Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Southwest Tour Part II

The weekend started off with a solid 13.5-mile run in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve with Jamil and Jay. I hurried home in order to pick my sister up from the airport before noon to catch our tour at the Southwest Wildlife Center in North Scottsdale (pictured right: Toh-cho the 180lbs male mountain lion). From there, it was another trip into the McDowell Mountains, this time a hike up the North access area to Tom's Thumb where we would explore the large granite formations high above the surrounding desert.

Sunday morning we loaded the car and drove almost non-stop to the legendary town of Tombstone, Arizona. Neat town, great history, although now... a tourist trap. Literally, just about the only thing free in town was a small reptile exhibit, which was awesome!! What's not to love about Rattlesnakes and Gila Monsters?

Before we actually reached the town of Bisbee, Shannon and I parked near the mule pass tunnel and began our trek to the summit of Mount Ballard. Roughly 2 miles of tough climbing later, we reached the peak at 7370ft, which is also the highpoint in the Mule Mountains and the 34th most prominent peak in Arizona. Nice, another peak checked off the list! After spending a few minutes enjoying the Southernmost views of Arizona and Northern Mexico, we hiked back down and made our way into Bisbee, the highlight of today's trip. What a cool town. Bisbee is sort of an eclectic mountain town with plenty of character and characters alike. I already want to go back!

Having Monday off work because of the holiday was nice, so we stayed in Tucson and planned to hike through Catalina State Park to Romero Pools. A heavy batch of rain passed through Tucson and the surrounding mountains Sunday night, supplying the canyons with ample rain that turned into rushing falls at the pools. Talk about great timing! Shannon and I were also treated to some really nice weather the entire weekend, and even had the opportunity to hike in the rain for a few miles. Before putting an end to the trip, we visited the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument near Coolidge, AZ to see the "Big House" and surrounding compounds. The park service offers an excellent guided tour with a wealth of information about central Arizona's past cultures.

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