3am my blasting alarm wakes me up, one eye, opened I hit the off button. In the middle of the night I stumbled through my house, grabbing my backpack, pulled my boots on, and before I knew it coffee in hand was pulling out of my driveway. Wiping the sleep my eyes I found my way to the I-10 heading south for the 3 hour drive to take on Mica Mountain. Mica is one of the big boys surrounding Tucson boasting 5,500 feet of accumulated gain inside 10.5 miles (one way) topping out at 8,666 feet. This morning I headed out for a much needed solo trek, sometimes a little one-on-one time with the trail is just what’s needed to clear the mind and reground the ego.
I found my way to East Redington road which turned into a dirt road for a 12 mile stretch before I found the trailhead, a small pull out on the side of the road. There is a 4WD road that takes you all the way to Italian Spring trailhead, but unfortunately my 2WD truck was going to make the trek so I decided to walk the extra 2.5 miles from Redington Road along the AZT saving my truck some tough terrain. As I pulled up to the pull off I was surprised to see a F150 sitting there with a sweet camper on the back, a mountain bike was nearby leaned against a fence. This guy looked like he had been roughing it for a while.
I grabbed my crap and let out on the trail just as the sun rose. The first section was relatively flat just rolling through a cactus scattered open field. The trail through this section was surprisingly nice and smooth. I pressed on through the Italian Springs trailhead where the 4WD road tied in at a wash crossing. As I trekked through I watched the clouds closely for signs of precipitation, the clouds clumped and dispersed across the sky, it was a beautiful day. After the wash the trail begain to gain in altitude through the foothills leading to the Ricon Mountains (Where Mica Mountain resides). Slowly the plants and terrain started to change. Watching the changes from cactus to pine is always one of my favorite things to see when trekking through desert areas.
Pressing past the foothills the trail really started to pick up in incline and didn’t seem to want to give up as I approach the spine of Mica Mountain. When I was trekking along the flat on the initial approach I thought “oh that doesn’t look too far away”, I trekked some more, then some more, then some more . . . yea not as close as it seems! Climbing I passed through cactus, crossing rolling springs/creeks, trekking through section of beautiful open fields, winding rock trails, and soon manzanita lined trails until finally I reached the burn area which noted that I finally found the spine of the ridge. Burned areas are never all that great to see, always remind me of the end of something beautiful that stood, but also that this was a necessary cycle of the forest here in Arizona. I looked up towards the top and saw patches of green standing pines and knew I would soon be setting foot among them.
I pressed on, and as I did the wind picked up and the temperature began to drop. Soon I was walking among the pines; listening to the winds song through the tree tops just made everything that much better. Sun shining high above the trees and the rays could only touch the ground where the lush green leaves allowed it. The trail twisted and winded up up and on through the trees towards the peak glimpsing expansive views of the valley below as I kept walking.
Finally I reached the peak which only had views of the surrounding forest and the foundation of an old lookout tower. I signed the registry and decided to push the extra half mile to Spud Rock where I got some of those great expansive views over Tucson with Mount Lemon in the distance. The wind was turning pretty well by this point, I threw on my hoody and laid on the rock for a quick rest and snack. Man the views up here really give you perspective of not only the landscape around below but also on how minuscule some issues can be in the grand scheme of things.
I turned, saturated with mountain views and headed back for the truck retracing my steps and snapping pictures the full way. I saw no other soul on the trail and it was kind of nice to have only the sound of the wind and the trail beneath my feet to keep me company. I trekked back to the truck without fault enjoying seeing the same trail that I saw that morning from the opposite direction. Sometimes a solo trek is just what is needed to get everything back in balance and in perspective. What an awesome trek!
Hike Info: http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1863
- Weather: Hi mid 70s, Low in the mid 50s, Sunny
- Water: 2.0 liters
- Food: 2 Clif Bars, 1 Clif Builder Bar, 1 Apple
- Time: 7.5 hours
- Distance: approx 21 miles Round Trip
- Accumulated Gain: 5,500 feet
- Mule Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
- 195 Smart wool long sleeve shirt
- Cotton Handkerchief
- Basketball shorts
- Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
- Arkteryx Hoody
- Smart wool medium weight sox and liners