|Our goal in the distance...|
Our hike this week took us to the Tucson Mountains to have a try at Wasson Peak (elevation 4,687 feet), the highest point in the Tucson Mountains. I must admit right here and now that being the novice hiker, I was extremely apprehensive about this hike. In the year since I joined our neighborhood hiking group, I had heard many times about Wasson Peak from my fellow hikers. Many of them mentioned with pride having scaled to the top of Wasson Peak and some in the group had even pointed out the peak to me when we were on various other hikes in the Tucson Mountains. I had pretty much talked myself out of trying the hike when it was described as difficult. I even had a chance to opt out of even trying because we scheduled 2 hikes for this week; one hike would include the entire group following the Sendero Esperanza Trail until we crossed the Hugh Norris Trail. At the saddle, part of the group, because of previous obligations, would turn back around and return to the trailhead, making that hike a total of 4 miles round trip. The rest of the group would continue on the Hugh Norris Trail to Wasson Peak. The total for this group would be 8 miles and 1,700 feet elevation gain. I decided on the longer hike…I felt I could at least try. I mean, nothing ventured – nothing gained right? I could always sit at any point along the trail and wait for the others to come back and join them on the way back down.
|Off we go, with Gordy bringing up the rear|
We left our usual meeting place a little earlier in anticipation of the hike taking more time. The weather was cool and overcast – perfect for hiking. It only took us about 30 minutes to reach the trailhead and get started.
The first part of the trail is the sandy path of an old mine road. I must mention that walking on sand that is gradually climbing in hiking boots is not the same as being barefoot at the beach. It was along this sandy path that we came across the largest jackrabbit I had ever seen. It is also called a desert hare, but looked like a small deer to me. Does anybody remember Twilight Zone the Movie? Remember the segment with the little boy that could make things happen just by thinking them? They were having a magic show and he had this one guy pull a rabbit out of a hat. When he pulled the rabbit out, it was this huge, mutant, monster looking rabbit. That’s what I thought of when we saw this rabbit. I am posting a picture from Wikipedia just as a point of information - I did not take this photo. He was much too fast for me.
We were really ready for the next part of the trail which is where we started climbing a series of switchbacks to the top of the ridge where it crosses the Hugh Norris Trail. We gained about 600 feet on this first leg of our journey. We were greeted with quite an array of wildflowers and of course the stately saguaro cactus forest.
When we reached the third of several saddles along the Hugh Norris, half of our group turned back. We said our goodbyes and continued along the ridge through areas with magnificent views. I noticed that there weren’t as many saguaro cacti as we climbed higher. There was more grass and different cactus such as ocotillo, prickly pear, mesquite, cat’s claws and of course my least favorite cactus the cholla.
|JoAnn and Gina leading on|
|LaNeta, Gordy and Ernie going back|
I was getting pretty winded as we continued our climb. Jim took over as lead hiker with Gina right on his heels. JoAnn and I brought up the rear. I know that I mentioned more than once that I was tired. JoAnn even agreed with me once. We were getting close though….no turning back or stopping now….I had to push on.
We finally reached the summit and even though it was very overcast, we were able to see Brown Mountain and Golden Gate Mountain to the south, and the Rincon and Santa Catalina ranges to the east. I had made it! The novice hiker should at the very least be considered an intermediate hiker now. The feeling of accomplishment is indescribable. I really thank my group for putting up with all my whining and complaining for the past months, and for getting me to a point where I really feel proud of myself. Love you guys!
Views from the top!
|Jim and Gina waiting for JoAnn to sign the register|
|Much needed rest and lunch break|
|It was really worth the climb|
|Look at me Ma! Top of the world!|
See you on the trails.....