Hutch's Pool

18 Jun 2005

Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun, but who goes for an all-day hike when it's 104 degrees? Dennis and Kathy and me, because it might be one of the last hikes before Kathy moves back to Seattle.

But there were other good reasons, like the opportunity to encounter the Sonoran Desert at its most extreme. We hadn't gone far up the trail when we met this young tarantula. We also scared up hundreds of collared and striped lizards, and one green snake perfectly disguised as the branch of a manzanita tree.

It's an easy two-hour hike from the top of the tram. The trail switchbacks up a ridge and then drops back into the canyon, which for the next few miles is fairly broad and outlined with Mexican oaks.

We were astounded by the variety of plants that flourish even in these torrid conditions. Desert Cotton displayed cup-shaped white flowers that turned pink in the afternoon. Agaves held up brilliant gold pads of blossoms, and most beautiful of all were the fire red coral beans.

As always, there were plants we couldn't identify, like this milkweed lookalike with the white-spotted leaves.

The trails crosses a dry wash and then works its way over another smaller ridge before rejoining Sabino Creek.

This is a true oasis with an abundance of shade and an occasional wood nymph.

I'm sure there were clouds of steam when we dunked our overheated hides in one of these icy tea-colored pools.

Of course we stayed just a bit too long. After soaking our clothes, we trudged back down the mountain in the heat of the day. We only saw one other hiker -- a tough cat who hiked 17 miles from the Bear Swamp Trailhead that morning. As he jogged(!) past us, Dennis and I sucked down the last of our four liters of water. Would we do it again? You bet! But for the slight increase in weight, we'll carry the filter next time out.