Piety Hill – 7/11/2017

Looking South from Piety Hill. July 2017.
Looking South from Piety Hill. July 2017.

Redington Road had been closed since the start of July due to the Burro Fire – on the first day that it re-opened I drove out along the fire perimeter and hiked to the top of Piety Hill. The Burro Fire was stopped west of Piety Hill and in the sunset light it was hard tell where the Burro Fire burned – I am sure that there are areas that were heavily impacted by the fire but from Piety Hill I can still see green trees and grass below.

Piety Hill's shadow towards the San Pedro Valley. July 2017.
Piety Hill’s shadow towards the San Pedro Valley. July 2017.

Piety Hill is located on Pima County’s A7 Ranch – at 4,714′ it is not stunning high (‘Hill’ is the right name) – but it is high enough to overlook the San Pedro Valley and offer great views of the surrounding terrain! There is no official trail to the top, but the terrain, while steep, is reasonably open and it is not hard to find a way to the top.

Looking up into the Santa Catalina Mountains from Piety Hill - Mount Bigelow on the left, Westfall Knob in the center. July 2017.
Looking up into the Santa Catalina Mountains from Piety Hill – Mount Bigelow on the left, Westfall Knob in the center. July 2017.
Balloon Trash on the slopes of Piety Hill. July 2017.
Balloon Trash on the slopes of Piety Hill. July 2017.

Buehman Canyon – 2/12/2017

February 2017.
Exiting Buehman Canyon in a storm. February 2017.

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.

February 2017.
Beautiful light on the Evans Mountain area from FR4407 – Brush Corral Road. February 2017.

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.

February 2017.
Looking down into Buehman Canyon. February 2017.

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…

February 2017.
Buehman Canyon. February 2017.

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.

A Rainy Day on Davis Mesa – 9/7/2016

A stormy day on Davis Mesa. September 2016.
A stormy day on Davis Mesa. September 2016.

Unusual weather makes Davis Mesa seem remote and lonely – just me and the cows today. Too many clouds to see much of the San Pedro Valley to the east or the Santa Catalina Mountains to the west. The east side of the Santa Catalina Mountains – where the hills and canyons tumble into the San Pedro River – is often a good escape if you have time for the drive and a vehicle that will handle the, often rough, dirt roads. In 2011 Nathan Sayre noted in A History of Land Use and Natural Resources in the Middle San Pedro Valley, Arizona that “The current population [of the Middle San Pedro Valley], estimated at 175 year-round residents, is less than was found in the area in the early twentieth century, and probably less than occurred during some prehistoric periods.” (Journal of the Southwest, Volume 53, Number 1, Spring 2011)

 

The road across the Mesa descends towards Mesa Well and off into the clouds. September 2016.
The road across the Mesa descends towards Mesa Well and off into the clouds. September 2016.

Davis Mesa sits between Alder and Edgar Canyons. The land is part of the Six Bar Ranch – purchased by Pima County  in 2006. Cattle still graze here, as they probably have, at least periodically, for over a century. In a Pima County Conservation Report the section on the Six Bar Ranch notes that “This ranch is more remote and has limited access points so it does not get as much use as many of the other ranch properties” – certainly accurate, but considering the best case drive from Tucson probably a bit of an understatement…

Looking up Alder Canyon after parking off Black Hills Mine Road and hiking across the canyon. September 2016.
Looking up Alder Canyon after parking off Black Hills Mine Road and hiking across the canyon. September 2016.

The all-things-considered quickest access from Tucson that I am aware of is to drive thru Oracle, turn south onto Veterans Memorial Boulevard, pass San Manuel, continue on Black Hills Mine Road and eventually find a parking spot above the Ventana Windmill (probably 1.5 to 2 hours from Speedway and Campbell in Tucson) – from there it is a reasonable hike access across Alder Canyon up onto Davis Mesa…

Pima County’s A-7 Ranch – 7/2/2016

A sign on Redington Road marking the boundary of Pima County's A-7 Ranch. July 2016.
A sign on Redington Road marking the boundary of Pima County’s A-7 Ranch. July 2016.

A small sign on Redington Road announces the boundary of Pima County’s A-7 ranch – there is no welcoming trail map, list of rules, historic marker or dedications – just a simple sign, easy enough to miss, the land on either side looks the same.

A storm over the Santa Catalina Mountains - A-7 Ranch between Redington Road and the San Pedro River.
A storm over the Santa Catalina Mountains – taken from a road on the A-7 Ranch – between Redington Road and the San Pedro River. June 2016.

The A-7 Ranch is owned by Pima County – it was purchased with funds from a voter approved 2004 Bond program that made $174 million dollars available for open-space purchases. The A-7 stretches from Buehman Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains down to the North East corner of the Rincon Mountains – it is bordered on the east by the San Pedro River and helps to connect the Galiuro, Rincon and Santa Catalina Mountains.

Two of Pima County's open space purchases - the Six Bar Ranch (upper) and the A-7 Ranch (lower). Santa Catalina Mountains (upper left), Rincon Mountains (lower center) and the edge of the Galiuro Mountains (upper right). July 2016.
Two of Pima County’s open space purchases – the Six Bar Ranch (upper pin) and the A-7 Ranch (lower pin). Santa Catalina Mountains (upper left), Rincon Mountains (lower center) and the edge of the Galiuro Mountains (upper right). July 2016.

Access information can be found here – don’t expect to find a network of established hiking trails… Some recent history from a Pima County Report:

The 41,000 acre A-7 Ranch lies northeast of Tucson along Redington Road, between the Catalina and Rincon Mountains and the San Pedro River. The County acquired the ranch from the City of Tucson in 2004. The City had purchased the ranch in 1999. Prior to the City’s purchase, the ranch was part of a larger ranch totaling about 96,000 acres known as the Bellota Ranch, which was owned and operated by the Riley-West Corporation for 20 years. The A-7 portion of the Bellota Ranch was sold to the City, while the Forest Service grazing permit was sold to the owners of the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch.

Piety Hill, A-7 Ranch, Redington Road. July 2016.
Redington Road heading towards Piety Hill on the A-7 Ranch. July 2016.

Bighorn Capture and Mountain Deaths, Free AZ State Park Entry, Bond Failure – 11/22/2015

Pusch Ridge - end of the day - from Safford (Sombrero) Peak in the Tucson Mountains. November 2015.
Pusch Ridge – end of the day – from Safford (Sombrero) Peak in the Tucson Mountains. November 2015.

 

The latest Santa Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project update includes information on two deaths:

  • As previously reported during the recent November release one captured Bighorn was not released into the mountains – the Bighorn was unable to exit the transport trailer and was taken to the AZGF Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center where he was found to have a femoral fracture and was euthanized. Captured bighorn euthanized because of fractured leg – Arizona Daily Star.
  • The report also covers the death of Ram #34641 whose remains were found by a “hiker … near a mountain peak in the Catalinas”. The cause of death is currently unknown ” due to the age of the remains”.

With the death of Ram #34641 and the release of 29 new sheep (3 of which were not collared due to age/size) there are now 60 collared sheep believed to be alive in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Arizona State Parks offer free admission on Black Friday – azcentral.cpm, #Optoutside at Arizona State Parks: AZ State Parks have partnered with REI to offer a free day pass for entry into one of Arizona’s State Parks if you visit an REI in Arizona from Saturday Nov. 21 through Wednesday Nov. 25. AZ State Parks is also giving away 10 Annual Passes to the 10 most liked pictures taken in an Arizona State Park and posted to the AZ State Parks #OptOutside Facebook page from 11/26 to 11/29.

Climbing Costs: Should hikers pay the bill for stupidity? – Tucson News Now: An article about the cost of rescues that asks if hikers/climbers/etc. should be charged for rescues. While the article does include some information about rescues in the area there was very little information from rescuers and no background information about how rescue costs are handled in other areas – for me the most thought provoking part of the article was the quote from Jim Holmes of the Southern Arizona Rescue Association: “We don’t want to do anything that would discourage the public from calling for help, if they delay because they’re afraid there’s going to be an expense associated with the rescue, it makes our job harder.”

County bond plan might have been too big to pass – Arizona Daily Star: In the beginning of November Proposition 430 Natural Area Conservation and Historic Preservation was not approved by voters in Pima County. Bonds and public expenditures are complex issues and it is worth reviewing the Audobon and Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection pages on this failed Proposition.