Reaching Josephine Saddle, we found the memorial for the three boy scouts who perished in a snowstorm in 1956. It is hard to imagine how the weather on these "Sky Islands" can be so dramatically different and severe from the mild climate of Tucson itself. Some sections of the trail just before and after Josephine Saddle lead through a burn area, which has recovered very well in the last 8 years. Starting at Bellow Springs, we saw little snow patches here and there.
At Baldy Saddle, the trail switches to the north side of the mountain. In winter, snow and ice may require technical gear, but now in early April there were only patches in some of the gullies left,. The trail gets a bit rockier as the view opens up. After 3.5 hours and a little over five miles, we reached the peak with the remains of the old fire lookout. A research station run by the Smithsonian can be seen at a lower peak. The view is magnificent. Mt Kitt with the Observatory, the city of Tucson, Mt Lemmon, Nogales in Mexico and Saguaro National Park are spread out below.
It was a joy to watch the aerial acrobatics of five crows playing in the winds. It is the most fascinating view for me to stand on a peak and watch the birds fly below me. There was also a swift hunting insects around the peak. It whizzed by at unbelievable speeds, the noise of the air rushing by its wings causing us to duck instinctively.
The hike down was speedy an uneventful. Hiking poles definitely help protect the knees. Once I posted the pictures on Facebook, Louise Wholey mentioned an event dubbed the "Mt Wrightson Massacre" taking place a number of years earlier. The objective was to hike Mt Wrightson as many times as possible in a day. Lousie did an impressive 3 climbs; the winner managed 4 climbs.
I was quite content just to leave it at one ...
But if you ever get to Tucson with a free day on your hands, I highly recommend this hike.
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