(Not Finding) Cargodera Spring – 11/23/2017

A tree over Cargodera Canyon. November 2017.
A tree over Cargodera Canyon. November 2017.
Map showing Cargodera Spring. November 2017.
Map showing Cargodera Spring. November 2017.

Thanksgiving – I am standing in the spot marked as Cargodera Spring – a tree hangs over the canyon, there are deer tracks in the sand and a hazy white stain reveals where a bird perched above the canyon floor – we have already worked up and down  canyon from this spot, there are water stains everywhere, but nowhere surface water or signs of Cargodera Spring.

It is really no surprise that we don’t find the spring – topo maps are always best considered beautiful works of historical fiction, often correct, current, and recognizable enough that it is easy to forget that they are frozen in time while the details of the real world constantly change – any blue marking on a map of the Santa Catalina Mountains is suspicious at best…

We watch a single Coati work up canyon standing still until his tall tail disappears – after one last glance for the spring we hike back to the Sutherland Trail and enjoy the sunset on the way out.

Water marks in Cargodera Canyon near where Cargodera Spring is marked on the map. November 2017.
Water marks in Cargodera Canyon near where Cargodera Spring is marked on the map. November 2017.
Another sunny and clear Thanksgiving in Tucson! November 2017.
Another sunny and clear Thanksgiving in Tucson! November 2017.
Sunset near the Sutherland Trail. November 2017.
Sunset near the Sutherland Trail. November 2017.

November Flowers, Sunset, Moon – 11/20/2017

November flowers in Sabino Canyon! November 2017.
November flowers in Sabino Canyon! November 2017.

Flowers in Sabino Canyon lingering boldly into November – it is hard at the moment to imagine the top of the Santa Catalina Mountains turning a winter white, and while I know winter will come part of me feels like this this warm always-summer season will roll right into next year…

November flowers in Sabino Canyon!! November 2017.
November flowers in Sabino Canyon!! November 2017.
Sunset and Saguaro in Sabino Canyon. November 2017.
Sunset and Saguaro in Sabino Canyon. November 2017.
Saguaro and sliver moon in Sabino Canyon. November 2017.
Saguaro and sliver moon in Sabino Canyon. November 2017.

The Full #5 – 9/14/2017

Looking down on the West Fork of Sabino Canyon with Rattlesnake Peak above and Thimble and Rincon Peaks in the background. September 2017.
Looking down on the West Fork of Sabino Canyon with Rattlesnake Peak above and Thimble and Rincon Peaks in the background. September 2017.

Down, down, down… Doing an out-and-back on the Mt. Lemmon Trail, the #5, doesn’t have the same allure to most hikers as the many loops at the top of the mountain – but it has different benefits… Not long after passing the junction with the Wilderness of Rock Trail the #5 takes on a slightly different character – far from obscure, but narrower and distinctly less used. Sections of the trail remind me of the upper CDO, somehow more wild than the well trodden loops at the top. As you wind down the mountain the interior of the Santa Catalina Mountains comes into view.

Admittedly the end of the #5 at Romero Pass is, I think, a bit of an anti-climax – the best views are on the trail above, but at least the pass is usually peaceful, a nice place for break before the long climb back up…

Oak Galls at Romero Pass. September 2017.
Oak Galls at Romero Pass. September 2017.
Near the junction of the Wilderness of Rock and Mt. Lemmon Trails. September 2017.
Near the junction of the Wilderness of Rock and Mt. Lemmon Trails. September 2017.
Fallen across the trail. September 2017.
Fallen across the trail. September 2017.
A Jerusalem Cricket on the Mt. Lemmon Trail. September 2017.
A Jerusalem Cricket on the Mt. Lemmon Trail. September 2017.

Pockets of Fall Color – 10/16/2017

Beautiful colors in Bear Wallow. October 2017.
Beautiful colors in Bear Wallow. October 2017.

In Tucson it is still hot, the only hint of fall a slight cooling trend that takes us down into the low 90s by the end of the week. After being trapped inside for a few days by illness the cool air and fall colors in Bear Wallow were a pleasant surprise. It was great to see so many hikers out and about, many with cameras and tripods capturing the fleeting change of seasons.

Changing colors in Bear Wallow. October 2017.
Changing colors in Bear Wallow. October 2017.

There is more color on the mountain than you might expect – Bear Wallow might be the best single stop in the Santa Catalina Mountains for fall colors, fun to visit camera in hand – but what I really love is stalking the smaller pockets of color scattered across the higher areas of the mountain. Today we hiked around the top of the mountain, wandered down from the Box Elder Picnic Area and pointed at distant hints of color thinking ahead to next week…

Below the Box Elder Picnic Area looking over colorful Aspens at Marble Peak . October 2017.
Below the Box Elder Picnic Area looking over colorful Aspens at Marble Peak . October 2017.
Aspens near the top of Mount Lemmon. October 2017.
Aspens near the top of Mount Lemmon. October 2017.

Flowers and Fire on the Babad Do’ag Trail – 8/14/2017

Pringles Cluster Vine on the Babad Do'ag Trail. August 2017.
Pringles Cluster Vine on the Babad Do’ag Trail. August 2017.
Yellow Trumpet Bush on the Babad Do'ag Trail. August 2017.
Yellow Trumpet Bush on the Babad Do’ag Trail. August 2017.

The Babad Do’ag Trail is surrounded by flowers and green! I am more familiar with the trail in winter when the hillsides are shades of brown and tan, amazing to see it so green – but the trail is quite low on the mountain and, even with a few clouds and a little wind, the heat was… oppressive…

In April of this year the General Hitchcock Highway was briefly closed due to the Molino Fire. News reports at the time indicated that the suspected cause of the fire was recreational shooting. Ultimately the fire was fairly small – around 80 acres – and after the summer rains/growth it is hard to see the fire’s impact. The fire did touch the Babad Do’ag Trail – but only lightly, occasional burned agave mixed in with new growth.

Green growth and black burn from the Molino Fire. August 2017.
Green growth and black burn from the Molino Fire. August 2017.
The April 2017 Molino Fire perimeter in Black - the Babad Do'ag Trail is shown in red. August 2017.
The April 2017 Molino Fire perimeter in Black (a little over 80 acres) – the Babad Do’ag Trail is shown in red. August 2017.
Signs of the April 2017 Molino fire on the Babad Do'ag Trail. August 2017.
Signs of the April 2017 Molino fire on the Babad Do’ag Trail. August 2017.