After being sidelined for a week by an injury and another few days by out-of-town company, I was showing all the symptoms of Wilderness withdrawl... restlessness, irritability, sleeping too much or too little, granola cravings (NOT! How did that one get in there?).
OK, most of the symptoms.
So, when my previously scheduled day of block wall construction got postponed on a beautiful 70 degree day...
But, it was already 10am... right smack in the middle of the hiking day. Options are very limited now - gotta be close (no wasted drive time),
simple (no time to plan)
and fast track (max miles for min. time).
I had been curious about the Hawes Trail System for quite some time, but I could never get very much information about it from the net and everything I did find was completely oriented toward mountain bikers. That's the kind of fast track I can do without. It would be like trying to ride a bicycle on the freeway... always looking and listening over your shoulder for the screaming bullets to come bearing down on you. But, with time a-wasting, I went for it anyway.
Wow, what a surprise I got! Hard to believe this place is right in town. There are 13 miles of great trails and beautiful desert scenery. As far as physical difficulty, I would compare this to the Goldfields but, without any route finding. On this Friday afternoon, I only saw 6 mtn bikers and 1 other hiker. There are several free parking areas - I parked off Bush highway, just east of the Granite Reef Park entrance (which was closed)
. The spur trail from there took me right to the Saguaro Trail, which had the most interesting land features that I saw that day (but, there's still 7 miles I haven't seen... yet).
Starting off on the Saguaro Trail was a little steep for awhile, but nothing too tough. It was hard to imagine a mountain bike climbing this until later when I realized that all the bikes I saw on that trail were going in the other direction! Oh well, those in the know, I guess... I'm new here. Very quickly, I saw what I think were mines. There was a LOT of beautiful quartz in this particular area. Pretty rocks and shiny things always distract me so, this was where my 'max miles' plan first started to fall apart. The trail seemed to cut right through an avalanche of this stuff so I climbed up the small ridge to my right to investigate the source. After poking around up there for awhile, I came back down to the trail at a different spot and found myself right in front of a huge tunnel, tall enough to walk through. I couldn't see the end from the entrance so I tried a couple of flash photos, but the flash didn't show the end, either. I took my headlamp out of my pack and pointed it in, but all I saw was a big, black hole. Of course, I'm still standing at the entrance because caves, tunnels and dark, enclosed places are NOT my thing, but curiosity is killing me (the kat)
. I somehow forced myself to start walking in, still snapping flash photos, but getting nothing. When I had finally gone in the great distance of 5 feet, a bat came flying out from my left and went further into the tunnel, making a right turn about 15 feet ahead of me and disappearing. OK, that's it! I'm outta here! My last photo of this shows where the tunnel looks like it turns to the right. For those of you who are into this kind of thing, here are the co-ordinates of the cave. N 33 30.797 N 111 39.953
Be sure to let me know what you find because I will never see it!
Shaking off the willys and moving on, the rest of the hike was quite enjoyable and a very pleasant way to get some much wanted exercise. I don't know how busy it is on a weekend, but on a Friday it seemed like I had the whole place to myself. I'll be back.
There is no water here and no shade, so in hotter temps, plan accordingly.
Maps of this place on the Internet are sorely lacking in quality, but I'll post a good one I found at the end of my photos.