Another image, another distortion. Sure, it looks like we are about to take a nice walk through the rolling plains of Kansas (without the cactus of course) but this is the Catalina Mountains and our small group of 9 have some serious climbing ahead. Our destination is the Window, 6.5 miles distant and not visible here.
Two are late to our party so we depart the parking lot at a slower pace, hoping they can catch and eventually one does, Cathy in blue, introducing herself. Note all the wide brimmed hats, the common choice for desert hiking.
Starting at 7:30am with a temperature of 45, required us to shed layers once the sun hit and the climbing began in earnest. Our leader, Patrick on the left, Heidi on the right, making a change of clothes as we all did at one time or another.
Higher we go and while doing so, the views improve dramatically to the southwest. We have wound our way through and up Ventana Canyon finally reaching.....
….Maiden Pools at roughly mile 2.8. The water was flowing at a trickle and the pools were mostly full. A pleasant destination for many but we had much farther to go. We enjoyed somewhat of a respite as the trail crossed and recrossed the creek several times, always gaining elevation but not as severe as what was to come.
At roughly mile 5, a rare glimpse of the window can be seen. This is the best view of the full window as I will explain later. Now some serious climbing is confronted. At this point, I had departed the group so I could go at my own pace and exist alone in a box of pain.
From a couple of previous visits, I knew that once you reach a point where you are above the rock spire, you are close to a saddle and sure enough....
…..I slog through the remaining switchbacks and am walking on a narrow ridge, looking at the jumble of rocks above that houses the window. Yeah, still some climbing to go but....
….the views are incredible. The rolling walk along the ridge is a relief. The climbing begins anew and it is important to look to the right so you don't walk past....
….the window. I have missed it previously. A wonderous feeling to take the final steps....
….into it. Sling the backpack off, dig into a compartment for an apple or snack and just enjoy the magnificence of all that is around.
It was not too windy but with a sweat soaked long sleeve shirt covered by a windbreaker, it wasn't long before the cold had me shivering and I was forced to depart. Because of the angle of the window and the sheer cliff close to its front and back, a straight on image is not possible. However, you can see the walls are massive and the arch is unlikely to collapse anytime soon.
Soon into my decent, I could see the balance of the hiking party walking along the ridge, they too enjoying the fantastic views and soon to take my place in the window.
I continue down, down, down. As usual, with a hike of this distance (13.5 miles) and elevation change of 4300', my legs and feet took a beating. Ouch.
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