I drove down Friday nite where I joined Wendy for a walk to El Charro from her home (1.5 miles in shoes not made for walking) but that way we got to imbibe in that extra libation
as we would also be walking home. Heh, and at least this was a nice and level trail, I mean sidewalks
Saturday morning we headed out for my first backpack of the season and my first hike in the Catalinas. I was excited until about an hour later as I started huffing and puffing my way up the north wall of Montrose Canyon
YIKES! The terrain, while made even more beautiful by the wildflowers blooming, was a bit rugged and it went up and up and up. Mt Ajo was looking easier with every step. Of course, I didn't have a backpack for that climb. It was also getting warm as we didn't get started until 9:15.
I knew I wasn't going to be able to tackle this mountain and take pictures without being far behind so since Wendy didn't have her new P&S camera yet, I handed off my camera to her... that way she could take pictures when she would have to wait for me or I could continue as she was taking the photos along the trail and its surrounds so I would have something to look at when I got home (since I wasn't going to be able to see much of it on the way up as I kept the pedal to the metal).
About 3/4 the way up this hill I was thinking the TH wouldn't be such a bad place to camp and suggested to Wendy that I thot that would work fine for me. My legs seemed really lazy and since this was my first backpack of the season I was struggling. Up-hills are tough on me and I just can't seem to get enough AIR! Wendy said, "Why don't we wait and see how you feel when we get to the top of the hill which is not far away". Well when a seasoned hiker says "not far away"
I am always suspicious
but we made it up. She knew it was downhill from there so of course I would continue to the Pools where we met up with everyone else.
After a 5-minute break, it was off to the campsite that was ONLY a couple of miles away. Piece of cake I am thinking.... WRONG. After a little while of staying in the canyon we started heading UP and UP and UP again. Now I'm beginning to wonder if Wendy is really my friend as this is the second time in 3 weeks we would be doing this constant "UP" routine
As I looked way UP at the hikers ahead of us I looked at Wendy
and said "You have got to be kidding!" ...plus you couldn't really see where they were headed except more UP. Now I'm thinking
camping back at the Pools sounded like a fine idea. I'm not sure exactly what Wendy said but it translated to "I'm making you continue" with her usual "at your pace - take your time - we'll make it". So what is a person to do but
and put one foot in front of the other.
So UP and UP and UP we went trudging along. After a nice lunch break, one false descent, some views of incredible mountain scenery, large and tall Falls and the sound of rushing water I told Wendy, "It would sure be nice if that campsite were nearby" and she says "coming right up"... in less than 5 minutes, we were finally there.
(5 miles from the TH in 4 1/2 hours, sorry Wendy)
It is a lovely campsite and after setting up my tent, doing some nearby exploring http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI0aPaGXO0c
, 3 of us decide to do some boulder-hopping and head up the creek for 1/2 mile or so. Now THIS is my kind of hiking
. It was amazing how long it takes you to get up-stream as we took the trail back to the campsite and it seemed in a snap of your fingers we were there. After dinner we took a walk west up the hill to get some sunset photos, had a nice evening around the campfire, a nice warm nite for sleeping next to the rushing water and it was up the next morning to do start hiking all over again -- but DOWNHILL for most of it, yee haw!
Wendy helped me pack my Osprey Aura 65 backpack by putting my tent on the outside and some other re-arrangements. This will work better in the future as now I can easily pack food for a second day and another set of clothes. I decided to head out before everyone else so that I could keep up. I only stopped 4 times to take photos before reaching the Pools and then once I got up those last two hills and into the wildflower section, I got to enjoy a little "tibbermode". I kept looking back as I expected everyone to catch me at the Pools but the only one that caught me was Wendy about 1/2 mile before the TH. It only took me 3 hours on the way back (1 1/2 hours less than the way there).
I have to say once reaching the trail after the Pools I felt like I was on the Squaw Peak Trail in Phoenix. Oh my gosh
so many people AND dogs. I also appreciate much more the elevation you Tucsonians have to endure. I do enjoy hiking with Wendy as she always makes it fun and seem doable ALL of the time. But be forewarned, she
must possess some sort of magic powers to get me to keep going. I'm always glad, just not at the time
. It was nice to look at the pictures when I got home; especially of the area I didn't see as much of on the way up. Life is good!