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  [Sunset - Tucson Mountains, AZ]

Cactusfest00 - Same City, Different Millenium
Santa Catalina Mountains, Tucson, Arizona
March 24, 2000 March 27, 2000


Friday - March 24, 2000

[Trapper Nelson Backpack]

After my flight from Nashville on Thursday night, I woke up this morning in Tucson, AZ. It has become a habit of mine to shop at certain stores in town, so, I decided to spend most of the day shopping. I picked up an nice North Face fanny pack for a dollar and bought an original Trapper Nelson backpack for $35. The Trapper Nelson, a wooden-framed pack with a canvas pack bag, is a genuine antique. When I returned home I read that this particular pack was crafted during the 1920's. Around 4PM I decided to goto the Eastern section of Saguaro National Park to hike a couple of hours and to shoot a roll of film. I hiked on a real easy trail - the Shantz trail - through the cactus forest and took pictures until sunset.

Saturday - March 25, 2000

[Finger Rock trail rock spires]

I decided today to get my lungs and knees physical out of the way. So, after eating 6 mini-sugar donuts and a drinking a Diet Pepsi, I drove to the Finger Rock trailhead for a day of hiking in the Santa Catalina mountains. The Finger Rock trail begins in the desert scrub around 3200ft and ultimately connects to a trail that leads to the forested-summit of Mount Kimball (7250ft). I filled my hydrocell with a gallon of water, put on lots of sunblock, and started my hike around 9AM. The weather this morning was sunny and cool with no wind; perfect hiking weather. There were alot of people on the trail today. As I made my way up the mountain I noticed that me and another fellow were passing each other back and forth. I got to talking with him and found out that he was a film history professor at the University of Arizona. I asked him if the films these days were getting better or worse. He mentioned that throughout time they had been about the same: most are bad with a few keepers. I had to agree. I hiked on. At about the 3.5 hour mark, I stopped to gulp down my second Power Gel and to look around. I had made it to the upland forests in the shadow of Mount Kimball. While I was resting, the film history professor again caught up with me. I told him that I had a "hotspot" that was starting and that I'd be turning back. He looked at me like I was a loon! What is a hotspot? I told him that the new soles on my Vasque's and this steep trail were starting to give me a blister. The film history professor went ahead and I marked my position on the GPS.

[View from Finger Rock trail]

On the way back down, I saw alot of black beetles and lizards, but, very few people. I did stop once under the only shade tree on the lower part of the trail. As I was eating a Slim Jim snack, 5 other hikers stopped and rested at the shady spot. We talked about how tough this particular climb to Mt. Kimball was; I told the group that I had made it to the summit and back two years ago (9.5 hour hike total) and it pretty much was the toughest day hike that I had ever completed (I just knew that I had broken my right knee after this hike). I got back to the trailhead and my car at the 6.5 hours mark and drove back to the motel for a shave and a shower. Its amazing what the human body can do with water, one diet pepsi, 6 mini-sugar donuts, 2 Power Gels and one Slim Jim. At night I went to see the White Sox - Diamondbacks spring exhibition game at Tucson Electric Park. You just can't beat second row seats behind the plate! It was a good high scoring game with about 3 home runs. After the game, I ate a well deserved pizza at the hotel.

Sunday - March 26, 2000

[Trailhead on the way to Wasson Peak]

Woke up sore from my waist down; everywhere I pressed hurt! I took it easy in the morning and went shopping again. After an "all you care to eat" buffet, I decided to get in a few final hours of hiking in. I traveled to the West Section of the Saguaro National Park and went to the visitors center to get a map of the trails in the area. I decided to hike the King Canyon trail which leads to the highest point in the Tucson Mountains, Wasson Peak. The Tucson Mountains are a lot lower in altitude than the Santa Catalinas and the brownish color and "strictly desert" vegetation of these low mountains are definately different. The first mile or so of the King Canyon trail was a trounce in the gravelly bottom of a dry wash. I did see one small stagnant pool of brownish water with buzzing insects hovering above. I don't know why, but, this seems typical of the water pools in the area. I followed a steady uphill climb for the next 2 miles to the intersection of the King Canyon and Sweetwater trails. Wasson Peak was another 1.2 miles from this point, but, I knew that I couldn't make it to top and back before dark, so I retreated back the way that I came.

[Indian petroglyphs]

I took advantage of the setting sun to take some great pictures of the cacti and surrounding mountains. When I got back to the flat part of the trail, a woman met me and said "They're right!, They are down there on the cliff walls." Ok, I was curious; "What?" "The Indian petroglyphs." she said. Not 10 feet further down the trail, the canyon walls were covered with ancient rock carvings, the first petroglyphs that I had ever seen. Many of the petroglyphs were in the shape of animals, some of which I could recognize and some which were unrecognizable. I had totally missed these pictures on the way up the trail. After taking a few pictures there, I returned back to the trail head and drove back to the hotel.

Monday - March 27, 2000

[Saguaro cactus skeleton]

I got some last minute shopping done this morning. I bought three new hedgehog cacti for my collection back in MS. After eating lunch at Denny's I returned to the airport for my flight from Tucson to Nashville.

 
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