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.
The Burro Fire started on June 30th near Burro Tank in the Redington Pass area – the fire burned 27,238 acres.
On 7/13/2017 a final update was issued on Inciweb – the mountain will re-open on 7/14 8am and and all closures will be lifted so that all trails/trailheads on the mountain will be open!! The final size of the fire is estimated at 27,238 acres. The containment is listed at 95% (there is a small area on the NW side of the fire that on the last map still has active perimeter marked). The cause is still listed as ‘Under Investigation’.
Evening: I drove Redington Road to Piety Hill to get a quick look at the impacts of the fire and fire fighting. Close to the road in the burned areas I could see the grass was gone, some or many trees were still standing and in some spots green vegetation was still visible. There were ridges in the distance that looked like they burned hotter – and near the road some of I saw was probably controlled burning by fire crews – but thankfully, at least near the road, the landscape was not a desolate moonscape!
6:40 AM: Yesterday evening 65% containment was announced – and perhaps more telling about the state of the fire residents, business owners and business employees were allowed back up the mountain starting at 3pm yesterday and at this time no additional community meetings are scheduled! (The incident commander, Bea Day, did not give any estimate on when the mountain would be open to the general public.) Redington Road is now open to all traffic. The fire is listed at 27,238 acres. The current map reflects the increased containment with more of perimeter marked as contained on every side of the fire! Rain again last night should help dampen the fire and increase containment (Green Mountain, Dan Saddle and Redington gauges all show rain in the last day on the Pima County ALERT map).
7:38 AM: 27,266 Acres, 51% Contained. Fire crews finished prepping the Control Road yesterday and added more dirt road/dozer lines to the map – the extensive circle of preparations can be seen on the map! Fire growth in Edgar Canyon was minimal even though hot/rugged conditions meant that there were not crews in the Peck Basin area yesterday – the fire continues a slow spread to the east, with hot conditions limiting crews on the ground and established lines to the east the fire is being allowed to grow in that direction for now. Progress was made containing the fire in the Piety Hill, Buehman Canyon and Guthrie Mountain areas.
7:40 AM: Inciweb was updated this AM to report 26,731 acres burned and 36% containment. Fire growth shown on the map this AM is modest. Fire crews with air support have been able to stop the fire at Edgar Canyon and prevent the fire from moving west into the Peck Basin area – east of this area the map now shows a much more extensive set of fire lines surrounding the fire. The southeast portion of the fire has quite a bit less active fire perimeter with area near Buehman Canyon and Piety Hill now shown in black.
5:30 PM: At the community meeting they just announced 36% containment. There is a news article below about two injured firefighters – at the meeting there was a question about the injuries and it was mentioned that they were minor and the firefighters were back at work.
7:20 AM: Inciweb lists the Burro Fire at 25,355 acres and 19% contained. Compared to yesterday note the growth in the Edgar Canyon/Peck Basin area – this area was mentioned multiple times in the Community Meeting last night in part because of the concern that the fire could burn up from this area towards the highway. The map this AM also adds a substantial number of firelines compared to yesterday AM. The southwest side of the fire is now contained. On the west side preparations to hold the fire at the highway have been made including plans for burnouts if needed. On the east side a line has been established from Black Hills Mine Road, across Alder Canyon at Ventana Windmill, out Davis Mesa, across Edgar Canyon down to Lone Hill and then towards the Brush Corral Area (Black Hills Mine Road connects to the Control Road which has been mentioned as a feature that could be used to control the fire – if this line + the Control Road + the highway was held it would encircle a large section of the fire).
7:30 AM: The Burro Fire is currently listed as 24,547 acres with 11% containment. The map as of this AM shows the south side of the fire – along Redington Road – as contained. Since yesterday AM the northern section of the fire has grown and is burning down towards Edgar Canyon.
Evening/Night: Driving north from Benson the fire came into view well before the junction with Redington Road – sun, smoke and fire created several amazing views from the road. Black Hills Mine road is now closed – but with Evans mountain and the slopes down into Edgar Canyon burning the fire was easy to see from Redington Road after it climbs away from the San Pedro. The evening update puts the fire at 24,547 acres 11% contained.
Today, firefighters strengthened control lines along the Redington Pass Road and after cold trailing and mop up of the line, declared that this section of fire perimeter is now contained. Tonight, engines will patrol the area and extinguish hot spots as needed. No additional fire growth is expected in this area.
Prep work along the Catalina Highway is nearing completion. Fire crews have reinforced Firewise mitigations put in place by residents and have set up contingency fire lines as a defensive measure. Crews are prepared to initiate burning operations in front of the fire, should it move westward, threatening structures and other values at risk.
Tonight crews will be patrolling the south eastern perimeter of the fire. Winds are predominately coming from the southeast, pushing the fire back onto itself.
The northeastern side of the fire will be monitored through the night. Incident Fire Behavior Analysts do not anticipate any substantial fire spread in this area over night.
The most active fire behavior on the Burro Fire was observed on the northwestern perimeter. In this section the fire has dropped into canyons where the vegetation is predominantly grass and scrub. Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft were used to impede the fires progress. Under current weather conditions, these canyons are in alignment with the wind, so that fire has the ability to move quickly through the light flashy fuels.
7:10 AM: Inciweb was updated this AM to list the fire at 21k acres – several notes from the update:
There will be a Community Meeting 5:30 p.m., Wednesday July 5, 2017, at the Sahuaro High School, 545 N. Camino Seco, Tucson, AZ 85710. American Sign Language (ASL) and Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) captioning will be provided. The meeting will be live streamed on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BurroFireInfo/
Fire crews continued patrolling and preparing homes and other structures along the Catalina Highway. They also surveyed the terrain between the fire’s western edge and the highway to determine locations where defensive measures might be taken should the fire encroach upon the roadway.
With the support of heavy helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, fire crews built fire line along the southern and eastern flanks of the fire to protect infrastructure as well as cultural and recreational values, and were able to hold the fire north of Redington Pass Road. Despite dry conditions, high heat and outflow winds, firefighters were able to successfully protect ranch buildings in those areas. To date, the suppression efforts have ensured that no structures have been burned.
The terrain on the north eastern side of the fire is rugged and mountainous. No roads exist that would provide access for fire apparatus. Given the topography and lack of access, the decision has been made to rely mainly on air resources to slow the fire’s progress in this area. Contingency plans are in place, should fire activity become a threat to infrastructure as well as cultural and recreational values.
In the maps this AM I noticed two interesting details:
The satellite information on the fire suggests that the fire has made notable progress over the Evans Mountain area and is much closer to Edgar Canyon and Peck Basin.
The maps reflect the note above about holding the fire north of Redington Road – the fire perimeter on the south-east now runs along Redington Road.
Inciweb currently lists the fire at 14,112 acres although more notably the maps from the AM show quite a bit of movement to the south. From Inciweb:
Beginning July 4, Burro Fire Public Information Officers will provide media briefings at 7am and 7pm daily at the Incident Command Post at Sabino High School, 5000 Bowes Road, Tucson Arizona.
The Coronado National Forest has now implemented forest closures from Redington Pass Road and the National Scenic Trail north including Catalina Highway and the Control Rd. to the Pima/Pinal County line. These closures can be found athttps://www.fs.usda.gov/coronado/
Evening/Night: With the Control Road and Highway up the mountain both closed I drove around the north end of the mountain and took Black Hills Mine Road out to the edge of Alder Canyon – this didn’t give me a view of the more active south side of the fire, but it did let me watch as flames and smoke rose from the Evans Mountain area. For the most part the fire stayed behind the ridge – but as night fell all of the small hot spots, hidden in the days, became visible… From Inciweb:
Firefighters made good progress on the Burro Fire. Indirect line construction and structural protection continued to be the focus along the Catalina (Mt. Lemmon) Highway. On the south side of the fire, firefighters continued preparation along the Redington Pass Road. Natural barriers are also being used to aid in suppression efforts. Airtankers and helicopters were used to help delay the fire’s spread where they could be used safely and effectively. With extreme temperatures, we expect to continue to have periods in the afternoons when it’s too hot to fly.
Today’s fire spread was primarily in the southern area of the fire. Firefighters provided structural protection at the Bellota Ranch.
There will be a Burro Fire Community meeting tonight, July 3, 5:30 p.m. at the Sahuaro High School (545 North Camino Seco, Tucson AZ). Please park in the main parking lot the meeting will be in the auditorium. The meeting will be live streamed on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BurroFireInfo/. You must have an account to view the stream live. Following the meeting the recording will be posted, this will not require an account to view.
Firefighters are actively working to fully suppress the Burro Fire. Due the steep, rugged, inaccessible terrain and fire activity, firefighters are currently using indirect tactics. On the west side of the road, firefighters are planning and implementing structure protection along Catalina Highway. On the south side of the fire, firefighters are scouting and planning for preparation on holding the Redington Road. Airtankers and helicopters are being used to help delay the fire’s spread where they can be used safely and effectively. With extreme temperatures, we expect to continue to have periods in the afternoons when it’s too hot to fly.
There are currently 185 personnel working on the fire. Current resources include three hand crews, 14 engines, one water tender, and three helicopters.
6:30 AM: Evacuations have been extended – evacuations in Summerhaven were scheduled to start at 6am this morning. Inciweb now lists the fire at 14,000 acres – up from 5,000 listed yesterday. In the map below from the The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) it appears that the movement on the north side of the fire has been considerable – the fire has burned across Buehman Canyon and certainly looks like it will burn thru the Evans Mountain area. From Inciweb planned actions: “Assess options for indirect line construction and containment using natural barriers. Assess needs for point protection at threatened infrastructure/communities.”
In the AM driving up the mountain the usual traffic was out on the road, you could barely smell the smoke and lower down on the mountain you had to look in the right direction to even know there was a fire. Higher on the mountain the smoke became more and more obvious… I hiked out to several points below Green Mountain to watch the fire – the smoke was impressive, scary, and larger than I expected. I watched cautiously for an hour or so as flames came up onto a ridge near Guthrie Mountain and aircraft dropped fire retardant to try to keep it in the canyon… Driving down the mountain I noticed fire personnel coming down and at the base Police had started to turn away anyone who was not a resident.
5,000 acres (7/2/2017, 11:37:15 AM)
Redington Road closed from milepost 2 to 14 due to Burro Fire.
Burro Fire updates! Evacuations have started. They begin at mile marker 0 up to Palisades Road. North of Palisades Rd is under a pre evacuation status. We understand this decision is sudden however based on the activity of the fire this is the safest and best decision for our residents. Please follow social media and MyAlerts.pima.gov for more updates to follow. Pima County Office of Emergency Management can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pcoem/
Maps suggest that the fire is currently burning between Bullock and Buehman Canyons and is still east of the Green Moutain Trail and just inside the National Forest boundary to the East.
The rain is making streaks across my photos – I am half way up a small side canyon finishing a too-short loop in Buehman Canyon. Often I would welcome the weather – but today, parked on a dirt road I barely know and in a section of canyon I have never visited before, an early exit due to the weather seems like a smart decision and, reluctantly, I continue upwards.
Rather than the the traditional entrance to Buehman Canyon I started on Brush Corral Road – FR4407 – near Pink Tank. From here there are beautiful views of the Evans Mountain area – it is an easy walk to the edge of Buehman Canyon and stunning views of the canyon below.
The descent down a small drainage into the canyon is steep and unremarkable – but the bottom of the canyon is amazing! Interesting rock walls, carved water ways, flowing water, gorgeous colors – the first drops of rain signal an end too my visit much too quickly…
Pima County owns and protects much of the bottom of the canyon east of the forest boundary – the land was donated to The Nature Conservancy in 1996 and in 2011 was transferred to Pima County (who owns the nearby A7 and Six Bar ranches). In the last few miles down to the San Pedro River the canyon becomes a mix of Arizona State Trust Land and private land.
Buehman Canyon is named for Henry Buehman. Henry Buehman was born in Bremen, Germany, in 1851 and before setting off for the US in 1868 he spent 3 years as a photographer’s apprentice. After a short stay in New York Buehman traveled to California where he worked as a photographer for 4 years before selling his business in Visalia to fund mining ventures in Califonia, Utah and Nevada.
After becoming an American citizen Buehman crossed into in Arizona at Stone’s Ferry and equipped himself for a trip into Mexico in Prescott – but in Tucson he ended his journey and soon began working as a photoghaper and dentist.
Buehman made potraits, photographed events and traveled Southern Arizona creating photographs. His studio and photographic business were successful and he purchased 150 acres west of Redington and established a ranch. He lost the ranch after droughts in 1895 and 1896.
In addition to photography Buehman held a number of offices in Pima County and Tucson beginning in 1882 when he was elected as Public Administrator of Pima County and culminating with two consecutive terms as Mayor from 1895 to 1899.
Henry Buehman died in 1912 – but Buehman Studio continued to be run by Henry’s son Albert and grandson Remick. The studio closed in 1950 and in 1967 the Arizona Historical Society purchased the collection. The photos are available for the public to view thru the Arizona Historical Society and are featured in The Buehman Studio, Tucson in Focus.
Looking down into the San Pedro Valley from high on the highway there are a huge number of ridges and peaks to draw your attention – one particularly beautiful peak is Point 5817. Point 5817 is not a massive peak or towering spire – it doesn’t even have a name – but its large cliffs stand out from the surrounding terrain.
We drive around the north end of the Santa Catalina Mountains, down the San Pedro, past the junction with Redington Road, thru the Six Bar Ranch and out to the Davis Spring Trailhead. The road seems a little rougher than it did in 2014. The trailhead is empty – probably be true most days, I don’t think this area is popular with hikers at the moment and is likely more often used by hunters.
One of the tanks below Davis Spring is full and pipes still take water down to the corral. At the corral we leave from the trail sign, but our first guess at the trail is a cow path to nowhere – unsure if the Davis Spring Trail really still exists in any useful form we give up and drop into Edgar Canyon – a great decision that quickly leads to unique rocks, flowing water and reasonably easy walking.
A few minutes above a section of unusual rock we are surprised to find the Davis Spring Trail – and even more surprised that we can easily follow the trail past the junction sign for the Knagge Trail and nearly to Araster Spring before it eludes us on a grassy hillside.
Araster Spring is covered with leaves, the canyon is flowing nearby – a great spot for a a short break before the climb up to the ridge to the north. The hike up to the ridge is filled with steep climbs on grassy hillsides with great views of our destination, Point 5817.
Up on the ridge a barbed wire fence becomes our path and at a small saddle what seems to be a seat hangs on the barbed wire fence surrounded by an old gate, a section of fence pulled down by a tree, a pallet that probably held fencing supplies, old rusted out cans and a shirt nearly destroyed by the elements.
Shadows cover the landscape – from the summit of Peak 5817 the sunset lights up the Galiuros, a nice distraction before the slowest section of the hike – a loose slippery grass filled hillside back down to the trail.
If you are interested in visiting this area see the information at the bottom of this post on visiting Evans Mountain – there is information about the drive to the Davis Spring Trailhead from Tucson, several trip reports from the area and some information about the Six Bar Ranch.
Evans Mountain is an interesting destination – some maps show a trail that takes you to the summit – but I suspect that trail is now (at best) obscure (a summit register entry from 1994 reads “Trail? What Trail?”), Evans Mountain is between the well known Davis Spring Trail and the Brush Corral Trail – both of which have long stretches that are faint or have disappeared back into the landscape and Evans Mountain is only a few miles from the Davis Spring Trailhead – which is marked on some maps but about which there is not exactly an overwhelming amount of information…
*** 8/12/2017 – The 2017 Burro Fire burned over Evans Mountain and down to Edgar Canyon – because many of the hillsides we hiked up to Evans Mountain were covered with brush and grass (no large trees) I don’t think the the the fire will have created any additional obstacles to getting to the top of Evans Mountain, but be aware conditions may have changed in this area! ***
We didn’t bother with an early start – navigating new-to-us dirt roads in the dark didn’t have much appeal – thru Oracle, past San Manuel and just a couple of minutes on Redington Road before turning off onto the road that we hoped would take us up to Davis Mesa and the Davis Spring Trailhead. The first miles ticked by with much better road conditions than expected, but at the junction into the 6 Bar Ranch the road immediately changed – more rocks, more ruts, more sand and much slower progress, a couple of sections demanded the switch to 4wd and our progress slowed – not unexpected, but the smooth first few miles had given us hope for a much shorter than expected drive….
Eventually we arrived at the Davis Spring Trailhead – the drive made made this destination feel remote and the sturdy/clean trail sign seemed almost out of place. Luckily – as promised by the sign – an obvious trail leaves from the trailhead – we hiked past a tank fed by Davis Spring and down to a corral near Edgar Canyon where we found the Evans Mountain Trail #32 trail sign.
We followed the trail, and for a short time felt confident that we had found easy walking on the better-than-expected Evans Mountain Trail – but in retrospect we were probably lured too far east by well worn cow paths to correctly follow the trail’s turn south out of Edgar Canyon – eventually we began to simply pick the most likely route cross-country as worked steadily uphill towards Evans Mountain.
The ridgeline near Evans Mountain was a nice payoff for our climbing – great views! Soon enough we were at the top – from the register it looks like we are the only visit so far this year…
The trip back down was faster/shorter than the trip up – with no plan to even try to find the trail we simply picked a likely direct route and headed down – eventually following a lovely small canyon that had a small arch and a rather large drop near it’s junction with Edgar Canyon. Back along Edgar Canyon we took the cow paths back to the corral and climbed out of the canyon – what a great day! 8.3 miles round-trip with +/- 2700′ of elevation gain/loss.
Based on the summit register Evans Mountains has at least one, and sometimes several, ascents each year. The summit, trailhead and access roads are easily found on (many) topographic maps of the area. The notes/resources below might provide interesting additional information if you want to visit this area [the information below was slightly updated in April of 2016 after another trip into this area]:
I would recommend using a 4wd vehicle with decent clearance to make this drive (this is not a great ‘drive as far as you can and then walk’ destination imho) and be aware that this may be a 2 to 3 hour drive from Tucson. These google map directions should help you get to the turn off Redington Road and this GPX file has a track of our drive from Redington Road to the Davis Spring Trailhead – use this very cautiously, while I suspect this is the best way to the trailhead I don’t know ‘for sure’, wouldn’t be surprised if there was alternate access I am not aware of and based on a trip in 2016 the road seems to get little maintenance.
During our visit there was a strong flow of water from Davis Spring into several different tanks – but from Davis Spring east the sections of Edgar Canyon we saw were dry.
Desert Mountaineer – Evans Mountain – This is a great post about a trip to Evans Mountain and several nearby high points – many thanks to the Desert Mountaineer for responding to our question about the drive to the trailhead!!! Great information and inspiration – a fun site to visit especially if you love off-the-beaten path Arizona adventures!
The Santa Catalina Mountains, A Guide to the Trails and Routes – As with nearly every destination in the Santa Catalina Mountains this guide is worth consulting – there are some details here that are probably useful but in this area (especially post Bullock Fire) it is hard to know how many details are ‘current’ enough to be useful.
Sirena’s Wanderings – Brush Corral Trail and Diary of Scott Morris – Brush Corral Epic – Both of these posts are about the Brush Corral Trail which is on the ‘other side’ of Evans mountain from the Davis Spring Trailhead. The Evans Mountain Trail used to connect the Davis Spring Trail to the Brush Corral Trail. These posts are only vaguely related to the Davis Spring Trailhead and Evans Mountain – they are included since it is worth knowing about this possible alternate approach to Evans Mountain.