Sunday, February 17, 2013

Piestewa Peak Park: Piestewa Peak

After my hike on the Bell Trail I hit the road headed south towards Phoenix. I was excited to see some saguaro cacti, but as I drove I didn't see any saguaros. I headed further and further down in elevation, but still no tall cacti, then I crested a ridge and they were everywhere! I decided right then that I wanted to hike amongst them and I didn't want to have to wait until tomorrow. I had remembered seeing a hike on the north side of Phoenix and so when I stopped the car for gas I looked up the hike and traced out a route to get there. The hike was at a place called Squaw Peak Park and ascended to Squaw Peak itself.

As I made my way through the sprawl that is greater Phoenix, I had a remarkably easy time finding the park, but the entrance was blocked off when I arrived there due to, as I would learn later, a search and rescue operation. I followed the lead of the others and parked outside the park on a side street and walked in. Soon after entering the park I found the Summit Trail and started my ascent.
Trail up Peak photo trailuppeak_zpsab3c88e2.jpg

There were lots of people on the trail, after-all it was a beautiful day and President's Day weekend as well. The ascent was surprisingly steep and I spent much of the hike passing other hikers and getting passed by runners. There were lots of saguaros to gawk at along with the people.
Small Peak photo smallpeak_zpseab00855.jpg
Hiker on Trail photo hikerontrail_zpseb9797a7.jpg
Eventually I found myself at an exposed rock outcrop that was covered with people.
People on False Summit photo Peopleonfalsesummit_zps392b6569.jpg
I supposed this to be the summit and sat down for a rest.

As I was sitting I realized that another, nearby rock outcrop was the true summit. It looked very exposed, but after looking around I found a safe route up to the top.
Summit Photo photo Ericonsummit2_zpsd5c501bd.jpg
There was some old graffiti up there
Berner Signature photo BernerSignature_zps3759a2b1.jpg
Graffiti photo summitoldgraffiti_zps8f3562b4.jpg
and great views of the surrounding metropolitan Phoenix area. I spent some time people watching, contemplated watching the sunset from my high perch, but then decided against it and started my way down.

Despite the waning sunlight there were still lots of people making their way the mountain as I made my descent. While I didn't get to see the sunset from the summit, I did get to watch as the sun slowly made its way lower on the horizon and painted the mountain, cacti and rocks orange until it disappeared.
Distant Peak Alpenglow photo distantpeakatsunset_zps70afd7b7.jpg
Cactus at Sunset photo glowingsaguaro_zps4420169a.jpg
I did get to see the actual sunset, but from a much lower elevation than the summit.
Phoenix at Sunset photo sunsetinPhoenix_zpscb3f0cef.jpg
I also learned that the peak is no longer referred to by the politically incorrect Squaw Peak, but now goes by the name Piestewa Peak, named after Lori Piestewa, a part-Hopi woman soldier who was killed in Iraq.
Orange Palms photo endofday_zpsea6ae6c3.jpg
 

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