Atop Pikacho Peak

On Sunday some friends and I decided to go up Pikacho Peak, a peak that stands alone along Interstate 10 and is notably tall with sheer faces. When driving past it on your way between Tucson and Phoenix, you can't miss it. It is now an Arizona State Park. But you might wonder what it looks like from the top, and whether anyone can get up there.

We started about 8:45, later than we wanted but fortunate on an oddly chilly morning. The lady at the entrance collected our $7 fees and reminded us to wear hiking boots and carry two or three liters of water. I went with Chuck Taylor high top sneakers and six liters.

The start seemed not too worrying but soon it was uphill and the water began to weigh.

Once we got to the base, the wheezing and pounding hearts stopped. Things levelled off for a while, but we were soon near edges, seeking footholds and toeholds, and pulling ourselves up on steel cables.

The pictures that can do the most challenging parts of the ascent justice are those where you least want to free a hand or set down a backpack to fetch a camera or phone.

The climb took almost two hours for me, although others in better shape clearly go up in less time. Near the top, you might be pleased to note you are higher than most of the birds living on the peak fly at. There is some satisfaction in looking at hawks from on high.

There are actually two peaks, the shorter of which was far less crowded. Regardless of the peak, you can see entire trains, areas watered and not, and more.

The return was not the knee killer I had feared. However, it was turning almost crowded with all the people coming up. We had to stop in places to let others pass including some older people with what looked like ski poles and a surprising number of foreigners. There were also pairs of young people carrying no water whatsoever. They were not going to be very comfortable. I ended up drinking about two liters, but I should have drunk more.

Sure enough, I wound up with two blisters on my toes, but my shoes are now broken in for the next excursion.

The next day my calves were very stiff, but it was well worth it. That said, I don't know whether I will be in a rush to go up Pikacho Peak again.