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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Outdoor Adventures leads a moonlight hike for UA students, families


    (Courtesy Selena Quintanilla) Going on this hike with your family on Outdoor Adventures in the Saguaro National Park will definitely make your Family Weekend unique.

    If you are looking for something different to do this Family Weekend, there are plenty of options offered to either supplement or replace the general package of activities for the UA student, parent, and sibling.

    Whether you and your family are native to Arizona or are just outdoorsy people in general, the moonlight hike offered Friday night is something special for anyone.

    Daniel Hartman-Strawn, an experienced guide who works at the Student Recreation Center with Outdoor Adventures, will lead the evening hike.

    “It’s cool to sort of embrace that and go out and be outside in the dark,” Hartman-Strawn said. “It’s also cool because it just reinforces that you are out there away from civilization. It’s much easier to sort of forget that you’re right by Tucson when there’s not traffic or planes flying overhead.”

    The hike has been graded as moderate and traverses eight miles in Saguaro National Park all the way up to Wasson Peak. Further northwest of campus than Sentinel Peak and near the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the trailhead is about a half-hour drive with transportation provided by Outdoor Adventures.

    By the time hikers arrive, the sun will have set and the descent into twilight will begin as hikers start their ascent of Kings Canyon Trail. The hike is set to last around four hours, and hikers will get back to the UA around midnight.

    RELATED: How international students deal with the Family Weekend blues

    Outdoor Adventures is not something that every student who comes across the Rec Center looks into.

    It does offer longer weekend trips and break trips around and out of the state, but the moonlight hike is a regular short trip that may serve as the perfect place for the wilderness-wary to get their feet wet.

    This hike may seem like a big commitment, but in comparison to other Outdoor Adventure trips, it can act as a great introduction to these extra-curricular activities that don’t seem so bad now that the weather isn’t scorching.

    You won’t even have to leave Tucson to see something totally new while spending time with your family in the light of the almost full moon.

    Hartman-Strawn said his favorite part of the short trek is the silhouettes of cacti, the dark mountain peaks and the distance the nighttime emphasizes between the hikers and the city lights.

    At this time of year, you will still find yourself sweating on these mostly shadeless hikes throughout the day.

    At night, though, the weather takes a drastic cool-down due to aridity, and it may surprise some people that a jacket is on the recommended equipment list.

    Hikers should also bring plenty of water, a flashlight and sturdy footwear. Outdoor Adventures will provide snacks, your guide and transportation in the event fee, which is $30 for students and $35 for family and non-students.

    RELATED: Give your family a taste of Tucson at these hole-in-the-wall eateries

    Hartman-Strawn thinks the beauty of the trip is that hikers come into not really knowing what to expect, but leave with a positive experience.

    “A lot of enjoying the outdoors is feeling safe, but that can include being challenged within the context,” Hartman-Strawn said. “You can go knowing that you’re going beyond your individual ability with the knowledge we are compensating for that.”

    Going on this hike will definitely make your Family Weekend unique, setting apart your bonding time from everyone else by getting away from it all.

    You may not get your mountain-conquering selfie after the sun sets, but getting physical in the desert night may be the spiritual break you need in your semester.

    The trek won’t be something you and your family will forget any time soon.

    Follow Gretchen Kaylor on Twitter 

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