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DWTH Day 8: Saguaro National Park West & Wasson Peak

DWTH Day 8: Saguaro National Park West & Wasson Peak


👣 Miles: 17.68

📈 Elevation Gain: 2,615 ft

📉 Elevation Loss: 3,117 ft

Overall Weather: Overcast, Warm

Early Start

We got up early, partly thanks to the loud planes that started at 6:08 am. The planes did, in fact, stop being so loud around 9:30 pm or so last night. 

Surprisingly, despite not raining, our tarp was soaked! Like drenched soaked. We guessed it condensed from just how much it rained a few days ago. Luckily, we stayed nice and dry inside the bug net.

The Climb up Wasson Peak

Honestly, this was a super pleasant climb. Well graded trail, hardly any navigation needed, and plenty of crested saguaros to look at. 

Fun fact: scientists don’t actually know what causes crested saguaros and they only know about 71 of them!

In the lower elevations, it was a birders dream. We saw so many Gila Woodpeckers it was nuts. Also saw several Northern Flickers, a Ladder Backed Woodpecker, some curve billed thrashers, and a few Cactus Wrens. I got quite distracted. 

We didn’t see any day hikers until we got up to a saddle where two trails meet. 

Not long after that, we unfortunately saw a human surface poop on the edge of a switchback. 🤮 I expect better signs about this NPS! I suspect a trail runner with only a water bottle in his hand, but it could have been anyone. 

We got to the uppermost ridge and I convinced Karma to do the out-and-back to the peak itself. At only like 120ft more elevation over .3, why not???

The Summit

We had it to ourselves for about 10 minutes where we took some ridiculous photos. 

Then, we settled into a just off the summit view for a snack break and to make another drink mix. 

As soon as we opened a bar, a Rock Wren came out of nowhere looking for food. It hop-circled us twice. Just as bad as a chipmunk at a picnic area. 

This is why you don’t feed wildlife. 

The Descent

We saw a lot more day hikers on the descent. This made sense because the visitor center was located on that side. 

A group of 3 was clearly having trouble reading their printed out map and we offered to help. The middle aged man quickly declared that they were fine and then proceeded to laugh at our umbrellas when we passed him. Like bro…your voice carries…wait until we’re around the corner. Also, we’re not gonna skin cancer because we bring our own shade!

In some saddle on the way down, we found a few large rocks for lunch where we could dry out our soaking wet tarp. Karma dried it a little faster with a sun wind combo to start.   Meanwhile, I put together veggie burger lunches with mustard packets from the last hotel’s complimentary breakfast. 

Eventually, we got to dip off the NPS trail into a drainage. My knees were so thankful because NPS put in the most awkward stairs. You either take giant steps or shuffle step to switch which leg you went down with. 

That drainage was fun and we started to hear the Gila Woodpeckers again. They sound exactly like a dog squeak toy. 

That wash met another wash which dumped us out on a road to the visitor center. Most cars gave us space but we definitely had to force space a few times by carrying our hiking poles perpendicular to our bodies. If they don’t want their paint scratched, they’ll get over. Surprisingly, that’s a better motivator for drivers than a human on the side of a road. 

National Park to BLM 

We used the bottle fill station outside of the visitor center and their trash cans. 

Blisterfree came up with a pretty sneaky way to decrease the road walk a bit out of the park. We appreciated the dirt under our feet!

Then, we had a bit of a paved road walk out. However, for much of it, we used a great soft shoulder to walk on and eventually hopped up onto what looked like a pipeline. A bit squishy from the rain, but not bad. 

There, we found bobcat tracks! No bobcat, but based on the rain and their current state, we guessed it passed through yesterday. One of the biggest tells that it was a cat was the lack of claws. Cats have retractable claws and canines always have theirs out. The second tell was the slightly larger 2nd toe. Canine toes are more even. 

Eventually, we turned off onto some BLM land and laughed when we saw two truck campers and a van. I pulled up iOverlander and sure enough, the spot was marked. 

We went beyond them and set up right at sunset.