Mt. Wrightson has been staring us down since we first came into our boondocking spot near Patagonia in the Coronado National Forest. It's not the tallest peak in AZ, but at 9,453 feet it dominates the southern AZ landscape.
We thought it was time to check out the hike up to the top out of Madera Canyon. It's a 13.2 mile round trip hike with a combined elevation change of 8,600 feet (4,300 each way). Going up through a Ponderosa pine forest was nice after four months in the mostly treeless southwest desert. Even though we were in a pine forest, there was always a plant or two that would pop up to remind us we were still in the desert.
As we climbed we came eye to eye with the observatories on the adjacent mountain.
The craggy ridgeline that was our objective before climbing to the summit came into view but always seemed closer than it really was.
About halfway up the view opened up to the north and the alluvial plain spreading out to Green Valley and the old open pit copper mines in the distance.
The ice cold water of Bellows Spring about 3/4 of the way up was a nice refreshing treat.
Who says it doesn't snow in southern AZ not far from the Mexican border?
Finally above the observatories.
It was a hazy day. The views were spectacular, and the pictures don't do it justice. We couldn't tell if the haze was from dust, smoke from a fire somewhere, Tucson air pollution, or something else.
The walk downhill seemed much longer than the climb up. By the end of the day it felt good to have the peak of Mt. Wrightson in the rearview mirror.
Hikes like these do several things for me. They make me wish I was 20 years younger and 20 pounds lighter. They also make us more and more thankful that we were able to retire at 47 instead of in our late 50's or early 60's. There's nothing that says hikes like these can't be enjoyable in your 60's, but I'm fairly confident that they won't be as easy 10-15 years from now as they are today!