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Atascosa Peak
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mini location map2016-01-09
35 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Atascosa PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 09 2016
Hiking7.54 Miles 3,086 AEG
Hiking7.54 Miles   3 Hrs   30 Mns   2.45 mph
3,086 ft AEG      25 Mns Break
1st trip
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Today I joined a great group of folks from the TLC Hiking meetup group to Atascosa Lookout and Atascosa Peak. I’d been to the Lookout twice before, [which I mistakenly assumed was the same as Atascosa Peak]. As I emphasized in the Description, it’s not! This time, I finally got the peak.

The views are absolutely are awesome, and in writing the description, I did my best to estimate the time it would take to complete the hike and still enough the views. Unless you hike on the fast side, [and/or don’t usually take much time to soak in views], then I highly recommend ignoring my stats of 3.5 hrs RT or you will be sorely disappointed. While it was very nice to hike with a group/friends, the pace tends to be very fast… and enjoying a summit for more than 15-20 minutes would be an EXTREMELY long amount of time. For a summit as beautiful as Atascosa Peak, 45-60 minutes would be most ideal; and if you’ve never been to the Atascosa Lookout Tower, then you’ll definitely want to take more than a mere 2 minute stop, like I did today.

Having been there twice before, the brief pause at the Lookout Tower didn’t bother me. However, to say it was extremely frustrating and disappointing to have just 15-20 minutes to enjoy the beautiful summit of Atascosa Peak would be an understatement… and I left the summit 5-10 minutes after the others in my group! Not even the AWESOME bouldering hopping off the summit and back across the sweet ridgeline could cheer me up… but I found something that did…

As I neared the edge of the ridgeline and was preparing for one final ascent back up to the Lookout Tower, my eye caught site of a small saddle to the left of the Lookout Tower, almost straight ahead. I was in a bad enough mood from not having been able to fully enjoy such a beautiful summit that I made a split second decision the moment I set eyes on that saddle: screw the steep scramble back up to the Lookout Tower; and screw having to continue busting butt at breakneck speed, [so as not to hold up the people that rode with me]…

…when I could stroll up the very gradual slope to that saddle and then bushwhack pretty much straight ahead, contouring the peak with the Lookout Tower, cutting off a good portion of trail that I had no interest in doing, AND not having to go at breakneck speed to catch up with the group. I took a quick glance at my ascent track, which confirmed that my sense of direction was spot on.

It was definitely a gamble… while the terrain had been very generous, there were some cliffy sections… but I was in a bad enough mood to risk cliffing out and potentially having to backtrack. To my pleasant surprise, the going was actually very fast, and the shortcut was pretty sweet! There was even a faint route leading to the saddle, which continued for a short ways after… [and it proved extremely helpful in allowing me to completely circumvent what would have been a hellacious bushwhack through a large, thick patch of cat claw].

There was one dicey moment where I had to maneuver off a boulder with a large drop that lacked decent foot-/hand-holds. Under normal conditions, it would’ve been a non-issue; however, there were still several areas with snow/ice, and most of the few foot-/hand-holds on this boulder were covered in ice. With above average bouldering skills, [and below average ability when it comes to negotiating loose or slippery footing], I threw the ‘three points of contact’ rule out the window and continued on my merry way. Aside from that one spot, the going was really smooth!

Given the lead that the group had on me, [and the fact that they are typically much faster downhill hikers], I was very surprised to have made it back to the TH a full 14 minutes before the next person, and a full 20 minutes before the leader/main pack.
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