Sea of Saguaros

Since we had a three day weekend we decided to explore outside the city more. This time our destination was Saguaro National Park. We woke up at 3:30am to drive down and hit the Desert Discovery Trail just as the sun was rising. Every time a trail has plant identification signs we’re thrilled. There is still a lot of flora in the desert that we don’t know the names of and we enjoy being able to read about the native plants.

The trail was a short paved loop and after struggling to tell the difference between a Staghorn and Buckhorn Cholla we headed off to find a longer trail. Swinging through the visitor center parking lot to give me time to pull up a map, we found a trail that looked good. We knew we only had a couple of hours before it started getting too hot. Unfortunately, the trail we picked was about 10 miles round trip up Wasson Peak. We knew we wouldn’t be able to do the whole thing with the amount of food and water we had but we were excited to explore.

Most of the beginning of the hike was climbing stairs in the shade. Once we made it to the saddle the trail leveled off significantly and the sun started beating down on us. For it being a holiday weekend we pretty much had the trail to ourselves. That turned out to not be the boon we thought it was when we ended up with an angry rattlesnake between us. Somehow I had gotten passed it without realizing but Kirk was further behind and it wasn’t thrilled. We spent a few minutes trying to let it see itself off the path but it didn’t seem to want to go anywhere so Kirk carefully picked his way through some Buckhorn/Staghorn Cholla back to the path and we debated turning around. Deciding that we wanted to keep going a little further but worried that the snake wouldn’t have moved before we came back we stacked a few rocks to mark the spot and continued up. After cresting the next hill we decided to head back. When we came to our stack of rocks we carefully skirted around the Cholla and rejoined the trail. We made sure to dismantle our stack of rocks so that no cairns would be unnecessarily built.

Once we got back to the vehicle we found a place for brunch with outdoor seating and more than pancakes for me. The patio was shaded and the restaurant had mimosas with Prickly Pear syrup and it was across the street from the University. After eating we walked around the campus for a bit before going back to the car and heading home. We’re excited to return to Saguaro NP and do some backpacking!

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