Heavy rain overnight, again, as the clouds linger in the Catalinas the following morning. Afternoon storms forecast for today so can't do anything epic but there are always short and fun alternatives that can be completed prior to the anticipated arrival of more rain. Having already completed Sombrero I go a little farther afield and head to Picacho Peak.
Picacho is between Phoenix and Tucson, near the town of Red Rock. I forgot to take a picture of the peak but a great "fitness" type of hike. Rather than take the more direct trail, the Hunter Trail, to the top, I circle to the southwest side of the peak, park the car and head off through the Sonoran desert on the Sunset Trail. Beautiful and clear in the direction from which the storms will arrive.
Although only knee to waist high, a stand of these Cholla cactus may as well be a high fence because there is no going through that. Note the egg shaped pieces littering the ground. Passing too close and they will jump from the plant and embed spines deep in the skin. I hiked with someone last year who had one attach to their arm and instinctively grabbed to pull it off...big mistake.
After following a rolling trail counterclockwise around the peak, the trail then ascends, steeply, for the final mile. Sections have cabling to help with the ascent or to help prevent a fall.
This was the most extensive section, up an 80-90 degree wall about 100' tall. I brought a pair of cycling gloves and put them on for a better grip. After 3 miles and a hair under 2000' of elevation gain, I arrived....
....at the summit. The first to arrive this day in 1:19. I hung around for a bit, talking to some others who soon followed me and then retraced my route to the car. As I drove out, I spotted another....
...desert tortoise. I went three years before seeing a Gila Monster and then last year in the span of a week spotted two. I've never seen a tortoise until this year when I saw one last week and then another this week. And of course while I have previously seen one black tail rattlesnake, seeing two beside a trail two weeks ago was odd. Guess things happen in twos rather than threes. While I have said this before, this time it really does look like this is the last round of rain, after today, for awhile. Although two months to go in the year, rainfall totals are above normal and probably going to finish well above normal by year's end.