Secret Solo Run: Icehouse Trail #198

To celebrate the end of a freaking kickass semester (straight A’s with two classes over 100%- and I wonder why I never have any free time), I went on a secret solo run. I researched different trails- I wanted something with a bunch of climbing, clear trails but not sanitized, and high solitude. I found an amazing place.

I stopped at Starbucks for a large breakfast (nom nom nom) and I headed up to Globe. A little over an hour outside of Phoenix, Globe is normally a place I just drive through on my way northeast to Show Low. There doesn’t really appear to be very much of anything here. But, just a couple of miles off of the main highway are the Pinal Mountains.

Breakfast from Bux

Breakfast from Bux

Travelling through some residential area, I eventually came to the end of the paved road. Half a mile beyond that, on the left, was a picnic area, which is also the parking lot and trailhead. I pulled in, and other than the campground host, there was no one else there. From the parking lot there are two trails; Six Shooter Trail and Telephone Trail. I read online that Telephone Trail to Icehouse Trail had the most climbing, so I chose that way.

Parking Lot

Parking Lot

Straight out of the parking lot, the trail went uphill. I began in dense, low-lying mountain desert type scrub, but compared to the Sonoran desert scrub that I’m used to, it was nice. Telephone trail crossed the road, and after a bit met up with the lower half of Icehouse. From everything I’d read, staying on Telephone to the second Icehouse intersection was way more interesting, so I did that. Immediately, the views were beautiful.

Telephone Trail 192 to Icehouse Trail 198

Telephone Trail 192 to Icehouse Trail 198

Panoramic

Panoramic

I popped out on a service road. In the absence of any signage telling me which way to go, I assumed that up was correct, so I went left up the road. It was STEEP. I have no idea how vehicles are able to drive on this road, but I saw tire marks. I saw a gate just slightly up and on the right side of the road, but I went a little further up the road because it was so freaking steep! That was fun. Then back down to the gate.

STEEP ROAD!

STEEP ROAD!

Gate #1

Gate #1

I stopped frequently to enjoy the view in between the thickening manzanitas. The foliage was fairly dense around the trails. I was extremely grateful that it was a chilly day so I wasn’t too worried about snakes. In warmer weather, though, I would have a hard time with my little “venomous snake fear issue” on this trail.

Coming upon another gate, I stopped for some selfie-shenanigans.

Goofing at the Gate

Goofing at the Gate

Gate #2

Gate #2

More Goofing at the Gate: Channeling Joey Tribbiani's "Smell the Fart" acting

More Goofing at the Gate: Channeling Joey Tribbiani’s “Smell the Fart” acting

Crossing the gate put me on another road, where again there was a complete lack of signage. Assuming again that up was good, I climbed. Once again, the next gate was just a little up the road.

Gate #3 plus the "trail marker"

Gate #3 plus the “trail marker”

Very quickly through the third gate the manzanitas got taller and made a kind of hall to run through, then began giving way to pines. *Sigh* breathing deep the smell of the pine needles under my feet made my heart happy. Eventually the trail finally went downhill for a short bit until it met up with the lower section of Icehouse Trail at Doghouse Spring. From here, there was a choice to head left, staying on Telephone to head towards Six Shooter and do a loop, or keep right and continue the climb up Icehouse, which is what I did. Not too far after the intersection there was a spot where there appeared to be an old logging road heading off to the right. I stayed left following some old water lines up the hill. This ended up being correct.

IMG_20141212_111640280 IMG_20141212_111734545 IMG_20141212_111947265

I was in dense forest and now there were leaves underfoot and the dense, earthy, clean smell of fall filled my nose. My feet rustled through them and I felt like a little kid. Occasionally there was a red one mixed in with the brown, making me want to come back in the fall. The leaves obscured the trail the whole rest of the climb, and it was a good climb. I hiked most of the way up, running when I could, which wasn’t often. I had to stop now and then to allow the pounding in my chest to slow down to a dull gallop. And then, there were aspens- in Globe!

LOLz Tree

LOLz Tree

IMG_20141212_113240471

Goofing, showing the trail behind me

Goofing, showing the trail behind me

Aspens in Globe!

Aspens in Globe!

Not too long after the aspens, I popped out on a service road and could see towers in two different directions. A glance at my Garmin showed that I was almost at 5 miles, so I decided to run up the road a little bit just to hit 5 and see what was up there. I’m so glad I did because about a quarter of a mile up the road is where the most incredible view of the day was! I looked out over the glorious wilderness, with the wind blowing up the side of the mountain, chilling me, making me thankful for my arm sleeves.  Every view is unique and amazing and always worth the effort that goes into finding it.

Top Icehouse Trail Entrance

Top Icehouse Trail Entrance

At the Top

At the Top

The road and towers

The road and towers

View from the Top

View from the Top

From here I ran just a little further up towards the towers, but then decided I was too cold and headed back down to the trail.

The run back was fast. I was careful because the leaves were hiding the trip-me-ups in the trail and I really didn’t want a twisted ankle, or a fall, but fast nonetheless. At one point I heard a loud sound in the woods off to my left. Stopping to look there were maybe three white-tailed deer making their way up the hillside and away from me. I’d spooked them and they were probably the wildest deer I’ve seen on my runs since they actually ran away from me.

White Tail Deer, circle in red, center

White Tail Deer, circle in red, center

I flew down the same way I came up and it was pretty uneventful after the deer, except for where I overshot the trail turn-off on the super steep road. I figured it really quickly though, and had only missed it by about 200 feet.

Shadow pic showing the steep road

Shadow pic showing the steep road

 

Arriving back at the parking lot with about 10 miles and 3500 feet of climbing under my feet, mine was still the only car in the parking lot. Other than a truck I’d encountered on the service road at the top of the mountain, I’d seen no one, spoken to no one.  This was an epic day of playtime in the woods! I took one last look out over the valley below and headed home.

For directions, maps, and cool historical info on this area click here or here or here. This run took me about 3 hours, with lots of stopping for pictures. It’s rated as “Most Difficult”, but I really didn’t think it was; medium perhaps.

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