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Old Baldy - Super Trail Loop
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mini location map2009-04-04
11 by photographer avatarwritelots
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Old Baldy - Super Trail LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 04 2009
Backpack12.40 Miles 4,210 AEG
Backpack12.40 Miles2 Days         
4,210 ft AEG
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Decided that it was an ideal weekend to try my first solo backpacking trip - and since this hike was my first backpacking trip ever (man, that was a LONG time ago!), it would be nice and cyclic to do it as my first solo trip. It was interesting, though, to gauge how far I've come in terms of my own fitness and preparedness, but also how much this trail system has changed with the years - between all of the use, the drought and the recent fires. It was also fun to have a solo trip with my 2 yr old lab mix, Lilo. Like most dogs, she's much better when it's just the two of us, without other dogs to lead her into temptation...

Got started a little later than originally planned - because, hey, it's just me, I can start whenever I want to. That was nice. Hit the trail around 9:30 am. As I'm filling out the fee envelope, up walk two Sherriff's Deputies armed to bear and wearing lots of body armor. Seems all those rumors of drug runners on the Super Trail were true. I told them I was planning on overnighting at Josephine Saddle, and they seemed to be generally unconcerned. Can't say I was reassured staring at their assault rifles, but I decided not to let it get to me.

It did make me decide not to leave my pretty bright orange and yellow backpack at the saddle, though. I like that pack, and I'd hate it to become a drug suitcase. So, I took my gear all of the way to the peak. I was training for the bigger hike anyway, right? When I paused at Josephine, the wind started to pick up. I didn't stick around too long, as it was getting chilly even in the sun. Stopped at Bellows Spring for lunch, a bit early to eat, but it was a nice and sheltered spot. Spring was dripping, but the pool is defunct. By the time we hit Baldy Saddle, the wind was gusting strongly. I don't know how strong, I'm not a good weather gauge, but I'd say it was in the "nearly knocking me over" mph range.

Once past Baldy Saddle, you really start to see the effects of the Florida fire. I didn't realize that I hadn't been up to the peak since the fire, and I was amazed at the difference. Suddenly, lots of amazing east-facing views opened up that had never been there before. This was a very hot fire on this slope and the slopes of McCleary. Without the green grasses I saw down on the Florida trail this summer, the landscape was very bleak and unforgiving. I'm not ever depressed by burned forest - but I had to offer up my amazement to the power of that fire. It devestated that mountain.

Pushed on and made the peak just after 1. The wind pretty well erased the views - you could just barely make out the Rincons and the Catalinas were missing entirely. It was very very gusty and cold, so I snapped a few pics, scrawled something in the register, made some small talk with the young pups up there and headed back down. Being acrophobic, I've never been one to enjoy peaks, anyhow.

Thought the winds would be worse on the Super trail heading down due to the southern orientation, but the winds died down and I had a very pleasant hike. This part of the trail is getting pretty overgrown with thorny bushes (condalia?) and spiky oaks which are sprouting back after the fire. Because of repeated burns, many of these south facing slopes are void of trees and are covered with thick shrubby oaks and manzanita - so the views to the southeast and south are incredible. I really dread the day when they start that blasted Rosemont Mine and the view to the south will be of slag heaps and strip mining.

Made it to the saddle by about 4:30. The saddle is looking more and more severly impacted all of the time, with super-compacted soils, lots of big fire rings and not a single twig less than 6' off the ground. None the less, it's a good safe place to camp - and would have lots of fun places for hammocks ;) . Hiked down to Sprung Spring for water, only to find it bone dry. Almost had to cut my trip short! Luckily, there was a seep in the real spring just up the trail - a pool no bigger than a dinner tortilla, but deep enough to pump from. Lilo and I got our fill and settled in for a cool night. Last group of hikers walked by about half and hour before dark, wishing us a good evening. No drug runners seen - thankfully.

Next morning was a no-brainer. Slept in, warm and toasty. The "rush" started at about 8am, and from then until I left camp at 9:30, I counted 6 groups. More on the way down - lots of people heading to the summit that day. Parking lot was nearly full by the time I made it to the bottom - lots of birders out with field glasses and big cameras. Funny how they travel in hoards. Saw about 15 people standing around a sycamore, looking at I don't know what, whispering and pointing like they were witnessing the Virgin of Guadalupe. I like birds, but come on...

Made it home in time for lunch. Great trip!

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bellows Spring Dripping Dripping

dry Bog Springs Dry Dry

dry Sprung Spring Dry Dry
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.- Barack Obama
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