Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sweetwater Trail to Wasson Peak Saguaro National Park West December 7, 2013

                         Looking southeast near the summit

On November 12, 2013, I summited Wasson Peak by hiking the Sendero Esperanza an Hugh Norris Trail. On Saturday I drove out Ruthrath Drive to summit Wasson Peak from the northeast side using the Sweetwater Trail. Total mileage of todays hike was 9.2 with a total elevation gain of 1900 feet. The Sweetwater Trail takes visitors through a classic Sonoran Desert community with Saguaro cactus, Palo verde, Ocotillo and Prickly pear. Vegetation did not change during the hike. The first mile and half the trail is not steep as it runs perpendicular to Wasson Peak. The last mile and half on the Sweetwater trail is considerably more steep as it climbs up to a saddle. From the saddle it is another 1.2 miles to the summit with 800 feet of elevation to gain. The trail is rocky but the views start to open up near the top. As always this is a desert hike so bring water, hat and sunscreen. REI and Summit Hut in Tucson have good Topographic maps to plan and execute any hike.

                    Sweetwater Canyon with Catalina Mountains in the background

                  Almost on top

                       Me on the summit.

Phoneline Trail and Sabino Creek Loop December 6, 2013

                  Sabino Creek riparian area

Friday afternoon the weather was gorgeous so I drove to Sabino Canyon to hike a short 3.5 mile loop before dark. I love hiking in Sabino Canyon in the evening because the sunset and last light on the Catalina Mountains is beautiful. (It is important to note that mountain lions are very active at dusk so be careful around rock overhangs). After a mile walking on the Phone line Trail a connector trail departs on the left descending down to Sabino Creek. This trail is rocky with moderate elevation gain.  It is important to note that during periods of high water it is impossible to cross Sabino Creek without a bridge. Today the creek was high so I followed the Sabino Creek trail and then  worked my way along its bank until I reached the Bear Canyon Shuttle Road. Some of the cottonwoods and willows had orange and yellow leaves adding to the beauty of the area.

             White-tailed deer

                                    Sunlight glow in the Catalina Mountains

                                  Back lit shrub. I love using this technique in the afternoon.

                 Glow on canyon walls in Sabino Canyon.