After my hike on the Bell Trail I hit the road headed south towards Phoenix. I was excited to see some saguaro cacti, but as I drove I didn't see any saguaros. I headed further and further down in elevation, but still no tall cacti, then I crested a ridge and they were everywhere! I decided right then that I wanted to hike amongst them and I didn't want to have to wait until tomorrow. I had remembered seeing a hike on the north side of Phoenix and so when I stopped the car for gas I looked up the hike and traced out a route to get there. The hike was at a place called Squaw Peak Park and ascended to Squaw Peak itself.
As I made my way through the sprawl that is greater Phoenix, I had a remarkably easy time finding the park, but the entrance was blocked off when I arrived there due to, as I would learn later, a search and rescue operation. I followed the lead of the others and parked outside the park on a side street and walked in. Soon after entering the park I found the Summit Trail and started my ascent.
There were lots of people on the trail, after-all it was a beautiful day and President's Day weekend as well. The ascent was surprisingly steep and I spent much of the hike passing other hikers and getting passed by runners. There were lots of saguaros to gawk at along with the people.
As I was sitting I realized that another, nearby rock outcrop was the true summit. It looked very exposed, but after looking around I found a safe route up to the top.
Despite the waning sunlight there were still lots of people making their way the mountain as I made my descent. While I didn't get to see the sunset from the summit, I did get to watch as the sun slowly made its way lower on the horizon and painted the mountain, cacti and rocks orange until it disappeared.
Lori Piestewa, a part-Hopi woman soldier who was killed in Iraq.