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

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.

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.

Smoke, Leg Traps, Closures, Survival, Last Release – 12/19/2016

December 2016.
Snowy roads in the Bear Wallow area. December 2016.

Smoke from Mount Bigelow north of Tucson is a good thing – Arizona Daily Star: An interesting article on the Bigelow Prescribed Burn including some good how and why information about the burn.

Sabino Canyon is a beautiful destination but it is often crowded on any weekend with (even vaguely) good weather. Holidays can be particularly busy – to help with the congestion from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 there will be a shuttle from Udall Park to Sabino Canyon. The shuttle will start at Udall Park at 9:15 and run each hour – the last shuttle will leave Sabino Canyon at 4:45. The shuttle can carry 40 people and it could be a nice way to avoid a packed and frustrating experience in the Sabino Canyon Parking Lot!! I believe this is the first year this service has been offered – it might be best to keep a little flexibility in your plans just-in-case the shuttle is full or not quite on time… Free holiday shuttle could help ease Sabino Canyon’s parking hassles | Government and politics | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star, Free Electric Shuttle To and From Sabino Canyon During Holiday Break – City of Tucson

Seasonal gate closures on Mt. Lemmon – Coronado National Forest, Some Mt. Lemon roads, sites to close for winter – KVOA.com, Some roads, day-use sites on Mt. Lemmon close for winter – Tucson News Now

Redington Pass Shooting Closure Extended, One Area Reopens – Coronado National Forest: The shooting closures that has been in place since 2013 has been extended and slightly modified. The area was originally closed while trash and debris related to shooting were removed and the extension is designed to help the area to recover. From the Forest Service:

According to the closure, shooting will be prohibited within 0.6 miles on either side of the road from the western boundary of the Forest to mile marker 6.3. The previous closure prohibited recreational shooting from mile marker 5 to mile marker 7.

This article is about the return of seasonal residents to the area but is included here largely for the interesting bits of information about the Southern Arizona Rescue AssociationSnowbirds back in Southern Arizona, and the wild outdoors beckon

Raven euthanized after caught in leg trap in Redington Pass – KVOA.com: A rather sad story about a Raven found in a baited leg hold trap in the Redington Pass area who was eventually euthanized – these traps are illegal on public lands as is trapping Ravens.

Authorities need help after deer poached in Catalina Mountains – Tucson News Now: “A $1,000 reward is being offered for tips leading to the arrest of the person who killed a Whitetail deer in the Santa Catalina Mountains last month. The Arizona Game and Fish Department said the animal, an untagged Whitetail buck, was found Oct. 9 off Forest Service Road 4496 in the Charoleau Gap area.”

BREAKING: Vehicle reportedly went off the road in Redington Pass – KVOA.com: According to the article one person was rescued and taken to the hospital after an vehicle accident in the Redington Pass area.

History of the San Manuel-Kalamazoo Mine, Pinal County, Arizona – AZGS Document Repository: Not a recent document but I had never seen this short history of the San Manuel-Kalamazoo Mine before and thought it was very interesting.

A Career of Her Own: Edith Shreve at the Desert Laboratory – University of Arizona Campus Repository: Janice Bowers wrote about Forrest Shreve, who worked at the Desert Labratory in Tucson, in the book A Sense of Place - The Life and Work of Forrest Shreve – she also authored this article about Edith Shreve. The article is from 1986 but I had not come across it until recently – it is an interesting read and includes a picture of Edith Shreve during an expedition into the Santa Catalina Mountains in the early 1900s! The name Shreve will be familiar to dedicated Santa Catalina Mountain hikers because of Shreve Saddle on the Sycamore Reservoir Trail.

Ron Hutter was lost on the mountain for several and nights after leaving from the Upper Green Mountain Trailhead for what he intended to be a short hike – thankfully he was eventaully able to walk back to the highway without any major injuries or mishaps. In this article from Tucson News Now –  Hiker recounts fight survival after getting lost – he gives a detailed account of what happened and what he did, worth reading/watching and thinking about. Deputies continue search for missing hiker on Mt. Lemmon – Tucson News Now, Missing Mount Lemmon hiker found OK after being lost for 3 days | Crime | tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star, Missing hiker recuperating after spending 3 days on Mt Lemmon – KVOA.com

In November, after the release of 20 more Bighorn into the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona Game and Fish declared that the population has reached a sustainable level and that:

  • No more releases are planned
  • monthly updates about the project will no longer be released
  • not all of the sheep released had GPS collars attached
  • Mountain Lions that kill Bighorns will no longer be pursued
  • AZGF Research Projects are scheduled to end in June 2017

I suppose at this point it will be many years until we know if this project was truly successful…

Recent links about hikes and adventures:

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

  • Wilderness of Rocks 10/1/2016: Hiker stranded by darkness is found off trail near the Wilderness of Rocks/Lemmon Rock junction
  • Windy Point 10/6/2016: An injury requiring a carry out of the patient
  • Sutherland Trail 10/8/2016: A hiker on one of the many social trail off the Sutherland Trail in the Catalina State Park area became exhausted and was carried out
  • Sabino Canyon 10/13/2016: Hikers requested help after hiking down canyon past the guaging station and were helped out
  • Aspen Trail 10/15/2016: Hikers lost the trail but were able to find the trail and reach their vehicle before help arrived
  • Butterfly Trail 10/17/2016: A biker on the Butterfly Trail lost the trail in the Novio Spring area and was extracted.
December 2016.
Snow hiding in the shadow of Mount Bigelow. December 2016.

Lightning, Sawmill, Bears, Mountain Lions, Volunteers – 7/20/2016

Lightning over the west side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. July 2016.
Lightning over the west side of the Santa Catalina Mountains – Table Mountain on the far right of the picture. July 2016.

There have been a number of Bear sightings reported recently – mainly near Summerhaven and Organization Ridge. So far “None of these encounters have been dangerous, as nobody has reported any kind of aggressiveness”. AZGF spokesman Mark Hart does not want visitors to “feel alarmed but to be “bear aware” by taking measures to prevent encounters” – some Safety in Black Bear Country information. Bears sighted 15 times on Mount Lemmon since May; officials urge caution – KVOA.com, Mt. Lemmon sees spike in bear sightings – TucsonNewsNow

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

100 years ago in Tucson July 26: Mount Lemmon – tucson.com: Includes two great articles from the 1916 Arizona Daily Star about the Santa Catalina Mountains:

  • “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!

A hiker coming back from Hutch’s Pool was separated from his hiking companions – he missed the Sabino Canyon Trail junction and continued up the East Fork Trail, eventually he went up Bear Canyon because he could see the highway and yelled to people at the Seven Cataracts Vista Point for help. The hiker was taken to the hospital for heat related illness. Missing Tucson hiker found in Sabino Canyon – tucson.com, UPDATE: Missing hiker in Sabino Canyon found safe – TucsonNewsNow, Missing hiker found in Sabino Canyon – KGUN9.

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.

The cover of the August Issue of The Desert Leaf features a lovely picture of Sabino Canyon and calls out the article ‘Caring for the Coronado’. The articles talks about the important work that volunteers have done in the Coronado National Forest, often putting in significant hours and effort to accomplish meaningful tasks that seem unlikely to receive official funding anytime in the near future. It was great to see so many groups that have contributed time, labor, knowledge and resources to the Coronado National Forest mentioned in the article  – Sky Island Alliance, Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol, Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists, Sabino Stewards, Arizona Master Watershed Naturalists, Friends of Sabino Canyon, Tucson Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy.

Summerhaven had their July 4th Parade again this year – a good excuse to head up the mountain to cooler temperatures – probably the highest altitude July 4th Parade in the state! Mt. Lemmon parade patrons spend Independence Day away from heat – KVOA.com

Hittin’ the Trails 4 You: Mt. Lemmon’s Box Camp Trail KVOA.com – a short piece on the Box Camp Trail.

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

  • 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.
Lightning over Samaniego Ridge on the west side of the Santa Catalina Mountains - taken from the Golder Ranch area. July 2016.
Lightning over Samaniego Ridge on the west side of the Santa Catalina Mountains – taken from the Golder Ranch area. July 2016.

Heat, Deaths, Fire, Joining – 7/1/2017

White Tank off Redington Road near the Bellota Trail - Rincons in the distance, storm clouds above. June 2016.
White Tank off Redington Road near the Bellota Trail – the Rincons Mountains in the backgroud, storm clouds above. June 2016.

During a tragic weekend in late June record heat was the cause of three deaths in the Santa Catalina Mountains. One female hiker from out of state died on the Finger Rock Trail and two hikers from Germany died on the Ventana Canyon Trail. 


Heat related deaths seem to happen every year – there have been several articles recently with tips and information on staying safe in the heat – As Heat Wave Causes Hikers’ Deaths, Experts Share Safety TipsStaying safe on the trails in extreme heat and Desert Heat: Deaths, Rescuers and Ways to Stay Safe – all with good information and smart warnings, but it is hard to convey exactly how serious and intense the heat can be in Tucson in the summer.


With the recent heat related deaths the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board considered a ban on hiking in extreme heat – which was not approved – but did put in place a ban on dogs on city hiking trails when the temperature is over 100 degrees. Phoenix proposal to ban hiking during extreme heat denied, ban of dogs is approved over 100 degrees – abc15.


From the Southern Arizona Rescue Association:

Southern Arizona Rescue Association is looking for hikers who are team players to join our group! If you are interested, please plan to attend one of two Orientations and the Candidate Hike:
Orientation 1 – Thursday, June 23, 7:00pm
Orientation 2 – Tuesday, July 19, 7:00pm
Applicant Hike and selection – Saturday, August 13

Attendance at one of the two Orientation meetings and the hike is a MANDATORY first step in joining SARA. Orientations are intended to tell you everything you need to know about the selection process and being in SARA, will last about an hour, and are held at the SARA house at 5990 N. Sabino Canyon Road. We will see you there!


A group of 4 family members out for a hike on the Butterfly Trail were reported missing – they were later found.


Mount Lemmon offers relief from the heat – KVOA.com: A short piece on trying to stay cool by escaping up to Mount Lemmon – it is, of course, always cooler at the top of the mountain… But recent temperatures have been high enough that it has been very hot even at higher elevations. If you are considering heading to the top of the mountain here is a short video about the Meadow Trail – Hittin’ the Trails 4 You: Mt. Lemmon’s Meadow Loop Trail – KVOA.com.


Campers recently spotted a black bear on Organization Ridge Road near a dumpster – a good reminder to be ‘bear aware’ when you are on the mountain. From Mark Hart of Arizona Game and Fish: “Overall it’s the heat, the bears are hungry and they are thirsty and some are moving into higher country to escape the heat.” Another sighting on Mt. Lemmon reminder to be bear aware – KVOA.com.


The Race Track Fire started on June 26th near Redington Road– the last update from June indicates the fire is unlikely to grow:

The Racetrack fire’s perimeter remains 80% contained today. All forward progress of the fire has been halted. Three engines and two crews remain on the fire and are mopping up hot spots, rehabilitating control lines to minimize erosion from expected monsoon rains, and patrolling for additional heat. By the end of the work period today, the incident commander anticipates increased containment.

The fire burned approximately 800 acres in an area north of Redington Road, east of Agua Caliente Hill and west of Race Track Tank.

The cause of the fire is listed as under investigation, however I don’t believe there was any weather/lightning in the Redington Road area at the time the fire started so it seems likely it will be labeled human caused.

The perimeter of the Race Track Fire - note Agua Caliente Hill in the bottom left of this map and Redington Road on the far right. June 2016.
The perimeter of the Race Track Fire – note Agua Caliente Hill in the bottom left of this map and Redington Road on the far right. June 2016.


Milt Jensen, an experienced tower climber, died in an accidental fall while repairing the power to an amateur radio tower on Mount Lemmon. Well-Known DXer, DXpeditioner Milt Jensen, N5IA, Dies in Tower Fall – ARRL.com, Man dies after 50-foot fall off radio tower on Mount Lemmon – KVOA.com, Man killed in tower fall on Mount Lemmon – tucson.com.


The Santa Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project update for the period ending June 22 was released recently and unlike a number of recent updates there were no mortality signals from the remaining collars and the bulk of the report is filled with great pictures and reports from biologists about the Bighorn observed during the period.


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

  • Wilderness of Rocks 5/1/2016 – Hikers coming up from Catalina State Park via Romero Canyon were stopped at the junction of the Wilderness of Rocks and Lookout Trail when one member was unable to continue. The group was given help out.
  • Butterfly Trail 5/23/2016 – A hiker with an ankle injury was carried out from the Butterfly Trail.
  • Box Camp Trail 5/26/2016 – Two members of a group hiking down the Box Camp Trail towards Molino Basin were exhausted when they reached Sabino Basin and were ferried by helicopter to Prison Camp – two other members of the group were given assistance near Shreve Saddle.
Trash - a bundle of balloons snagged on a barbed wire fence near White Tank off Redington Road - the only trash in sight... June 2016.
Trash – a bundle of balloons snagged on a barbed wire fence near White Tank off Redington Road – the only trash in sight… June 2016.