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DWTH Day 3: Urban Hiking and Good Birding

DWTH Day 3: Urban Hiking and Good Birding


👣 Miles: 14.95

📈 Elevation Gain: 98 ft

📉 Elevation Loss: 1,312 ft

Overall Weather: Overcast, Warm

The Continuing Descent

While Karma’s neoair patch held great, neither of us slept well. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Once the sun was up, we started meandering downhill into more and more saguaros. 🌵

The further we descended, the more day hikers we encountered. Most were chill. Many of them were flabbergasted that we wanted to sleep outside in January and all commented on how cold it was at night. 

We found that absolutely hilarious because we were too hot and barely had our quilts on most of the night. 😂

Several people asked us how far the water was but none of them had water bottles. They looked quizzically at us when we told them how far and that we filtered it. Like…are you expecting a city water tap out there?

Cross-Country Down the Wash

Vole skull beneath an owl or raptor perch.
Vole Skull

As far as off-trail navigation goes, traveling cross-country down a wash is fairly easy…you just pretend you’re water. Occasionally other small washes join, but the direction is clear. You have to be more on it going up a wash to make sure you pick the right one. 

🐦‍⬛ Anyway, I’ve come to love cross-country hiking in washes because of the birding!

Almost immediately upon leaving the established trail, we saw so many more birds! Right off the bat, we saw an American Kestrel, several Phainopeplas, a Red Tail Hawk, and more. 

As we continued down, we started scanning the cliffs for bird poop to find the perches and nests. 

Our favorite find was a hole about 8 ft up that went into the cliff with bird poop underneath on the wall. At the base was a graveyard of small bones. We didn’t see any owl pellets, but the sheer number of tiny voles, mice, and other small critters was amazing!

The Recreation Path

Hand holding an owl pellet with small rodent bones.
Owl Pellet

The sandy wash dumped us onto a paved recreation path that followed a wash. 

Everyone seemed to use the in-town recreation option from all types of bikes, speed walkers, runners, and dog walkers. 

And, we saw a ton of wildlife in the wash!

We saw everything from a roadrunner to Vermilion flycatchers to hummingbirds, to Gamble’s quails, and more. 

🦉 When we found a spot just off of it for lunch, we spotted more bird poop and a very cool owl pellet!

Grocery Resupply & Hotel 

Backpacker walking the recreation path in a city.
Walking the Rec Path

After miles and miles off the recreation path, we diverted to Fry’s for some groceries.  It was busy and we were a little overwhelmed as we bought microwave food for the evening and food for a few more days on trail. 

It was 1.6 miles on a sidewalk from there to the hotel over i10. 

Then, it was core time! We started knocking them out:

  • showers
  • laundry
  • charging
  • eating
  • packing our food bags
  • sorting photos
  • finding old movies on TV with commercials (a terrible sci-fi movie and Die Hard 1)

And, looking at the weather forecast to figure out a game plan for the upcoming double storm system.