I led a small group of the willing on a very hard but short hike to Pusch Peak. While only 2.1 miles, geesh what a hard hike. The average grade is 25% but the first .8 miles skews the average down. After that opening, the balance of the ascent must be at least 30%. Above, a photographer has set up shop and taking pictures of flowers while my group checks it out.
Yeah, steep I said as Zack navigates a place with Marianne waiting her turn. It's not just the grade, it's also those damn pointy things that must be avoided.
We continue up and pass "Breakfast Point" in the distance and then, wow, what a rare event....
….a bighorn sheep walks across our route, there in the center. We gawked for awhile as we enjoyed the experience. The first I have seen in the Catalinas. I wondered what we should do and Jessica interpreted that as me being afraid. Ha, ha. That is a good one. A Mountain Lion, ok yes but I don't consider getting head butted by a sheep a realistic risk. We kept going and it scampered across our trail and then gone.
Then, oddly, a guy leads a pack of dogs down trail. Never seen that before either. Each had a tracking collar on it and were well behaved. He had come to the peak off trail from the southeast side and was now headed down via the northwest side.
We rose higher and higher. It was a tough hike but big kudos to the gang for not bugging out and turning around. Marianne thought we were only hiking to the base of the peak so I turned on the encouragement voice and told her we were almost there when we may not have been. On each of my previous visits, I had always gotten off the route and been forced to bush whack to the top but today, the trail was visible and not much route finding required. Finally.....
…..we arrive! Zack on the right, Jessica on the left who is a park ranger at the nearby Kartchner Caverns.
Yeah so, a nearby ridge presents a good image opportunity so each of us hikes there and has our image taken.
Looking to the northeast, so many peaks, so many places yet to visit. We enjoy ourselves on our peak and then begin the bone jarring descent. The descent is brutal and slippery with all the pebbles strewn about the trail.
Hey! A Rock Squirrel checks us out as we continue our descent. Oro Valley is in the distance.
Down we go as we hit a rare, not so steep section. Then we hit one of the....
…"walls" where Marianne shows how to butt hike. This is a useful technique when one is unsure if tread will adequately grab the rock.
We stopped to regroup a few times but all arrived at the trail head and felt good about our experience.