Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tucson, AZ - On Top of Old Wasson

Stately suguaro stands, fenced off abandoned mines, CCC projects, ancient Hohokam petroglyphs and 360 views: we found a trail today that has them all.

We arrived in Tucson on Wednesday, shopped for groceries and hiking boots on Thursday, washed the RV, did a bit of maintenance and a load of laundry on Friday. Hey, where’s the fun? Where’s the enjoyment? Where’s the ‘want to do’ not the ‘have to do’? All the RV magazines picture people enjoying their trips, sitting by the RV overlooking the lake, playing pickle ball in the afternoons, reading a book. I’ve never seen a picture in an RV magazine showing people washing their RV or fixing the awning or doing the laundry or grocery shopping. No way. They’re having fun.

Well, today is the day. We’ve got a hike planned, one we have not done yet in the Tucson area. It’s a Saturday and everyone along with all their friends and family are heading over to Sabino Canyon for their hike or walk or tram ride. Pretty crowded I’m imagining. So we’ve planned a hike on the other side of Tucson, to the Saguaro National Park with Mt. Wasson, the tallest peak in the Tucson Range, named after John Wasson, the first editor of the Tucson Citizen newspaper in the late 1800’s.

I thought I had chosen a less aggressive hike since we’ve been walking the beaches in San Diego for the last month and are nowhere near hiking shape. So I chose this hike: challenging but doable. I checked Yelp and found a donut shop on the way, we stopped, got the old fashioned and were on our way. At the Visitor Center, we took in a cool Ranger talk on the CCC at this park. We spoke with a volunteer at the park who told us about an alternate trail to the one we planned to take: a loop trail not a straight out an back. Best way to find out about trails is to talk with the Rangers and the volunteers at the parks. Up King Canyon Trail to Wasson Peak then down the Hugh Norris, left on the Sendero Esperanza and back on the .09 mi trail parallel with the King Mine Trail. This little trail is supposed to have some petroglyphs on it.


We parked, donned our packs and were off. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day: sunny, clear, 70’s. The parking lot was full which is a good sign of a popular trail. Lots of CCC work on this trail.

There has been quite a bit of rain this winter and the flowers were in bloom.


The Ocatillo also.


We were amazed at how green this desert was. Ocotillos only have leaves after rain. And, this one was covered.


Saguaros grow so slowly that those that survive the seedling state usually are growing under a ‘nurse’ tree - like this.


On the other hand, sometimes they outgrow the nurse tree and sometimes they steal all the water and the nurse tree dies.


There are lots of evidence that the CCC did its usual amazing work at this park.


We also saw some old mines along the trail - all cordoned off by barbed wire and metal stakes.


Saguaros, flowers, mines, all took my mind off the upward slant of the trail. But, you’re hiking up a mountain, Nancy, what did you expect? Off-da.

Then the hard part started and the switchbacks began. And continued, and continued, But, I could see that we were almost at the top, the craggy part where all the rocks were, where the trail points. See, that knob in the center.


Oh, shucks, that’s just the faux top, the real top is over there, on the right. Yeah, but the rest of the trail is an easy ridge line walk. No more ups.


I think that there is a bit of wind today.


We weren’t the only ones who made it up taday.


We could see for miles. Looks like some dust devils in the distant fields.


Here are those evil switchbacks I mentioned a bit ago.





Sightseeing over, breath regained, lunch done, we headed back down. Sometimes Gary stops to smell the roses.


We took a wrong turn on the way down and, instead of seeing the petroglyphs, we hiked on the wrong side of the ridge. Oh, well, we’ll do that some other day. We’re glad to be back at the car. These two old bodies are in beach walking shape not mountain shape.

But it was a marvelous challenge, the views were awesome, the CCC buildings and the mines piqued our interest as we walked along and the weather couldn’t have been any better.

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