Monday, November 3, 2014

Conquering Mt. Kimball

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mt. Kimball - 11 miles, 4155 feet elevation gain, one of the steepest trails in the Tucson area. Beginning on Finger Rock trail, going into a canyon and up, up, up into the mountains. For having some of the most difficult terrains of any trail around Tucson, the views of the city, the Catalina Mountains, and all the land to the North make it worth the hike.

This is one of Curtis' favorite hikes, and one he's done 4 times now. We went with our friend Mitch, who's now done it 11 times. There's no doubt it's worth it, but I am very glad they waited to introduce me to it until now. Let's just say that 2 days later, my legs are still burning. Wow.

We started on Saturday morning around 7:45. Dogs aren't allowed on the trail, so Charlotte wasn't invited. While I missed her all day, I'm glad she wasn't there - there were so many boulders to get over and the ground had so many loose rocks at some points that it was really difficult for me, it's good she wasn't there because she'd either hurt herself, or Curtis would be forced to carry her for the majority of the trip.

When we arrived, the parking lot was quite full, which disappointed us a bit - we prefer hiking in peace. However, we only saw 3 people on our way up, and several groups in the last 2 miles of the trail. In fact, we are certain that we were the only ones that reached the summit on this day. We believe most of the hikers were on Pontatoc trail, which is one we did last May. Since it's very early into hiking season, most people are still "warming up" before going for Mt. Kimball, which makes plenty of sense to me!

The trail began in Finger Rock Canyon. The first mile is actually quite easy compared to what was coming, but I didn't know to appreciate it yet! After that, it begins ascending quickly through a series of switchbacks until you reach a "cave." It's more of a rock outcropping, but the guys affectionately refer to it as the cave and use it as a first breaking point, which was very welcomed at this point! The cave comes at about 2 miles. Unfortunately, I don't have a "Map My Hike" map to demonstrate the trail or the elevation gain because my "smart" phone decided it'd be smart to shut off and update. :p

After the cave, Curtis and Mitch disagree on what section is more difficult: the trail from the cave to Linda Vista, or from the Vista to the river. They wanted to use me as a mediator - hike both sections then decide what's worse? Honestly, I couldn't decide and saw no difference in the sections of trail. And not only was it a struggle to hike up, just knowing we'd have to hike down as well was bothering me. I joked about being too short to hike this. For anyone short and maybe lacking in balance like me, hiking poles are a must!

Can you see the Finger Rock formation?

 On the positive side though, the weather was perfect for hiking. While we were going up, we were almost always in the shade of the canyon, and there was a pleasant breeze on the way down with good cloud coverage. Nothing like last week's hot hot sun, which is great because I'm sure I wouldn't have made it if it were that hot!

The view South from Linda Vista

At one point several miles in, we came to a fork in the trail. We veered off the path to the peak and went to enjoy the view of Tucson here. From the peak of Mt. Kimball, the best views are of the Catalina Mountains or to the North, so this was the best view we got of our city.

Mt. Wrightson is the highest peak in the background! Tucson lies between us and the Santa Ritas.

Looking up - I don't believe the peak in this picture is Mt. Kimball itself, but it looks very similar and is up there somewhere!

Me with my best cheerleader ;) 

After this point, I honestly didn't have a lot of motivation to continue. We had already gotten all the letterboxes, and I had already been to the "highest peak in Tucson" and a neighboring peak from Kimball (Window Rock) so I really didn't care if I didn't make it any farther. I was tired, and I knew that walking down would not be any easier. Plus, I missed Charlie. But both guys did a great job on convincing me I had to go to the top - and despite the pain I'm in now, I'm so glad I did!

We made it! This is a panorama facing mostly East - the 3 most prominent peaks from left to right are Mt. Lemmon, Cathedral Rock, and Window Rock. 

Facing Northwest

 We were the only ones at the peak which made it so enjoyable and relaxing. Mt. Kimball is one of the only peaks in the Catalinas that wasn't touched by the fire over a decade ago, so the peak is covered with trees. Because of that, you don't get a 360 view, but the view to the North makes up for that.
Facing North

We made it! My 1st time, Curtis' 4th. We are doing a great job blending in, aren't we?!

The 3 of us, with Window Rock to our left

Micah and Rincon peaks are in the far distance

Overlooking Catalina State Park

After enjoying lunch, cookies, and rock throwing contests, we packed up and began our trek down. I was right in thinking it wouldn't get easier - it wasn't! But we made it back safely before sunset and home to our sweet pup. She had managed to make her way out of our barricade keeping her in the kitchen and had the whole apartment to herself - but she did no damage that we can see, and we found her taking a nap in the shower. :)

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