Saturday, April 3, 2010

March 20 The Drunk Irishman & The Lost Dutchman

"Must it take a life for hateful eyes
To glisten once again
Cause we find ourselves in the same old mess
Singin' drunken lullabies"
- 'Drunken Lullabies' by Flogging Molly

Some of the guys went golfing today. Others went to the White Sox spring training game. One dumb motherfucker decided to go hiking. That would be me. I decided to drive out to Lost Dutchman State Park and hike the Syphon Draw Trail. After breakfast, this seemed like a great idea. A beautiful sunny day probably about 80 degrees, why not get out and enjoy a hike in the Superstition Mountains. Sure I was feeling a bit hazy. So I picked up a gatorade for the forty five minute drive out to the Tonto National Forest. The park was very crowded. I mention this because the state of Arizona is so broke they have begun closing state parks. The Lost Dutchman is scheduled to be closed on June 3rd. What a shame. This is a topic for another day. I find a parking spot and put on my hiking boots. I learned early on this trip to wear my good hiking boots on every hike. Even the short easy hikes have extremely rocky paths. Not the smooth, level, crushed rock paths like back home in suburban Chicago but jagged pieces of mountain tops that have broken free over the years. So that makes this state park seem like the wilderness to this city boy. I put four bottles of water in my backpack. Mistake #2. Let's backtrack a bit, thinking I could hike after two days of drinking would be Mistake #1, but that hasn't occurred to me yet. Forgot the sunscreen, Mistake #3. I find the trail head and figure I should be able to make it to the Flatiron mesa. Mistake #4, sure it is less than 3 miles away, but it is also at 5000 feet, the trail head is 2000 feet. Immediately, I am breathing heavy and sweating profusely. I began to think my body is punishing me for my activities of the past two days. I push on, sweating out a combination of Miller Lite, Mojitos and Harp Lager. The sun is really strong and there isn't a tree to be found anywhere. But I begin to feel better, the great views probably help. I'm thinking to myself, damn right I can do this hike right up to the top, The Flatiron. So I am hiking along at what seems like a good pace to me, when a family with young kids passes me. The young father with a frame backpack carrying his baby boy. OK, no problem, they are young and they do mountain hikes all the time. I continue up the trail breathing heavy, drinking water and resting often. Then two ladies, probably in their fifties say hello as they pass me. I noticed they were busy doing something with their hands when I realized they were knitting or crocheting. One held the yarn while the other worked the needles or whatever the fuck those hook things are called. I began yelling "God end this misery. Just kill me now". As it echoed in the canyon, some hikers yelled back "Okay!!" I found some much needed shade behind a huge rock. Reality hit me when I started drinking from my third of my four water bottles, I'm never gonna make it to The Flatiron. So I hiked up to the basin and ate my lunch, some trail mix and an energy bar. My legs were tired but I actually felt good. I took pictures along the way. The combination of rocky mountain and cactus made for a cool contrast I haven't seen too often. On my way back down I cut across the mountain on Jacob's Crosscut Trail, just to take a different way back to the car. I ended up hiking part of the Treasure Loop Trail also. Once again, I enjoyed my day of hiking.
The saguaro cactus are impressive. Some grew up to 15 feet or more along this trail.
This boardwalk serves as a reminder to help protect areas like this for future generations.
The trail starts out pretty flat across an area of desert brush and several types of cacti.
This howling wolf sundial was an Eagle Scout's project. Good job and accurate too.
The Siphon Draw trail.
These hoodoos, I think that is what they are called, were huge. 
Some views along the trail. My original goal The Flatiron can be seen here above & below.

The saguaro cacti were growing high into the mountains
The view on my way back down the trail
The end of my Arizona hikes for this trip. It is after 3pm. I have tickets to the Blackhawks vs Coyotes game at 6pm. I have a 45 drive back to the hotel and a 45 minute drive to the hockey stadium. I gotta get going. 
Oh no. I love kitschy roadside Americana tourist traps. Actually I love that some still exist. I figured I had a few minutes to take some pictures...Mistake # 5. I would have bought a cold glass bottle of Pepsi from the old vending machine at the Bluebird Mine Gift Shop but I gave up soda for Lent. Then I thought God wouldn't mind just one bottle. He has to know how hard it is to find a glass bottle of Pepsi. But I figured why take the chance, the way I live most of my life I could use this Lent sacrifice as a bargaining chip in my favor when that time comes. The Goldfield Ghost Town was packed. These people drove all the way out here to pretend they were visiting a real ghost town. The irony of it all. I couldn't even find a parking spot. I double parked and took some pictures but the only good one was the sign at the entrance. Back onto the highway...but wait a minute. WTF. All lanes closed at Rt 101. Where is my map? Is 101 past my exit? No it isn't. Damn it God, I didn't drink that Pepsi.Why is this happening? I get to the hotel about 4:50pm. Showered and back in the car by 5:05pm. Meet up with the rest of the group at McFaddens Bar in the complex next to the stadium. I find out that Konerko, Danks & Beckham from the White Sox were there earlier. Damn that closed highway. My luck changed in the hockey stadium. I was starving and resigned myself to eating shitty stadium food...what is this...a Boars Head deli. Hell yes, I'll have a pastrami & swiss cheese sandwich on rye with a fresh pickle. I am about to see my first Blackhawks game of the season in person. Great seats. Let's go. The Hawks lost 5-4 in overtime. It was a great game, Blackhawk fans outnumbered Coyote fans. Unfortunately, Brent Sopel plays for the Hawks. He was on the ice for 4 of their goals and serving his penalty for the other goal. Back to Tempe. Another night of drinking, bullshitting and general mayhem. About 2:30am, I found myself standing in line outside a pizzeria. It was worth the wait, 2 slices to go. What a way to end my trip to AZ. Walking back to the hotel at 3am eating pizza slices on a beautiful 65 degree night in March. The perfect way to end a much needed break from the real world.

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