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mini location map2010-12-25
10 by photographer avatarsirena
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Pusch PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 25 2010
Backpack2.60 Miles 900 AEG
Backpack2.60 Miles2 Days   2 Hrs      
900 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I had to work on Christmas Day, and on the drive to work I was looking at Pusch Peak and thinking about the campsite on the "mini-Flatiron" I was done working by 1 pm and eyed it up on my drive home again. I was tired, and thought that I might just go home and have a low-key evening or at least a nap. I went home and talked to Mr. Sirena, who's visiting his family in Michigan. We passed the phone around his family, then I called my family in Chicago and did the same. I was trying to figure out what to do with my evening. Go out for dinner at an Indian restaurant? Cook? Watch a movie? I looked at the clock. It was now almost 4 pm. I needed to make a decision. I checked the weather and saw that the low was going to be 45 degrees, a manageable temperature. Then I checked HAZ to see what the elevation gain was going to be to the campsite- about 900 feet in a little over a mile. I had about an hour to get myself packed and drive over and about an hour worth of light to hike to the campsite to make my Christmas dinner.

I called my husband and told him that I'd emailed him a copy of my itinerary. I started hiking at 5pm. I needed to make good time up the hill because I didn't want to be hiking the route in the dark. I hadn't hiked to the campsite since my first time up here, many years ago, but I remember thinking that it would be a great place to spend the night. I put some good music on and kept a good pace up the hill. At the point where the metal sign marks the route to the right, I saw a family out for a Christmas walk. I stopped to chat for a minute, but I had to keep moving. As I turned the corner into the gully, the temperature changed back and forth between warm and cool breezes and I reached the rock that signifies the start of the real climbing. The route was ridiculously steep as usual and I could see the saddle looming above. I took the first right that goes uphill toward the saddle. I hadn't been on this part in a while and it seemed in worse shape than the route that I usually follow. I was getting tired and hungry and thinking that I might have been better off with a low-key night at home. I kept on because I had a feeling it would all be worth it. The light was fading just as I reached a gray chute that was about 12 feet tall. It had good hand and footholds, but was not exactly my first choice of what I'd like to be doing when tired and carrying an overnight pack. Thankfully, once I'd climbed up the chute, there were just a couple more switchbacks and I was at the saddle. I had an incredible view of the
Tucson and Silverbell Mountains silhouetted against the sunset's glow and knew I'd ended up in just the right place.

There are two large rock rings at the saddle, accompanied by various broken booze bottles. I chose to go out on the "mini-Flatiron" to camp. Better views north to Samaniego Ridge and less broken glass. I made my Christmas dinner- a fine Italian meal of Pasta e Burro, which is a fancy way of saying I had mac and cheese (albeit a slightly fancier homemade version with smoked gouda). Some might think it's strange to have pasta on Christmas, but I'm Italian- pasta is an important part of every holiday meal! I had some chocolates and mandarin oranges for dessert and read for a little while before calling it a night. I had collected wood for a fire, but it wasn't really that cold, and I was tired, so I went to sleep. It was interesting that I didn't have to use my headlamp for moving around camp because of the light pollution from Oro Valley below.

I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise and had a couple of hours to relax before I had to hike down and go to work. The only down side of my camp is that the sun didn't hit it till almost 10am. I could see the small figures of people hiking to the peak as I wrote in my journal. I wished that I could hang out here all day, getting buzzed by swifts flying mere feet from my head. I opted for a different route down, so that I didn't have to downclimb the gray chute. I traversed over from my camp and found a much nicer route down. On the hike back to my car the trail was full of people giving me strange looks for my big pack. As I drove to work later that day, I could see where I'd camped and realized that I'd always remember that spot as the site of one of my favorite Christmases of all time.
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