The Rattlesnake's Tail Group Hike
Our group of twelve gather at the Sabino Canyon over flow parking lot. I had scouted about 3/4 of our hike to Rattlesnake Peak, a few weeks ago and lamented all the time I spent wandering around the slopes. Today, despite the thick vegetation, we got through in much faster time than my earlier solo effort.
Happy hikers all, at least at this early part of our hike as we enjoy the views. The start temp was around 45 degrees but once the climbing began in earnest, layers of clothing were peeled.
The hike has many steep sections....really steep but all that climbing creates the usual, visual reward.
We spot a cave in a distant wall. I claim it is a well known lion's lair. Of course, I have no idea, ha, ha.
How to differentiate one peak from another? Hike buddy Marc produces his cell phone which has an app that identifies all significant peaks. Rattlesnake is the middle one. At some point, noting a couple of the hikers were lagging a bit, I suggested we climb the lower peak to the right, name if "Rattlesnake Junior" and call it a day. Nope, the hard core participants looked at me like I am an imbecile.
At last, we enter the burn area. While it creates a stark appearance, the hiking is so much easier.
In a canyon to our left, we detect movement and spot a deer. Since the vegetation has burned, it is easy to spot game trails, represented by the slightly lighter brown color strips, criss crossing the slopes.
There are some great rock spires as we ascend. In the distance, Mica Mountain which, rather than snow, is showing the sparkling mica around the peak.
We had become separated from 3 of our group. We decided to take a break and see if they could catch. As we waited, one of them, David, emerged from a ridge above us. Really good thing he had not followed our route exactly because he discovered a hiker, not of our group, out of water and without a cell phone. David gave him a bottle, sent him to hook up with 2 of our group and they all hiked out together although there was some drama during the descent, arguing about which route to follow. All made it back and on the spot, I declared David the winner of the group's "Humanitarian of the Year" award winner. Of course, the incident provoked much conversation during and the day after our hike. Being unprepared will, and it's no exaggeration, get you killed in these mountains.
Then, we turned our attention to the reminder of what is a very difficult hike. If we were not ascending slopes having an average grade of 30%, we were traversing them. Above, our group takes a short break as I poke around slightly above.
Then the difficulty meter, ratcheted up some more. Same steep slopes but now brush and boulders crowded in amongst us. No trail, just shoving through, backing up, probing elsewhere, over and over. At last.....
....we reached what David aptly named, "The Rattlesnake's Tail". Lorna climbed it and being the camera hog that she is, posed like a Hollywood star at the Oscars. ha, ha. She is a wonderful hiking buddy.
The reason David named it the Tail is because, while not much farther is the peak, the effort to shove our way through the remaining 1/4 mile to the peak (head), would have taken too long. We declared victory and stopped for a short break.
A couple of quartz pieces left on a boulder.
We descended and reentered the burn area. It is with some satisfaction that I observed Shin Daggers, burned. Nasty plants.
Exiting the brush, it was easy route finding down to a saddle. While you can't identify them, there are 9 hikers in the above image.
While I was a little concerned about our amount of daylight, I needn't have worried. We took a break but rarely for long as we headed down.
So much evidence of last summer's burn. No one will be impressed with our distance of 8.3 miles but couple that with 4600' of climbing and the bushwhacking....that was a really hard hike. I've been to Cathedral Rock which is the high point in the front range of the Catalinas and judge Rattlesnake, at only 40' lower elevation, to be more difficult. After checking Strava, I saw my hike time was 4:44 but total elapsed time was 8:19. Lol, the life of a part time guide requires some waiting but that is ok. I enjoy providing a few people the chance to visit sights they otherwise would not see.
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