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.

Redington Road Pavement – 4/23/2017

Thru San Manuel, a sharp left then the familiar right turn at the San Pedro – but today the last turn takes me into unfamiliar territory – a strange, freshly paved, night black road parallel to the river – it takes me a minute to reconcile this new thing with my memory of Redington Road.

It makes me sad and uncomfortable to see more pavement encircling the Santa Catalina Mountains – there is nothing encouraging about its current end at the Pinal County line. Maybe the pavement really isn’t that important one way or another – inconsequential compared to the destruction that the SunZia power transmission lines will likely bring to this part of the San Pedro River Valley in the coming years.

Charles Bowden, Frog Mountain Blues, 1987:

The mountain no longer seems like a thing that can stop a city in its tracks; it seems more like a cornered beast. When I hike the Catalinas now and stare down at the valleys, I feel I am on an island, one that is being constantly eroded by the fierce waves of energy sweeping across the desert floor. When I leave the city for the mountain, I walk past bulldozers on my way to the trailhead.

New pavement in the distance at the Pinal County line. April 2017.
Looking back on the pavement starting at the Pinal County line. April 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’ – KVOA.com

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 – KVOA.com, 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 – KVOA.com, 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 | tucson.com – 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.

Bellota Trail, Molino Basin to Redington Road – 3/26/2017

Beautiful green below West Spring near the large tank on the Bellota Trail. March 2017.
Beautiful green below West Spring near the large tank on the Bellota Trail. March 2017.

Pieces of the Bellota Trail are easy to see from the Molino Basin Parking Area or the Italian Spring Trailhead, but at over 20 miles for a full out and back it’s a long day to see the whole thing – so it was lucky to find a friend interested in doing a car swap/key exchange allowing me to make the rather beautiful trip out of the Santa Catalina Mountains over to Redington Road with a casual start, relaxed pace and plenty of time to enjoy the journey!

Scarlet Pimpernel high in Agua Caliente Canyon where the Bellota Trail crosses after leaving FR36A. March 2017.
Scarlet Pimpernel high in Agua Caliente Canyon at the Bellota Trail crossing (after the trail leaves FR36A). March 2017.
The Lake - this pool of water is just off the Arizona Trail (Bellota Trail) near 'The Lake' Trailhead on FR36. March 2017.
The Lake – this pool of water is just off the Arizona Trail (Bellota Trail) near The Lake Trailhead on FR36. March 2017.
Looking towards the Evans Mountain from Point 4622, just off the Bellota Trail. March 2017.
Looking towards the Evans Mountain from Point 4622, just off the Bellota Trail. March 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.