Crossing in Front of the Needle
Our hike leader, Phil Livingston, on the right, scheduled this engaging hike at 8am. I think that was to give me an opportunity to drive from Oro Valley to the Superstitions at a reasonable hour. Thanks! Our group was only 5 for this 9 mile, kind of difficult hike. Lisa and Mike also shown with Glen out of the image.
We immediately begin climbing, via the Bluff Springs trail and quickly rise far above the parking lot. Another beautiful day with highs in the low 80s. The drive to the trail head is via 7 miles of dirt road but it is well maintained, even after the monsoon season.
We climb, descend, climb and descend some more prior to entering this neat slick rock area with water still flowing. We reach the Terrapin trail and go left or I think west. The trail is fairly easy to follow but....
….it is wise to look down and up. Running into the thick arm of a Saguaro would knock me out with spines to add to the misery. We approach another moderate climb and I spot.....
…..one of the most unusual Saguaros I have ever seen. Hard to imagine what caused this deformity but it is healthy. Phil, who probably knows more about the "Supes" then anyone alive had not noticed this on previous hikes.
Although it appears our passage would be difficult, the trail was mainly free of sticky/clinging brush.
And there it is, upper right, Weavers Needle. Such a magnificent formation looking at it from any direction. We descend into this valley where we break for snacks at about mile 4.5. Phil had let me know if I wanted to break from the group so I could return to the parking lot earlier than the group was likely to return, it would be ok. So.....
…..off I went, first up this rocky slope, passing astride the Needle to my right but boulders prevent a look at the Needle. Reaching the saddle I then.....
….looked ahead to the next section to be navigated. This proved to be the most enjoyable of the hike. Some route finding challenge, boulder hopping or hugging depending on the situation. The kind of stuff I enjoy the most.
I almost stepped on this guy, a desert tortoise. Rarely have I seen one. On a hike 2 years ago, I was with a group that found a shell of one long dead. It was laying next to a small pool of deep water. I told the group that a turtle removes its shell prior to going for a swim. A hiker actually believed me. We got a good laugh out of that.
Yipee. More fun as I descend toward a notch there in the center. From there, looking down I had a good view of the valley and my destination, the Peralta Trail that would return me to the parking lot.
Looking back, that was a lot of fun. You need all hands, feet, arms and legs available to make it through there.
I plunge down, cross a stream, hike up a modest slope and emerge onto the Peralta Trail with grand views to I guess the northwest. The image doesn't even begin to do it justice. I turn left and begin the 1.4 mile ascent that has an average grade of 7%. It winds in and out and I assumed there was a Strava segment for the climb so I kept a steady pace with no breaks but missed my best time by 10 seconds. Yet another sign that age has finally caught me.
At the Fremont Saddle, I turn and the iconic image seen by many thousands who make this trail from the saddle to the parking lot, the most traveled in the park system.
I look ahead to the almost 3 mile descent to my car. How my legs feel now compared to how they feel after the jarring descent is significant. One of these days, some group will post a hike that includes an ascent of the Needle and that is one I will have to do. It requires climbing gear so I will be patient and wait.
10/28/2018 03:38:11 pm
I enjoyed hiking with you, and reliving the adventure through your photos and narrative. Yes, the crosscut section is a tough one. That's what I enjoy about this hike.
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