|Hiking||8.28 Miles|| 3 Hrs || ||2.76 mph|
|1,100 ft AEG|| || || |
I signed up for the Hiker Express Shuttle and was on my way to the Echo Canyon parking lot. Cheryl was nice enough to agree to tear down camp and then drive over to the Visitor Center to meet me around noon.
I hit the trail and cruised on down. The first mile I was already on the day before. Before long I connected to the Mushroom Rock Trail and found myself heading uphill. It was a steady uphill for over a mile. Near the end of that section you reach badly burnt forest. It was sad to see but it will grow back...might take a decade or two. I continued on and took the short side trip to Inspiration Point. It was a fantastic view and I really enjoyed the solitude. I only saw four people on the entire hike. I returned to the main trail.
The Big Balanced Rock Trail goes through more burnt sections but I didn't mind. There were some great views of Cochise Head and Echo Canyon. Eventually I arrived at the Big Balance Rock and was impressed with the size. I took my pics and then hit the Heart of Rocks Trail. I must have gotten tunnel vision because I missed my left turn and had to make a counter clockwise loop. The loop is set up for the opposite. It was no big deal as I had to turn around several times around the loop. The rock formations are impressive through here. I completed the loop and found my route finding snafu.
I returned to the trail junction and then started working my way towards the visitor center. As I was going down the Sarah Deming Trail I saw something move up ahead just off the trail. I quickly grabbed my camera as a Coatimundi walked on the trail ahead of me. I took its pic and right then it noticed me and took off running. I was startled to see several more just below. I saw six in total and was able to get a few more pics. Most of them turned out blurry but I got a couple of good shots. I was quite happy with the experience. After that I set a solid pace and was back at the visitor center. I met up with Cheryl and headed back to Phoenix.
On the drive home we reflected on the amazing weekend. The Chiricahua National Monument is wonderful and I highly recommend it!