Fees, Tram, Lions, Floods – 11/20/2017

A sun dog to the right - looking over Tucson from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. November 2017.
A sun dog to the right – looking over Tucson from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. November 2017.

A long overdue news catch-up! 

The Forest Service held meetings earlier this year about the restructuring of the Developed Recreation Program (which has a tremendous budget gap) and is now moving forward with a proposal to increase some fees – Forest Fees May Go Up For Some Camping, Day-Use Sites – Arizona Public Media, Coronado Forest officials seek comment on proposed recreation fee increase – Arizona Daily Star, Coronado National Forest – News & Events – Coronado National Forest

Fall always brings color to the mountain – but it can be easy to miss with the color confined to beautiful, but limited areas – this article has some pictures and good suggestions on places to go and some notes about the color lingering into November – Don’t miss this: Autumn is showing its colors in Tucson’s Catalina Mountains – Arizona Daily Star, Fall finale: Autumn color lingers in Catalina Mountains – Arizona Daily Star

The long-running process of permitting the Sabino Canyon Tram continues – in early November the Forest Service issued a final decision that appears to clear the way for upgrades to the shuttle program. Current tram operator takes aim at proposed Sabino shuttle changes – Arizona Daily Star, Letter: Sabino Canyon tours need to upgrade – Arizona Daily Star

Arizona State Parks system wins a prized gold medal – Arizona Daily Star: Arizona State Parks have received a 2017 Gold Medal Award Recipient in the category of ‘State Park Systems’ from the National Recreation and Park Association whose mission is ‘To advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people.’

Oracle State Park: Hiking trails, home tour – The Arizona Republic: It has been great to have Oracle State Park open full-time again – this article gives a nice overview of the park, points out this is the only state park that the Arizona Trail runs thru and includes a short history of the Kannally family whose ranch house is a major part of the park. With the weather cooling off this is a great time of year to visit!

County puts limits on exploding target use – Green Valley News: The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance which bans the sale, possession or use of any target with a mixture of chemicals that will explode after being hit by a bullet. Note that there are a number of exceptions to in the ordinance. Exploding targets are believed to have caused the Sawmill fire.

National Public Lands Day on Coronado National Forest – Tucson News Now,  Visit any of Arizona’s state parks for free on Black Friday – Arizona Daily Star: With some effort there are many ways to visit public lands that don’t require a fee – but there are many – often very popular and well known areas – that you can only visit by paying a fee – thankfully each year many fee areas have select days where access is free!

Three mountain lions – a mother and 2 yearlings – were caught on film near the Sabino Canyon Tram road and there was a possible mountain lion attack on a dog in the Tucson Mountain area (unconfirmed but AZGF notes an increase in mountain lion reports in residential areas this monsoon season). The articles states that photos/video of mountain lions close to the Sabino Canyon tram road are rare but both incidents are good reminders that there are mountain lions in many areas around Tucson. Mountain lion sightings in the Santa Catalina Mountains are relatively rare, and there have been few negative mountain lion/human interactions, but it is important to be aware of these beautiful animals! Female mountain lion, yearlings caught on camera at Sabino Canyo – KVOA.com, Mountain lions spotted not far from Sabino Canyon tram road – Tucson News Now, Dog dies in possible mountain lion attack on west side of Tucson – Tucson News Now

New Oro Valley trail aims at hikers, cyclists, horses – Arizona Daily Star: Planning is going forward on a new trail! The current plan is for a new trailhead off Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and a 1.2 mile earthen path extending northeast along Big Wash. For me the most exciting part of this project is the indication that at some point it may connect the CDO to the Tortolita Mountain Park!!! “The second phase will go from Tangerine Road to Rancho Vistoso Boulevard, and the third phase will be from the Cañada del Oro Wash to Tangerine Road.”

Interesting to see Bighorn Sheep back in the news: continued money to study the sheep in the Santa Catalina Mountains, 32 of the tracking collars are still functional and there was a September 30th aerial survey that should result in a population estimate after photos from the survey are analyzed. Bighorn sheep thrive in mountains near Tucson – The Daily Courier, Hunter Legacy Fund grant allows AZGFD and SCI to continue desert bighorn study – goHUNT

 

The Mount Lemmon Marathon took place recently – news coverage seemed to focus more on the closure of the highway – but to me it was inspiring to see the pictures runners, rather than cars, taking up the entire road and ascending the mountain Mt. Lemmon Marathon this weekend – KVOA.com, Traffic restricted on Mt. Lemmon Highway Sunday morning – Arizona Daily Star, Despite road delays, business still flowed on Mt. Lemmon on Marathon Day – KGUN9

Forests of the Catalinas: Unburned and beautiful | Recreation | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star: The Burro Fire largely burned in areas that are no longer covered by the trail system in the Santa Catalina Mountains – this article points out a few of the beautiful places not impacted by the recent fire.

Local coffee roaster adds Arizona Trail Blend – Copper Area News: Sky Island Roasters, located in Oracle, is selling an AZ Trail Coffee blend and donating a portion of every purchase to the Arizona Trail Association!

Critical water tanks on Mount Lemmon are full, thanks to monsoon – Arizona Daily Star: Good news from the mountain and always great to see a positive story about water in southern Arizona.

An extended season for Rose Canyon Lake! Good news for Tucson anglers and campers: Season extended at Rose Canyon Lake – Arizona Daily Star

Firewood permits are available – Coronado National Forest – News & Events – Coronado National Forest

In late August the Molino Basin restrooms were vandalized with offensive graffiti – Vandals graffiti popular Mt. Lemmon campground – KGUN9, Popular Mt. Lemmon campground vandalized with graffiti – Tucson News Now

It was a fun wildflower season this summer and according to Mark Dimmitt (a wildflower expert and retired director of natural history at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum) this summer was one of the best summers since 1990 for well-spaced frequent wildflower friendly storms. Urban wildflower color abounds in this rain-washed summer – Arizona Daily Star, Tucson deserts burst into summer bloom thanks to abundant monsoon rains | Recreation | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star

I know that our American landscape has value beyond ‘dollars’ to many citizens – but in today’s America I think that even those of us who would rather spend our time talking passionately about the intrinsic value of our public land should be aware and able to talk about public lands as an important part of our economy – Tourists visiting Arizona spent a record $21.2 billion last year | Business News | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star

Looking down on the San Pedro River from a flight out of Tucson - from this angle the Santa Catalina Mountains look strangely small... November 2017.
Looking down on the San Pedro River from a flight out of Tucson – from this angle the Santa Catalina Mountains look strangely small… November 2017.

Today in Arizona History – U.S.News: For September 10, 1936: “on this date, Tucson and Pima County applied to the federal government for permission to construct a 250-foot (76-meter) high dam in Sabino Canyon.” – thankfully that dam was never built!

Neto’s Tucson: Son’s memoir honors mother who raised 6 children on her own – Arizona Daily Star: Published several years ago Jesus Loreto’s The Tortilla Maker: A Social and Historic Mexican American Narrative tells the tale of his family starting with his grandmother who came to Bisbee, AZ from Sonora, Mexico in 1957 and eventually moved to Tucson. In addition to being what looks like a very interesting personal narrative from the Southern Arizona area this book is mentioned here because Loreto’s mother worked on a dude ranch in the Sabino Canyon area.

Tucson time lapse: What do you see? – Arizona Daily Star: This page contains an interesting time lapse view of Tucson – it is not really focused on the Santa Catalina Mountains, but you can see in the time lapse the growth of Tucson which has impacted access to the mountains is creating a situation where the Santa Catalina Mountains are isolated from other mountain ranges – an important concern for hikers, hunters and wildlife.

Throwback Thursday Video: Fall at Sabino Canyon – City of Tucson: A video from 20 years ago about Sabino Canyon.

Tales from the Morgue: Assault in Sabino Canyon | Tucson history and Stories from the Star’s archives – Arizona Daily Star: A strange altercation from the past…

Find spectacular stone arches along Tucson’s Catalina Highway – Arizona Daily Star: The Santa Catalina Mountains don’t have the massive and stunning arches that you can find in southern Utah – but we do have a number of smaller arches and windows – including a number of interesting ones that you can see from the highway!

Hundreds of butterflies add a dash of color to Tucson’s Catalina Mountains | Recreation | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star: A interesting article about the butterflies – in particular the painted lady butterflies, that have been notable on mountain this year.

Why the Catalinas glow pink at sunset – KVOA.com, What’s with those streaky clouds? – KVOA.com: Two quick and interesting articles with the ‘whys’ of some of the beauty in the sky.

Live on the mountain and want to help record data for the National Weather Service? Wanted: Mt. Lemmon snow observer – KVOA.com, NWS Tucson looking for volunteer snowfall observers on Mt. Lemmon – Arizona Daily Star

Bus-sized asteroid 2017 SX17 gives Earth a close shave – Skymania: 2017 SX17 – ‘an asteroid the size of a bus’ – passed within 55k miles of the earth and was first detected by a telescope in the Santa Catalina Mountains that is part of the Catalina Sky Survey.

Wildfire season threatened several telescopes on Mount Graham, Mount Lemmon – Arizona Daily Star: The telescopes on the top of the mountain and near Mount Bigelow were closed during the Burro Fire but thankfully none were seriously threatened by the fire.

Eww! Invasion of the caterpillars in Tucson pool – azfamily.com: Caterpillar invasion! White-lined Sphinx Moth Catepillars invade a neighborhood near Catalina State Park!Man facing charges after holding bobcat captive – KVOA.com: In August a man was charged for holding a bobcat in captivity in the Sabino Canyon and Snyder Roads area – it is suspected that the man was trying to help the animal when it was injured. If you are concerned about an injured wild animal consider contacting the Tucson Wildlife Center.

Hikes and Events:

Summer flash floods and the rescue of stranded hikers were major news items – flash flood related rescues, and sometimes injuries and deaths, are in the news every year, but this year featured larger groups of people stranded than I remember in previous years. While the various discussions about potentially closing resources, how to inform the public and rescues are interesting (and complicated – Star Opinion: Time for a ‘stupid hiker’ rule for some rescues? – Arizona Daily Star) probably the most valuable action you can take is to learn more about flash floods and Tim Stellar wrote an article for the Arizona Daily Star this summer that is a good start – Steller: You can lower flood risk at canyon swimming holes – Arizona Daily Star. Other flood related articles:

Other rescues:

Rescues/Accidents/Incidents including information from the SARCI Newsletter:

  • 7/1/107 Butterfly Trail: New boots caused blisters until he was unable to continue – hoisted out.
  • 7/1/2017 Seven Falls Trail: An exhausted family is met by SARA after reaching the road.
  • 7/1/2017 Green Mountain Trail: A group was helped after a member injured their ankle.
  • 7/4/2017 Seven Falls Trail: Exhausted hiker at Seven Falls is hoisted out.
  • 7/25/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Exhausted hiker hoisted out.
  • 8/12/2017 Butterfly Trail: An exhausted hiker (partly due to medication) was helped on the trail and able to hike out.
  • 8/16/2017 Sabino Basin: A group became separated and was eventually able to ask for help via cell phone – the lost group was helped with directions.
  • 8/19/2017 Anderson Dam: Ankle injury carried out.
  • 9/4/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Hikers were unable to find the trail at dusk and called for help – helped by other hikers.
  • 9/6/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Exhausted hikers.
  • 9/6/2017 Butterfly Trail: Ankle injury – the group tried to continue but eventually called for help – the hiker was hoisted out.
  • 9/10/2017 Sabino Canyon Trail: A hiker with a head laceration is met just above the road in Sabino Canyon.
  • 9/10/2017 Romero Canyon: A hiker missed the trail crossing at Romero Pools, continued downstream, injured his knee and had a history of diabetes – the hiker was hoisted out.
  • 9/10/2017 Bear Canyon: An exhausted hiker is assisted with hydration and helped out.
  • 9/23/2017 Aspen Draw Trail: A hiker with injured ribs is treated and walked out.
  • 9/23/2017 Romero Pools: A hiker with an ankle injury is hoisted out.
  • 10/9/2017 Palisades Trail: Hikers miss the trail below Mud Spring – they were located, helped back to the trail and assisted out.
  • 10/14/2017 Ventana Canyon Trail: A hiker intending to turn around got confused and continued to the junction below The Window – met on trail and assisted out.
  • 10/14/2017 Sycamore Canyon Trail: Hikers who came down Pine Canyon became exhausted hiking out to Prison Camp – one of the hikers went to get water for the other and they were assisted out by campers.
  • 10/15/2017 Golder Ranch Trails: Mountain Bikers coming down from the top of the mountain via the CDO were separated, exhausted – after a 911 call they were all eventually found – two in the Golder Ranch Area and two on the Charouleau Gap Road.
  • 10/21/2017 Pima Canyon Trail: A hiker is treated and assisted out after a fall.
  • 10/21/2017 Brush Corral Trail: A hiker was unable follow the trail below the junction with the Brush Corral Shortcut Trail and was helped back up the mountain.

Peppersauce, Shuttle, Weather, 60 – 2/11/2017

Santa Catalina Mountains from Panther Peak in the Tucson Mountains. January 2017.
Santa Catalina Mountains from Panther Peak in the Tucson Mountains. January 2017.

Photos: Exploring Peppersauce Cave in 1948 | News | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star: The Arizona Daily Star pictures from Peppersauce Cave in 1948! In 1948 Desert Magazine published a rather amazing article about Peppersauce Cave which included the location of the cave and a detailed map. The cave had been used/explored before 1948, but the Desert Magazine article – and a brief mention in a 1951 National Geographic Magazine article – probably contributed to the cave being widely known, and with the cave both widely known and completely accessible trash/graffiti/vandalism have been issues. (BTW there are apparently several versions of how Peppersauce Canyon got its name, but the popular stories involve Alex McKay – a prospector in the 1880s – and, you guessed it, his peppersauce…)

Free shuttle to Sabino Canyon for the holiday season – KVOA.com, Electric bus to Sabino Canyon part of new pilot program – Tucson News Now: An electric bus ran from Udall Park to Sabino Canyon during the holidays – it will be interesting to see if this service is provided next year. When this project was announced I mainly thought about the congestion of the Sabino Canyon Parking lot and the possible convenience of avoiding that – but one of the articles above points out that with several Sun Tran routes serving Udall this service provided a very nice link to Sabino Canyon! (And a bus that provides access to the great outdoors certainly brings to mind to the old pictures of the “Mount Lemmon Bus Line“!)

M.O.V.E. ACROSS 2 RANGES – “Marana, Oro Valley, Experience”,  “One Day. Two Ranges. Hike Challenge.” – This is an interesting event that has a variety of challenges to get you outside and into the Tortolita and Santa Catalina Mountains. Packet pickup and after party are being held at the Oro Valley Summit Hut and Patagonia & Summit Hut will donate $2 for every person who signs up for the event to the Friends of Catalina State Park!

This event is an awesome way to explore nature and get active. Hit the trails and experience the challenge and beauty of Southern Arizona’s Tortolita and Catalina Mountains in one day! Trail run, hike, or stroll through this fun event.  

Arizona State Parks and Trails Celebrates 60 Years and Holds 60 First Day Hikes throughout Arizona on January 1: On Jan. 1 the Arizona State Parks held 60 First Day Hikes to celebrate their 60th anniversary. If you have not visited the Arizona State Parks website you might enjoy visiting the updated site including new Oracle State Park and Catalina State Park pages and a statewide calendar of events.

Coronado National Forest announces fee-free days for 2017 – Tucson News Now: The remaining fee-free days for this year are President’s Day – Feb. 20, National Get Outdoors Day – June 10, National Public Lands Day – Sept. 30 and Veterans Day – Nov. 11.

Arizona Trail Association – Oracle Rumble: The Arizona Trail Assocation added a race to their list of trail running events this year – the Oracle Rumble! With 50 mile, 50k, half-marathon and 10k distances this race could be a great excuse to see the landscape just north of the Santa Catalina Mountains – a great area that is much less visited than the areas immediately around Tucson.

Opinion: Catalinas bighorn sheep reintroduction a win for wildlife and people | Guest Opinions | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star: An opinion piece about the Bighorn reintroduction – the piece makes some positive points about the reintroduction, but for me it seems like the missing piece of the puzzle in making judgments about the project is the knowing what happens long term…

Dog found after getting lost on Mount Lemmon three months ago – KVOA.com: A nice story about a dog lost on Mount Lemmon who was found months later at a San Manuel area ranch!

Buffelgrass pulled at Sabino Canyon – KVOA.com: Sabino Canyon is a popular area and it is great to see Buffelgrass removal taking place there – if you don’t know about Buffelgrass here is some reading from the Desert Museum.

Snow helps Mt. Lemmon firefighters contain blaze to 1 cabin, some trees – Tucson News Now: The plume of smoke from this fire wasn’t huge – but it was very visible – sad that the cabin burned but I am glad the blaze was contained.

Tucson Outdoors Jan. 26-Feb. 3 | Things to Do in Tucson | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Outdoors Feb. 2-10. | Things to Do in Tucson | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star: The Arizona Daily Star has started to do articles with lists of outdoor related events – quite a few different events are covered and you will probably find something going on that you didn’t know about!

The weather felt slightly late this year – but as always snow eventually covered the mountain and brought the standard road closures and overcrowding – slight frustrations compared to the joy of being in the snow an hour or less from Tucson!

Recent links about hikes and adventures:

Rescues/Accidents/Incidents including information from the SARCI Newsletter:

  • 11/13/2016 La Milagrosa Canyon: Ankle injury above Molino Basin at the head of Milagrosa Canyon – hiker carried and ridden out.
  • 11/26/2016 Sutherland Trail: Backpackers loose their way and are found from their cellphone location after calling for help.
  • 11/27/2016 Soldier Canyon below Prison Camp: A climbing fall results in an ankle injury at Jailhouse Rock – climber carried out.
  • 12/7/2016 Pusch Peak Northwest Side Route: A hiker with a knee injury is able to hike out slowly with assistance.
  • 12/11/2016 Wilderness of Rocks: Hikers have trouble finding the trail, call for help and are assisted out.
  • 12/24/2016 Historic Trail in Sabino Canyon: A hiker with low blood sugar is assisted out.
  • 12/27/2016 Rattlesnake Junction, Sabino Canyon: A fall results in a dislocated hip and pelvis fracture – hiker was carried to the tram road and taken to the hospital.
  • 12/30/2016 Pima Canyon Trail: A hiker, possible with cardiac issues, becomes ill and is carried back to the trailhead.
  • 1/6/2017 Blackett’s Ridge: Ankle injury leads to a carry out.
  • 1/7/2017 Sycamore Reservoir Trail: Hikers at a trail sign but in the dark without lights call for help and are assisted out by family members.
  • 1/15/2017 Thimble Peak: Hikers intending to do the Bear Canyon Loop back to Sabino start up Bear Canyon but accidentally leave the Bear Canyon Trail and turn onto the route to Thimble Peak and are unable to continue – assisted out.
  • 1/24/2017 Seven Falls Trail: Hikers have problems with darkness and high water levels, assisted out.

Smoke, Leg Traps, Closures, Survival, Last Release – 12/19/2016

December 2016.
Snowy roads in the Bear Wallow area. December 2016.

Smoke from Mount Bigelow north of Tucson is a good thing – Arizona Daily Star: An interesting article on the Bigelow Prescribed Burn including some good how and why information about the burn.

Sabino Canyon is a beautiful destination but it is often crowded on any weekend with (even vaguely) good weather. Holidays can be particularly busy – to help with the congestion from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 there will be a shuttle from Udall Park to Sabino Canyon. The shuttle will start at Udall Park at 9:15 and run each hour – the last shuttle will leave Sabino Canyon at 4:45. The shuttle can carry 40 people and it could be a nice way to avoid a packed and frustrating experience in the Sabino Canyon Parking Lot!! I believe this is the first year this service has been offered – it might be best to keep a little flexibility in your plans just-in-case the shuttle is full or not quite on time… Free holiday shuttle could help ease Sabino Canyon’s parking hassles | Government and politics | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star, Free Electric Shuttle To and From Sabino Canyon During Holiday Break – City of Tucson

Seasonal gate closures on Mt. Lemmon – Coronado National Forest, Some Mt. Lemon roads, sites to close for winter – KVOA.com, Some roads, day-use sites on Mt. Lemmon close for winter – Tucson News Now

Redington Pass Shooting Closure Extended, One Area Reopens – Coronado National Forest: The shooting closures that has been in place since 2013 has been extended and slightly modified. The area was originally closed while trash and debris related to shooting were removed and the extension is designed to help the area to recover. From the Forest Service:

According to the closure, shooting will be prohibited within 0.6 miles on either side of the road from the western boundary of the Forest to mile marker 6.3. The previous closure prohibited recreational shooting from mile marker 5 to mile marker 7.

This article is about the return of seasonal residents to the area but is included here largely for the interesting bits of information about the Southern Arizona Rescue AssociationSnowbirds back in Southern Arizona, and the wild outdoors beckon

Raven euthanized after caught in leg trap in Redington Pass – KVOA.com: A rather sad story about a Raven found in a baited leg hold trap in the Redington Pass area who was eventually euthanized – these traps are illegal on public lands as is trapping Ravens.

Authorities need help after deer poached in Catalina Mountains – Tucson News Now: “A $1,000 reward is being offered for tips leading to the arrest of the person who killed a Whitetail deer in the Santa Catalina Mountains last month. The Arizona Game and Fish Department said the animal, an untagged Whitetail buck, was found Oct. 9 off Forest Service Road 4496 in the Charoleau Gap area.”

BREAKING: Vehicle reportedly went off the road in Redington Pass – KVOA.com: According to the article one person was rescued and taken to the hospital after an vehicle accident in the Redington Pass area.

History of the San Manuel-Kalamazoo Mine, Pinal County, Arizona – AZGS Document Repository: Not a recent document but I had never seen this short history of the San Manuel-Kalamazoo Mine before and thought it was very interesting.

A Career of Her Own: Edith Shreve at the Desert Laboratory – University of Arizona Campus Repository: Janice Bowers wrote about Forrest Shreve, who worked at the Desert Labratory in Tucson, in the book A Sense of Place - The Life and Work of Forrest Shreve – she also authored this article about Edith Shreve. The article is from 1986 but I had not come across it until recently – it is an interesting read and includes a picture of Edith Shreve during an expedition into the Santa Catalina Mountains in the early 1900s! The name Shreve will be familiar to dedicated Santa Catalina Mountain hikers because of Shreve Saddle on the Sycamore Reservoir Trail.

Ron Hutter was lost on the mountain for several and nights after leaving from the Upper Green Mountain Trailhead for what he intended to be a short hike – thankfully he was eventaully able to walk back to the highway without any major injuries or mishaps. In this article from Tucson News Now –  Hiker recounts fight survival after getting lost – he gives a detailed account of what happened and what he did, worth reading/watching and thinking about. Deputies continue search for missing hiker on Mt. Lemmon – Tucson News Now, Missing Mount Lemmon hiker found OK after being lost for 3 days | Crime | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star, Missing hiker recuperating after spending 3 days on Mt Lemmon – KVOA.com

In November, after the release of 20 more Bighorn into the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona Game and Fish declared that the population has reached a sustainable level and that:

  • No more releases are planned
  • monthly updates about the project will no longer be released
  • not all of the sheep released had GPS collars attached
  • Mountain Lions that kill Bighorns will no longer be pursued
  • AZGF Research Projects are scheduled to end in June 2017

I suppose at this point it will be many years until we know if this project was truly successful…

Recent links about hikes and adventures:

Rescues/Accidents/Incidents including information from the SARCI Newsletter:

  • Wilderness of Rocks 10/1/2016: Hiker stranded by darkness is found off trail near the Wilderness of Rocks/Lemmon Rock junction
  • Windy Point 10/6/2016: An injury requiring a carry out of the patient
  • Sutherland Trail 10/8/2016: A hiker on one of the many social trail off the Sutherland Trail in the Catalina State Park area became exhausted and was carried out
  • Sabino Canyon 10/13/2016: Hikers requested help after hiking down canyon past the guaging station and were helped out
  • Aspen Trail 10/15/2016: Hikers lost the trail but were able to find the trail and reach their vehicle before help arrived
  • Butterfly Trail 10/17/2016: A biker on the Butterfly Trail lost the trail in the Novio Spring area and was extracted.
December 2016.
Snow hiding in the shadow of Mount Bigelow. December 2016.

Sheep, Speed, Heat – 10/21/2016

A Saguaro in the sunset on the rim of Alamo Canyon in Catalina State Park. September 2016.
A Saguaro in the sunset on the rim of Alamo Canyon in Catalina State Park. September 2016.

The Fastest Known Times – FKTs – for the Arizona Trail were last set in 2011 and, with the exception of Kathy & Ras Vaughan’s yo-yo of the Arizona Trail, the Arizona Trail page on the Fastest Known Time site has stayed quiet. But in 2016 there have been two new records!

  • Michael Versteeg (facebook) set the supported FKT on October 19th with a time of 15 days 22 hours 39 minutes
  • Heather “Anish” Anderson (blog, facebook)  set the self-supported (thru-hiker) FKT & women’s overall FKT, on October 27th with a time of 19 days 17 hours 9 minutes (South Bound)

If you thought it felt warm out on the trails in October you were not wrong – the Arizona Daily Star reports that “It was the warmest October on record for Tucson, with an average high of 92.4, an average low of 62.5 and a median of 77.4 degrees.” – the previous record was set in 1952. Yes, Tucson’s October was warm — the warmest on record – tucson.com.

The Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project update for Sept 29 – Oct 26, 2016 contains a number of noteworthy details:

  • Ram 39538 was killed by a mountain lion on 10/21 (33 collared sheep are known to be alive now) – the adult male mountain lion was hunted and killed. At this point the death of another Bighorn and Mountain Lion is not remarkable – but this death prompted the release of some very interesting information about Ram 39538:

    “In February and March of this year, this ram embarked on a month-long trek through the Rincon Mountains and south towards I-10, spending time at Colossal Cave Mountain Park, and venturing even farther south to the train tracks north of Marsh Station Road before returning to the Santa Catalina Mountains. Ram #39538 was captured in the Imperial Hills in 2015.”

  • Aerial and ground surveys were conducted on 9/28 and 9/29 – 19 of the 34 collared sheep were observed which resulted in a calculated 54% observation rate – aerial surveys spotted 37 sheep, ground surveys spotted 20 sheep. The survey resulted in an estimate of 66 sheep in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
  • Rams are no longer showing any rutting behavior.
  • A fourth  translocation of up to 20 sheep is planned for this month.
Blooming Desert Cotton in Alamo Canyon. September 2016.
Blooming Desert Cotton in Alamo Canyon. September 2016.

Visitation, 66, Death, Shuttles, Booms – 10/22/2016

Stars over Sabino Canyon. August 2016.
Stars over Sabino Canyon. August 2016.

Positive Arizona State Park attendance and revenue were highlighted in a news release from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey:

More than 2.68 million people visited the parks, contributing $16.4 million in revenue to the State Parks system, an increase from $14.4 million in fiscal year 2015. Visitors to Arizona State Parks contribute nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to Arizona’s economy, according to a 2014 Northern Arizona University study.

The publicly available year-to-date State Park Visitation numbers show a 1.8% visitation increase thru August across all state parks with Catalina State Park reporting an 8.1% increase  (numbers compiled by Northern Arizona University’s Arizona Hospitality Research & Resource Center, the year-to-date comparison is available in the August Report from the Arizona Office of Tourism Data and Trends page under State Park Visitation). Arizona State Parks Attendance And Revenue Hit All-Time High – Office of the Governor Doug Ducey, AZ report reflects good news for state’s parks – TucsonNewsNow.

The shuttle permit in Sabino Canyon is up for renewal – extensive information is available from the Forest Service. There are also comments from Donn Ricketts of Sabino Canyon Tours in KVOA.com’s article Forest Service considering options with Sabino Canyon tram and short summaries of the proposal and alternatives in Speak out: Public comment sought on Sabino Canyon shuttle service from the Arizona Daily Star. Comments must be submitted by 11/13/2016 – design features that would be implemented under the Proposed Action:

  • Minimize the potential for user conflicts and accidents with the shuttle service and other Sabino Canyon Recreation Area users service by modernizing existing 1970s era shuttle fleet
  • Reduce auditory impacts emanating from interpretive narration service and protect ecosystem integrity by modernizing existing 1970s era shuttle fleet and improving audio distribution system
  • Ensure shuttle operations are in accordance with State and local emissions standards by modernizing existing 1970s era shuttle fleet
  • Protect water quality by minimizing point-source pollution from shuttle service by modernizing existing 1970s era shuttle fleet
  • Protect and reduce impacts to the federally-listed Gila Chub and its designated Critical Habitat found within Sabino and Bear Creeks, and the federally-listed Gila topminnow by modernizing existing 1970s era shuttle fleet and improving sedimentation removal procedures from vented low-water crossings
  • Avoid adverse effects to historic vented low-water crossing within the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

The most important news for Bighorn Sheep in the Santa Catalina Mountains this month was the release of the results from the Arizona Game and Fish population count conducted at the end of September. When the project began the population could be very closely monitored via collars put on all sheep released into the range – but the collars eventually drop off when the batteries are exhausted and sheep born in the range are not collared – at this point the collars no longer give a complete picture of the population. The estimate from the count was a population of 66 – quotes from AZGF before the count stated they would consider an addition translocation if the population was under 70 and the AZGF page for the project now states that a “fourth translocation is being planned, pending survey results of potential source populations.” Recent links:

AZGFD: Deer poached in Santa Catalina Mountains – KVOA.com: “A reward of up to $750 is being offered for information leading to an arrest of a poacher responsible for illegally killing a whitetail deer on Oct. 9 in the Santa Catalina Mountains… the deer’s remains were found on Forest Service Road 4496 near Ruin Tank, in the Charouleau Gap area.” Call 1-800-352-0700 if you have information.

University of Arizona Sky School held guided hikes on the Meadow Trail in October – the Sky School “provides immersive, inquiry-based science programs to Arizona K-12 students. Field experiences focus on core University of Arizona science areas such as sky island ecology, earth sciences, dendrochronology, hydrology, and astronomy, and meet Arizona State Science Standards.” No additional hikes are scheduled at this time but check out their Facebook Page for programs and opportunities.

Hittin’ the Trails 4 You: The Finger Rock Trail – KVOA.com: coverage of a classic hike in the Santa Catalina Mountains – the opening text below the video is pretty accurate… “If there’s a poster child for a leg-burning, lung-busting hike, it resides in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.”

Hittin’ the Trails 4 You: Molino Basin – KVOA.com: The Molino Basin Trail is an easy trail to overlook – it might not become your favorite trail but it is surprisingly nice, especially considering how close to the highway it is.

First flushes of fall color brighten Sabino Canyon – Arizona Daily Star: Even lower on the mountain Fall brings some color to the trees – especially along the canyon bottoms!

Pima Co. Sheriff’s Dept. identifies suspect in serial rape case – TucsonNewsNow: The investigation into this case started with a naked woman was found on the side of Mt. Lemmon Highway – other connected assaults did not take place on the mountain.

The TORCA 2016 PACHANGA is currently going on – based at the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground the event features a number of rides and events and is supported by both local businesses and manufacturers including Specialized, Niner, Ibis, Guerilla Gravity, Trek, Giant, Liv and Rocky Mountain. TORCA is “focused on the All-Mountain and Downhill disciplines of mountain biking with a focus on the Santa Catalina Mountains.”

N4T Investigates: Baffling Booms Update – KVOA.com: Some theories about loud booms that started in May and were heard for about a month by residents near the intersection of Linda Vista and Oracle Rd…

Rescues/Accidents/Incidents including information from the SARCI Newsletter:

  • Sabino Dam 9/3/2016: A hiker injured at Seven Falls was helped after making it to Sabino Dam.
  • Box Camp Trail 9/3/2016: Exhausted hikers who started in Bear Canyon were transported out by helicopter.
  • Seven Falls 9/3/2016: A hiker left his group, ran out of water, lost the trail and received help getting back to the trail and with hydration.
  • Bear Canyon Trail 9/5/2016: An exhausted hiker is carried out.
  • Blackett’s Ridge 9/6/2016: A missing person reported by his family was found below cliffs on Blackett’s Ridge and transported out by helicopter.
  • Pima Canyon 9/7/2016: A hiker who left the Pima Canyon Trail under Rosewood point slipped and fell injuring a leg – transported out by helicopter.
  • Bear Canyon Trail 9/10/2016: Exhausted hiker is carried out.
  • Romero Trail 9/10/2016: An exhausted hiker calls for help but is able to make it back to the trailhead.
  • Bear Canyon Trail 9/10/2016: Exhausted and off-trail hikers are assisted out.
  • Bear Canyon Trail 9/10/2016: A hiker with a shoulder injury sustained while trying to climb slippery rock was assisted with their shoulder injury and able to walk out.
  • Blackett’s Ridge 9/11/2016: A hiker became ill after being stung by bees – after receiving assistance on the trail the hiker was flown out.
  • Lemmon Rock Trail 9/16/2016: Hikers on the Meadow Trail continued along other trails without a map – they were unable to continue in the dark and were assisted out.
  • Molino Canyon 9/18/2016: An ankle injury results in a hiker being carried out via the social trail along the canyon.
Sacred Datura in Lower Sabino Canyon. August 2016.
Sacred Datura in Lower Sabino Canyon. August 2016.