Bears, Horses, Heat – 7/17/2017

Golder Dome disappearing as a storm rolls north. July 2017.
Golder Dome disappearing as a storm rolls north. July 2017.

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.

Pine scents, cold streams, ladybugs: Moments and memories on Mount Lemmon | Home + Life + Health | – Arizona Daily Star: A short article of selected memories of the mountain that were submitted to the paper via Facebook – this was prompted by the Burro Fire and it made me think about all the personal stories about the mountain that we never get to hear…

Permit to operate Sabino shuttle to be opened for ‘competitive process’ – Arizona Daily Star, Sabino Canyon shuttle service to continue – KGUN9: For now the current shuttle will continue to operate while the Forest Service continues to take and evaluate bids to run the shuttle service. The Forest Service took public comments on this process in October 2015 and I think it is fair to say that many people hope to see improvements to the shuttle system – after seeing this article it was interesting to go back and read the 2015 letter from the Forest Service…

Giving back in Southern Arizona | Business News | – 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!

Southern Arizona Rescue Association looking for new volunteers – KGUN9: SARA is an outstanding group that has helped a huge number of hikers/climbers/canyoneers/riders/etc.!!! Tuesday July 18th, 2017 from 19:00 to 21:00 is the next orientation for people interested in joining. New applicant recruitment is done once a year – for more information see this page.

Sonoran Desert wildlife passages win partnership award – Tucsonlocalmedia: The North Oracle Road widening that took place last year included a wildlife crossing bridge and underpass – the work that the Arizona Department of Transportation did in coordinating and collaborating on the wildlife crossings earned it the 2017 Timothy M. Ahrens Partnering Award from the Pima Association of Governments and the Regional Transportation Authority. These crossing help provide a much needed link between the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Tortolita Mountains – two interesting sources for more information are the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection‘s results from the effort to monitor the crossings and AZGF’s funding proposal for a study of the wildlife linkage.

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?”

 Southern Arizona Authors – Arizona Daily Star: A nice review of John Bezy’s A Guide to the Geology of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona: The Geology and Life Zones of a Madrean Sky Island.

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:

The commercial horseback rides on the Linda Vista Trails continued to generate quite a bit of commentary – the permit for the rides was not renewed and the rides have ended.

Hikes and destinations:


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

  • 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
  • 5/19/2017 Red Ridge Trail: Two horses and riders set off down the Red Ridge Trail – one horse spooked and ended up down a steep brushy slope in the bottom of a drainage. A path was cleared and the horse was able to walk back up the to the trail and out without assistance. Horse rescue draws multi-agency response on Mt Lemmon –, HAPPY ENDING: Horse rescued on Mt. Lemmon, minor injury –
  • 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
  • 6/4/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Two xxhausted hikers are given refreshments – one rode out by horse, one hoisted by helicopter. Rescues underway for two hikers near Seven Falls –, Two hikers rescued in Sabino Canyon – KGUN9
  • 6/18/2017 Whitetail Group Area: Lost while hiking around the area – found.
  • 6/18/2017 Esperero Trail: After going up the Ventana Trail and the hiker ran out of water on the Esperero Trail and was unable to continue. Met, given refreshments and assisted out.
  • 6/19/2017 Romero Pass: A hiker coming up from Catalina State Park gets lost above Romero Pass – located, given refreshments and assisted to the top.
A summer storm over Samaniego Ridge from the Golder Ranch area. July 2017.
A summer storm over Samaniego Ridge from the Golder Ranch area. July 2017.

Bears, Steward, Grants, 2006 – 9/10/2016

Clouds over the Santa Catalina Mountains. July 2016.
Clouds over the Santa Catalina Mountains. July 2016.

Bear sightings were in the news last month and this month a female bear who had reportedly followed hikers and tried to enter an occupied cabin was captured and taken to Bearizona in Williams, AZ (the alternative was likely killing the bear). It is worth restating some of the advice from AZGF that can help keep both people and bears safe: 

  • Keeping a clean camp or picnic site.
  • Stowing food, pet food, trash and picnic coolers out of sight and out of smell range of bears.
  • Using bear-proof food and trash receptacles where provided.
  • Washing and stowing cooking utensils immediately after use.
  • Not taking odorous items (toothpaste, lotions, etc.) or clothing used while cooking into tents.
  • Keeping pets leashed.
  • Avoiding contact with bears.

Yearling black bear nabbed on Mt. Lemmon near Tucson –, Nuisance bear removed from Mt. Lemmon –, Young bear captured on Mt. Lemmon (WITH VIDEO) – TucsonNewsNow.

Steward Observatory is celebrating its centennial! From the University of Arizona:

Steward Observatory was officially established in 1916 through the foresight and perseverance of its first director, Andrew Ellicott Douglass. Douglass had come to Arizona in 1894 under the sponsorship of Percival Lowell. He was tasked to establish an astronomical observatory which became Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff. After he joined the University of Arizona faculty in 1906, Douglas sought to build an observatory in southern Arizona. Steward Observatory was made possible by the generous bequest made by Mrs. Lavinia Steward in memory of her late husband, Henry B. Steward.The Steward gift was used to build an observatory on an isolated tract of university land — a former ostrich farm. Its construction, delayed by World War I, was finally dedicated in 1923. The 36″ diameter Newtonian telescope was the first astronomical telescope to have been built using All-American made products.

Arizona State Parks Approves 29 Grants to Enhance Trails throughout AZ: “Arizona State Parks approved grant funding for 29 trail related projects totaling $3,079,377. Funds will be used to improve the state of existing trails and trail facilities and also to develop new trail systems.” This includes Catalina State Park – 80k, Coronado- Santa Catalina NF – 79k, Oro Valley – 30k, Climbing Association of Southern AZ – 73k and Assocation of 4WD Clubs 65k. Trail projects in Arizona to get funding – TucsonNewsNow


10 years ago - Boulders covering the Sabino Canyon Road. July 2006.
10 years ago – Boulders covering the Sabino Canyon Road. July 2006.

Work not over 10 years after historic flooding in Sabino Canyon – TucsonNewsNow, Residents remember Sabino Canyon flood on 10 year anniversary – It has been 10 years since the flooding in the Santa Catalina Mountains that brought huge boulders and massive amounts of debris into the bottom of Sabino Canyon causing millions of dollars of damage to the road and facilities. Other areas in and around the Santa Catalina Mountains were also impacted – but none as dramatically as Sabino Canyon. For a contrast to the flood related footage the City of Tucson posted a 20 year old video from Tucson 12 that showcases the tranquil side of Sabino Canyon from long before the flooding!

10 years ago - road damage in Sabino Canyon after heavy rains. July 2006.
10 years ago – road damage in Sabino Canyon after heavy rains. July 2006.

Mayor Rothschild: City parks need our financial support – A case from the Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild for funding City Parks including a brief discussion of the Land and Water Fund and the statement that he will “be working to make sure we include city parks in any revenue proposal we put before voters”.

Pima County road closures – TucsonNewsNow: There are quite a few washes/roads that can become impassable in stormy weather – if you are using Redington Road to access areas on the south/east side of Santa Catalina Mountains checking its status after significant weather is advisable. Pima County’s Road Closure Information can be helpful as can the Sheriff’s Department Hotline at (520) 547-7510 (as usual expect online information to lag behind the real world…).

North of Tucson, bright hues break out on Box Camp Trail – Inspiring coverage of the Box Camp Trail – “The Box Camp Trail in the Catalina Mountain offers a scenic hike at almost any time of the year, but a trek there in the wake of this summer’s abundant monsoon rains reveals a lush landscape of brilliant wildflowers, waist-high ferns and a gurgling creek.”

Lemmon Meadow: a haven of beauty and tranquility – Nice pictures from the Meadow Trail by Doug Kreutz.

The days are subtly shorter and there have been a few days recently where the temperatures have been beautiful – especially in the evening – certainly Oracle State Park will be having some beautiful days this month, as usual they have an interesting calendar of upcoming events.

Amy Michelle Kijewski was reported missing in early August – her car was found in the Palisades area. Search efforts were suspended several days after she was reported missing. She is described as “5’3″ tall, 135 lbs., with brown hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a royal blue short-sleeve shirt, green or grey shorts that fall above the knee” and her picture can been seen in the news articles about this incident – Sheriff’s department seeks missing Tucson hiker – Arizona Daily Star, Deputies look for missing hiker – KGUN9, Pima County authorities looking for overdue hiker – TucsonNewNow.

Girl, 8, injured in fall from Sabino Canyon tram – In an unusual accident a girl fell from a moving tram in Sabino Canyon – the owner of Sabino Canyon Tours stated “This is the first injury (involving a tram) that we know of in 30 years”.

It is a great time to visit Sabino Canyon – Monsoon rains have amplified Sabino Canyon’s beauty – – but, as always, it is important to be prepared, especially for the heat, when hiking in Southern Arizona – SARA assists in 5 heat-related rescues in Sabino Canyon – TucsonNewsNow.

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

  • Sabino Canyon, The Crack 8/7/2016: A man was hoisted out after a fall.
  • Marshall Saddle 8/10/2016: Hikers were stranded in the dark and assisted out by climbers and SAR teams.
  • Pima Canyon (Off-trail) 8/14/2016: Hikers without lights were helped out by a hiker and SAR Teams.
  • Box Camp Spring 8/16/2016: A hiker was unable to find the trail and requested help – he found the trail after requesting assistance and was met by a Mount Lemmon Deputy and SAR teams on his way out.
  • Butterfly Trail 8/16/2017: A son, part of a group of hikers, went in search of his father who was reported missing. The father was found but then the son was missing – he was found near the Davis Spring junction on the Butterfly Trail.
  • Pusch Peak 8/17/2016: A hiker was reported missing on a hike to the Pusch Peak area – contact was established by phone as he was coming back down and teams accompanied him out when he reached the Linda Vista Trail system.
  • Pima Canyon 8/21/2016: On the return trip from Pima Saddle a hiker slipped and injured his hamstring. He was spotted and hoisted from near the 2nd dam back to the road.

Lightning, Sawmill, Bears, Mountain Lions, Volunteers – 7/20/2016

Lightning over the west side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. July 2016.
Lightning over the west side of the Santa Catalina Mountains – Table Mountain on the far right of the picture. July 2016.

There have been a number of Bear sightings reported recently – mainly near Summerhaven and Organization Ridge. So far “None of these encounters have been dangerous, as nobody has reported any kind of aggressiveness”. AZGF spokesman Mark Hart does not want visitors to “feel alarmed but to be “bear aware” by taking measures to prevent encounters” – some Safety in Black Bear Country information. Bears sighted 15 times on Mount Lemmon since May; officials urge caution –, Mt. Lemmon sees spike in bear sightings – TucsonNewsNow

Towards the end of June Mountain Lion sightings in Sabino Canyon ‘spiked’, but there were no aggressive encounters and AZGF representative Mark Hart points out that with a healthy Mountain Lion population in Sabino Canyon “If you go there a lot and you haven’t seen a mountain lion, one has probably seen you.” Mountain Lion information including what to do if you encounter a Mountain Lion from AZGF. Recent mountain lion encounters in Sabino Canyon prompt new warnings –

100 years ago in Tucson July 26: Mount Lemmon – Includes two great articles from the 1916 Arizona Daily Star about the Santa Catalina Mountains:

  • “SAWMILL NO MENACE TO TIMBER SUPPLY” – Forest Supervisor Don P. Johnson assures the public that the new sawmill in the Summerhaven area “is for the purpose of cutting timber for the erection of bungalows and houses for residents on the Webber homestead” and that “the timber will be used only in the district”. In 1916 the sawmill was owned by Jim Westfall – it had been laboriously hauled up to the Summerhaven area and, as the 1916 article predicted, provided a key resource for construction on the mountain. A second sawmill, brought to the mountain by Tony Zimmerman, would later stand in the same spot.
  • “Luncheon Club to Hear Of Mount Lemmon Road”: Forest Supervisor Don P. Johnson “will give information in regard to the proposed road to Mount Lemmon and will answer any questions put to him with regard to the proposed government aid for highways” – in 1916 the completion of the Control Road from Oracle was still 4 years away, but perhaps more unexpected in 1916 would have been that it would take another 35 years to complete a highway up the south side of the mountain!

A hiker coming back from Hutch’s Pool was separated from his hiking companions – he missed the Sabino Canyon Trail junction and continued up the East Fork Trail, eventually he went up Bear Canyon because he could see the highway and yelled to people at the Seven Cataracts Vista Point for help. The hiker was taken to the hospital for heat related illness. Missing Tucson hiker found in Sabino Canyon –, UPDATE: Missing hiker in Sabino Canyon found safe – TucsonNewsNow, Missing hiker found in Sabino Canyon – KGUN9.

No plans for Tucson to have hiking ban during extreme heat – KGUN9 – Several weeks ago the high temperatures were a factor in a number of deaths in Southern Arizona – one result was that the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board considered a ban on hiking in extreme heat (which was not approved) – according to the article no such ban is being considered in Tucson.

The cover of the August Issue of The Desert Leaf features a lovely picture of Sabino Canyon and calls out the article ‘Caring for the Coronado’. The articles talks about the important work that volunteers have done in the Coronado National Forest, often putting in significant hours and effort to accomplish meaningful tasks that seem unlikely to receive official funding anytime in the near future. It was great to see so many groups that have contributed time, labor, knowledge and resources to the Coronado National Forest mentioned in the article  – Sky Island Alliance, Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol, Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists, Sabino Stewards, Arizona Master Watershed Naturalists, Friends of Sabino Canyon, Tucson Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy.

Summerhaven had their July 4th Parade again this year – a good excuse to head up the mountain to cooler temperatures – probably the highest altitude July 4th Parade in the state! Mt. Lemmon parade patrons spend Independence Day away from heat –

Hittin’ the Trails 4 You: Mt. Lemmon’s Box Camp Trail – a short piece on the Box Camp Trail.

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

  • Oracle Ridge Trail 6/3/2016 – A hiker was unable to continue up the trail, she was assisted out.
  • 7 Falls Tail 6/17/2016 – Hikers without lights were unable to continue after sunset – they were found by a team with lights and fluids and able to hike out.
  • 7 Falls Trail 6/19/2016 – Hikers ran out of water and called for assistance – they were given hydration and were able to continue.
  • Agua Caliente Canyon 7/1/2016 – A knee injury while USFS and AZGF personnel were in Agua Caliente Canyon checking fish necessitated a litter carry out.
  • Romero Canyon Trail 7/3/2016 – An exhausted hiker a short distance up the trail is assisted and walked out.
  • Lemmon Rock Trail 7/9/2016 – A group of hikers were doing a loop on the top of the mountain – Mount Lemmon Trail, Wilderness of Rock, Lemmon Rock Trail – one member was exhausted and unable to continue the climb back up to the top. A team provided supplies and company and helped the group continue up the trail.
  • Pontatoc Canyon 7/10/2016 – A hiker was reported missing but made it out before assistance arrived.
  • Aspen Trail 7/12/2016 – Hip injury on the Aspen Trail.
  • Rose Canyon Lake 7/16/2016 – A person medical issues near the dam was transported out of the area.
  •  Ventana Canyon Trail 7/16/2016 – A hiker, familiar with the area, was unexpectedly out overnight. He was and found and assisted the next day. He had reportedly headed up to The Window with only a bottle of water.
  • 7 Falls Trail 7/18/2016 – A hiker with asthma problems was assisted out, first on foot and then on horseback.
  • West Fork Trail 7/23/2016 – Two hikers set off for 7 Falls, but didn’t recognize it and continued all the way to the junction of the Cathedral Rock and West Fork Trails – at the junction they climbed up the Cathedral Rock Trail and were eventually able to get cell service and call for help. A rescuer was flown into Romero Pass and assisted the hikers down to the Hutch’s Pool area where they were helicoptered out.
Lightning over Samaniego Ridge on the west side of the Santa Catalina Mountains - taken from the Golder Ranch area. July 2016.
Lightning over Samaniego Ridge on the west side of the Santa Catalina Mountains – taken from the Golder Ranch area. July 2016.