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Union Peak-Dixie Mtn, AZ
mini location map2018-02-09
9 by photographer avatarblack_toes
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Union Peak-Dixie Mtn, AZ 
Union Peak-Dixie Mtn, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 09 2018
Hiking7.64 Miles 1,427 AEG
Hiking7.64 Miles   4 Hrs   42 Mns   2.33 mph
1,427 ft AEG   1 Hour   25 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Even as I came up the Valle Verde Tr after doing Union Peak, I wasn't sure whether to make a stab at Dixie Mtn, completing a two-summit afternoon. I was tired and began inventing excuses not to go for it. Not enough daylight left. I could always do the double-peak another time. I had set a deadline of 1700 to reach the Dixie Mtn Loop Trail, and it was 15 minutes after that when I got there. I looked up the steep trail to the saddle where I knew the Dixie Summit Tr began and made the decision. The opportunity was there, and I may never do it again. So I headed up toward Dixie.

It had been a lonely afternoon, only a few hikers and one biker. The southern part of the preserve around Union Peak is often as desolate as desolate can be. But just as I prepared to take the Union summit trail, a young woman with streaks of red hair came up from the west. I couldn't believe it. Eventually I let her pass on the way up and sat down on the summit ridge to give her time alone on the summit. I saw her outline from below. She was talking to someone by cellphone. Later, after she passed me again on her descent and said, "Have a good one," I walked on up to the summit myself and then on out on the ridge to where the metal post marks the end of the trail. Was pleased to see the summit logs there safely in place in a glass jar with a heavy rock on top of the lid. I scribbled a note in one of the logs, noting the dirty air to the south and swiping a pencil because my pen ran out of ink. There was another pencil and an ink pen inside the jar. I will try to remember to replenish the jar with a pen or pencil next time I'm up that way. Why the logs are there and not on the summit, who knows?

By trail, the distance between Union and Dixie summits is 3.25 mi, so my GPS said. Much of the distance covers a beautiful valley (Valle) and a flat trail. It is in a small quadrangle bordered by the Hawks Nest, Valle Verde, Desert Tortoise and Dixie trails that you find most of the human traffic. Going out to Union Peak, I had run into only two, both women, a young biker and "the pioneer lady." The latter was in her 60s and wearing a long, flowing skirt and some kind of bonnet that looked incongruous for hiking dusty trails. We stopped and chatted at the junction of the Desert Tortoise and Valle Verde trails where she voiced disgust that someone kept moving the rocks she'd set down to prevent bikers from widening the intersection.

I finally reached the short but steep Dixie Summit Tr at 1725. Just 40 minutes before sunset. I knew then I was relegated to finishing the hike in darkness. It is a half-mile up and back from the Dixie summit and then there is another mile and a half back to the Desert View TH where my car was parked. I spent about 10 minutes on the summit, shooting photos and making a call. The exhilaration I should've felt never arrived. I was too tired to cheer. I looked for a summit log but found nothing. Would have liked to have written something about finishing up the two peaks. I looked over to Union Peak, seemingly "far" to the southeast now, and thought I'd grab hot coals before trekking back there today. Back down at the start of the summit trail, I donned the headlamp for later.

It was not until I hit the jct with the Hawks Nest Tr that I turned on the light. They should change the name of this trail to the Mother Owl or something. For 10 years, I'm told, a female owl has nested in a Saguaro, just off the trail, and delivered her owlets to the world. I had seen her and her babes a few years ago. The nest is fenced off now but in the dying light I could make out the large nest at the bottom of four Saguaro arms. A woman handing out Christian literature at the TH had told me earlier the mother owl had been on the nest for two weeks with mid-March as the likely time of delivery. At the parking lot, my car was one of two left. It marked the end of a satisfying day that I'll have to enjoy after a good night's sleep.

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