There are a few times a year when I totally avoid the stores. Black Friday and the weekend after, and the day after Christmas. I don't like crowds and long lines and the money I would save is not worth the insanity to me. I'm not big on shopping anyway, unless I have a lot of money to spend, which I usually don't. So I chose to go for a strenuous hike instead.
I headed up to Signal Peak, which is a peak in the Gila National Forest that has a fire watch station at the top used during the fire season. It's almost 2000 feet climb in 2 1/2 miles. That is by the trail. There is a road up there, which winds a lot and is 7 miles in length. This is the 4th time I've done this hike over the years. The other 3 times I hiked up the trail and came down the road, which is what I intended to do this time. But it took me longer to get to the top this time, and I decided to go down the trail again instead of the much longer route, especially as the days are so short now. It was harder than I remembered. I think I was also still tired from standing and cooking all day on Thanksgiving. Standing makes my back and legs hurt much worse than walking does. But I don't cook very often any more so fixing Thanksgiving dinner is something I like to do for my family.
It was a beautiful day, in the low 60's. There are a lot of mountain bikers in my area, and at the top I saw a group of 4 who took off down the trail before I left the top. I think they road up the road. Then when I was nearing the bottom there was a man and his son, who looked about 8 years old, coming down the trail. So as you look at the pictures, think of riding a bike down it. I marvel at them because it would terrify me to death as it is steep, rocky, and narrow. But I know a few people here on Spark who would love the trail. But for me it looks absolutely insane! However I didn't see any blood on the trail of any signs of a wipe out, so I guess they all made it down safely LOL.
I parked about a 1/4 mile from the trailhead, at the bottom of the road because I had intended on coming down the road when I set out. So I walked that to get to this sign where the trail starts.
The trail starts out easily for just a bit, but less than 1/4 mile on the trail it starts climbing sharply and then keeps climbing. There aren't any ups and downs on this trail, like most trails around here, but steady up, then steady down coming back.
The trail turns and starts climbing up to the left.
Think about those bike riders coming down this!
There are only a few places where you can get a view because of all the trees along the way.
Almost to the top now. There was the 4 cyclists who don't show up in the picture and their German shephard which does right at the top. I was a little nervous about the dog but he didn't bother me.
Here is a cleared space at the top where a helicopter can land if necessary, and a few utility buildings and the tower. During fire season the person who has the fire watch lives in the top of the tower for a several months.
There is the road I would have gone down for the 7 miles back to my car but my legs were too tired and it was already after 2 pm.
And heres the sign with the elevation 8920 feet. It was about 6900 feet or so where I parked the car. My gps said I climbed 1955 ft from there. In SIlver City, where I live, the elevation is a little over 6,000 feet.
There is also a picnic table up there, where I rested for about 1/2 an hour and ate my turkey sandwich I had brought. I paused my gps during that time. My actual hiking time was really slow, taking me 2 hours and 15 minutes to climb the 2 1/2 miles. I had to stop a lot to catch my breath and my legs wanted to quit before I got to the top but I perservered. I think it was so hard because of being so busy the day before. I didn't realize how tired I still was. To go down the trail took me 1 1/2 hours because there are so many places where I have to go slow because its steep with lots of little loose rocks that roll under my shoes, a little bigger rocks that can roll or I can trip over, and huge boulders buried mostly underground with just parts sticking up to trip me. My hiking stick really comes in handy and saved me a few times when I would have tripped or slipped. I imagine the bikers made it down the trail in half an hour or less LOL. My calves and thighs are hurting me today and I'm really tired. I want to go back and do it again, when I start out more rested than I did yesterday, and do the road down. I don't know if I'll get a chance though because once it starts snowing it will stay up there much longer. I last did it in March 2011 and the trail didn't have any snow left by then but when I started down the other side on the road there were a lot of big patches of snow still, and a few places where it still covered the road although we hadn't had any snow in more than a month then I think. So not sure if I will get back up there in the next few weeks or not.
It was exhausing but it was fun! The trail itself was 5 miles up and back and with the 1/4 mile each way to my car it made it 5 1/2 miles. And even though I was really tired when I got home, I wasn't more tired than if I'd gone shopping all day and it was much more peaceful LOL!
My son, who lives in Fort Worth, posted this yesterday morning on his facebook page that made me laugh. "My wife has been gone for 14 hours with her sister and mother. Considering that she is usually home asleep by 11pm and it is now 10 am, I am getting worried. She did not leave with any food or water. I am not sure if I should call the police, the coast guard, or Walmart.
Damn you black friday! You have left so many men alone and scared, as they sit and look at their online bank accounts, wondering how they will ever recover."