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Old Baldy Trail #372 to Wrightson Summit
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mini location map2017-07-08
13 by photographer avatarSkyIslandHiker
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Old Baldy Trail #372 to Wrightson SummitTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking10.80 Miles 4,000 AEG
Hiking10.80 Miles   5 Hrs   39 Mns   2.13 mph
4,000 ft AEG      35 Mns Break
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As often as I summit Mt. Wrightson I'm always looking for unique ways of hiking it. So at 1:55am last Saturday morning, under a full moon, I met several SAGA Meetup Group friends at the Roundup. The goal was to hike to the summit in time for a "double feature" - a moonset at 5:04am followed by a sunrise at 5:24am. I had done this sunrise hike once before but it was a first for Chris, Mike and Nadja.

It was still 85 degrees at the 5,450' trail head at in the middle of the night. As we worked our way up the lower Old Baldy Trail to Josephine Saddle by headlamp, it was quite warm and we were all working up a good sweat. Once above Josephine Saddle we picked up a stiff breeze which became chilly as we gained elevation. We caught occasional glimpses of the city lights of Tucson and Nogales, which look a lot closer at night.

As we passed through Baldy Saddle at 4:30am we saw dawn's first light on the eastern horizon. At this elevation it was actually cold - enough so to want gloves and additional layers. Consequently we were concerned about arriving at the summit too soon and shivering while waiting on the moonset and sunrise, so we slowed the paced a bit.

As we arrived at the breezy summit at 4:55am under still dim light we were startled by a barking but friendly dog, Scooter. We then noticed a tent setup just beyond the lookout foundation. Fortunately the summit campers were already up and about, also awaiting the sunrise.

It was downright cold on the summit so we all put on what extra clothing we had and took refuge out of the wind below the west side of the lookout foundation. We expected and wanted it to be chilly on the summit but were quite surprised it was cold. The wind was certainly a contributing factor.

The full moon was blood orange as it set in smoky haze from the numerous southern Arizona wildfires. The subsequent sunrise was also quite colorful from smoke. One disappointment, if there was one, is that the moon was not enlarged as it set, nor was the sun enlarged as it rose. I assume this is because there is less light refraction on the horizon at a high elevation.

After sunrise we wasted no time getting off the summit for a desire to get back to warmer air. By the time we got down to Baldy Saddle we were comfortable again. As we approached Bellows Spring we started noticing deer flies for the first time on our early morning hike.

At mid-mountain on descent, we ran into George and Anna who were on their way up for #350 :app: Shortly thereafter we ran into none other than 81-year-old Bob Williams who was doing # 352 :app: The deer flies were so bad at the time that we could not stop and chat with them. Did I mention that the deer flies were were absolutely horrible?

As we descended the Old Baldy Trail below Josephine Saddle during the 7 o'clock hour, it felt cooler than during our ascension during the 2 o'clock hour. We arrived back at our cars at 7:41am. The upper parking lot at the Roundup was already full of cars, presumably due to the Mt. Lemmon closure.

...just another crummy day in the Sonoran Desert :y:

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bellows Spring Dripping Dripping
The trail side reservoir was full and overflowing. However the fragile supply pipe frequently separates stopping the flow. If that's the case there is almost always water at the base of the waterfall about 50 feet up the nearby drainage.
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