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 | – 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 | – 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:


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

Bighorn, Crossing, Decapitation, Comet, Snow, App, Rescues – 11/15/2015

There are plans to release 30 bighorn sheep from near Yuma into the Santa Catalina Mountains during the third week of November. Pneumonia – identified as the cause in a number of recent deaths – is still a concern but the bighorn planned for the release “have been previously exposed to the illness and are therefore resistant to it.” More Bighorn Sheep Coming to Santa Catalinas Near Tucson – Arizona Public Media, More bighorns coming to Catalina Mountains next month – Arizona Daily Star.

Wildlife crossings pave the way for biodiversity in Sonoran Desert – Arizona Sonora News: There is an exciting project that is part of the widening of Oracle Road – two wildlife crossings that will help link the Tortolita and Santa Catalina Mountains! The Arizona Department of Transportation has a single sheet overview of the project that is quite informative. While the project is not finished it appears that a tortoise is the first documented user of the new crossing!

Decapitated deer found tied to tree on Mount Lemmon – Near Molino Basin a deer that had been shot and decapitated was found tied to a tree on Nov. 6 – there is a $2,000 reward for information (contact Operation Game Thief – 1-800-352-0700). A quote from the article: “This case is very troubling, given the nature of the crime scene. We are outraged by this, and expect that the general public will be as well” – Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson.

Mt. Lemmon biz looking forward to El Nino winter – “General Manager [of the Sawmill Run Restaurant] Steven Sanders said the more snow, the more people come up and the more jobs there will be to go around.”

First snowfall of season on Mt. Lemmon brings out plenty of sightseers – Tucson News Now: First snow of the Season!

Catalina State Park: Blue skies, flowing water – Arizona Daily Star, Sabino Canyon gearing up for busy season – Tucson News Now: Two articles that are a great reminder that we are starting to have days with amazing weather for getting outside to the desert/lower elevation areas of the mountain!

Long Term Permit for Sabino Canyon Shuttle Services – USFS: This page contains information about the proposed 20-year special use permit for the shuttle system in Sabino Canyon. The SCRA Shuttle Scoping Letter has some interesting notes about the project including a list of design features that mentions minimizing conflicts between the shuttle/hikers/bikers and reducing ‘auditory impacts’ from the shuttle that seem to depend on ‘modernizing [the] existing 1970s era shuttle fleet’.

Space junk crashing toward Earth found by Mount Lemmon lab – Arizona Daily Star: Space debris – possibly an old rocket booster – that entered Earth’s atmosphere and splashed down in the Indian Ocean was first spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey!

Comet named after Catalina Mountains may soon be seen with naked eye – Tucson News Now: Comet Catalina will soon be at its closest to the sun and may be visible with the naked eye. The comet was discovered in 2013 by the Catalina Sky Survey. This post from has information on locating the comet in the sky.

Closure of shooting sites on Redington Pass extended – Arizona Daily Star: Three unofficial shooting areas off Redington Road that were closed for clean up will remain closed until next year while the Forest Service works on a management plan for the Redington Pass area.

Motorcyclist airlifted after Mt. Lemmon crash – Tucson News Now: non life-threatening injuries sustained in a crash near milepost 17.

UA College of Science Produces Mount Lemmon Audio Tour – UANews: The University of Arizona College of Science has produced a mobile app for Android and iPhone called ‘The Mount Lemmon Science Tour’. The app is largely a guided audio tour with great accessible science content (how the mountain formed, life zones, water, …) that is timed for a drive up the mountain.

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

  • Crystal Spring Trail – 10/25: Exhaustion results in a hiker carried out to the Control Road
  • Blackett’s Ridge – 10/7: Ankle injury, hiker carried out.
  • Seven Cataracts – 10/2: Hiker injured in a fall on the unofficial trail/route from the Seven Cataracts Overlook to the pools in Seven Cataracts – hoisted out and transferred to a medical helicopter.
  • Sutherland Trail – 9/23: Lost hiker calls for help after being unable to follow the trail – the current trail conditions plus attractiveness of this route continue to cause incidents.