At one point late every winter season we try and get a small group together to do a special hike. Usually this has entailed going to Canyon Lake from the First Water trailhead. That is about an 8 mile hike, and is usually rather pretty by now as the flowers are out, and there is always the bonus of stopping for Fish and Chips at the Restaurant at Canyon Lake.
As this year has been so very dry, the flowers are just not showing up yet, and so we decided to try another tack and headed to Picacho Peak for our annual outing. Picacho is a rather impressive hunk of right on Highway 10 between Phoenix and Tucson and is almost 90 minutes away from our park. In the picture below, we are climbing to the peak on the left, but first have to go up and over the saddle in the middle of the picture. The peak itself is about 1500 feet above the parking lot, but by the time you get through the saddle and have to go down the backside before climbing to the peak you end up with over 2000 feet of elevation gain in a 4 mile hike.
In all there were 7 of us on the hike, and things didn’t get off to a good start as one of the vehicles turned around just after we left the park as somebody had forgotten their hiking boots. I have been told this happens more and more as you get older. I can hardly wait…..
There were quite a few birds on this hike, which gave Dana a chance to practice his whistling. We saw several Black Vultures which are different from the Turkey Vultures we normally see, but by no means prettier.
This is one of those hikes where you can see the parking lot most of the time, but it disappeared below us pretty quickly.
Before long and after quite a bit of huffing and puffing we were at the Saddle for a break.
From there we immediately lost about 400 feet of elevation as we went down the cable lined path on the backside of the peak. And thank Heaven for the cables placed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Does she look like she was having any fun?
Yes, we did some serious climbing, but nobody got hurt or sick this trip. A few years ago we attempted to rename this hike Pukeacho, but the name hasn’t stuck.
Before 2.5 hours were up, we were having another break, but at the very top of the Peak. Mission Accomplished, or at least half of it. The climb back down is no picnic either. By the time we left the top we had spent just as much time resting on the trail as we had hiking according to Dana’s GPS.
The trip back down was thankfully uneventful, but we were beat by the time we got back to the Trucks. My GPS app said we were moving for 3:17, and we covered just 4 miles. Quite a hard hike.
Usually we see an abundance of California Poppies on the hillside, but that was not the case this year. Those few we saw were very small and sparse.
And that is likely the end of our hiking season this winter. We’ve had a great deal of fun, will be back at it next November when we really find out how far out of shape we get over the Summer.