Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hugh Norris Trail, Saguaro National Park West, Tucson

We (Jim in particular) needed a break from the Super Bowl Blues, so Monday we hiked a trail we’ve been meaning to revisit: the Hugh Norris Trail at Saguaro National Park.

Two years ago we hiked the first mile then turned around, as we weren't planning on a long hike that day and hadn’t taken water or food. And you need some sustenance for this hike because that first mile is a staircase.

This time we still didn't trek the entire ten-mile round trip trail either, but we did hike a four miles out and back section. We passed a handful of people near the bottom of the trail but most of the time there was no one else in sight. Nice.

Elevation at the end of the hike (Wasson Peak) is 4687 feet. When we turned around at two miles in, we'd already reached 3,600 per my iPhone ap.

The path is named after a former police officer for the Tohono O'odham Indians. If you ever go, be advised that  parking is extremely limited -- only four spaces at the trail head (we nabbed one of those) and just a few more nearby spots.   

Steps and more steps:  We read a description of this hike that said it was "like hiking a never-ending staircase" -- but the step steps cover just the first mile of the five mile one-way hike.  Apparently the last bit of the hike is also steep, but we didn't get that far. A Visitors' Center employee told us that while the granite steps match the look of nearby granite (including the crushed granite that covered all of the section we hiked), the rock is not from the park and the steps were installed within the last 20 years. 
We had views of beautiful giant saguaros, the mountains, and the Sonoran desert that surrounds Tucson. 
Close up of some newer saguaro "arms."  We didn't start hiking until 12:30 -- not usually the best hiking time in the desert -- but it was 70 degrees and there was a breeze, so it was perfect hiking weather.  
I especially like "swirly-armed" saguaros.  
And, as a reminder of the Superbowl, a "touch down" cactus. As an aside, a man from the small town where I grew up -- Wellington, Ohio -- was one of the Super Bowl refs.

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