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.
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.
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 – KVOA.com
“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!
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.
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.
Ewe #37454 died on March 17 – the cause of death was mountain lion predation and state of the carcass indicated that multiple mountain lions fed on the ewe. The mountain lions were pursued and a subadult mountain lion was killed – a female and another subadult mountain lion were subsequently unsuccessfully pursued.
The update mentions that “The last mountain lion removal occurred just over two years ago, and this was the fourth lion removed as part of this bighorn sheep reintroduction effort.” (Note that
The update puts the “total potential population” at 89 bighorn sheep, but obviously with just under half the population without collars it is difficult to know the exact number.
In places the snow has melted – but there is still plenty of snow on the mountain to enjoy!
There were two Bighorn Deaths in the first part of December. Initial lab tests confirm that Ewe #37448 died of pneumonia. Ewe #37441 was killed by a mountain lion. The latest project updated noted that:
A subcontractor to the project used a drone to monitor his dogs during pursuit of the lion that preyed upon Ewe #37441. The Department routinely uses low-level fixed wing and helicopter flights in connection with wildlife management projects. The pursuit was terminated upon the Department learning of use of the drone as the Department has not completed ongoing evaluation of how to best use such technology consistent with all applicable rules and regulations.
Romero Pools – 11/1: Hiker missed the first crossing, descended the canyon and was accompanied out after reaching the Canyon Loop.
Blacketts Ridge – 11/5: Hiker with chest pains lifted out
Windy Point – 11/11: Fall
Agua Caliente Canyon – 11/22: Ankle injury while coming down the canyon
Marshall Gulch – 11/27: 30′ Fall
Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement – Open for Comment: This site is focused on the Santa Catalina Mountains, but Grand Canyon National Park is probably of interest to almost anyone in Arizona who loves the outdoors… The comment period is currently open on a new Backcountry Management Plan – if you care about the Grand Canyon it is worth reading. This plan is mentioned here in part because the current Preferred Alternative includes seasonal permits and fees for day hiking to the Colorado River on the major corridor trails and notes the potential for future daily use limits, year round permits and similar policies for other trails. This would be a huge change for hiking in the Grand Canyon – please consider commenting. From the plan:
Implemented on [Backcountry Management Plan] Adoption
Day use permits required seasonally for [the North Kaibab Trail below the Manzanita Resthouse, South Kaibab Trail below the Tip Off and the Bright Angel Trail below the junction with the Tonto Trail]
Expected cost of day use permit at least $5 per person per day
Outreach and user education
User monitoring and data gathering
Protocols for Special Use Permits
Potential Adaptive Management
For [the North Kaibab Trail below Manzanita Resthouse, South Kaibab Trail below the Tip Off and the Bright Angel Trail below the junction with the Tonto Trail]
Implement group size limits (e.g., 30); adjust limits as research determines
Daily use limits (e.g., 250); adjust limits as research determines
On 9/21 the carcass of Bighorn ewe ID 37442 was found in the Santa Catalina Mountains – a field necropsy showed signs of pneumonia. This is the 5th recent death – none of which have been attributed to predators – 3 of which have been linked to pneumonia in laboratory tests. While earlier deaths prompted AZGF to take a “take a wait and see attitude” about a November release of Bighorn in the Santa Catalina Mountains (source) it now appears that the pneumonia has been assessed as “limited” and the November release is still planned. AZGF is “looking at bringing animals from a herd with prior exposure to pneumonia.” The latest updates from the project are available here – also see Another bighorn dies in Catalinas — apparently of pneumonia – Arizona Daily Star.
Storms result in rescue, outages, closures, evacuation – Tucson News Now: The article mentions rocks on the highway up the mountain in the recent storms – note that in almost every wet storm some rocks – perhaps small – will be on the highway, they are usually cleared remarkably quickly but in wet weather some extra caution is advised.
Tucson’s UFO Mystery Revealed – Huffpost Weird News: The recent UFO Videos shot from the Sabino Canyon area have been debunked – the lights appear to have been from human activity on the mountain…
AZ Game and Fish: Reward offered in poaching of two javelinas – Tucson News Now: Two javelina were found in Tucson – NW of Grant and Swan and near Cloud and Sabino – both shot by an arrow. AZGF said: “There is no archery javelina hunt open at this time, so we are investigating these incidents as illegal take of wildlife.”