Saturday, May 01, 2010

Rincon Peak - Saguaro National Park

A co-worker and I spent the day in Saguaro National Park. We hiked to the top of Rincon Peak. To say it is a tough hike is an understatement.

We began at the Miller Creek trail head (elevation = 4307 feet). It starts out level, following Miller Creek (it had some flowing water in it today). After about 1.5 miles, we reached the Saguaro National Park boundary. From there, the hike is up hill. Some pitches are steeper than others. After around 3 miles of climbing, we reached a more level area and the Heartbreak Ridge trail. After 0.5 miles, we arrived at an area called Happy Valley Campground (a single campsite). From there it is 3.2 miles of up, up and up. The closer we got to the top, the steeper it got. I'd estimate the pitch at around 40 percent.

Rincon Peak is a great rock. The nob can be seen from most of Tucson. It is unlike most areas in Tuscon, as it is not Sonoran desert. It starts out with cottonwood, sycamore and oak, transitions to manzanita, juniper and pinion, and then into more traditional alpine vegetation -- ponderosa, douglas fir, and white pine (some of these are splendid specimens). A true island in the sky.

This is a strenuous hike. It is 8.1 miles to the top and the same back down. 16.2 miles is long regardless. As you are tired, the decent might just be worse than the ascent. For us, the hike took 10 hours. We did not take a whole lot of breaks and spent only 15 minutes on top (it was cold and very windy for 1 May).

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