After brief introductions at the Catalina State Park trailhead on Monday, September 18, SaddleBrooke hikers began their trek with the temperature hovering around 70 degrees. The sky was another cloudless Arizona blue. In short order, they crossed one of the many dry washes found in the park during the dry season.

Within the first mile or so, guide Bruce Landeck pointed out one of the more interesting crested saguaros found in the Tucson area. Rather than having the crest formed at the tip of the saguaro arm, this example had grown the crest in the center of the cactus. This photo-op of the crested saguaro gave a great opportunity to take a water break before continuing on to Dripping Springs.

Shortly after leaving the park boundary, hikers veered right toward the Catalinas and the Springs. It was clear that the trail had gotten very overgrown. However, another hike guide, Terry McCarthy, had spent significant time clearing the over-growth. Along the trail, there was ample evidence of McCarthy’s hard work, which prevented hikers from suffering many scratches.

Once the group reached Dripping Springs, they stopped for a delightful snack break in the shade at the base of the Catalinas. On the return trip to the trailhead, Landeck pointed out several grinding holes, worn with use by early Native Americans in their food preparation. Archeologists believe that these grinding holes, carved into bedrock, were used to grind mesquite and palo verde beans into flour.

Subscribe to stay connected to Tucson. A subscription helps you access more of the local stories that keep you connected to the community.