Day 1 – Hike 2 Red Hills, my first hike of the day that me nearly 1 hr and 45 min, proved to be a lot more than just some dull, 30-40 minute warm-up hike. As a result, I didn’t have as much time as I originally anticipated for Hike #2… but this was probably a good thing because it prevented me from going to town & overdoing it up all the super-fun, unnamed peaks & boulder piles in this area.
Aside from the man-made, stair-like structures on the Hugh Norris Trail, [which seemed to go on forever and definitely got annoying after a few miles], the footing on this trail was one of the best around in terms of a trail that leads to a summit; and a couple of the trails I utilized on my return trip, [which go through the soft, sandy washes], were just heavenly!
For the beginning part of the ascent, I decided to take full advantage of the excellent footing and push the pace a little. With an effort that didn’t exceed the upper end of moderate, I logged respectable 1st & 2nd mile splits of 19:26 and 18:05… however, mid-way through mile #3, I couldn’t resist departing from the trail and hopping on a well-beaten route that headed up a super-fun ridgeline, offering endless bouldering.
The residual equilibrium impairments that I’m still dealing with impacted me more mildly on this adventure, and it felt really good to be able to actually enjoy bouldering again. While I was making very decent time on the off-trail portion, I wanted to be sure to have enough time to enjoy the peaks and finish all I had planned before dark, so I returned to the trail after about 0.40 miles of bouldering. From that point, I had just over a mile left, [which consisted of about 0.80 miles of trail, followed by a short but very fun off-trail portion of about 0.30 miles], before reaching the summit of Amole Peak.
Like many other peak I’ve done in the Tucson Mountains, the views from Amole are sensational, [as are the views en route to this peak]. Unlike some of the other summits I’ve done in the Tucson Mountains, I was elated that Amole did not have a guardian summit bee; which, in combination with sunshine & blue sky above and some interesting clouds in the distance, made for a very beautiful and pleasant summit visit.
I returned by way a few different trails: the first mile or so was a repeat on the Hugh Norris Trail; after which I headed down the Sendero Esperanza Trail; then I hooked a left on the heavenly Dobe Wash Trail… [and I do mean heavenly… in fact, I couldn’t even bring myself to go the 0.14 miles out of the wash to bag the super-fun looking UN 3163!]. The Dobe Wash Trail comes out on Hohokam Road, which I crossed over and then took the short but very fun trip up to the top of Apache Peak, which has some very nice summit views.
With darkness fast approaching, I did not want to fool around on the more vertical South / SE / Eastern slopes of Apache; thus, I contoured the base of the peak for a short ways, heading counterclockwise, before beginning my ascent from the more gradual NE slope, which proved to be fast, fun, and very easy… so much so that I decided to challenge myself by descending via a rather vertical looking gulley toward the South. I’d been eyeing the gulley earlier as I was approaching the peak. It looked slightly intimidating [but oh so fun at the same time]. With loose rocky footing and a very steep grade, lots of caution was definitely needed, but it still A LOT easier than it looked from the bottom.
Finally, almost as soon as the terrain started to flatten out as I neared the base of Apache Peak, I connected with the beautiful Bajada Wash Trail for just over a mile, which returned me to the Hugh Norris TH. With many beautiful, large rocks & boulders, [particularly as you near the turn off for the Hugh Norris TH] – and almost nothing but soft, sandy footing in between the boulders – I could not have asked for a better trail to conclude the adventure.