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.

Fire, Fire, Fire, Horses, Tram – 4/22/2017

Sunset from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. March 2017.
Sunset from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. March 2017.

The Molino Fire started on April 4th in the Molino Basin area – the fire was quickly contained and limited to 50 acres. The Forest Service has suggested that the fire was caused by recreational shooting and is seeking information on a ‘person of interest’  – “a tall, white man of husky build wearing a light-colored hat, gray shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes. Witnesses saw him move toward a forest green, mid-1990s Ford Explorer parked in the area.” If you have any information please report it to the Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office at (520) 388-8300.

The Shovel fire started on April 8th near the summit of the mountain and was quickly extinguished.

Redington Road was temporarily closed due to a fire near Milepost 6. 

With 3 fires noted above it probably goes without saying the there is a notable wildfire danger this year and there have been several recent news articles about the subject: Wildfire Risk Goes Beyond Hottest Months, Officials Say – Arizona Public Media, State forester: Abundant grass could spell busy fire season in Southern Arizona – Arizona Daily Star, Tinder-dry vegetation sets the stage for wildfires in Catalina Mountains north of Tucson – Arizona Daily Star

Hikers: Commercial horseback rides are damaging popular Oro Valley trail – Arizona Daily Star: Last month I mentioned a letter in the Arizona Daily Star that was critical of the condition of the Linda Vista Trails since the Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort began offering guided horseback rides on the trails about 6 months ago. There is now a petition that has been given to the Forest Service asking that the renewal of their permit for commercial use of the trails be denied. The Forest Service commented that “an evaluation of the condition of the trail will be completed before a decision is made on renewal of the use permit in May” and a representative from the El Conquistador said that “said the guides leading the rides “want to make sure (the trail) looks good for anybody who visits the area. From a cleanup standpoint, they do quite a lot of cleanup.”

April Snow!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mt. Lemmon snow, no foolin’ –

In mid-March a notable amount of tree fall caused damage at the Boy and Girl Scout Camps and kept several roads closed while trees were cleared. Treefalls in Catalinas close roads, strike Scout buildings – Arizona Daily Star

Trail reports on the Pontatoc Canyon Trail and La Milagrosa Trail – Hittin’ the Trails 4 You: Pontatoc Canyon Trail –, Find a miraculous experience on this trail – Arizona Daily Star

The Coronado National Forest continues to hold meetings about the budget gap they are facing and the restructuring of the Developed Recreation Program – see this page for more informationNational Forest ask for input on funding gap – Green Valley News, Coronado National Forest officials considering budget cuts –, CNF seeks input on changes at recreation areas – Nogales International.

Community members continue to push for improvements to the Sabino Canyon Tram including electric vehicles, credit card payments and an alternative to the current loud narration – an article by Tim Stellar for the Arizona Daily Star contains a number of interesting details including information from an interview with Sabino Canyon Tours owner Donn Ricketts, well worth reading – Pressure increases to get new Sabino tram operator | Latest Tim Steller columns | – Arizona Daily Star, Letter: Sabino Canyon needs a new tram – Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Daily Star weekly outdoor ‘Things to Do’:

Rescues from the Pima Canyon near the trailhead, near Mount Kimball and from the Butterfly Trail:

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

  • 3/4/2017 Pima Canyon Trail: Exhausted hiker helped out
  • 3/6/2017 Pima Canyon Trail: Ankle injury results in a carry out
  • 3/10/2017 Bug Spring Trail: Head Injury
  • 3/10/2017 Seven Falls Trail: Exhausted hiker – walked and then ridden out by horse
  • 3/11/2017 Romero Canyon Trail: 4 hikers assisted out
  • 3/11/2017 Aspen Trail: Lost hikers found and assisted out
  • 3/11/2017 Sycamore Canyon: A group of 8 descending the canyon – they separated into several groups – 1 hiker was unable to follow the Sycamore Reservoir Trail and turned up Bear Canyon (found and helped) – three exhausted hikers were given water/food and gear to spend the night and then short-hauled out the next day.
  • 3/12/2017 Seven Falls: Injury results in a short-haul out
  • 3/13/2017 Bear Canyon: Ankle injury is assisted out on foot and horseback
  • 3/13/2017 Pima Canyon Trail: Ill and unresponsive hiker flown out
  • 3/14/2017 Butterfly Trail: A head injury in the Novio Spring area eventually results in a hiker being flown out
  • 3/16/2017 Bellota Trail near La Milagrosa Canyon: Chest pains reported by a hiker via Personal Locator – hiker flown out
  • 3/18/2017 Palisades Canyon: Rockfall injury during a canyoneering descent – two party members flown out, two assisted out on foot
  • 3/19/2017 Willow Canyon: Hikers became lost in the Rose Canyon Lake area and are assisted out after ending up in the Seven Cataracts drainage
  • 3/20/2017 Window Peak: Hikers become lost when they take the trail up to Window Peak rather than heading down – hoisted out the next morning
  • 3/21/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: An exhausted hiker with medical complications and ankle injury are assisted out
  • 3/25/2017 Seven Falls Trail: A fall on the trail results in a hiker being unresponsive for several minutes – carried and flown out
  • 3/29/2017 Romero Pools: A fall results in a head injury – injured hiker was flown out
Sunset from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. March 2017.
Sunset from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. March 2017.

Bigelow RX Burn, Hilton Horses, Fuelwood – 11/13/2016

Sunrise near Redington Road. October 2016.
Sunrise near Redington Road. October 2016.

Bigelow Prescribed Fire on Mt. Lemmon, Coronado National Forest: On Monday, November 4th, “if conditions such as temperature, wind speed and direction, relative humidity and fuel moistures are favorable” fire managers will burn a 200-acre area around Mount Bigelow. The fire could cause road and trail closures in the area – the Kellogg Trail, Butterfly Trail and dirt roads in the vicinity seem the most likely to be impacted. From the Forest Service News Release “Prescribed fires are among the most effective tools available to resource managers to restore fire-adapted ecosystems. They mimic natural fires by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients and increasing habitat diversity.”

Forest Service Bigelow Prescribed Burn Map. October 2016.
Forest Service Bigelow Prescribed Burn Map. October 2016.

Hilton Tucson El Conquistador opens 18-horse stable – AZBIGMEDIA: The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador, located north of the Linda Vista Trailhead, has opened stables and is offering “trail rides, riding lessons and family friendly adventures for locals and visitors looking to explore the spectacular Sonoran Desert.”

Fuelwood Permits (for personal use only) are available for Mt. Lemmon at the Ranger District Office, 5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road from 11/1 to 12/16 for the 11/1 to 4/16 cutting season. Permits are $20, 1 per household, and “will authorize collection on Mt. Lemmon and in the Oracle area of dry, dead-and-down and dead standing wood (no live branches) less than eight inches in diameter at breast height. Cutting area maps and program regulations will be provided with permits upon request. Permit holders may collect and remove only dry wood from the collection areas.”

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

  • Wilderness of Rocks 10/1/2016: A hiker is stranded off trail by darkness in the area of the Lemmon Rock Trail/Wilderness of Rocks junction.
  •  Windy Point 10/6/2016: A woman injured in the area is carried out.
  • Sutherland Trail 10/8/2016: A hiker is carried out after becoming exhausted on a social trail off the Sutherland Trail.
  • Sabino Canyon 10/13/2016: Three lost hikers in Sabino Canyon below the guaging station, and above the Box Spring Trail, requested helped and were helped upstream.
  • Butterfly Trail 10/17/2016: A biker on the Butterfly Trail was lost in the Novio Spring area and lifted out by helicopter.
Cloud streaks over the edge of the Rincon Mountains from Redington Road, near sunrise. October 2016.
Cloud streaks over the edge of the Rincon Mountains from Redington Road, near sunrise. October 2016.