We left Usery Mountain Regional Park and arrived at Picacho Peak State Park near Tucson. The unique shape of the mountain has been a landmark since prehistoric time. The main part of its ridge looks like a camel that resembles a hill in my hometown – Guilin. The park is close to the site of Battle of Picacho Pass where the largest civil war battle occurred in Arizona.
We took on Calloway Trail early in the morning. It was cool and breezy. The trail is 0.7 miles and categorized as a moderate difficult trail. We climbed the hill on the rocky trail. Saguaros dotted the terrain. Some of them were huge. I climbed up a boulder and stood by a giant saguaro with my arms up like the saguaros greeting the morning sunshine. There were some interesting boulders along the trail. Some looked like volcanic tuff, some had rosy colored quartz. A big boulder was covered with shinny beads of minerals. Picacho Peak is not a volcanic peak, but an eroded peak covered with lava flows. A tall saguaro by the trail has just proudly started growing its first arm. It might be at least 50 years old. The skeleton of a diseased saguaro exposed its inner structure. The long strands of pale fiber of the skeleton made some rustling noise when rubbing against each other in the wind. The skeleton arms were still raising up towards the sky. I guess the spirit of the saguaro was still there. American Indians regard Saguaros as their brothers. Each saguaro is like a person but in the shape of a giant cactus. The reward of the Calloway Trail was a bench for us to sit and enjoyed the vista of the valley. I saw a field of green in the distance. I wonder what that could be in the Sonoran Desert.
Sunset Vista Trail is a 3.1-mile trail that is moderate challenging for the first 2 miles but becomes difficult after that. The last section requires hikers to climb the ridge with gloves on to grab the steel cables anchored on bare boulders. I didn’t start the hike until almost 10 in the morning. Some hikers were on their way back. There was even an elder man running back. I planned to take a hike to the point where I was comfortable with. The trail was filled with reddish lava rocks and with some steep steps at some places. The sun heated up fast in the desert. Foothill Palo Verdes were short and only provided a little shade by the trail. There were two shady places on the trail where big boulders shielded the sun and I was able to take a short break. A saguaro with one long arm and one short arm stood right by the trail. I said hello to it. I didn’t meet other hikers for a long time. After about forty minutes, I came to the back of the mountain where the jagged ridges were up against the azure sky. A lava tube like opening laid on the hillside. I guessed it might have contributed to some of the lava flows in this area. A group of Teddy-Bear Cholla looked so soft and shinny by the trail. But I knew their cuddle look belie their sharp spines.
Finally, I saw a guy hiking behind me. We greeted each other when he caught up with me. He said, “Enjoy your walk!” I started to return in order to enjoy my walk. On my way back, I let a young couple and their dog to pass me. The pretty blonde was wearing a white sport top, a baseball hat, and a military green colored pants. The handsome young man was wearing a military green colored vest stuffed with things. When they passed me, I was astonished to see handguns on their waists!!! The girl had her handgun tucked in her pants. The young man had his handgun on his belt. He also carried a backpack. That made me nervous immediately. I stood on the trail and sneaked a photo of their back. Then a girl passed me with a dog on leash. She dressed like that young man. I didn’t pay attention whether she had a gun somewhere or not. I waited until they walked to their truck. The two girls and the dogs sat on the open back of the truck. Strange! It was like watching a movie in which bad guys were under training. I don’t know if it is legal for civilians to carry visible weapons in public in Arizona. I hope the handguns were not real weapons. I wish my hikes will be enjoyable and without danger.