R2R Travelogue 5: Baboquivari, Sacred Peak in Arizona

in travelfeed •  10 months ago 

Day Five: My morning started with another "brutal" winter day in Tucson, land of the "snow birds." The temperatures were way down in the chilly high 50s (°F). I almost had to put a jacket on. Almost ... 😉

With my remaining "wish list" items completed the night before, it was time to leave Tuscon and head west. Goal: Visit two special places and drive over 300 miles. An ambitious schedule!

Photo: Crested Caracara Watches Over Access to Baboquivari

The first stop was to revisit the site of one of the most strenuous days spent in my lifetime. The day I climbed and descended Baboquivari, sacred mountain to the native Tohono O'odham people of southwestern Arizona.

I think you'll really enjoy this one!

Baboquivari Peak - Sacred Mountain

Baboquivari Peak is the most sacred place to the Tohono O'odham people of southwestern Arizona. It towers over the desert floor below and is an imposing sight from a great distance away. The closer you get, the greater that feeling becomes.

Forty years ago (boy just writing that makes me feel older ...) I talked a friend of mine into climbing this peak with me. The only smart thing I did, in preparation, was to insist we camp out in the desert the night before. Then we got up before sunlight and began our adventure.

That day was one of the most strenuous days of my lifetime. I really didn't have any idea of what I was "signing up for."

Photo: Top of Baboquivari Heading S. on Hwy 19

In returning to see it again, you turn S. on Hwy 19 from Sells, Arizona. You see it towering over nearby mountains, as you approach.

On the way to the District Office below, I had the privilege of capturing the introductory photo above, with a Crested Caracara perched in a desert tree. I felt very fortunate to get this photo, as soon after the bird flew off!

Photo: District Office Check-In Point

Before you can drive out to the mountain, you have to register at this office. In so doing, I was advised there was a lot of illegal immigrant activity in the area and to be careful.

I had noticed numerous Border Patrol trucks, plus I had to pass through a checkpoint, on the way to this photo. I had never experienced anything like that, when I had lived in Tucson in the late 1970s.

Once you leave the District Office, you have a little over 12 miles of dirt road to travel, to get to the base of the mountain. Be forewarned, this is not a passenger vehicle road, although some might foolishly attempt it. You need a truck or at least a vehicle with good clearance!

Photo: Getting Closer

Today was a great day out in the desert. I happened to be the only one who was interested in going out there, as I saw no one else.

Photo: And Closer ...

Getting to this spot, I stopped awhile and just admired what a tremendous mountain Baboquivari is. And I reminisced about the climb my friend and I had made forty years earlier.

Photo: Route in 1979!

Given there was no discernible trail, we were left with "bushwhacking" our way up this mountain. If you read my post yesterday, about my hike in Catalina State Park, then you read what walking through these mountains is like.

That hike yesterday was nothing compared to what we did in 1979. We were already somewhat "shredded," by the time we were about half way up the mountain.

Then, the vegetation changed (3rd arrow) to being much more densely packed and leaning downhill, so we were fighting our way up through it, at an angle. We had packs on, which caught on all the vegetation, so it was exhausting.

So much so, that when we got to the base of the rock, we elected to climb up out of there on it. Taking our chances rock climbing, without ropes, vs. continuing to struggle against the vegetation.

I distinctly remember the first ledge we reached and looking back over what we had been through up until that point in the day. And eating some salty corn chips and drinking lots of water. They were the best tasting corn chips ever, due to our exertion and the great need for being replenished.

Once at the top, there was an amazing sense of accomplishment. We had been told, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Gulf of California, as the peak is pretty close to our border with Mexico. I don't recall seeing that, but you could definitely see a long way off.

Climbing down and being short of both water and time, before sunset, we were very fortunate to find something of a trail, which helped considerably. If we had not found that, I don't want to think about what we would have faced, trying to complete the climb back down, in the dark. Through those plants again ... We were definitely not prepared for that. Nor were we prepared to spend the night on the mountain.

Baboquivari is 7,730 ft. in elevation. Sells is 2,392 in elevation. A difference of a little over 5,300 feet. I've done a lot of climbing and hiking in my life and I've certainly climbed great elevation differentials than this. It seemed, at the time, reasonably achievable.

What I failed to grasp, was none of my previous experiences compared to this climb, given all that is stated above.

Photo: Base of the Mountain

In reaching the base of the mountain, I spent a considerable amount of time just taking it all in. Again, I was there alone, with just a gentle breeze blowing. I honestly do not remember what time of year my friend and I climbed this peak, but I know it was not in January and was considerably warmer.

Which is why we were in some trouble with the amount of water we had taken. It is easy to underestimate how much water a person needs in a climate like this one.

Photo: Baboquivari Wilderness Area Information

The information above illustrates how diverse the plant and animal life is around this area, even though it is a desert. Notice the javelina pig. In returning to this area, the one time after my hike and before moving to the Northwest, I was privileged to see a herd of these animals, in the little canyon off to the left of the main peak.

Fortunately, they were at a distance, where I could observe them safely. They are not to be trifled with, as they have been known to do serious injury to both people and pets.

Photo: @roleerob was here!

At the end of the visit, I regretted both not having more time and not having someone close to me to share it with. These challenges are unavoidable and we've likely all experienced them, at one time or another.

I am very grateful, though, to have had the opportunity to relive this great memory.

Baboquivari Mountains Bonus

On a peak at the very north end of these mountains in an observatory - Kitt Peak National Observatory. With 22 optical and two radio telescopes, it is the largest, most diverse gathering of astronomical instruments in the northern hemisphere.

Photo: Kitt Peak Observatory from Hwy 86, Looking South

Why would it be placed here? My memory of the answer, having visited it once, was "light polution" is such a problem for astronomers and their equipment. This location is so far out in the middle of nowhere, that "light pollution" is minimal.

Photo: Kitt Peak Observatory on road to Baboquivari

On our one visit, we were very impressed by it and decided we needed to come back again and spend more time. Unfortunately, that never happened.

If you are in the area, along with visiting the subject of this post, I'd highly recommend visiting this observatory!


This was the first of my two objectives for the day. I have written one post for each, as that is a requirement of the @steemitworldmap community. I love that app and there are some great people in the community!

Overall, another great day in "@roleerob's excellent adventure!" Thanks for going along with me, dear reader. I’d love to hear any feedback you may be inspired to provide.

Until "next time," all the best to you for a better tomorrow, as we all work together to build our Steem Community! 👍 😊

Steemian @roleerob

Posted using SteemPeak and “immutably enshrined in the blockchain” on Friday, 25 January 2019!

  • "R2R" Note: My "shorthand" way of referring to what I first wrote about in my Reflections: My "Road to Recovery" Trip post. "Road to Recovery" <=> "R2R" ... 😉

  • Image sources, unless otherwise noted: My trusty smartphone!

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If you liked this post, you might enjoy others in my "Road to Recovery" Travelogue series:

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What a beautifully described adventurous post.. Well, i never went for hiking because i am not that much fit & fine but this place is really beautiful, full of adventure. You described each and every point beautifully including your journey and feelings. But i think if anyone plan to visit here in hot weather , must take enough amount of water... Thank you for sharing this wonderful place and your experience with us..

Glad to hear you enjoyed this post @priyanarc. Yes, water is definitely a key. When you are in the desert, you quickly come to appreciate what most of us take for granted - the easy availability of water.

Amazing to me how all of the plants and animals survive, as they have to make do with the very little rainfall which comes. But ... They do! 😊

Thank you for stopping by!

Howdy sir roleerob! This is another excellent segment! But I thought you were going to reclimb Mount Baboquivari. Although it looks like a crazy, brutal climb. lol. Maybe next time? The photos of the views up there would be amazing!
Anyway, this is so fun and educational, wonderful job.

No @janton ...

"But I thought you were going to reclimb Mount Baboquivari."

... that was never the plan, as I did well to survive the first time. 40 years ago! I know people tell me "Sixty is the new Forty!" ... BUT ... I'm not that stupid ... 😉 All it tells me is they are not 60 yet themselves ...

I am thankful that I do enjoy good health, but a certain level of conditioning is needed. I am not there and unlikely to ever be again ...

Those pictures are still around. Somewhere. We have moved so many times since that time of my life, I would be hard-pressed to say where. Once back home, I may have time to work through getting all of that organized again. My highest hopes are to get all of that old stuff digitized and stored electronically someday.

We'll see if I live that long ... 😉

haha! howdy again sir roleerob! hey that goal of getting all the old photos digitized is a good one. Do you have to take them somewhere I assume? I need to do that too. Well I think you should start training for that mountain climb and by this time next year you'll be ready! Think of the post that would make! lol..easy for me to say, right?

I hope 60 is the new 40, there's still hope for me! lol..well with strict dieting, exercise regimes and expensive state of the art supplements they may be right but it would be a fulltime job I think!

No @janton ...

"Do you have to take them somewhere I assume?"

... I have an excellent scanner at home. Slow, but very effective. It is just the time commitment. Like most projects in life, I just need to get started and stick with it ...

Thanks for the goal setting help. 😉 The one thing I could do better at is more consistent exercise. I'm doing well, for the most part, on my eating in a disciplined fashion. I did take my children on quite a hike this past summer in the high country of our beloved Uintah Mountains, so I still think I have enough "gas in the tank" to climb Baboquivari again, if necessary ...

Most of this trip is about quiet time and reflection. Good for our souls I believe, as we "rush past" things in life too fast. Actually wrote about that in my most recent post last night.

It was very meaningful to me to just be able to go back out to the base of that mountain and reflect over my life since I had climbed it. I know from a lot of experience that far too many people would never have even considered climbing it in the first place. So ... It was just some good food for thought about "who am I" and "what do I want to be when I grow up" ... 😉

Howdy today sir roleerob! Yes sir, I remember that great post where you took the kids on that mountain hike, that was excellent. What are your goals now that you've retired?

Interesting perspective as it is a different experience when we look back and think about the things we have done younger and how ignorance or pure stupidity impacted our decisions! At least things turned out ok and you can reflect today about that!

Posted using Partiko iOS

Yes, @newageinv ...

"... how ignorance or pure stupidity impacted our decisions!"

... a little of both! 😉

Hiya, @livinguktaiwan here, just swinging by to let you know that this post made the Honorable mentions list in today's Travel Digest #418.

Your post has been manually curated by the @steemitworldmap team, and if you like what we're doing, please drop by to check out all the rest of today's great posts and consider upvoting and supporting us.

Thank you for the honorable mention @steemitworldmap / @livinguktaiwan. I left you a brief note on your post about the title of it, if not too much trouble to change it.

Thanks again!

Congratulations! Your post has been selected as a daily Steemit truffle! It is listed on rank 12 of all contributions awarded today. You can find the TOP DAILY TRUFFLE PICKS HERE.

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Thank you @trufflepig, in your wanderings "to and fro" across the Steemisphere, for letting me know you found my post worthy of being dropped into your truffle bag. Keep up the great work! 👍

Hello @roleerob, thank you for sharing this creative work! We just stopped by to say that you've been upvoted by the @creativecrypto magazine. The Creative Crypto is all about art on the blockchain and learning from creatives like you. Looking forward to crossing paths again soon. Steem on!

Well, thank you very much for that @creativecrypto! I appreciate the encouragement.

Your name is new to me. Curious about how you found my post?

Also very interesting my travel post is considered creative, although I do put a lot of time into creating them and trying to get these photos and such right. Not a professional by any means, but I am not just "slapping them together" either ... 😉

I will definitely continue to Steem along! Back "out on the road" shortly ... 👋

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