Back on the Road Again – Day 1
Laguna Beach, California – Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona
450 miles logged
Leaving California was definitely bitter sweet. Every time we are out there we can imagine ourselves living there someday. The beauty of the ocean and canyons are a nice change for this Midwestern girl. Oh, and the constant sunny skies and warm temperatures are welcoming also. There were lots of emotions leaving my parents house; I even saw my dad tear up a little. But all good things do come to an end, and, reluctantly, it was time to hit the road again.
We are attempting to make it home in 5 days which will take some considerable driving for this bunch. Our first and only stop where we will settle in for two nights is the Picacho Peak State Park outside of Tucson, Arizona. We were in awe by the desert beauty, a beauty that is never justified by photos but I think it gets pretty close in these (featuring photos from our hike that’s detailed below).
We also had our first fire of the trip — all other destinations were fire risks and didn’t allow any fires, so you can say this family was super pumped. Brad bought a total of nine bundles of firewood that he procured from the park rangers.
The first night was spent stargazing at the beautiful Arizona sky. We saw so many constellations using the Starwalk app — the original stargazing iPad app. We had grilled chicken, french lentils, zucchini and it was all delicious, despite Brad accidentally dumping the entire pan of chicken on the asphalt. A little dirt never hurt anyone, right? We ate s’mores for dessert and they were tasty! The Dandy marshmallows are the best and are all natural.
We woke up for a hearty breakfast and geared up ready to hit the hiking trail. We decided to take the Hunter’s Trail up to Picacho Peak. The trail is rated as difficult and is 1.5 miles straight up gaining about 1400 feet of elevation.
We were up for the challenge or so we thought! I had no idea that we would be climbing rocks using steel cables for support. After a few close calls and some white knuckle climbing we all made it to the top and it was worth it. The views were spectacular. We all felt such a sense of accomplishment.
We chose to take the Sunset Vista trail down the backside of the mountain that led us out closer to the camper, or so we thought. We started down the mountain repelling backwards with the help of some steel cabling. That took us about ¼ of the way down the mountain and somehow we lost the trail and found ourselves sliding down a crevice of the canyon. I pushed back the fear and about three panic attacks while trying to help the girls not fall to their death. We were beaten and bruised and full of cactus needles before we actually caught sight of another human on the trail ahead. We were able to navigate over the mountain to meet up with the actual trail still having about 3 miles of walking ahead of us. They whole ordeal was about 5 hours and 6 miles long in which we gained and lost about 1500 feet of elevation.
A word of caution, the trails are not very clearly marked and it is easy to get turned around so if you choose to take this trail in the future, I would highly suggest getting a trail app on your smartphone. I think the girls’ reaction to being done sums up how we all felt fairly well.
We had injuries and mostly our spirit was broken but in typicaly Gershman style, after a long hot shower, some snacks and a margarita or two we were all back in happy moods. I made a feast of grilled salmon and risotto using our Our Place pan, an essential cook wear if you are out in a RV and can only take one pan.
We will be back on the road early tomorrow, slowly but surely getting back to the great state of Indiana!
© Jessica Gershman, 2021