Fees, Tram, Lions, Floods – 11/20/2017

A sun dog to the right - looking over Tucson from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. November 2017.
A sun dog to the right – looking over Tucson from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. November 2017.

A long overdue news catch-up! 

The Forest Service held meetings earlier this year about the restructuring of the Developed Recreation Program (which has a tremendous budget gap) and is now moving forward with a proposal to increase some fees – Forest Fees May Go Up For Some Camping, Day-Use Sites – Arizona Public Media, Coronado Forest officials seek comment on proposed recreation fee increase – Arizona Daily Star, Coronado National Forest – News & Events – Coronado National Forest

Fall always brings color to the mountain – but it can be easy to miss with the color confined to beautiful, but limited areas – this article has some pictures and good suggestions on places to go and some notes about the color lingering into November – Don’t miss this: Autumn is showing its colors in Tucson’s Catalina Mountains – Arizona Daily Star, Fall finale: Autumn color lingers in Catalina Mountains – Arizona Daily Star

The long-running process of permitting the Sabino Canyon Tram continues – in early November the Forest Service issued a final decision that appears to clear the way for upgrades to the shuttle program. Current tram operator takes aim at proposed Sabino shuttle changes – Arizona Daily Star, Letter: Sabino Canyon tours need to upgrade – Arizona Daily Star

Arizona State Parks system wins a prized gold medal – Arizona Daily Star: Arizona State Parks have received a 2017 Gold Medal Award Recipient in the category of ‘State Park Systems’ from the National Recreation and Park Association whose mission is ‘To advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people.’

Oracle State Park: Hiking trails, home tour – The Arizona Republic: It has been great to have Oracle State Park open full-time again – this article gives a nice overview of the park, points out this is the only state park that the Arizona Trail runs thru and includes a short history of the Kannally family whose ranch house is a major part of the park. With the weather cooling off this is a great time of year to visit!

County puts limits on exploding target use – Green Valley News: The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance which bans the sale, possession or use of any target with a mixture of chemicals that will explode after being hit by a bullet. Note that there are a number of exceptions to in the ordinance. Exploding targets are believed to have caused the Sawmill fire.

National Public Lands Day on Coronado National Forest – Tucson News Now,  Visit any of Arizona’s state parks for free on Black Friday – Arizona Daily Star: With some effort there are many ways to visit public lands that don’t require a fee – but there are many – often very popular and well known areas – that you can only visit by paying a fee – thankfully each year many fee areas have select days where access is free!

Three mountain lions – a mother and 2 yearlings – were caught on film near the Sabino Canyon Tram road and there was a possible mountain lion attack on a dog in the Tucson Mountain area (unconfirmed but AZGF notes an increase in mountain lion reports in residential areas this monsoon season). The articles states that photos/video of mountain lions close to the Sabino Canyon tram road are rare but both incidents are good reminders that there are mountain lions in many areas around Tucson. Mountain lion sightings in the Santa Catalina Mountains are relatively rare, and there have been few negative mountain lion/human interactions, but it is important to be aware of these beautiful animals! Female mountain lion, yearlings caught on camera at Sabino Canyo – KVOA.com, Mountain lions spotted not far from Sabino Canyon tram road – Tucson News Now, Dog dies in possible mountain lion attack on west side of Tucson – Tucson News Now

New Oro Valley trail aims at hikers, cyclists, horses – Arizona Daily Star: Planning is going forward on a new trail! The current plan is for a new trailhead off Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and a 1.2 mile earthen path extending northeast along Big Wash. For me the most exciting part of this project is the indication that at some point it may connect the CDO to the Tortolita Mountain Park!!! “The second phase will go from Tangerine Road to Rancho Vistoso Boulevard, and the third phase will be from the Cañada del Oro Wash to Tangerine Road.”

Interesting to see Bighorn Sheep back in the news: continued money to study the sheep in the Santa Catalina Mountains, 32 of the tracking collars are still functional and there was a September 30th aerial survey that should result in a population estimate after photos from the survey are analyzed. Bighorn sheep thrive in mountains near Tucson – The Daily Courier, Hunter Legacy Fund grant allows AZGFD and SCI to continue desert bighorn study – goHUNT

 

The Mount Lemmon Marathon took place recently – news coverage seemed to focus more on the closure of the highway – but to me it was inspiring to see the pictures runners, rather than cars, taking up the entire road and ascending the mountain Mt. Lemmon Marathon this weekend – KVOA.com, Traffic restricted on Mt. Lemmon Highway Sunday morning – Arizona Daily Star, Despite road delays, business still flowed on Mt. Lemmon on Marathon Day – KGUN9

Forests of the Catalinas: Unburned and beautiful | Recreation | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star: The Burro Fire largely burned in areas that are no longer covered by the trail system in the Santa Catalina Mountains – this article points out a few of the beautiful places not impacted by the recent fire.

Local coffee roaster adds Arizona Trail Blend – Copper Area News: Sky Island Roasters, located in Oracle, is selling an AZ Trail Coffee blend and donating a portion of every purchase to the Arizona Trail Association!

Critical water tanks on Mount Lemmon are full, thanks to monsoon – Arizona Daily Star: Good news from the mountain and always great to see a positive story about water in southern Arizona.

An extended season for Rose Canyon Lake! Good news for Tucson anglers and campers: Season extended at Rose Canyon Lake – Arizona Daily Star

Firewood permits are available – Coronado National Forest – News & Events – Coronado National Forest

In late August the Molino Basin restrooms were vandalized with offensive graffiti – Vandals graffiti popular Mt. Lemmon campground – KGUN9, Popular Mt. Lemmon campground vandalized with graffiti – Tucson News Now

It was a fun wildflower season this summer and according to Mark Dimmitt (a wildflower expert and retired director of natural history at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum) this summer was one of the best summers since 1990 for well-spaced frequent wildflower friendly storms. Urban wildflower color abounds in this rain-washed summer – Arizona Daily Star, Tucson deserts burst into summer bloom thanks to abundant monsoon rains | Recreation | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star

I know that our American landscape has value beyond ‘dollars’ to many citizens – but in today’s America I think that even those of us who would rather spend our time talking passionately about the intrinsic value of our public land should be aware and able to talk about public lands as an important part of our economy – Tourists visiting Arizona spent a record $21.2 billion last year | Business News | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star

Looking down on the San Pedro River from a flight out of Tucson - from this angle the Santa Catalina Mountains look strangely small... November 2017.
Looking down on the San Pedro River from a flight out of Tucson – from this angle the Santa Catalina Mountains look strangely small… November 2017.

Today in Arizona History – U.S.News: For September 10, 1936: “on this date, Tucson and Pima County applied to the federal government for permission to construct a 250-foot (76-meter) high dam in Sabino Canyon.” – thankfully that dam was never built!

Neto’s Tucson: Son’s memoir honors mother who raised 6 children on her own – Arizona Daily Star: Published several years ago Jesus Loreto’s The Tortilla Maker: A Social and Historic Mexican American Narrative tells the tale of his family starting with his grandmother who came to Bisbee, AZ from Sonora, Mexico in 1957 and eventually moved to Tucson. In addition to being what looks like a very interesting personal narrative from the Southern Arizona area this book is mentioned here because Loreto’s mother worked on a dude ranch in the Sabino Canyon area.

Tucson time lapse: What do you see? – Arizona Daily Star: This page contains an interesting time lapse view of Tucson – it is not really focused on the Santa Catalina Mountains, but you can see in the time lapse the growth of Tucson which has impacted access to the mountains is creating a situation where the Santa Catalina Mountains are isolated from other mountain ranges – an important concern for hikers, hunters and wildlife.

Throwback Thursday Video: Fall at Sabino Canyon – City of Tucson: A video from 20 years ago about Sabino Canyon.

Tales from the Morgue: Assault in Sabino Canyon | Tucson history and Stories from the Star’s archives – Arizona Daily Star: A strange altercation from the past…

Find spectacular stone arches along Tucson’s Catalina Highway – Arizona Daily Star: The Santa Catalina Mountains don’t have the massive and stunning arches that you can find in southern Utah – but we do have a number of smaller arches and windows – including a number of interesting ones that you can see from the highway!

Hundreds of butterflies add a dash of color to Tucson’s Catalina Mountains | Recreation | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star: A interesting article about the butterflies – in particular the painted lady butterflies, that have been notable on mountain this year.

Why the Catalinas glow pink at sunset – KVOA.com, What’s with those streaky clouds? – KVOA.com: Two quick and interesting articles with the ‘whys’ of some of the beauty in the sky.

Live on the mountain and want to help record data for the National Weather Service? Wanted: Mt. Lemmon snow observer – KVOA.com, NWS Tucson looking for volunteer snowfall observers on Mt. Lemmon – Arizona Daily Star

Bus-sized asteroid 2017 SX17 gives Earth a close shave – Skymania: 2017 SX17 – ‘an asteroid the size of a bus’ – passed within 55k miles of the earth and was first detected by a telescope in the Santa Catalina Mountains that is part of the Catalina Sky Survey.

Wildfire season threatened several telescopes on Mount Graham, Mount Lemmon – Arizona Daily Star: The telescopes on the top of the mountain and near Mount Bigelow were closed during the Burro Fire but thankfully none were seriously threatened by the fire.

Eww! Invasion of the caterpillars in Tucson pool – azfamily.com: Caterpillar invasion! White-lined Sphinx Moth Catepillars invade a neighborhood near Catalina State Park!Man facing charges after holding bobcat captive – KVOA.com: In August a man was charged for holding a bobcat in captivity in the Sabino Canyon and Snyder Roads area – it is suspected that the man was trying to help the animal when it was injured. If you are concerned about an injured wild animal consider contacting the Tucson Wildlife Center.

Hikes and Events:

Summer flash floods and the rescue of stranded hikers were major news items – flash flood related rescues, and sometimes injuries and deaths, are in the news every year, but this year featured larger groups of people stranded than I remember in previous years. While the various discussions about potentially closing resources, how to inform the public and rescues are interesting (and complicated – Star Opinion: Time for a ‘stupid hiker’ rule for some rescues? – Arizona Daily Star) probably the most valuable action you can take is to learn more about flash floods and Tim Stellar wrote an article for the Arizona Daily Star this summer that is a good start – Steller: You can lower flood risk at canyon swimming holes – Arizona Daily Star. Other flood related articles:

Other rescues:

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

  • 7/1/107 Butterfly Trail: New boots caused blisters until he was unable to continue – hoisted out.
  • 7/1/2017 Seven Falls Trail: An exhausted family is met by SARA after reaching the road.
  • 7/1/2017 Green Mountain Trail: A group was helped after a member injured their ankle.
  • 7/4/2017 Seven Falls Trail: Exhausted hiker at Seven Falls is hoisted out.
  • 7/25/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Exhausted hiker hoisted out.
  • 8/12/2017 Butterfly Trail: An exhausted hiker (partly due to medication) was helped on the trail and able to hike out.
  • 8/16/2017 Sabino Basin: A group became separated and was eventually able to ask for help via cell phone – the lost group was helped with directions.
  • 8/19/2017 Anderson Dam: Ankle injury carried out.
  • 9/4/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Hikers were unable to find the trail at dusk and called for help – helped by other hikers.
  • 9/6/2017 Bear Canyon Trail: Exhausted hikers.
  • 9/6/2017 Butterfly Trail: Ankle injury – the group tried to continue but eventually called for help – the hiker was hoisted out.
  • 9/10/2017 Sabino Canyon Trail: A hiker with a head laceration is met just above the road in Sabino Canyon.
  • 9/10/2017 Romero Canyon: A hiker missed the trail crossing at Romero Pools, continued downstream, injured his knee and had a history of diabetes – the hiker was hoisted out.
  • 9/10/2017 Bear Canyon: An exhausted hiker is assisted with hydration and helped out.
  • 9/23/2017 Aspen Draw Trail: A hiker with injured ribs is treated and walked out.
  • 9/23/2017 Romero Pools: A hiker with an ankle injury is hoisted out.
  • 10/9/2017 Palisades Trail: Hikers miss the trail below Mud Spring – they were located, helped back to the trail and assisted out.
  • 10/14/2017 Ventana Canyon Trail: A hiker intending to turn around got confused and continued to the junction below The Window – met on trail and assisted out.
  • 10/14/2017 Sycamore Canyon Trail: Hikers who came down Pine Canyon became exhausted hiking out to Prison Camp – one of the hikers went to get water for the other and they were assisted out by campers.
  • 10/15/2017 Golder Ranch Trails: Mountain Bikers coming down from the top of the mountain via the CDO were separated, exhausted – after a 911 call they were all eventually found – two in the Golder Ranch Area and two on the Charouleau Gap Road.
  • 10/21/2017 Pima Canyon Trail: A hiker is treated and assisted out after a fall.
  • 10/21/2017 Brush Corral Trail: A hiker was unable follow the trail below the junction with the Brush Corral Shortcut Trail and was helped back up the mountain.

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 | tucson.com – 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 | tucson.com – 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:

Events:

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 – KVOA.com, HAPPY ENDING: Horse rescued on Mt. Lemmon, minor injury – KVOA.com
  • 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 – KVOA.com, 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.