Tuesday dawned with clear skies and cool temperatures, perfect hiking weather. We headed west about ten miles to meet Hans and Lisa, who are staying at Justin’s Diamond J RV Park. After being treated to a great breakfast prepared by Lisa, the four of us headed to nearby Tucson Mountain Park for a day of hiking.
The Tucson Mountains are the smallest of four notable mountain ranges surrounding the Tucson valley. The other ranges include the Santa Catalina Mountains, the Rincon Mountains, and the Santa Rita Mountains. Our goal was the top of Wasson Peak, the highest point in the Tucson Mountains at 4,687 feet (about 1,600 feet above the parking area).
The trail began with a fairly flat hike through the desert.
Saguaro Cactus are plentiful in this area, providing an unlimited variety of shapes to view as we hiked.
The trail steadily rose, then went through a series of tight switchbacks, where at times we could look straight up or down to see each other. Below is a good example of this, where Hans and John have hiked ahead and are high above Lisa and Pam.
At one time this was a busy mining area. Over 120 sites once were mined extensively for copper, gold, silver, lead and other metallic elements. Below is a sealed up entrance to one of the old mines.
After hiking up about three miles, we finally had a clear view of Wasson Peak in front of us.
Zooming the camera, we could see four hikers already on the peak. We later met two of the hikers on the trail and thanked one for wearing an orange shirt that was so clearly visible from a distance.
After finally making it up to the peak, we were rewarded with a beautiful 360 degree view of the valleys surrounding us.
After enjoying the view on the peak, we began the hike down, taking a different trail back to the parking area. This provided us with all new views as we weaved our way down.
As noted, we passed a number of abandoned mine sites. Below is a picture of two young miners examining an old structure that held explosives for a nearby gold mine.
When we finally returned to the Jeep, we had hiked for five and a half hours and covered over eight and a half miles. We were all tired with sore muscles, and one of us had some cuts and bruises from a fall near the top of the peak. This nimble hiker took a tumble that could have been very serious, had it not been for her youth and high degree of physical fitness which allowed her to survive. We will not name this nimble hiker to allow her to save face, but it is untrue that Lisa pushed her down from behind!
We enjoyed the day and have plans for another hike with Hans and Lisa next week. More on that later . . .