

Trail-side flower

My beautiful daughter

I saw about five pools clustered together but there are probably more

Uh Oh: My Knee Hurts

I’ve developed over the last month some bothersome pain in my right knee. It’s not interfered much with my actual hiking, but I pay for it over the subsequent day or two. I’m starting to think this may put the kibosh on my Humphries Peak trek next month.

The pain is mostly anterior (front part of the knee) and is most noticeable after I’ve been sitting for a while with the bent knee, then get up to walk. The pain improves greatly after walking for a minute or less. It also hurts bit when I step up on something using my right leg. If I sit with my knee straight (in full extension), it doesn’t hurt when I get up. The joint is neither unusually warm nor swollen. Ibuprofen doesn’t seem to help it. These pain characteristics seem classic for something, but I don’t know what, yet. Possibilities include degenerative joint disease, chondromalacia patellae, patellar tendonitis, or an internal derangement such as a torn cartilage or meniscus. My twice weekly hikes always include a fair amount of elevation gain. I suspect an over-use syndrome, basically a training error. I plan to take an entire week off from hiking and Bulgarian Split Squats, and taking ibuprofen 600 mg three times a day.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Hike Report: The Lookout in McDowell Sonoran Preserve


Looking south from The Lookout, you see Thompson Peak in the center. The highest point in the McDowell range is McDowell Peak on the right, about 10 feet higher than Thompson Peak.

This hike is essentially the same as to Tom’s Thumb trail, but instead of taking the short spur going north to the Thumb, you go a tenth of a mile further and take the half mile spur to The Lookout. This last half mile is easy, and rewarded by  excellent view to the south and east.

A prickly pear cactus blossom

My original goal had been to continue walking past this spur, to the west, until I reached a bizarre mountain spring. Bizarre because you’d never expect it in this desert. But after a quarter or half mile, it was getting hot and no one else was on the narrow trail, which was steep and quite rocky. I didn’t know exactly how far it was to the spring. I could see myself getting injured or over-heated, and decided it just wasn’t worth it. I think I’d rather die than call in a rescue party. So I turned around and headed back to The Lookout spur.

Banana yucca

Total distance for this trip was about 6 miles and it took three hours. Loaded with a 10-lb dumbbell and plenty of water, my backpack weighed about 20 lb.

From The Lookout: Phoenix and Scottdale in the distance

I’m impressed with how many young women I see on this trail, either alone or in small groups. I’m glad they feel safe doing it.

Eastern view from The Lookout: Four Peaks on the horizon

I was delighted to see three people on horseback on the trail, too.

Way in the distance is the Fountain Hills, AZ, fountain. It explodes up 300 feet every hour on the hour for 10 minutes.

Did you know that exercise isn’t an effective way to lose fat weight? 90% of weight loss comes from altering your diet. Try one of my diets, like the Advanced Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one

Hike Report: Sunrise Trail In Scottsdale, Arizona

…with a side trip to Andrews-Kinsey trail.

This is what 50% of the trail looked like from the trailhead to the peak. Is there a rattler in the shade of that rock?

As you might remember, I’m training to summit Humphreys Peak in June. So I’ve been hiking twice weekly, mostly on Pinnacle Peak Trail and Tom’s Thumb Trail. My longest trek thus far has been seven miles. I plan to walk some longer distances and/or carry more weigh in my backpack in the coming weeks. Lately I’ve added a 10-lb dumbbell to my pack.

Yes, this is the trail. From the trailhead to the peak, 10% of it looked like this. You need good footwear for this.

Yesterday I started at the Sunrise Trailhead, made it to Sunrise Peak in about an hour, then walked over to the Andrews-Kinsey trail and followed for about a mile before turning around and heading back to the car. Total trip was about six miles over three hours. I carried the 10-lb dumbbell in my backpack, plus water.

3/4 of the way to the peak, looking down at the trailhead near houses.

Sunrise Trailhead to the peak is a difficult trail by most standards. Steep, rocky, unrelenting. You gain about 1,1000 feet of elevation. My pace was only 1.8 miles per hour. Approaches from Ringtail Trailhead and 136th Street Trailhead are quite likely less steep, but more miles to the peak.

A view of Scottsdale from Sunrise Peak

The Andrews-Kinsey trail was relatively flat, mostly gravel, and had good views. Didn’t see another soul on it.

From the pictures, you can tell there’s not much shade on this hike. What you cannot see is that the mountains themselves will provide shade for this entire trip if hiked in the late afternoon.

Looking north from Sunrise Peak. These are the McDowell Mountains. Note the trails.

I saw a snake on this trip, just got a brief glimpse of it a foot and a half from me and he was truckin’. It was about 1.5 inches thick, and I’m guessing four feet long. Didn’t look like a rattlesnake. Maybe a bull snake.

I was on the trail at 0740 hrs and was glad to be done three hours later when the temperature was in the upper 80s Farenheit.

I last did this trail in 2013. I didn’t put it in that trip report, but I remember it being particularly grueling, having started at Ringtail trailhead and going to Sunrise trailhead then back to our starting point, a total of 10 miles and 2,000+ vertical feet of elevation.

Tom’s Thumb Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve


The thumb is sticking up on the horizon on the far left

The thumb is sticking up on the horizon on the far left

You might recall I hope to climb to the summit of Arizona’s highest mountain in June. So I’m in training.

First time I've seen a backhoe doing trail repair

First time I’ve seen a backhoe doing trail repair

I started this hike at the Tom’s Thumb Trailhead at the north end of the preserve. I made it to the base of the landmark then turned around and came back the same way. Total trip length is between 4 and 4.5 miles and I figure a 1000 feet of vertical elevation gain. The footing is mostly gravel/dirt. Lots of folks were hiking it with less sturdy shoes than mine. It took me 1 hour and 50 minutes round-trip.

At the base of Tom's Thumb, overlooking Scottsdale and the Valley of the Sun

At the base of Tom’s Thumb, overlooking Scottsdale and the Valley of the Sun far in the distance

On the way down I was wishing I’d brought my trekking poles to take some of the strain off my knees.

Click for trail details.

The thumb up close and personal

The thumb up close and personal

The View From Pinnacle Peak, Looking Southeast

Taken with my new iPhone-7 Plus

Taken with my new iPhone-7 Plus

This was only my third training hike (in prep for Humphreys Peak) and I was pleasantly surprised to feel a positive training effect already. Or maybe I was just high on the beautiful day and setting.

Steve Parker, M.D.

And so it begins: My quest for Humphreys Peak

60 degrees F.

60 degrees F.

Lord willin’, I’m going to hike to the top of Humphreys Peak in Arizona this June. I started training today, at Pinnacle Peak Trail in Scottsdale.

With only a couple bottles of H2O in my backpack, I walked the 3.5 mile round-trip trail in 70 minutes. I mention the water because when I’m in better shape I’ll carry in my pack a 10 or 15 lb dumbbell plus water.

Speaking of Hiking: Canada’s 15,000-Mile Trail Is Almost Done 

“Do you like to hike? If your answer is yes, consider booking a trip to Canada for 2017. But you might want to pack a few extra pairs of hiking boots—as Eillie Anzilotti reports for CityLab, Canada’s newest trail will be nearly 15,000 miles long.

No, that’s not a typo. When it’s finished next year, the Trans Canada Trail will clock in at 14,864 miles long, nearly 13,000 miles of which are connected. As Anzilotti reports, the trail will open to everyone from cyclists to skiiers, horseback riders and hikers in 2017 and will be the world’s longest recreational trail.”

Source: Canada Is Building a Trail That Measures Almost 15,000 Miles | Smart News | Smithsonian