If you followed our blog last year, we thank you. We also apologize. What we expected would be only a short break beginning last fall has ended up being a four-month hiatus.
We won’t burden you with a mundane, tediously long explanation for our absence from the blogosphere. Broadcasting the minutiae of our personal life isn’t our purpose when blogging, and we trust it’s not what you’re seeking when you visit hikingcamping.com.
The intent of our blog is to inspire you to hike and camp by providing you with specific, practical, albeit enthusiastic suggestions based on our recent ventures, many of which are beyond the scope of the guidebooks we write and publish.
Now that we’ve resumed blogging, we hope you’ll hang with us again in 2011. We’ll do our best to post once a week.
Just bear in mind, hikingcamping.com is a molecule of a company. The entire full-time staff comprises just two people: me (Craig) and Kathy. And our goal has always been to spend maximum time outdoors, hiking and camping. So it occasionally becomes impossible for us to maintain a quality, reader-focused blog.
At the moment we’re in southern Arizona, near Tucson, camping beneath the Santa Catalina Mountains. When not working on upcoming books, we’re hiking. Though it’s mid-January—the heart of winter—the weather is warm enough that we can stride all day in T-shirts and shorts.
So far, we can strongly recommend several hikes in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness:
• a 17-mi (27.4-km) round trip gaining 3200 ft (975 m) to Romero Pass via the Romero Pools in Romero Canyon
• a 10-mi (16.1-km) round trip gaining 4000 ft (1219) to Mt. Kimball via Five Finger Canyon
• an 18-mi (30-km) loop gaining 1600 ft (488 m) up Sabino Canyon to Hutch’s Pool, then returning through Bear Canyon past the Seven Pools
• the 6-mi (9.7-km) Phoneline trail gaining only 600 ft (183 m) while traversing the east wall of Sabino Canyon between the visitor center and the final tram stop (end of paved road)
And—presuming you’re a camper, not a hotel softie—we can say with certainty that the ideal place to base yourself here is Catalina State Park, in Oro Valley, just off Oracle Road. It’s big, well organized, not overly refined thus reasonably priced, and located at the mouth of Romero Canyon, where a trail network begins at the campsites.
Catalina State Park is also a short drive from a dizzying array of shops and restaurants, which to us seems bizarre but is, we confess, convenient and enjoyable. Whole Foods Market, and Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s, all of which are natural-foods grocery stores, are nearby.
Mexican food, our favourite cuisine, is ubiquitous, excellent, and temptingly affordable. After a big day hiking the Catalinas, we beeline-it to a unique Mexican grill called Chipotle (www.chipotle.com), or to a contemporary tacqueria called Rubio’s (www.rubios.com).
Heck, winter hiking can be such a hot, sweaty activity here, we’ve even patronized Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt.
You’re a fellow Canadian, and you’re in Canada right now? We hope you relish winter, as most Canadians do, and therefore don’t feel taunted when we rave about winter hiking in Arizona.
You’re a genuine, snow-lovin’-and-proud-of-it Canadian? We urge you to consider a mid-winter vacation to this exotic land of saguaro cacti. It’s dreamy this time of year. Hiking opportunities are abundant and superb.
We’ll be back soon with continued hiking/camping advice we hope you’ll put to use when you come down here to thaw and explore.
Regardless where you’ll be hiking, here’s to a high-mileage 2011.