Revenge of the Wild Angiosperms! …or Hiking the Sandario Esperanza trail to Wasson Peak in Saguaro National Park…

Download the GPS Track for this Hike!

I’ve been staring down at Wasson Peak from the WASON Intersection for 26 years.

What an enticing network of trails, I’ve often thought…

Why have I never hiked this?

Well, with the woman I love off on myco-safari, today is the day!

Having seen the trails from the air, I know there’s a way to get there from one of my favorite bits of dust, Golden Gate Road; which means I get to combine two excellent activities; dual sport riding, and hiking! What could be better? (Loopback  Datagram: A teensee bit of thought, prior to departure from home, regarding the likely post-hike temperature, and consequently unpleasant ride home, through the sand, might have precipitated a different choice of conveyance… Retrospectacles are a marvel, aren’t they?)

A quick look at the Saguaro National Park Trail Map  indicates the Sandario Esperanza Trail, from Golden Gate Road, is the one I must have been eyeing all these years.

Golden Gate Road didn’t disappoint! The recent rains provided their usual gift of sand to quicken the heartbeat…




Sandario Esperanza Trail Head Parking Lot 

At the trailhead, I found a delightfully shady parking spot. This tiny sliver of shade, the only tiny sliver of shade in the parking lot, would, of course, be reduced to a circle of circumference=CactusDiameter*Pi, when I returned 3.5 hours later, at noon…




Look up and to the left

The Sandario Esperanza trail is a mostly flat, sandy, interconnect between the parking lot and the Hugh Norris trail that approximately parallels the ridge line to Wasson peak. It’s a nice way to get started on an 8 mile hike, and especially nice is that you can see almost the entirety of your impending journey up and to the left.



Hey hey hey! This isn’t spring time! Put those pistils and stamens away! …sheesh…

It was on this short bit of desert beach that I got my first indication of the Kodachromatic extravaganza to come. I know not what they call themselves, but I shall name these, “Happy Yellow Flowers”… Let it be so…


Greetings mammalian biped! Your domination of Telluria is over. You will be subjugated!










The trail narrows, and the sand turns to soil as the foothills are approached.  One plant, who’s name I do know, is positively exuberant, today; Ocotillo!

On a typical desert day, one without the benefit of a recent overdose of dihydrogen monoxide, Ocotillo looks like a collection of dead sticks. Not today! Today, they stretch resplendent; texturing the hills; giant, verdant whiskers.

You Shall Not Pass! …nah just kidding… come on up!

Ascending the trail is a bit like travelling backwards through the pre-natal development of sand.  I wonder how long it takes for the top of the mountain to end up a the bottom…

…hiking nerd, you’re 3 miles from WASON, turn left to join the localizer. Climb and maintain 4000 feet…

<yawn> is it springtime? already?

<sing> Switchback, switchback, switchback love… You might as well love ’em, cuz ya got ’em either way!










For most of the year, Southern Arizona resembles a giant cat box. But not this monsoon season!


Higher and higher, up the Hugh Norris Trail…













Hey! Is that Wasson

…let’s see now… C6H12O6+CO2+Sunlight… Awe heck, someone just pollinate me, already…

Those of you from temperate climes probably think all these pictures of scanty desert flowers are nuts. I know this to be true because I hail from a moister habitat, myself. Around here, this is a veritable explosion of color and procreation! Rejoice! Reproduce! etc.












Perhaps we’re up to the embryonic stage of sand now. Whither the silicon granule zygote? I seek thee!

Trailhead apogee in site! Magnoliophyta applaud in patronizing encouragement of the Terran noob… “Silly cytoflop, locomotion is so sophomoric…”







(queue the screeching hawk)








Fellow ambulators Ahoy! (in the upper left)



In purple remembrance of Ocotillo; now a habitat horizontal; desiccation refuge for desert denizens…









Yeah, the view is great and all, and I may be slightly desensitized by 30 years in the cockpit, but I think the flowers are awesomer!


Are these cheerful orange smilies called poppies?

“WARNING! Trail Obscured by Wildflowers!” …EEK! I’m lost!









“I’m OK!”













Here’s a link to the full gallery of photos from this desert sojourn.


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