I ran out of water! Essentially I knew there was no way I would make an entire three days in the Catalina’s with only 10L of water.
The night time temperature was warm, in the mid to low 40’s. I had arrived at the saddle at 1pm, beginning the hike at 8:30am. I spent some time exploring before I had arrived and snapped plenty of pictures along the way. My pack weighed in at approximately 50 lbs., almost half of it water weight. Backpacking from a beginning elevation of 3120′, gaining 3760′ in 4.6 miles with a 50 lb. pack wasn’t as bad as I expected, although I may be prejudiced, the Hydraulic™ was wonderfully refreshing and kept me well hydrated along the way. The campsite at the saddle was too nice to pass by so I went no further for the day and enjoyed hot, dry sunshine all afternoon.
The following morning I woke at approximately quarter after 6, a bit later than a typical morning, and quite a surprise considering all the rest I had the night before. Feeling fabulously rested, I set my alcohol stove on a rock, poured and lit the fuel and set a pot of water on the stove before running over to retrieve my food in the bear bag hanging in the tree. I enjoyed a hot cup of ProMotion™ and a wonderful rehydrated breakfast of veggies and ham. While enjoying my breakfast I snapped a few more pictures, cleaned up, packed up and hit the trail, once again beginning at 8:30 am.
I made my way down to the intersection of Finger Rock/Ventana/Esperero intersection by 10:45 am. I’ve been on this portion of the trail (from Ventana to Esperero) several times and the trail seems quite a bit more manicured than it had been in the past. Now on Esperero trail I made my way up to an old friend, The Window, stop for just a minute to enjoy the view of the Finger Rock saddle that so warmly hosted me the night before, then made my way down to the intersection of Esperero and Cathedral Rock trails, arriving here at 2:25 pm.
The Window from the Southeast side…
View from the Window… Finger Rock Saddle (center left)…
Here, I made a quick decision to continue on down Esperero rather than head up towards Cathedral simply because I knew I wouldn’t have enough water for the third day. At this point in the trip I had a balance of approximately 5L of water with 5.2 miles travelled thus far for the day. From this intersection, Esperero carries me down into Sabino Canyon recreation area, another 6.3 mi before I reached the Sabino Canyon road with another half mile left before arriving at the visitors center where I called a friend for a ride home. I stepped off the trail and on to Sabino road with literally seconds left of daylight, walking the half mile road in darkness. I just made it. At the visitors center, while waiting for my ride, I readied my alcohol stove for one last hot cup of delicious ProMotion™ when I realized I was left with less than a half liter of water in my hydration bladder.
Ending my adventure for the moment was apparently a very good choice, I never would have made a second night, as much as I wanted to. I always carry a Katadyn Pocket water filter, weighing a hefty 744 grams (including carry pouch), however, it didn’t make it into the pack this trip. I’ll never make that mistake again, although I was making a sincere attempt to go as light as possible.
A quick couple of notes… please, please, please everyone… practice the “Leave No Trace” mentality. There was entirely too much trash at the campsite and along the trail, for that matter, any trash is too much. Also, I found a camera in a thorn bush just below the intersection of Esperero and Cathedral. I’m currently trying to find the owner by contacting local Meetup groups and posting the find on craigslist, hoping the owner will see the posts. The loss of cameras happens to be a regular occurrence. My suggestion… zippered pockets will prevent lost cameras.
Hope you enjoyed the post. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and/or leave a comment.
If you’re ever in the Tucson area and wish to go on a hike or backpacking I’ll be pleased to head out with you.
Reach Your Summit