20140213-125159.jpgDESERT DAWN
I took this photo early this morning at our campsite at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Arizona’s border with Mexico. If cacti interest you, you gotta visit this place. I’ve never seen so many different and prolific cacti.

After a 120-mile drive through the wasteland that is the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation we have just arrived at Catalina State Park outside of Tucson. About the only traffic on Arizona 86 was us and the Border Patrol. We must have seen thirty or more Border Patrol vehicles. In addition, we passed through three checkpoints. I say any illegal that has the endurance and resourcefulness to make it across that barren wasteland and evade all those Federal Agents deserves to live in America.

We plan to use the nearby Catalina Mountains as a training ground for our upcoming descent into the Grand Canyon on February 19. If it doesn’t cool down soon we might better call our upcoming hike a descent into Hell (the temperature here is 87F as I write.) Mary’s big brother, Mike, who has a winter residence here, is going to hike with us tomorrow.

We left Yuma earlier than planned because the gold mining opportunities there were not as good as I expected due to a misunderstanding of mine about which organization owned the rights to the nearby mining claim.

Organ Pipe was great. We did a 22-mile bike ride on dirt roads into the mountains and liked it so much we had the inspiration to ride the Continental Divide Trail on mountain bikes at some future time. This trail is roughly equivalent to the Pacific Crest Trail except that it runs the length of the Rocky Mtns from New Mexico up to Montana. We’ll have to do some research but my impression is that much of it follows dirt roads and bicycles are allowed – as opposed to the PCT on which bikes aren’t allowed.

We need to hitch up with my big brother, Lars, in a few days. He’s going to do the Grand Canyon hike with us. In fact, it was his idea although he originally intended to let a hired mule do all the work until he found out they have a 200-lb limit for their mules. (Lars isn’t overly fat; he’s just tall.) Lars’ wife, Hildegaard, is sitting this one out – most likely in a hotel room with cable TV and a large assortment of bon bons.