Fees, Redesign, Shuttle, Discharge – 1/2/2018

Sunset from Barnum Rock. January 2018.
Sunset from Barnum Rock. January 2018.

Coronado National Forest Fee Proposal – Coronado National Forest: News articles about and the press release for the Fee (Increase) Proposal were from a post here in November – the link leads to the official page for the project and is a good starting spot if you are interested in submitting a comment about the proposal (comments due by May 1, 2018). I think that the list of ‘New Fee Sites’ is worth reading thru and considering – included from the Santa Catalina Mountains are the Bigelow Trailhead, Butterfly Trailhead and Windy Point Vista Day Use Area.

Improvements at Marshall Gulch Picnic Area and Trailhead – Coronado National Forest: If this topic, or the illustration below, seem familiar it is because the first comments on this plan were taken in 2010… The long running process to redesign the Marshall Gulch Trailhead appears to be in the final stages and on 10/27/2017 the Draft Environmental Assessment was published. If this plan goes forward it will not increase the number of parking spaces available but will attempt to restore the convergence of Marshall Gulch and Sabino Creek and make the area easier to navigate on busy days. An interesting note on visitation from the EA:

On average, the site receives over 65,000 cars each summer (May through September), which includes those just driving through and others who stop to use the facilities (Forest Service, unpublished data, 2010). Assuming that there are an average of 2.5 visitors per car, estimated use is 162,500 visitors. This does not include walkin use from Summerhaven and walk-in use during the winter when the gate is closed.

Conceptual Design Document for the proposed Marshall Gulch changes - the current 'main' trailhead parking and bathroom are below the area shown here and are eliminated to restore the area where Marshall Gulch and Sabino Canyon meet. January 2018.
Conceptual Design Document for the proposed Marshall Gulch changes – the current ‘main’ trailhead parking and bathroom are below the area shown in this illustration and are eliminated to restore the area where Marshall Gulch and Sabino Creek meet. January 2018.

The Coronado National Forest is now taking applications to operate the Sabino Canyon Shuttle System. The Sabino Canyon Shuttle Prospectus page has the relevant documents – the documents contain quite a few details about the shuttle system including limits on and requirements for the number of trips the shuttle makes, required operating hours and details about the costs/revenue involved – among the details was this statement about visitation to Sabino Canyon:

Visitation by private vehicle totals approximately 520,000 people annually; it is estimated that the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area receives more than one million visitors per year (Feasibility Study, 2010). Actual visitation to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is difficult to quantify, as the public may visit at any time of day and may to arrive on foot, on horseback, or by bicycle, as well as by private vehicle.

Potential shuttle service operators tour Sabino Canyon – KVOA.com, Forest, Arizona Tour Company Says Feds Arbitrarily Disqualified Its Canyon Trams – Courthouse News Service.

Gates are closed on a number of roads for the winter – foot traffic is still allowed. Seasonal road closures on Mt. Lemmon – Coronado National Forest, Seasonal road closures on Mt. Lemmon – Tucson News Now

A bear – reported to be “very old, malnourished and ill” – was euthanized in northeast Tucson in December – ‘Malnourished and ill’ bear euthanized on northeast side – Tucson News Now, AZ Game and Fish report bear sightings in Bear Canyon, Tanque Verde Area – Tucson News Now, Bear Euthanized Near Sabino Canyon – Arizona Public Media, Bear spotted several times in foothills this week – KGUN9

Meet the Black Friday resisters – KGUN9: This article made me laugh a little – I assumed it would be about a serious protest but instead was about people getting outside and avoiding the Black Friday deal-shopping crowds! Of course, I highly recommend joining the movement…

The history behind the name of Arizona’s Mount Lemmon – The Arizona Republic: An article about Sara Lemmon and the name Mount Lemmon.

Sunburst Petroglyph Vandalized in the Tohono O’odham Haki:dag – Intercontinental Cry: In early 2016 a sunburst petroglyph in Catalina State Park was vandalized – this article details some of the efforts to preserve the petroglyph.

Popular Sabino Creek is bone-dry after months with no rain – Arizona Daily Star: Sabino Canyon is on a dry streak as we head into 2018, no surprise given the weather… The USGS makes data from Sabino Canyon available online and there is discharge data available back to late 1987. The graph below show data from 1988 to the end of 2017, this presentation is far from perfect – high spikes are cut off, some very low numbers are essentially hidden and this is just the raw data with no filtering for data quality – but it is still interesting to quickly scan thru:

Sabino Creek Discharge 1988 to 2017 - the data contains . January 2018.

Endangered Gila Topminnow Returns to Santa Cruz – Arizona Public Media: One explanation offered for the prescence of the Topminnow in the Santa Cruz is that “they may have reached the Santa Cruz from Sabino Canyon via the Rillito River”.

One way to celebrate the New Year: Take a hike – Arizona Daily Star: Again this year the Arizona State Parks promoted getting outside and taking a hike on New Years by offering guided hikes in parks around the state.

Suntran Sabino Canyon Sun Shuttle – Sun Tran: For the brief period of 12/26 to 1/1 there was shuttle service from Udall Park to Sabino Canyon – even with overflow parking available it can occasionally still be a challenge to find parking in Sabino Canyon and this service is a nice detail.

ASTEROID LATEST: NASA monitoring ‘unseen’ asteroid 2017 YZ4 set to skim Earth – Express.co.uk: An asteroid first observed from the Mount Lemmon Survey Observatory in the Santa Catalina Mountains!

Contador and Polartec-Kometa tackle Mt. Lemmon – Cyclingnews.com: A short article about the Polartec-Kometa Continental team and Alberto Contador riding up the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Weather! Even by Tucson standards this winter has been quite warm – we did get one winter storm that generated snow on the mountain…

Hikes and Events:

Rescues/Accidents/Incidents including information from SARCI’s SARNews:

  • 12/11/2017 La Milagrosa Trail: Not a rescue but an interesting report because it was a false alert due to an accidental emergency beacon activation – no details were given about how the beacon might have been activated.
  • 12/18/2017 Romero Canyon Trail: Two hikers were unable to find the trail after entering Romero Canyon – they found the trail before help arrived.
  • 12/23/2017 Seven Falls Area: An ankle injury leads to a carry and ‘reindeer’ ride out.
Wolf moon from San Pedro Vista. January 2018.
Wolf moon from San Pedro Vista. January 2018.

Sabino Canyon – 5/22/2017

Lower Sabino Canyon below the dam. May 2017.
Lower Sabino Canyon below the dam. May 2017.

The dryness and early summer heat are having their way with Sabino Canyon – just below the dam the water’s movement is nearly imperceptible and in the still pools strange patterns and stresses emerge – it feels like the canyon and I are both longing for the refreshing July rains…

The Gauge at the Sabino Canyon Dam - July is usually reliable for weather and rain, but every year is different... July 2017.
The Gauge at the Sabino Canyon Dam – July is usually reliable for weather and rain, but every year is different… July 2017.
Lower Sabino Canyon below the dam. May 2017.
Lower Sabino Canyon below the dam. May 2017.
Lower Sabino Canyon below the dam. May 2017.
Lower Sabino Canyon below the dam. May 2017.

Brush Corral – Cedar Spring, Georges Spring, Pearsons Spring – 4/30/2017

A view of the Santa Catalina Mountains from FR4407 Brush Corral Road. April 2017.
A view of the Santa Catalina Mountains from FR4407 Brush Corral Road. April 2017.

Back to the Brush Corral area! Unlike my last trip into the area the goal wasn’t a long hike on the Brush Corral Trail – but instead just a chance to explore a little.

There are some great views from Brush Corral Road (FR4407) – the edge to edge view (above) of the Santa Catalina Mountains is amazing – familiar peaks are labeled below in a reference image from PeakFinder.org (note that this is showing the USGS Guthrie Mountain rather than the peak at the end of the Brush Corral - Cedar Spring, Georges Spring, Pearsons Spring - 4/30/2017).

A view from the PeakFinder web application - www.peakfinder.org - showing the peaks in the panorama above. May 2017.
A view from the PeakFinder web applicationshowing the peaks in the panorama above. May 2017.

Hopeful curiosity and extreme skepticism and his a fair description of how I feel about blue marks on the maps of Southern Arizona. The area south of Evans Mountain down to Buehman Canyon has 11 springs marked on the map – an interesting concentration, I wonder how many of them still flow…

The area between Evans Mountain and Buehman Canyon has 11 marked springs. May 2017.
The area between Evans Mountain and Buehman Canyon has 11 marked springs. May 2017.

From a ridge-top camp west of Brush Corral Road I drop down into a a dry wash, crawl under barbed wire fence at the forest boundary and quickly find a dry tank where Cedar Springs is marked on the map. Pipes run up canyon from the tank, but there is no sign of water where they seem to end.

Cedar Spring Tank - dry... April 2017.
Cedar Spring Tank – dry… April 2017.
Mesquite Flat, North of the Brush Corral Trailhead. April 2017.
Mesquite Flat, North of the Brush Corral Trailhead. April 2017.

Around Mesquite Flat and over to the Georges Spring area – after finding Cedar Spring dry the number of pools of water in the area surprised me!

A beautiful pool in the Georges Spring area. April 2017.
A beautiful pool in the Georges Spring area. April 2017.

From Georges Spring it was a short walk to Pearsons Spring – in its small side canyon the only sign of water was a single, small depression with damp sand at the bottom. Returning to the canyon just west of the Brush Corral Trailhead I don’t have to walk very far before both cows and small pools of water appeared in the canyon bottom. It looks like there was quite a bit more water in the canyon earlier in the year. The canyon merges seamlessly into Buehman Canyon a short distance above the Brush Corral Trailhead – from there it doesn’t take long to loop back to the start of my hike.

Water in the canyon just west of the Brush Corral Trailhead. April 2017.
Water and cow manure in the canyon just west of the Brush Corral Trailhead. April 2017.

Pontatoc Canyon Trail – 2/5/2017 and 2/9/2017

February 2017.
Shallow water near the start of the Pontatoc Trail – this area is more often seen completely dry… February 2017.

It is always a treat to start the Pontatoc Trail and see water flowing in the first wash – as you might expect farther up the Pontatoc Canyon Trail there was water at each crossing of Pontatoc Canyon. New-to-me on this hike was watching the moonrise over Pontatoc Ridge – I wonder if, or how many times, it has risen behind me on other hikes, but tired and staring down at the rocky trail in front of me I missed it…

February 2017.
Looking into Pontatoc Canyon from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail – in the lower right section of the picture you can see a section of the trail (sometimes bypassed by a scramble up the canyon!) February 2017.
February 2017.
A small spill in Pontatoc Canyon. February 2017.
February 2017.
Sunset on the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. February 2017.
February 2017.
Saguaros – end of the day looking down towards Tucson from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. February 2017.
February 2017.
Moon over Pontatoc Ridge. February 2017.

Ventana Canyon Trail – 2/6/2017

February 2017.
Rushing water in the Maiden Pools area. February 2017.
February 2017.
Maiden Pools. February 2017.

With water flowing all over the range we hiked to Maiden Pools to see the water – rushing, as expected – but the sunset and night in the canyon were the highlights of the hike…

February 2017.
Fading sunset before the steep descent back down to the canyon. February 2017.
February 2017.
Saguaro and Stars – looking up from the Ventana Canyon Trail. February 2017.