Unbelievable as it seems, there is less than two weeks till I depart for my third Camino; the Camino Portugués. I feel as I usually do right before a Camino, and that is the $64,000 question, have I trained enough?
The answer I always have is a loud NO! I could have hiked further, I could have hiked harder trails, I could have hiked up and down more mountains, and I could have done a lot more than I did. However, the reality is at this point I do not want to injure myself. And I most probably am well-trained and quite fit.
Having said that let me talk about three of my recent hikes. The first hike this week was around the 8 mile (almost 13 km) loop road in Saguaro National Park East. It is a tiresome hike because it is entirely on tarmac. The tarmac holds the sun’s heat and is quite hard on the feet. However, there are parts of the Camino that are not on dirt paths so I consider it good training for the Camino. The loop road also has some steep ascents and descents. The elevation gain on this hike is 870 feet.
It is springtime and the desert is in full wild-flower bloom. I also saw a wild desert tortoise on the side of the road being guarded by a Park Ranger on his bicycle. The Rangers drive around the loop both in autos as well as on bicycle, I suppose making sure hikers and cyclists are not in trouble or distress.
The next hike was inside the Saguaro National Park on the trails. I walked the Cactus Forest trail to my rock cairn, back to the loop road, took the loop road to the Desert Ecology trail, back to the loop road and then onto the Shantz trail to the trailhead where I parked my car. The total mileage of this hike was 7 miles (11.25 km); the elevation gain was only 308 feet.
The best hike of the week was up Agua Caliente Hill. I hiked that trail with a new friend, one of the Old Pueblo Chapter members, along with 3 of her friends.
This is the trail my son and I hiked when he was visiting. The difference was this time we completed the trail, well not to the summit but to the marker for the turnouts for two other trails. It was wonderful, this time I felt strong both climbing as well as descending.
We saw many wildflowers and even a few of the cactus were beginning to bloom. The climb was steep, the elevation gain was 1,519 feet; and the descent back to the trailhead was quite tricky because of all the rock and scree on the path. But I loved it! It was a fabulous hike with great people. Afterward we all went to Le Buzz for lunch.
Le Buzz is the unofficial meeting site for cyclists, hikers, climbers, horse lovers, and anybody who loves a great European style espresso bar on the east side of Tucson. It is a great place to stop for a tasa de café after a strenuous workout!