Home » Blog
Saguaro cactus

At least a century old, a saguaro cactus towers over the surrounding desert in Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, Ariz. Paul M. Ingram | NYT Institute

Hitting the Trail Sans Water Leads to a Great Interview

As a native of Tucson, I made sure to nod knowledgeably when Nancy Sharkey reminded us to drink water. I have a collection of water bottles at home, a couple of Swiss-made metal bottles, which clang spectacularly when tied together, and a triad of blue Nalgene bottles, one of which I almost always have linked to my bag with a carabiner.

So when I took an assignment to cover the vandalism of saguaro cactuses in Saguaro National Monument East, I filled one with ice and water and another with water for the car ride over.

At the trailhead, I pulled on my backpack, made sure my wide-brimmed hat was perched on my head, and grabbed my camera from a bag in the car. Then, I marched up the Douglas Springs trail for a mile hike.

My water bottles were sitting on the roof of my car.

Halfway through the hike, after talking to a hiker who sipped from a water reservoir on his back, I realized my mistake.

I slumped back to the car, found my sweating water bottles and sat down on a bench along with a volunteer ranger, Tori.

Tori marked the time with a book about the desert and a metal tally counter. After a few minutes, a hiker sat down and wiped the sweat from his brow.
After a few minutes of conversation, he gave me a great quote and explained how he was trying to discover a way to get to Tanque Verde peak, where a seasonal creek runs, from the trail we were on. He told me about the history of the park and also quite a bit about his practice of holistic medicine.

I drank my water and listened. And, then I hiked up the trail, my pack weighed down by two bottles of water, as it should be.