Ready to hit the trail

All packed up and ready to fly to Tucson tomorrow, get a shuttle to the border and start walking north.

One of the signs of impending (or perhaps attained) old age is that you have history with a lot more places. My PCT section hike last year was a revisit of hikes that I made as a teenager.

I was born in Tucson and lived there until I was in 5th grade. We spent a fair amount of time outdoors, as my parents both loved to camp and explore the deserts and mountains. We went up to Sabino Canyon or Gates Pass or the Santa Ritas, Santa Catalinas and Rincons for picnics and campouts on a regular basis.

Our house was on what was then the north edge of town, off 1st Ave between Prince and Rogers Roads. The pavement ended after Rogers and there was no bridge over the Rillito Wash. My mom had no problem with the idea of 8 year old boys wandering off into the desert all day to amuse themselves, she was pretty certain we would find our way back by dinner time. And we did, sometimes toting interesting rocks or one of the several desert tortoises we captured and made pets of. Often enough the wildlife came to us — we once found a dead Gila monster in our back yard.

My sister Karen sets her ambush on Mt Lemmon

Of course, Mom didn’t know all that went on. The older boys I tagged along with would pin rattlers down with a stick, grab their tails and whip them around for sport before dashing their heads against a rock. In those days killing snakes was considered a righteous act, ridding dangerous vermin from our environs. We are a little more enlightened now, and I certainly don’t plan on grabbing any snake tails on this hike.

All that was 50 years ago. Tucson has grown by a factor of ten since those days and on the occasions that I have returned, it is largely unrecognizable. That’s the city. I hope the mountains and deserts will be more as I remember them — places of wonder and mystery, enveloped with the dense stillness found only in arid places.