Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hump Day Hike

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Green Mountain Trail and Guthrie Mountain

Yesterday, we decided to go for a hike. We'd been wanting to try another trail from our "100 Hikes in Arizona" book. The trail we chose was Green Mountain trail, which got great reviews from both the book and other informational websites. Curtis checked it out on his map of the Catalina Mountains, and saw that if we just added 2 more miles, we could reach the peak of Guthrie Mountain. Since we are training for our next big adventure, we decided to go for it.

One of the reasons why we chose to do this hike in the middle of the week was because we thought traffic would be lighter on the Catalina Highway. We were also hoping to be alone on the trails. It was just under 7 miles altogether, you know, no big deal. ;) We slept in, took our time getting ready, and left home around 9. Charlotte was SO excited to have this surprise mid-week adventure. :)

We started at the Upper Green Mountain Trail trailhead. It was about 18 miles up the Catalina Highway. The Jeep's thermometer read a brisk 54 degrees, and there was a constant breeze - but it felt great compared to the heat that we've been having down in Tucson. For a brief moment, I even thought I'd be cold on the hike. But of course once we started walking, it was comfortable hiking weather.

Facing North, somewhere along the Green Mountain Trail

The trail started by going up just a bit, and was shady thanks to the beautiful pine trees. Once we reached the ridge, we started hiking down steeply on the East side. There were short and steep switchbacks that took us down a ways until the trail evened out for a bit.

I decided that this is my favorite part of the Catalina Mountains. We've done a lot of hiking in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area, (almost everything West of the Catalina Highway), but the 2 hikes we've done on the East side (this one and the Kellogg/Bigelow trail) far surpass those for me. I feel like the views to the East are so much better (you'll see why in a bit, also refer to the pictures on Bigelow Mountain) and I love hiking these trails with the pine trees all around. I guess that maybe it's also because the trails we've done on the East side started up pretty high thanks to driving up the Catalina Highway, so we didn't have to gain as much elevation either. Either way, this one easily became one of my favorite hikes in the Catalina Mountains!

Facing West, toward other peaks in the Catalinas

We followed the Green Mountain Trail all the way to the end, where it meets with the Lower Green Mountain Trail and the end of Bear Canyon. After retrieving a Geocache, we set off on the last mile to Guthrie Mountain. The maps at the trailhead didn't show this trail, but it wasn't any harder than the ones it did show. We knew it existed thanks to Curtis' map of the Catalinas. This trail took us up to a ridge, then back down, and then almost straight up Guthrie without any switchbacks. It wasn't anything like the Pusch trail, but it was still a challenge. 

The hardest part at the end was when the wind picked up as we were walking along the ridge right at the end. It made it difficult to even stand, and we're lucky it didn't take our hats with it! Charlotte seemed to do fine, even with her ears blowing this way and that. Right at the end was a steep rock section which we had to climb up, and Charlotte conquered it without a second thought. I wish I had 4 legs like her, this hiking thing would be so much easier. ;)

Facing Southeast
We followed the trail to the Southern-most end of the peak. We enjoyed looking out at all the different mountain ranges that we could see. We think we could see as far as the Mule Pass in Bisbee, and possibly even the Chiricahua peaks in the far distance. 

Facing Southwest, with the Santa Ritas in the background

We also had a great view of the Rincon Mountains to the South. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to do a peak hike over there - those trails are so long, and it seems like the window of weeks to be able to hike them is so small. The day that we had planned to hike to Rincon Peak ended up to be rainy, and we never got a chance to reschedule it because it just got so warm again. Bummer!

We enjoyed resting, taking in the sights, and eating peanut butter. We hadn't seen anyone else up till this point, and we were loving it. However, the wind was making it very cold, and I always get nervous when it's so quiet when we're hiking alone. I feel like there's something hiding somewhere, watching us...

Thankfully that was never the case for today. :)

Oh, and I FINALLY got a picture of Charlotte mid-shake!! It was even more glorious than I could ever imagine. Silly girl. :)

I'd like to call this piece of art "The Face of a Proud Basset." Proud because she hiked to another beautiful peak. We're proud of you too, Charlotte. :)

We got one quick picture thanks to auto-timer, then began our hike back. It was still blustery as we walked, and we tried to hurry to the end of Guthrie trail and back on Green Mountain Trail where the ridge blocked the wind for us. We had started the trail around 10 and made it to the end before 12, and managed to make it back to the trailhead in 2 hours. It wasn't quite as shady as it had been earlier, and we still had quite a bit of steep uphill sections to hike. Charlotte needed a little extra convincing and water to make it back. :)

We saw other hikers for the first time in the last mile of our hike. It was a group of guys going backpacking out there. I couldn't help but be jealous because I started thinking about how great the sunrise would be - it's hard to see a good one in Tucson because the Rincon Mountains stand in the way. Anyway, they all loved Charlotte, but she was scared of them because they all were wearing huge backpacks. Poor girl.

Oh, and the funny thing is we ended up at the wrong trailhead. I'm not sure how we got off, but we reached a trailhead that was just a ways further North on the Catalina Highway than the one where we parked. Curtis ran down the road to bring the Jeep to us, while I distracted Charlotte with more peanut butter. She always gets so nervous to see Curtis leave without us, so she was relieved when the Jeep came around and I told her "There's Daddy! He came back!" 

As we were driving back, we noticed that all the other mountain ranges that we could see earlier were starting to get hazy. It must have been that crazy wind's doing, and it only got hazier as the day went on. I'm so glad we hiked this when we did, because we were able to see things very clearly. 

I love that we were able to go hiking in the middle of the week. It's so fun to be able to break up routine with an adventure in a beautiful place. This is one of those trails that I'd highly recommend to anyone looking for hikes in Tucson!

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