Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014 – Rocky Ride Day at Saguaro National Park

Because we had some errands to do nearby, we decided to trailer the horses over to the Saguaro National Park, the unit west of Tucson, but from a trailhead on the east side. After stops at an RV dealer where we had found a very good price on a used portable holding tank (one of those things we've managed to live without, but will make life much easier by the having!), and at a feed store, we swung over to the trailhead. It had quite a small parking lot, and fortunately only a few cars, making it possible for me to swing around, otherwise it would have been quite a challenge. A longer rig would really have trouble. I gather this is mainly a hiking trailhead, though I had called and confirmed that horses were allowed on almost all of the trails, so I knew we were good on that rule. We saddled and booted and headed north. I had a plan in my GPS for a 9 mile ride, but we got such a late start, and there were several shorter loops, we opened ourselves up to the possibility of cutting it short. The vistas here are quite striking, as is most of Arizona, but this was like riding in a rock and cactus garden! I never saw so many different kinds of cactus! Saguaro, of course, but lots of others, some that looked like trees, others like pineapple bushes, just an amazing array. Unfortunately, some were quite close to the trail, so if you have chaps, I would wear them! We got several Cling-ons that grabbed us as we were passing. The trail itself had only a few sections where we liked the footing, the rest was quite rocky, at least until we got down to the Picture Rocks Wash, which reverted, naturally, to sand. Along this stretch we found the rock wall that obviously gave the wash its name, with still quite visible pictographs, of a couple of hands, a bird that looked like a road runner, and some others we couldn't figure out. Amazing that they could even be seen after all these millennium. That was some paint! Since it was so late, and the trail was so rocky for the most part, we decided to cut the ride short, so I cut two corners from the ride, and got us headed back. Missed one trail marker at the end of a wash, we reached a point where it would have been about a three to four foot leap, just after squeezing by a large tilted wall, so we turned around to see how we could get around. Turned out there was a small "Trail" sign, but it was hard too see because of a cactus that had become overgrown there. Back on the trail, we continued without incident, finishing our short loop and then taking the last half mile or so on the trail back to the parking lot. An enjoyable ride, but somewhat less so because of how rocky the trails were, and a rather strong cool north wind that kept the temps in the mid-50's. Made one last stop at Tractor Supply to pick up a couple more items we needed, and arrived back in camp just after the sun went down and the temps started dropping even further. Got the horses in their corrals with their warm blankets, since it's going down into the 30's tonight. Settled down for the evening, though we had to watch recorded shows, because the satellite dish had been moved, probably because of the wind.

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