Saturday, May 08, 2010

Miller Peak - Huachuca Mountains

This morning, I hiked to the top of Miller Peak, the highest peak in the Huachuca Mountains. They are southwest of Sierra Vista, AZ, about 80-90 miles from Tucson. I began my hike at the Montezuma Pass at around 6500 feet of elevation. The parking lot there is a small technology base for the US Border Patrol. The hike to the top is around 5.5 miles. It climbs about 3000 feet. The trail is not bad, never overly steep, and not as rocky as many mountain trails.

Although the elevation is high, about 2/3s of the hike is exposed to the sun. The final part of the hike takes place in the trees and on the northern slope. Lots of oak (silverleaf and Gambel), manzanita, juniper, but at the higher elevations you hike through Douglas fir, limber pine and aspen. There is no water along the route; today, there was still some patches of snow. The 11 mile hike took me around 5 hours.

One disturbing aspect of this hike is the large amount of trash left by illegal immigrants. They use the Crest Trail to by-pass the lower elevation checkpoints and drop into "safe-houses" in the Ft. Huachuca area. They toss all of their bottles, bags, wrappers, cans, toilet paper, pants, shoes, shirts, etc. (see below). I passed two Border Patrol agents on my decent; they were heading up. We had a good chat. They were in uniforms and armed with Glocks and M-16s.

On my drive home, I drove northwest on route 83 -- 15 miles of it on a non-maintained section of the road. I passed a few Border Patrol trucks. I even passed a middle-aged Mexican and a young girl, about 14 years old. They were a long way from anywhere, no backpacks, a 20 oz bottle of water, and walking straight toward the Border Patrol.

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