I have been eyeing up Pusch Peak this summer, and whenever I drive nearby early in the morning, I notice that the canyon that the trail goes up stays in the shade for several hours after sunrise. The humidity has dropped since the monsoons are almost over, so the idea became more feasible. I started at 5:50 am just as it was getting light out, and I had shade for all but the last 45 minutes of the hike.
As I hiked out from the trailhead, I saw a Great Horned Owl and a kestrel. I reached the small metal sign that marks the turnoff for the route to the peak and got ready to climb. I haven't hiked all the way to the peak in many years, but I remembered how very steep it was. (It climbs about two thousand feet in a mile and a quarter) My memory served me right on the steepness, but the route was in much better shape than I remembered (either that or my standards for what is a "good" trail have dropped precipitously
) The route is well beat-in, and the trail is very rocky, but not loose. I made my way up and up and up, feeling really good. I noticed that my recovery from being out of breath happens quickly now. I didn't take the path that went to the campsite, and stayed to the left.
The views downcanyon from the trail are great, especially the trail winding far below you. I remembered that there was a false peak, but I must have blown right by without realizing it, because before I knew it, I was on top! What views!!!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3XkSj4vNM8
Particularly attractive was the view of Bighorn and Table Mtns., farther down Pusch Ridge. I have plans for when it cools off... The day was so clear that I could easily see the Superstition Ridgeline, 4 Peaks, and the Weaver's Needle all the way north near Phoenix. It was breezy and cool at the summit at 8 am, but I knew I couldn't stay too long, because it was going to warm up quick in the canyon once the sun hit. The last entry in the register at the top was from 8/27. As I hiked down from the peak, once I was behind the ridgeline back in the canyon, it was shady again, with a pleasant breeze. The descent was not too bad, mainly because there weren't a lot of parts with loose gravel and rock. I took my time on the steep parts back down to the Linda Vista Trail and was back to my car at 10.
This was a great hike, though I wouldn't recommend it in the summertime unless you're acclimated to the heat, start at first light, and have a good handle on how fast of a hiker you are. What was a delightful hike at 6am would be a scorcher later in the day.