Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wilderness of Rocks trail report

I recently received this account from Earl:

Hello Andy,

I  hiked the Wilderness of Rocks trail in March. I started from Carter Canyon Rd. in Summerhaven where I accessed the Mint Spring trail. I've included pictures of the Mint Spring trail and the Wilderness of Rocks trail. (first 3) The Mint Spring trail has many logs and debris on it. Still passable but the trail needs work. Pictures show the fire damage. About a 1/4 0f a mile from the Marshall Saddle the burned forest reverts back to no burn and the trail is fine.

From the Marshall Saddle to the Mt. Lemmon Lookout trail junction the Wilderness of Rocks trail is fine. I found lots of water in March on the trail. After the junction the Mt. Lemmon Lookout trail is in good shape no burn damage. I also found water on this trail. I've included pictures from the Wilderness of Rocks (next 3) and the Mt. Lemmon Lookout trails. (last 4)

I use you trail guide every time I'm in Tucson and I appreciate all the effort you've put into it over the years.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Account of Catalina State Park to Mt. Lemmon round trip

Peter J. from Alaska sent me this account of doing Catalina State Park to Mt. Lemmon, round trip (27.6 miles, 6360 elevation change), as a day hike (pretty impressive!):

I'm a visitor from McCarthy, Alaska, where I've worked for the rather mountainous "Wrangell-St.Elias National Park" and am presently spending time in Tucson, doing near-daily forays into Catalina State Park's Romero Canyon.   Usually to the 'second' pools, where I watch creatures such as 'toe-biters', snakes & frogs before turning around.   Not surprisingly, the thought of going farther i.e. to the summit of Mt. Lemmon, kept creeping up, along with the question "could I really do it"?   Not that I'm new to longer trips, I've worked as mountain guide some decades ago and been involved with other activities as well, but have tapered off due to knee injuries, among other reasons.   For lack of shuttle contacts here, the hike to the summit was to be a round-trip. 

It finally came to happen on Nov. 23rd with a 6:40AM start around daybreak.  Cooler than expected, I felt foolish just wearing shorts, sweater and wind-breaker, but knew a good pace would balance this out.  The initial jaunt to the pools and beyond to the 'Old Camp' (ca. mile 5) went smoothly, as that part is traveled quite frequently.  The few wiggles back and forth across the dry stream bed beyond that is followed by a section of pesky thorn-bushes, underlining that I was wearing shorts, but that rapidly improved, once reaching Romero Pass.  Here I "had" to take pictures, simply to keep track of time, since I never wear a watch.  Already I had consumed a bit more than three hours.  My ego wanted me on the summit within 5-6 hrs, but now, looking up at the great vertical relief still ahead and thinking how elevation tends to hamper performance, summit dreams looked more iffy. 

The consolation was that I could try for the Sutherland-Romero junction, turn around and be happy with a good work-out and leave more ambitious plans for a spring visit.  Since I don't 'feast' when my body is distracted with intense physical activity (I believe digestion of heavy food works against you and affects hydration), my first pint of water and the banana had to do.   From Romero Pass into the rockier segments of the trip, the trail tends to disappear at times, save for some kind and not so kind previous hikers' markings.   The kind ones patiently placed rock cairns in all those places where the trail became questionable.   The 'not so kind' hikers (probably not so patiently) left toilet papers strewn around.   I would hope that most folks have better taste than that.  Still, the Sutherland trail came into view shortly before the junction itself suddenly appeared just a few minutes after noon.   This was also the time when a cool wind picked-up considerably and clouds made their appearance.  

Assessing data was in place.   Seeing the clouds as potential threat was one factor.   The "only 1.5 miles to the summit" another, and not least or last "do I have enough stamina if things got nasty" a third one.   Many times what appears to be a "slight" threat turns into a deadly one, and seeing remnants of frost crystals in shady places was not an indication of summer temps.  At the least I wanted to reach familiar ground again before it got dark, even with headlamp, extra batteries and some survival gear in my pack.  With all things considered, the rush for the summit was on, reaching the Observatory gate almost exactly six hours into the trip.   The wind allowed for only a picture stop, in order to keep legs warm and ready for the descent.   Luckily, the now familiar trail, completely devoid of people, went by much quicker.   I felt lucky and blessed to reach the parking lot as the setting sun was illuminating the once-threatening clouds with the fascinating colors rarely seen anywhere else than the great South-West.
Toe-Biter at Romero Pools


View to the west from Romero Pass

View to the south from Romero Pass

At the top

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Where are dogs prohibited in the Catalinas?

A few weeks ago a question about where dogs are not allowed in the Catalinas prompted me to research this topic. The only Forest Service link I could on this topic was this one:

Where it says that "Dogs are prohibited, except seeing-eye dogs or handi-dogs in the Bighorn Sheep Management Area portion of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness."

So I went to look for a map or definition of the boundaries of the "Bighorn Sheep Management Area portion of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness." The only thing I could find was this:

Update 2011-06-12: I managed to find a PDF of the actual closure order online (not sure how long it will stay there):

The closure order contains a map which seems to track the map given above.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Picture of Bridal Veil Falls flowing

A Bill Bull sent me this on 12 March 2010:
I thought you would like to see Bridal Veil falls gushing on Wednesday, March 10. A bit too much water, because the flow shot over the ledge that creates the veil effect (such as to the left of the main flow). Yes, really nice to walk the wet trail through the valley-floor forest of Esperero.
Thank you,

Update on Mt. Wrightson from Gardner Canyon

On 4 June 2010 Jim Moutray sent me this update on the Mt. Wrightson from Gardner Canyon hike:
About a month ago after using your site including comments by Jason Adler our daughter and I went up the mountain. We drove to the trailhead in a high clearance 4 X 4, as you say a 2 wheel drive could do it carefully. Shortly after leaving Walker Basin area the trail is lost in the downed trees etc. We went up the side of the mountain which blocks a view of
Wrightson, heading in a NE direction. It was difficult but doable with 2 trekking poles each. After getting to the top of the ridge and heading south a mile or so Mt Wrightson came into view. Heading toward Wrightson keeping the elevation we had gained we saw the "meadow or park" area to our left and hit the Super trail about 20-30 min later. We enjoyed the rest of the hike to the top.

On the way down we stayed on the Super Trail as long as possible then down into the "Park" area. It is really a mess, probably much worse than When Jason was there. Down dead trees keep you from finding and staying on a trail. We did have high winds in March and April. It was quite difficult to make progress and a challenge to determine about where the Walker Basin area was. I had taken good looks back on the way up from Walker area or would have been in trouble. We took considerable longer to come down thru the park area to Walker than going up north of it cross country. Total time to the top from trailhead was 4:45, down was about 4:15.

I would not recommend that anyone approach Wrightson from Gardner Canyon. Think about 3 men with chainsaws and camping equipment could fix the missing part of the trail in 3-4 days. I would volunteer to help with a donation for an effort to do a fix. If I were younger would help physically, am 71 and fit but have limits. Thank you for your help with Sierra Club, maps etc. We live about 13 miles from Wrightson and would love to hike it again with guests and family that come, and to recommend it to others. At the top we visited with 2 couples that had tried a few days before to come thru the burned area but gave up. On that day they came in thru Madera Canyon.

Hiker update on Mt. Lemmon from Catalina State Park

Today a John emailed me this update on the Mt. Lemmon to Catalina State Park hike:
I had intended to send you this email after I did the hike last summer (August), but I put it off until now. I am going to be doing the Turkey Creek to Manning Camp hike next week, so I figured now was a good enough time to send you my impressions of the hike.

The section "Romero Canyon Trail, FS #8 (old trail camp to Romero Pass)" is heavily overgrown near the end. There were times when the trail basically disappeared in the vegetation below your feet. I managed to get up to the top of the pass, but it was very difficult with all of the vegetation growing ON the trail.

When I did this hike, there were very few water sources. I imagine this is why you listed it as a Spring/Fall hike only. This was particularly problematic in the section: "Mt. Lemmon Trail, FS #5 (Romero Pass to Wilderness of Rocks Trail)". At one point I was down to less than a half liter after carrying 5 full liters from the campsite in Romero Canyon.

Overall, your description of the hike was spot-on. I did this hike over three days, making it a little less strenuous than a full day-hike. I was surprised my first morning by a hiker that said she hiked all the way past the campsite every morning from the Romero Pools trail. The next instance I met anyone on the hike was in the Wilderness of Rocks area. As I made my way up the mountain I passed several more people, but the solitude along the Romero Canyon trail was priceless. I enjoyed this hike, although I don't think I will do it again in the Summer. If I do manage to build up the nerve to do this hike again, I will probably go downhill next time as well.

Have you received any updates on the Turkey Creek to Manning Camp hike? Any additional information would be appreciated. Thanks for your work on the website, I and many other hikers appreciate it.
Many years ago when I hiked from Sabino Canyon up to the Wilderness of Rocks during a drought (1996?) there was no potable water at all in the Wilderness of Rocks. Lemmon Creek had some pools of water, but the water was so salty it was undrinkable.