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Sonoran Desert National Monument, AZ
mini location map2012-05-13
14 by photographer avatarOutlander
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Sonoran Desert National Monument, AZ 
Sonoran Desert National Monument, AZ
Hiking29.00 Miles 2,400 AEG
Hiking29.00 Miles   14 Hrs      2.23 mph
2,400 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to hike a 30 mile loop at the Sonoran Desert National Monument in one day.

Day-trips have always been my preference. I like hiking with light packs and fresh legs, allowing me to work hard without regard for the inevitable butcher's bill the following day. The trip was to be long, but not overly challenging, aside from the oppressive heat that tormented me most of the day, finally letting up around 11 PM.

Water was not an issue, as I had packed in 6 liters and knew the location of several guzzlers to filter water if needed. The Game and Fish Department goes to great lengths to ensure that the guzzlers always have water, checking them once a month, and hauling in water when necessary.

The trip plan was designed to avoid most of the higher mountains, taking the numerous passes and interior valleys instead. These areas are natural constriction points that funnel both men and wildlife to predicable locations. Someone else must have thought the same, as I found three trail cams set up in the passes. Cams are fairly expensive and subject to theft, even with a lock box. The best way to keep people honest is to hide the cams from view, as folks will not steal what they cannot see.

I found the upper Maricopas to be in a near pristine state, without a shred of garbage or sign of human activity to be found. The main washes did have some recent ATV use, which is prohibited, but they could very well have been part of the new law enforcement effort, judging by the rider's attempt to 'tread lightly' and leave as little damage as possible. Most of the drug smuggling action occurs below Butterfield Pass, where loads are picked up, etc.

The desert here is quite arid, and wildlife few and far between. I saw three bighorn sheep, or possibly they were mule deer, near a guzzler at 9 PM. Other than a lonely owl, some quail, and a pack of coyotes, things were slow this time around. I ended up one mile short of the nice, round 30 number. Oh well. 29 was enough to put some hurt on me. Called in sick from work on Monday to lick my wounds. Ha!
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