Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tucson heat makes hiking uncomfortable

Santa Catalina Mountains' landscape

A rarity:  a waterfall in the desert up Sabino Canyon

Katie on the trail in Sabino Canyon

I have a policy of avoiding heat.
Unfortunately, it was something I couldn't avoid on a recent trip to visit family in Tucson.
Temperatures were running almost 20 degrees above average, and we encountered 91 degrees on one of our hikes in the Coronado National Forest's Putsch Wilderness Area in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Likewise, we ran into heat and prickly vegetation in the less than inviting environs of Saguaro National Park.
We did about 7 miles up Pima Canyon one day, and Sabino Canyon the next in the Santa Catalinas.  While crowded with tourists, I liked the Sabino Canyon better than the Pima Canyon because of a high trail we took after a tram ride to the end of the road at the Putsch boundary.
The sky was perfectly blue and cloudless, but the sun beat down unrelentingly every day.
I discovered the hazards of hiking in the desert and why hikers often take needle nose pliers with them.  I lightly brushed a cholla cactus that delivered more than a hundred tightly spaced needles into my lower leg through my long legged pants!
On the positive side, it was nice, but odd to be hiking in heat in mid-February, and the narrow canyons were strewn with gorgeous metamorphic rocks.  Wherever there was shade, there was cool and greenery and often water, the shade coming from the angle of the sun on rock.
We also enjoyed the many desert flower that are in bloom now.
Tucson is surrounded by these dry and prickly mountain ranges that are quite scenic, particularly at sunset.
I was astounded to find some light snow cover on the north face of one of the ranges.
I was glad to get back home where there are clouds, and much cooler weather and real snow!
A Sentry Plant:  really a Yucca with an enormous center-stalk

Blooming mallow flower

No comments: