Up to the junction with the Brush Corral Shortcut Trail there is no evidence of the Burro Fire on the Upper Brush Corral Trail – and even below the junction it takes some time to enter areas touched by the fire. But as you get closer to ridge where the Brush Corral Trail devolves into an off-trail route areas burned in the fire start to appear.
Lower on the trail the impact of the burn is more severe but, somehow, maybe because some of this area burned in the 2002 Bullock Fire, the changes in this area don’t seem as shocking as on the top of Guthrie Mountain. The Upper Brush Corral Trail down into the more obscure part of the trail below the Brush Corral Shortcut Trail junction is definitely an interesting way to get a first hand look at the impact of the Burro Fire.
On the ridge out to the short rocky climb before the summit the trees scorched by the fire seemed almost like strange fall colors – but the summit must have burned hotter, here the trees have been transformed into black sticks.
With the trees and brush largely cleared by the fire it is now easy to wander down from the summit for more photos – other areas burned in the Burro Fire attract my attention today – the slopes of Evans mountain and Burro Creek are distinctly brown.
Guthrie Mountain is still very much worth visiting – I was a bit stunned at first by the new look of the summit, but the burned slopes are already spouting new growth and it will be interesting to see what happens as the area comes back to life.
News links from the past few months for the Santa Catalina Mountains – this post was over due already in late June when I was working on finishing it but it was delayed several additional weeks by the Burro Fire. The Burro Fire burned over 27,000 acres in the Santa Catalina Mountains but did not destroy any homes/buildings/infrastructure – news links, maps, pictures and other information from the Burro Fire can be found here.
Giving back in Southern Arizona | Business News | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star: “Summit Hut raised $1,500 for Friends of Oracle State Park, a 4,000-acre wildlife refuge in northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains. It serves as a center for environmental education while providing programming for all ages through interactive programs, trails and avenues for interrelationships and habitats between plants, animals and people.” The Friends of Oracle State Park have done great work over the years and this March the park opened full time for the first time in years!
Stranded bighorns – High Country News: A letter to the editor about the Bighorn Sheep in the Santa Catalina Mountains – the paragraph that caught my attention: “The bighorn release area in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness is hemmed in right up to the Coronado National Forest and wilderness boundary by dense urban development. The bighorn are stranded on a “mountain island.” How will that herd maintain genetic diversity without manipulation by humans?”
Bears, Mountain Lions and even a rabid fox were concerns over the past few months – probably the most memorable item from the articles below is the picture of a bear looking thru the window into a Summerhaven cabin:
4/6/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Exhausted hiker about x7 was given refreshments, helped down to the Horse Around and assisted out on horseback
4/12/2017 Box Camp Trail: A hiker was unable to find a way out of Sabino – found and assisted up the Box Camp Trail
4/15/2017 Nancy’s Thumb, above North Fin in the Windy Point Area: A climber soloed up Nancy’s Thumb (5.4) but was unable to get down – an anchor was set and the climber lowered down and assisted back to Windy Point
4/22/2017 7 Falls, Bear Canyon: A hiker falls and hits his head and feels poorly – helped with hydration and then assisted out on foot and horseback
4/23/2017 Pontatoc Trail: A fall results in an ankle injury – carried out
4/23/2017 Esperero Trail: On the return trip from Bridalveil Falls hikers ran out of water – one continued to the Visitors Center for help. The hiker still on the trail was given refreshments and was able to hike out
4/23/2017 7 Falls, Bear Canyon: Ankle injury – carried out but at x7 reported loss of sensation in her foot – hoisted out by helicopter
5/6/2017 7 Falls, Bear Canyon: A group looking for Seven Falls hiked up Sabino and down Bear – one hiker became exhausted just above the falls – given refreshments and iked out.
5/7/2017 Knagge Trail: A hiker attempting to follow the Knagge Trail got lost and continued off trail before calling for help. A care package was dropped by helicopter, SARA teams met the hiker and they hiked out.
5/7/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Three hikers without lights are met and assisted out
5/20/2017 Romero Canyon: Hikers try to hike back from Romero Pools via the canyon bottom – several end up exhausted – met and given refreshemnts near the mouth of the canyon – assisted out.
5/20/2017 Sutherland Trail: Hikers reach the powerline but exhausted and out of water call for help. They were able to continue up slowly – meanwhile there ride at the top of the mountain went down the Lemmon Rock Lookout Trail to meet them, but the were on the Mount Lemmon Trail – they were found and accompanied back up.
5/23/2017 Wilderness of Rocks: Two hikers planning on hiking up the Lemmon Rock Lookout Trail end up in the dark without water – assisted out.
6/1/2017 Mt.Kimball Area: Hikers see a bear and after calling for help are advised to head downhill away from the bear – disoriented they started down into Ventana before realizing their error and turning around – met and assisted back to the trailhead.
6/3/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Exhausted hiker at the first crossing escorted out
Redington Road had been closed since the start of July due to the Burro Fire – on the first day that it re-opened I drove out along the fire perimeter and hiked to the top of Piety Hill. The Burro Fire was stopped west of Piety Hill and in the sunset light it was hard tell where the Burro Fire burned – I am sure that there are areas that were heavily impacted by the fire but from Piety Hill I can still see green trees and grass below.
Piety Hill is located on Pima County’s A7 Ranch – at 4,714′ it is not stunning high (‘Hill’ is the right name) – but it is high enough to overlook the San Pedro Valley and offer great views of the surrounding terrain! There is no official trail to the top, but the terrain, while steep, is reasonably open and it is not hard to find a way to the top.
From the Lower Oracle Ridge Trailhead it is about 4 miles to get to the top of Apache Peak located on the north end of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Most of the miles are on the Oracle Ridge Trail which traverses below the peak, but there is no established trail for the final steep climb, and in my experience while you can pick better/worse ways to the top there probably is not a ‘great’ way up (the climb is not overly long but expect the standard rocky/loose/brushy off-trail Santa Catalina hillside…).
I arrive at the top just in time for the last light on the ridges to the south, the sun dipping below the clouds on the horizon, city lights coming on thru Charouleau Gap and the moon peaking thru the clouds as it rises over the San Pedro Valley – but tonight it is what I don’t see that is the surprise: no glow from the Burro Fire (currently at just over 27,000 acres), no spots of flame visible on the distant ridges and no obvious/large columns of smoke! The Burro Fire is burning to the south – Apache Peak certainly doesn’t have a view directly into the active part of the fire, but I suspect that the fire would have been clearly visible from here several days ago…
Clouds covering the moon make the hike back down surprisingly dark – spider eyes glint in the headlamp beam and when I finally slow down to look more closely it turns out to be many more spiders than I thought…