Hiking Brown Mountain

After bringing Bertha back from the shop on the 13th, I spend most of my next week in Tucson, AZ focused on work. On the 17th I drive up San Joaquin Road to visit a friend, Malia of Malia’s Miles – a solo full-timer of 16 years(!). The last time we’d gotten together was the summer I worked in Yellowstone, two years ago.

It’s a rainy day so there’s no hiking (or photos), but we have lunch in Malia’s beautiful Class A and talk for a couple hours. Despite the gloomy weather, it’s a good day.

I continue to take my regular evening walks around camp. Snyder Hill BLM continues to be fine, although more and more people are arriving. I wonder if there’s an event or if it’s for Christmas. I’m looking forward to a less popular boondock after this, I’m going to need it to prepare myself for the craziness that is Quartzsite.

I lined up this shot very carefully to avoid having other rigs in it

Dec 20, Wednesday

Remember the work-camping friends I mentioned last post? Well today they both have off from work, so we finally get to go hiking together.

I’ve known Rayn and JJ of Holding Intentional Space since my first summer on the road, and we’ve met up several times over the years. First at Amazon in Reno, Nevada, then up in the eastern Sierra at Rock Creek Canyon, and again this past winter in Ajo, AZ.

After eating a good lunch I throw my camelbak and sun hat in the truck and I drive north to Brown Mountain, located in Tucson Mountain Park. The parking pull-off for the hike is just outside Gilbert Ray Campground, which everyone raves about. At $20 a night, it’s still more than I care to pay, but I’ll admit the area is very nice.

Brown Mountain is a 4.1 mile loop that climbs up, crosses a few little peaks, and then comes back down. If you’re a hiker, it’s pretty easy. If you’re not a hiker, I’d call it moderate.

One thing Snyder Hill lacks is saguaros, the three of us talk about it and decided it’s probably a bit too low in elevation Obviously, this area is better for them, they’re all over!

Did you know that a full-grown and well-hydrated saguaro can weigh 3200 to 4800 pounds? Early in the hike we discover one fallen over the path and I make a comment about not standing under them, to which Rayn replies about a man who went out shooting with his buddies while under the influence. They were attempting to shoot the arm off a saguaro (illegal), and succeeded. The limb fell and crushed one of them, and he died. Well then. We maneuver around it and continue on our way.

Quickly I start to sweat. It’s a clear day and the high is suppose to be 70, but lately it’s been getting hotter than the forecast. It’s not unusual to see 80 briefly in the middle of the afternoon, and then down to 40 in the coldest part of the night. That’s the desert for you. At least after my backpacking adventure this past summer I now have real hiking clothes and my quick dry shirt makes a huge difference.

Before long we’re high up enough to see the surrounding countryside, including the Sonoran Desert Museum. This is another attraction that comes highly recommended, but again I’d rather not pay the entrance fee. The museum has a raptor show (no, not dinosaurs – I was sad too) and we all keep our eyes peeled as JJ seems to recall that it happens at 2 pm, but alas, no birds of prey are sighted. That’s okay, the view certainly isn’t bad from up here.

If you looked at that photo of the three of us, you’ll notice I have my poi with me. They’re pretty easy to carry with any pants have belt loops, I can simply thread them through and tie. I often bring my poi with when I go hiking and at one point high up on a ridge I do stop to use them, being careful not to step on cactus bits.

And the bits and pieces are everywhere, shed from cholla. It makes deviating from the path to get pictures treacherous.

Back at our vehicles, it’s decided that a hot day and a good hike call for ice cream. We drive over Gates Pass to go to Dairy Queen, and Rayn captures this rare picture of Bertha in motion on the way there.

The ice cream hits the spot, and I drive back to camp happy and content. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving Snyder Hill, and it’s always nice to leave on a good note. This camp has treated me quite well, but the tug of wanderlust is pulling me onward!

* * *

After much wrangling with the worksheets and charts, Solo Full-time RVing On A Budget is finally available as a paperback on Amazon. The print edition is $9.99; PDF and Kindle formats are still $7.99. I’ll have some paperback copies of this and The Little Guide To Dreaming Big with me at Quartzsite starting on Jan 17th, if you buy one from me in person I’d be happy to sign or personalize it for you!

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. AZ_Kit on January 5, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    I’ve hiked Brown Mountain, it gets hot quick on that hike if the sun is shining. Also, Gilbert Ray is a great campground, and it only costs half as much for me as a car camper. I was joking while I was there that the dish sinks behind the bathrooms have a perfect sprayer for spraying your whole self – especially if the weather is hot as it often is!

    • Becky on January 6, 2018 at 5:49 pm

      Hah! Sounds like a good plan to me when the weather is hot!

  2. Becky on January 1, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone, glad you enjoyed this and Happy New Year!

  3. Rhonda on January 1, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    May 2018 bring you quiet winding paths, a continued adventurous spirit and gifts of kindness from others…Happy New Year! 🙂

  4. KJ on December 31, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I’ve never seen a saguaro in person. At least not from the car while driving by. Now reading your posts and seeing these photos I’m looking forward to see one!

  5. Terri on December 31, 2017 at 8:45 am

    I can imagine Quartzsite is very overwhelming if you are usually off by yourself. I drove through it once when my brother and I drove cross country and we were just amazed! And that was like 12 years ago, so I’m sure it’s gotten even bigger since then!

    Glad you got to hang out with long-time friends. That poi stuff of yours is neat, I will have to check that out.

    And congrats on getting your book into paperbook format!!! That’s a huge milestone and I am sure it will help boost sales.
    Terri recently posted..Arched Cabins: an option for a tiny home that won’t kill your budgetMy Profile

  6. MnDreamer on December 31, 2017 at 8:43 am

    I’m wishing you the best of fun and safe adventures in 2018, Becky!

  7. Michael on December 30, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    You know what ? It is so much fun to come here. I live in the Arizona desert and your pics and words remind me why I love it so much. May I wish you the best in the coming year and encourage you in your endeavors.
    Michael recently posted..Twas The Night, and The Night Hurt!!My Profile

  8. Ron on December 30, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Great post and congratulations on your book

    Hope you have a great New year with many new adventures and no breakdowns Ron

  9. Judy Blinkenberg on December 30, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    It’s nice you are headed to Quartzite and the RTR. We are in Texas right now and head back to AZ. on the 3rd. We are going to Arches the first week in March 2018. Just hope it’s not too cold. I enjoy rereading your posts. They help us “old folks” very much. Thank you!

  10. JIM on December 30, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Beautiful pics, narration is short and sweet. Excellent!

  11. Malia Lane on December 30, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    It was totally cool to see you again, even if our plans for walking around the desert wasn’t possible. You helped inspire me again – I do think after 16 years, I’ve become a bit complacent about things and you help me see them with new eyes and attitude – a very good thing!

  12. Patricia Hinkley on December 30, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Hey ! I hope your Christmas was a happy one. I enjoy all your posts ! Stay safe out there. Wish you a Happy, healthy and exciting New Year !

  13. Prickly Pear on December 30, 2017 at 11:37 am

    If you are in Tucson again and have a hankering for an icy treat, try a raspado. Oasis on St. Marys Rd. Tucson is a great place to try.

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