Today we completed the first of our 20 peak challenge. O’Leary Peak is listed as #20 in the Arizona 20 Peaks challenge. It’s number 20 because it is the easiest of the peaks we will summit over the coming year. It was not the hardest hike we’ve done recently though, Bear Mountain in Sedona has been the hardest so far.

As usual, we set out at the crack of dawn, heading for Flagstaff today. This view of Red Mountain and Four Peaks is my favorite.

O’Leary is a 5 mile out and back trail that climbs approximately 2000 feet in elevation and summits at the O’Leary Peak ‘complex’ as described to us by the fire watch lady, Pam. The trail is from a fire tower access road and is completely gravel all the way to the fire lookout tower, making the terrain very easy traverse.

The trail was lined with wildflowers and baby trees. The area is also made up of lava fields and long -blown volcanos so some of the terrain reflects that.

We had some amazing views of the San Francisco Peaks, the tallest of which is Humphries Peak (which is the #1 hike on the 20 Peaks challenge and we will be summiting his year!). #hikinggoals

I’m drawn to wildflowers like a magnet and today’s walk was full of them! Did you know I carry a small sketchbook that I use to collect wildflowers on all my hikes? Be on the lookout for a post about that and how I plan to use them in my artwork.

Weirdest sight of the day for me was this hollow bumble bee carcus that was just stuck to the side of a tree!

Some of the stretches were long steep winding climbs which could get a bit difficult at times.

Here’s a special steel plating to help make the final climb to the watch tower.

I told him to stop looking so “macho”, he said it’s hard to not look macho when you’re standing on the top of a mountain. #istandcorrected LOL

It has become our tradition to crack a beer at the summit of each climb. It’s not just refreshing but it is also a good carb-load to get us back to the car! LOL

Much to my delight there were a flurry of beautiful butterflies at the summit dancing for us while we took our lunch break. I also discovered a hidden nest of ladybugs under the bush by our spot.

A southern girl at heart, I have settled here in the desert as if were always my home. The very common questions I get about my move here revolve around how I can live around all the brown, lack of seasons or how can I stand the heat.

What most people fail to realize is that the desert is not brown, we do have more than two seasons and when the summer heat gets tough, we can always take a 2 hour drive to any number of mountain towns and enjoy some cooler temps for a weekend or even just a day.

When I’m hiking in these beautiful green pine wildernesses and lush green deserts, I never feel like I’m missing out on a thing. And today, the cicadas were screaming just like “home”!

The all downhill return was easy and much quicker. I’ve heard people don’t care for this trail much as it may not be very challenging or “exciting”. I can see that, but it was still a climb and had some amazing views.

Our after hike meal at Lumberyard Brewing Co. was delicious, as always. I had he Vietnamese Burger w/ fries. That was one scrumptious burger!! I can’t wait to have another! I had the Hazy IPA also, which was a nice not to strong IPA.

We will be heading back to flagstaff soon as we have several more challenge peaks to tackle here, including this one, Eldon Peak.

This was me at mile 7.5 on the downhill having a little fun. LOL.

We have hiked a total of 79.93 miles in 70 days (4/14/19)

1 of 20: Arizona 20peaks challenge 

        -O’Leary Peak (#20)

4 of 4 (with a #5 bonus hike left to go): Arizona Hikers Summer Challenge 

      -Spruce Mountain (#4)

      -Soldier’s Pass Big  Loop(#3)

      -Thompson Trail (#5)

      -O’Leary Peak (#2)

2 of 6: #sixpackofpeaks Summer Challenge 

     -Bear Mountain (#1)

     -O’Leary Peak (#3)