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Friday, November 14, 2008

Hiking San Jose Peak (in Sonora, Mexico)

This extinct volcano juts 8335’ and lears just five miles from the AZ-MEX border. Ever since I first saw that peak in 1986 I dreamed of hiking to its top. From my stance it looks like a perfect triangular peak.

Thanks to a group of enthusiastic Tucsonan hikers, my dream will be fulfilled tomorrow.

I have been blogging with an active hiking group from Tucson for over two years now. Most live in the Tucson area. Some are retired and hike most every day, others still earn a living and hike only on weekends. Many of these people know each other in real life and do impromptu hikes all over the greater Tucson area and then post their trail reports and photographs on line. Some of their hikes have been absolutely breathtaking. (But thats easy to say, here in Arizona, where the altitude alone can take one's breath away just getting up in the morning.)

I’ve been following their hikes via their blog. From time to time I add comments. But we have never met in person.

One of the men suggested hiking this peak last month. That caught my eye, since I live so close to the border and see this peak every day.

I asked others in the local hiking club if they were interested in joining me. I got three replies.

One basically told me I was nucking futs. “ Some years back I heard from a neighbor who went there. As I recall, it was described as a beautiful area but controlled by drug dealers who apparently grow illicit crops there. I am not interested in traveling across the border these days. You might want to get some info from G2 folks on the Fort to assess the risk"

Another answered with “This is Mary Jane harvest season, but as a large group we should be OK.”

And my pal "Colonel" Bill would have loved to hike the peak but told me he was signed up for a trip down to Antarctica. I told him to have fun but to watch out for the Ants.

This is a hike I would never do by myself. I don’t even know the word for “trailhead” in Spanish!

I joined the Tucson group for the hike up San Jose peak tomorrow. Now I’m going to be one of the drivers. I already reconnoitered the town a few weeks ago. I know where to eat, I know where to gas up, and I know the route south of town. I even got car insurance for Mexico for this event.

“Be careful” said the insurance agent as I left.

I read all the cautionary warnings on the US State Department website. Naco, Sonora was not mentioned as a specific dangerous spot like Nogales, Cuidad Juarez or Agua Prieta. The website also warned “not to hike alone or in remote areas.” It also went on to say "Don't drive after dark." We don't plan on that.

The hike leader said there is no trail to the peak. It’s a steep bushwack the last few miles. I have no other clues how to bag this peak, but we will and we will do it together. There are nine of us going tomorrow morning and I am so excited!

So, I guess we will see. I am so stoked about this hike. I know my view of Mexico will never be the same after this hike. I will get to see the Huachucas from a Mexican perspective.

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