Traipsing Around Tucson 2000

10 Feb 2000 - by Bob Bynum

In February, Gretchen and I traveled to Tucson, Arizona so that she could exhibit her mineral collection at The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the largest show of its kind in the world. While in Tucson, we went on several hikes in the area. In the March 1999 Scree, I gave a trip report on three hikes I took last year. This year I had to do get out and do some hiking. While the Sierra is socked in with snow pack, Tucson is enjoying temperatures in the upper 70's.

Waltzing up Wasson

Thursday, February 10, 2000

Mt Wasson at 4687 Ft is the highest peak in the Tucson Mountains, the range that borders the city to the west. The trailhead starts at about 2800 Ft and the distance to the top is 4.6 miles. We started at 10:27 AM and I summited at 1:02 PM. Gretchen summited 10 minutes later. We left the summit 35 minutes later at 1:37 PM. One interesting feature at both the head of the trail and close to the summit was a logbook where we signed our names, city, time of entry, time of exit on return, and whether we had water. This is a good idea from a safety standpoint so that rangers can know where to look if a person is missing We took a slower pace so that we would not become dehydrated in the desert sun. We wanted to conserve our energy and our water. We arrived back at the car at 4:30 PM.

The trail and Wasson Peak is located in the western section of the Saguaro National Park. Here you see an exceptional display of the giant Saguaro Cacti as you climb the peak. Saguaro cacti can grow as tall as fifty feet, live to as old as 150 years, and weigh as much as eight tons. Here you can see the cacti in all stages of growth ranging from tiny plants a few inches tall to 30-foot giants with as many as eight arms. The cacti grow straight up like a narrow pole until they reach seventy-five years in age. Then they will sprout their characteristic arms, which first appear as tiny buds.

Although Wasson's 4687-foot summit is nowhere close to the elevation of the 12000-14000 footers where we hike in the Sierra, it is still a very respectable peak climb offering spectacular views of Tucson and the surrounding area. We have to ask ourselves why climb a peak in the first place. Do we climb to see what elevation we can achieve? Do we do it for exercise? Do we climb to see the scenery along the way? Do we climb for the great views? For me personally, I climb for all of these reasons. Even thought this peak is a relatively low peak, it still offers all aspects of class 1 climbing. Also I enjoy seeing different plant life. The Sonora Desert is like no other place on earth.

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