runtastic-altimeter-1 runtastic-altimeter-2 (all thumbs up)



On Thursday, I decided to do something I have never done before: climb Tom’s Thumb. That’s one of the peaks in the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale where Eagle’s Nest is. But I experienced something I never expected: Discovered that Tom’s Thumb should really be called Eagle’s Nest. And the Eagle’s Nest should be called Bob’s Thumb. 🙂 IMG_0778

Just look at the evidence on the right. That’s a shot of the massive rock that dominates the north end of the McDowell Mtns which is now known as Tom’s Thumb. I am standing at 3,800 ft elevation right under it. (By the way, that’s the highest I have ever climbed in the McDowells). And when you look up Tom’s Thumb from that point, what do you see? You see three eagles’ nests! (actually small caves in the rock).

How do I know they are eagles’ nests? Look at the equally massive white “murals” the eagle’s had painted on the rock over the centuries. They are between 6 and 10 feet high.

Alright. That was the end, the destination. Let’s start at the beginning… as most stories do…

Forecasters were calling for rain around here on Friday. (Yeah! We have not had any to speak of in months).  I also was also facing a possible medical procedure on Friday on my left big toe, “Bob’s Lower Thumb,” if you will. 🙂 So to preempt both events putting a crimp into my hiking, I jumped into my car and headed out toward Tom’s Thumbs.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 3.30.01 PM  188_toms-thumb-pro-1368215808 188_toms-thumb-map-1368215808  IMG_0804

As I said, I have never done that before although I have lived here in the Valley of the Sun for over 30 years. So even the 11-mile drive to the trailhead was quite exciting. I was delighted to discover that there are patches of beautiful unspoiled Sonoran desert still left. That not all of it has been ‘raped’ by real estate developers.

As to the trail itself, it was the hardest hike I have ever done in the McDowells and the easiest at the same time. The hardest, because it is pretty much an unrelenting 1,000 ft vertical climb till you get to the saddle. And then another couple of hundred feet or so through some pretty rough terrain to reach Tom’s Thumb.  The easiest, because most of the trail is loose gravel. Which makes it easy on the knees, although also more dangerous when you go down.

IMG_0763 runtastic-altimeter-4

It was also relatively easy because the temperature was only 63F (17C). For someone used to hiking in the 110F+ heat, this was a real reprieve. I felt I still had at least half a tank left in me by the time I reached the saddle of the McDowell Mtns, elevation about 3,600 ft.  Here are some shots I took from there…

runtastic-altimeter-7 runtastic-altimeter-5 runtastic-altimeter-3 runtastic-altimeter-8

This is where I almost got fooled. As I said, this was my first hike to here. So when I got to the saddle, and saw a big rock to the north from there, I thought that was Tom’s Thumb. And that I had actually arrived at my destination.

Then I noticed another trail going up from there.  I decided to follow it. It turns out, it did lead to the actual Tom’s Thumb. Which was another half a mile away through some pretty rough terrain. I saw more rocky “thumbs” along the way.

So I decided to name that first rock that fooled me Harry’s Thumb, and the next one Dick’s Thumb, to complete the Tom, Dick and Harry rocky trilogy. 🙂

IMG_0764 IMG_0772  IMG_0770 IMG_0771

On the way to Tom’s Thumb, I also saw many other interesting rock formations. The two pairs of rocks above right reminded me of that famous 1969 movie BOB AND CAROL AND TED AND ALICE. So that’s what I named them. :-

IMG_0768 IMG_0791Also check out some other interesting rock formations. Do you see a face in the one on the left?  What do you see in the ones on the right?

Toms Thumb closeup composite

Anyway, above is now a composite close up of Tom’s Thumb taken from right under this massive rock. It consists of four frames.

Toms Thumb_Panorama1 Toms Thumb_Panorama2 Toms Thumb_Panorama3

Each of the above panorama shots consists of 4-6 frames.

And now, here are some other interesting shots from this fascinating hike…

IMG_0776 runtastic-altimeter IMG_0796 IMG_0795 IMG_0777 IMG_0792 IMG_0793  runtastic-altimeter-3 IMG_0794 runtastic-altimeter-5   runtastic-altimeter-6 IMG_0778

Finally, for those of you who are interested in geological history of the formation of these amazing rocks, which were once at the bottom of an ocean, here’s a story a hiker can read at the Tom’s Thumb trailhead. As you can see, it all started some 1.8 billion years ago.

IMG_0798 IMG_0801 IMG_0803

My hat’s off to the Scottsdale city fathers for this trail’s enablement and care. It is a great example of how to educate and bring man to nature without harming the natural habitat.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.