After a week off due to our unexpected snowfall last Wednesday, we were back on the trail this week. Our adventure this week took us the Saguaro National Park in the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson.
|Our motley crew sans myself|
We started out the hike to cool temps and partial sun – perfect day for hiking.I have to admit that I really felt like a “novice hiker” again on this particular hike. These trails were very well traveled and well marked, but because in the 5+ miles we hiked I was pretty worn out by the time we reached the top.
We followed the Douglas Spring Trail, which depending upon which website you visit or which guidebook you read or which hiker you encounter, this is either an easy, moderate or strenuous hike. I will agree with our leader, JoAnn, who labels this hike as moderate. This trail is located in the Saguaro National Park and is very well marked and travelled. It’s open to hiking, biking and horseback riding. We didn’t see any horses on this hike, but plenty of evidence (if you know what I mean) that they had traveled the trail in front of us. Ewwwww!
There is a large lodge – The Tanque Verde Ranch - which I’ve talked about in earlier blogs, that is located right in the foothills of the mountain. This ranch offers a wide range of activities to families that stay there, one of which is horseback riding and hiking tours on this trail. We came upon a group of about 25 hikers who stepped aside to let our group of 8 pass them. They even gave us what I called a hiker’s salute – with raised hiking poles – for us to pass through. Very cool!
|Hikers saluting George|
The views of all the surrounding mountain ranges and valleys were absolutely breathtaking. I have to apologize for not including more photos, but as I mentioned earlier, I was feeling quite the novice hiker on this hike. I didn’t want to hold up the group by lagging behind to take pictures, but after tripping once or twice over stones on the trail I found it unsafe to try to snap and climb….
Beautiful Mountain and valley views
I am definitely coming back to this particular trail in the coming weeks, because I am told that when the brittlebush and other wildflowers are in bloom it is beautiful. Even now the hike is very interesting with the miles and miles of saguaro, ocotillos, jumping cholla, beavertails, pincushions, and Teddy Bear Cholla. We also saw millions of prickly pear cacti.
The history lesson for this week…I learned that when Hernán Cortés the Spanish conquistador and explorer, who was responsible for the conquest of the Aztec Empire in Central Mexico in 1519, entered Mexico, he met Aztec men and women in dazzling red garments. The dye was actually created from the cochineal insect which lives on the prickly pear. Cortés arranged to have prickly pear to be taken back to Spain and cultivated there for the dye, which became known in Spain as the color of kings.
We trudged ahead, getting closer and closer to the falls and most of us feeling a pretty good burn in our muscles from the climbing. We passed a sign on one of the forks in the trail which noted we were in a mountain lion habitat. It went on to state that lions had been sighted recently in the area. The sign gave us instructions on how to behave if we came across a lion. We were to look them in the eye, not run, wave our arms in a confrontational manner, and make loud noises. I decided that I would let everyone else follow the signs if we ran into any large cats, and I would make a b-line to the parking lot. Well, after that point on, we all kept a pretty sharp eye out on all the trees and higher ledges. They guys got a kick out of calling “here kitty, kitty, kitty” for a while.
I will have to add here that we almost lost sight of Jim, Gordy and Gina every time we stopped for a drink. They were running ahead on the trail to keep ahead of the large group that we had passed. We wanted to have the pick of the area when we got to the falls and stopped for our lunch. I know at least two of us – Ernie and myself – were ready for lunch.When we arrived at the falls, we were welcomed with the sound of the waterfall and the sound of water trickling through the streams below it. It was such a wonderful refreshing sound.
Headed back down the trail after lunch seemed a lot easier. Amazingly, it seemed like it took longer than going up……
Another wonderful hike under our backpacks.
See you on the trails!