I have lost count of the quantity of cold (but dry) fronts that have moved through the area, each dropping the temperature and bringing winds in which I'd rather not ride. Of course, while driving to hiking trails I see plenty of cyclists but since I have hiking as a back-up, that's what I do. So....
….to the Tucson Mountains I go to ascend to Wasson Peak, the high point in the mountain range. The granite stone work always (my 2nd visit) amazes me.
The initial climb, all of it with the granite steps, is .9 miles having an average grade of 13%. That is misleading because the area between steps is flat but the step up, yikes. Upon reaching a saddle, I look east and the peaks I see hide Wasson Peak. Still a long way to go, almost 6 miles in total.
What follows is some rolling to slight ascending with grand views to the north where I spot Panther and Sombrero Peaks. Going to organize a group hike to Panther soon.
Ascending additional slopes and some meandering around other peaks, I eventually spot, in the distance, a little known alternative to the main trail to Wasson coming out of King Canyon. The King Canyon trail condition is really rough compared to the one I see and of course the trail on which I am walking.
I emerge between the two protrusions on the left and merge with the King Canyon trail for the short distance remaining to Wasson. I put in a good effort and gain the peak 1:33 but later saw that effort is 10 minutes behind my best time. This always produces the, "Well, see there, age has finally caught up with you". But then I see I set the 1:23 time just 6 months ago, the strong east wind was always in my face, etc... I can rationalize pretty much anything given the scantest of evidence:) Oh! Look in the distance and note a dust storm has formed out around I-10.
Another look at the alternative trail to King Canyon of which few people know. The King Canyon trail is on slopes facing away from me.
….are awesome but I am surprised to be the only person at the peak. Typically the place is loaded but maybe the high wind forecast has deterred some from the ascent.
As I began my descent I noticed a couple somewhat below the peak, looking at the Catalina Mountains. I rounded a corner and.....
…..wow, a nonvenomous snake!!! I have heard that high winds do something to the ability of rattlesnakes to detect vibration and so they stay under ground. Not wishing to put that theory to the test, I am always watchful.
I exit King Canyon trail, left at the aforementioned place and see the serpentine trail ahead of me.
An odd growth of shin daggers. At least I think that is what this is as the plant has the scary points. I have always encountered them at higher elevation like this but growing as a field not a clump like this. I just have to become better at identifying native plants.
I descend the stairs toward the end of the trail and again marvel and the workmanship. Finished with 11.4 miles and 2400' of climbing. A good workout!