I volunteered to guide a 15 person, "Tucson Hiking Meetup" group to climb to the peak of Big Cat Mountain. Actually the group was set at 10 but there were so many on the waitlist I suggested to hike organizer, Lorna, that we allow 15. All participants arrived and arrived on time! How bout that? As we filed out of the parking lot onto the trail, I looked back and wondered if we would also all make it to the peak.
The first 2.1 miles is a gently rolling hike on established trails. I usually walk by the point where one leaves the trail and have to backtrack but not today. Found it on the first try! We began the fairly steep hike, averaging 26% grade. The route is marked by cairns but since it is easy to get off track, I paused to regroup whenever a sizable gap developed in our ranks.
Approaching a deep rock band, from a distance it's hard to imagine how we would climb through but a natural staircase appears and we continue up.
The sun is very low in the sky as I catch it beyond a saguaro.
Reaching a saddle, we regroup and take a short break. In the distance, a false summit with several more to come. The views, as always....
Soon after renewing our trek, we confront a bit of a wall but....
....there are enough hand and footholds that all make it through. There is some exposure here so I was glad we were all able to continue.
The Catalinas in the distance. We hiked a sometimes narrow ridge with daunting....
....drops to the valley floor.
Looking back, the gang continues to make good progress.
Wow, a great view of downtown Tucson on this day of sun and highs in the mid 60's.
We got spread out on the final sections of the ascent so as I waited, Amy usurped the guide and made it to the peak, first. lol. That is a poorly disguised police transmitter on the left.
Soon, more of the group arrives as we parallel Ajo Highway in the distance.
We take a well deserved break while admiring the 360 views.
After awhile, we begin the descent.
Once again, all make it through that tricky wall feature. We finish in good spirits with 5.5 miles and 1800' of climbing.