Category Archives: Hiking

OMG I’ve Got PFP

My daughter and I at Tom’s Thumb on June 3. She got her good looks from her mom, obviously.

I posted this here a couple weeks ago:

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 a 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….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.

The view looking south from the base of Tom’s Thumb

I did some research in the literature and think I’ve got patellofemoral pain, aka PFP or PFP Syndrome. Can’t say I’d heard of it before. Sounds more like a description than a diagnosis. Like saying someone has fever.

This guy posed for my daughter

I got most of my info on PFP from UpToDate.com, but you probably don’t have access to that. You healthcare professionals, click for a 2007 article at American Family Physician. Mayo Clinic has info for muggles. So does American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

I hope she thinks of this hike when she sees Tom’s Thumb from Hwy 101

I may have some age-related osteoarthritis in both knees, but that’s not causing this pain.

My PFP was caused by over-use. Too much hiking with elevation gain and  accelerating my program too rapidly. Also, prior experience taught me that using trekking poles helped take strain off my knees, and I have not been using them.

The newest resident at the Parker Compound. He’s eight weeks old.

I took a week off from hiking while taking ibuprofen 600 mg three times a day, when I could remember it. The combo helped, probably the rest more than the NSAID. Then I did two six-mile walks on the flat without much trouble. On June 3, I hiked Tom’s Thumb trail with my trekking poles, 4 miles round trip, and only had mild discomfort. Most importantly, I learned that I get relief from icing down the knee for 30-45 minutes after I get home.

I’m disappointed I can’t climb Thompson Peak in preparation for Humphries Peak. It would probably kill my chance to summit Humphries (right now I put those odds at 50:50).

Steve Parker, M.D.

 

 

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.