Friday, July 18, 2014

Day 15: An Uneventful Day

I woke up to a clear, beautiful morning!
April 27: Sometimes, on a thru-hike, nothing much really happens--which makes it a wonderful day! You wake up, start hiking, take a few breaks here and there throughout the day, and at the end of it, you set up camp, read a book, and enjoy the stars.

Which is more-or-less how today worked out. The skies cleared during the night and by morning, even my tarp was completely and totally dry from the rainstorm the day before.

The first part of the morning the trail meandered thousands and thousands of feet downward out of the pine forests and into grasslands. I expected more of a cacti community similar to what existed on the other side of Saguaro NP, but for whatever reason, this side of the mountain range wound up mostly as grasslands.

The trail passed the Molino Basin Campground which, from a distance, looked like a busy ant farm with people and cars walking around everywhere. Through the grasslands, maybe a dozen or so mountain bikers passed me throughout the day. Today, certainly, wasn't a lonely day on the trail!

A couple of them stopped to ask where I had camped and if it snowed on me the night before. Snow?! According to news reports, it had actually snowed at some of the higher elevations in the area. Mica Mountain was one of the tallest mountains around these parts and I wondered if it had snowed at the top. I couldn't have been very far from it, but it definitely never snowed where I camped.

Grasslands! Along this section of trail, I was only about 15 miles
away from downtown Tucson, but it felt like a world away!

At the Molino Basin campground, I used the bathrooms and threw out the little trash I had created.

By the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground, a network of trails intersected the Arizona Trail which I sometimes had trouble following since the Arizona Trail wasn't marked as such--the signs used the local name of the trail.

But I muddled my way through.

Near the end of the day, I caught up with a hiker and his dog, Steven and Tiger, and we got to talking as we walked. He pointed out old ruins along the trail of a long-ago aqueduct and stories about the old Japanese internment camps from WWII that were located nearby. A history lesson on the trail! My databook and maps don't have anything about the history of an area--I usually have to depend on signage for that sort of stuff, but in this case, Steven provided a lot of the commentary.

We hiked together for a few miles, but I was looking for a place to camp by this point and eventually found it at a trail junction on a small hilltop just before Sycamore Reservoir. Steven seemed to think I was going to set up camp at the reservoir itself, but looking down the canyon, it looked overgrown with tall trees and vegetation. I liked this more exposed location so I could see the stars at night. It wasn't supposed to rain anymore and the skies were clear--I wanted to see them at night! Anyhow, bugs like mosquitoes tended to hang out closer to water, which was another reason I preferred to keep my distance from it.

So we shook hands and parted ways. Steven and Tiger making a loop back to the trailhead where they started and I threw out my groundsheet and started cooking dinner.

More grasslands!

Ah, a little bit of cacti just to keep things interesting. =)
It wasn't all grasslands!

Another book left by an Arizona Trail hiker/biker. This
ZipLock was a pretty bad attempt at protecting it
from the elements, though! They should have used the gallon-sized
bag. (And because my Kindle was already loaded with dozens of books,
I didn't take this one.)


I love the irony of this sign since I'm pretty sure that's a bullet hole
in the "no shooting" sign!
Nope, no water in this stock pond. Nothing to see here... keep moving!

It's like a cross between a cattle guard and a bridge!


Water from the West Spring cistern. It's not the best-looking water I've ever
seen, but it'll do!

Looking down towards the Catalina Highway and the
Molina Basin Campground.
Crossing the Catalina Highway.

Restrooms! Trash cans! This campground had it all!
(Except running water.)

Old aqueduct ruins

Tiger (L) and Steven (R), who I hiked a few miles with.

1 comment:

Squatchis said...

Saguaros only grow on south facing slopes to avoid freezing temperatures. Reddington pass is primarily north facing, hence only grasslands.