|Gina & Connie|
Our hiking time is dwindling down because of the desert heating up, so we have to make every outing count. JoAnn decided to keep it close to home again this week to cut down on travel time so we could finish before the sun got too hot. Safford Peak, affectionately called Sombrero Peak by the locals because of the shape of the top peak is a fixture of the Tucson countryside. Located right here in Marana, AZ just down the road about 15 minutes from our homes, it was one of the landmarks that helped me find my way around town when I first moved here in 2010. It seemed no matter where I traveled around town shopping – I could always find my way back home, even without GPS by getting Sombrero Peak in my sights.
|Very deadly sun|
|Mike's look - priceless|
We had a pretty good size group again this week, a total of nine. We started out at 8:30 and were there at the trailhead before 9:00. We had beautiful blue skies, but could tell that it was going to heat up very quickly. Sombrero Peak is part of Saguaro National Park and although there is no marked and developed trail leading up to the top, hikers can use unmarked and unimproved tracks. JoAnn and several other members of the group had hiked these trails before and felt very comfortable following the paths (I feel very comfortable following her).
|JoAnn, Gina and Barbara|
|Brittlebush in bloom|
We started out pretty on pretty level ground, enjoying the wildflowers that were blooming, the ever present cacti, and even a bunny or two. Someone had mentioned early on the hike – I think it was Gina – that she had warned that this area was known as being infested with rattlesnakes, so we made sure we kept our eyes peeled along the trail. We tell the trail started to climb within about ½ mile or so and was a pretty steady climb going forward. The ground was covered with very loose, rocky ground. We had to really take our time and choose our footing carefully.
We followed several different trails as we started our climb. JoAnn had been on this trail recently and was aware of one detour that would lead us to a scenic lookout. We all voted to take the detour, because not only are we out there for adventure and exercise, we are also out there to enjoy the beautiful views.
As I mentioned earlier, there are no official trails, but there is something to follow the whole way – you can almost always get sight of the chapel called Sanctuary Cove.
I personally would not call this hike “easy” because of the challenge of keeping your feet under you. There were several saddles as we climbed up, I am not really sure if there were 2 or 3 before we started back down. I do know that there were some wonderful views of Marana down below us. We had fun trying to pick out the grocery stores, the interstate, and several main roads through town.
|Ever winding trail up.....|
Well, it wouldn't be much of an adventure if someone didn't fall, get stabbed by cholla cactus or fall in a stream, so here it is….
On the way back down, the rolling rocks were especially hard to navigate and several of us lost our footing completely and took tumbles. I never even saw it coming when it was my turn.
|We had to help each other down|
While I was climbing down, I hit loose gravel and my left foot shot forward while my right leg bent underneath me. It looked kind of like a wannabe cheerleader cheating while doing a split. It was a half-split and not even a graceful one with arms up in the air. My granddaughter who was a cheerleader for many years would have been ashamed of me. Anyway, no skinned hands or knees and no broken bones so all in all a pretty uneventful fall. I only wish someone was close enough to grab my camera and get a shot of it. I think I should also mention at this point that we did not go clear to the top of the peak. That is a very dangerous climb like climbing rock face and since it is not a marked trail in a national park, it is basically an illegal hike. We keep our hikes legal and above board. lol
|George next to an ocotillo in bloom|
|Views of our neighborhood below|
|Hedgehog in bloom|
|Having our lunch behind the chapel.|
Now, I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea about our group, but this hike ended up at our new member, Mike’s home. Mike makes homemade beer and had offered to let the guys sample his wares. Well, we all piled into our vehicles and traveled the few minutes to Mike’s. I am not really a beer drinker, but he got thumbs up all around and I think George and Jim were trying to talk him into bringing his brew to the potluck being planned for a couple of weeks down the road.
When I got home I noticed my knee was very stiff and starting to swell. I put ice on it for about 45 minutes and once it returned to normal temperature, I jumped into the hot tub. It was a perfect end to another perfect hike.
See you on the trails.....