I live on the other side of the mountains that you see, upper left, in Oro Valley. Yet, I find myself driving round the mountain to the east side all the time for a variety of reasons. Thinking about acquiring a place on the east side. Anyway, I arrive at the Aqua Caliente trail head and begin a kind of steep climb.
The first mile ascends with an average of 12% and so quickly the views arrive. The trail dips and climbs, dips again and soon.....
….well, there's more dips and climbs to come with the peak in the distance, middle right. There is an interesting ravine to the right that appears worthy of exploring.
I chose this route because of the distance (9) and elevation gain (2700') but also because it being on the east side, I'd get a good look at.....
….Mount Lemmon and its 12" of snow but the clouds had rolled in, collected at the peaks and as I rose higher, the view became more obscure.
Having done this hike once before, I knew that a peak that loomed in the distance was actually a false summit and not the one I intended to climb. Just before I reach the false summit, the trail veers to the right and circumvents the peak.....
….which finally comes into view. Doesn't look like much but it is steep.
The false summit and real summit are separated by a ridge that gives awesome views to the northeast and the wilderness that seems endless. I over take a couple of hikers and then advance.....
…..up the final slope. The last time I hiked the trail there was snow and ice on this portion of the trail so knowing there was a Strava segment available, I hit it hard despite being a bit fatigued,.....
…..reached the top and took shelter from the wind in front of this tree. Later....
….dang, beat my prior time but that Jesse guy's time, unreal. I'd suspect he trail ran and didn't adjust the Strava setting to "Run" rather than "Hike" but it's too steep to run so probably legit. As expected, he's a cyclist. Cyclists make really good hikers.
Aqua Caliente Hill, which is really a mountain, sits between the Catalinas and the Rincons. In the distance, I see snow on the Rincons with a nice line of clouds drifting through.
I'm joined by 5 other hikes and have a nice conversation but soon it is time to begin the long descent. A hiking pole is a good idea as there is a lot of gravel on the steep descent.
I see the trail winding its way past the false summit and also see Catalina Highway climbing Mount Lemmon.
I was struck by this scene. Beautiful and dramatic.
I tramp lower, round a corner and see there is still a long way to go but eventually I finish this wonderful Friday hike. The next day I enjoy the Buckeyes win over Penn State and recover for another hike on Sunday but what's this? Four days of rain next week and more mountain snow???