Friday, November 28, 2014

Tumamoc Hill November 8 2014

                                      Cactus in setting sun

Directions: To get to Tumamoc Hill take Speedway 1 mile west to Silverbell. Turn left onto Silverbell Road and drive to West Anklam Road. Park near the St Mary's Hospital parking lot. Parking is available along the street.

Tumamoc Hill has become my favorite evening hike. It offers great 360 degree views and is on pavement so hikers do not have to worry about rocky trails. It is a relatively short hike, approximately 3 miles, and has about 700 feet of elevation gain. This is a very popular hike for Tucson so do not expect to be alone. Recently a male attacked a woman on the trail so as always remain vigilant and keep an eye out.

Special Considerations: Tumamoc Hill is owned by the University of Arizona. Scientists have been conducting experiments since 1908. Please be respectful of this area. The area is open to runners and hikers in the morning and evening.  

                         Looking down the road toward Tucson and the Catalinas

                   Glow of the setting sun

                                Saguaros and the Santa Rita Mountains

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon Loop via the East Fork November 1, 2014

                  Scenery upper part of the East Fork Sabino Creek

Location of Hike: Today's hike begins and ends at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center. From the University of Arizona campus take Campbell Avenue all the way to Skyline Drive. Turn right and drive all the way to Sabino Canyon Road. Turn left and then make an immediate right into the parking lot.

The Hike: By looking at the map I noticed it is possible to connect Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon by way of the East Fork. If hikers take the shuttle to the end of Sabino Canyon this hike is about 10,4 miles if not the Phoneline trail adds another four miles. I took the 9:00 shuttle arriving at stop 9 about 15 miles later. The first part of the trail is steep with hikers ascending about 500 feet, The trail then traverses along the eastern side of Sabino Creek. This part of the trail is extremely scenic with sheer rock walls on the western side of Sabino Creek. Hikers also have a great view of McFall Crags as well as Eye of the Needle. After about two miles the trail descends into the East Fork of Sabino Creek. At this junction go right taking the East Fork Trail. If you go left the West Fork Trail takes hikers to Hutch's Pool a great hike I took last January. The East Fork traverses the southern side of the East Fork as it travels south-east. The environment in this part of the hike is predominately grass with riparian vegetation along the creek. Hikers pass by junctions for two trails: Box Camp  and Palisades Trail which descend from the top of Mount Lemmon. I recently read that the Box Camp trail is no longer maintained. I stopped and ate lunch with a group of hikers at the Palisade Canyon Trail Junction. They started near the top of Mount Lemmon and they informed me that the Palisade Canyon Trail is overgrown and hard to follow.  After this junction the East Fork Trail ascends to a small divide where it is then level for a qaurter of mile before the junction with the Bear Canyon Trail. After entering the top of Bear Canyon, the trail descends quickly through the use of 12 switchbacks to Bear Creek. The trail crosses Bear Creek before traversing the eastern side of Bear Canyon. Views along this part of the trail are stupendous with high rock walls on both sides. When the creek has water I would also watch for water falls and beautiful pools. Just passed Thimble Peak the trail descends to the Seven Falls cutoff. Views around Seven Falls are beautiful with striped Metamorphic rock towering on both sides of the canyon. After the falls the trail stays at the base of Bear Canyon crossing Bear Creek four times. This part of the hike is low altitude and can be hot during the afternoon. Make sure you pay attention because hikers have cut illegal trails to follow the creek or find other pools so it is easy to get of the main trail. Seven Falls is extremely popular with hikers and you will bot be alone. At the base of Bear Canyon hikers can take the Bear Canyon shuttle back to the parking lot or hike the three miles on the road. Total mileage: 10+ (depending on if you take the shuttle) with 1500 feet of elevation gain, (Some information from Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country by Erik Molvar).  

                               Junction at the end of the Sabino Canyon Trail

                                 The East Fork was beautiful

                   Looking northwest toward the Castle

             Upper part of Bear Canyon

                           Beautiful pool and waterfall

                            Saguaros and scenery  near Seven Falls

                        Scenery in Bear Canyon

Romero Canyon, Catalina Mountains October 25, 2014

                           First part of Montrose Canyon

Directions to trailhead: Catalina State Park is located 18 miles north of Tucson on US 89. From the University of Arizona take 1st Avenue toward the Catalina Mountains. Continue driving as if you are going to Oracle. Catalina State Park does require an $8 fee to enter.

The hike: Romero Canyon is one of the many trails in the Catalina Mountains which connect into the trail system for the Catalina Mountains. As a result it is popular trail for backpackers hiking to Mount Lemmon as well as day hikers going to Romero Pools. My objective for today's hike was to see the Romero Pools and possibly hike an extra 1.5 miles toward Romero pass.The trail starts out flat as it crosses a number of small washes in Catalina State Park. After a half mile the trail enters Montrose Canyon which has very dramatic rock walls. In this area a side trail descends to Montrose Pools. After a mile the trail climbs to the Montrose/Romero Divide. This is a 700 foot climb on rocky trail so remember to wear proper foot wear and drink enough water. On this section I saw two or three groups of college students wearing swim wear who looked burned from the sun. The Montrose/Romero Divide is one of the more scenic parts of the trail with great views of Pusch Ridge and the upper peaks of the range. From the divide it is a three-quarter mile descent to Romero Pools. After Romero Pools the trail becomes less crowded and overgrown in places. This overgrowth was mostly grass or cacti growing over the trail and not totally obscuring it. The problem can be seeing rattlesnakes in the grass if they do not rattle. My map showed one or two stream crossings but there are significantly more. Because of the rains during the monsoon season, it is tough to find the trail across Romero Creej and hikers need to follow stone cairns. After about 4.5 to 5 miles I back tracked to the trailhead. Total mileage was about 9.5 miles with 1400 feet of elevation gain.

                            Romero Pools with a significant amount of water

                           Romero Pools

               A beautiful spot above Romero Pools

                        Scenery mile above Romero Pools

                       Beautiful effect of sunlight on grass

                      Saguaros at the base of Montrose Canyon

                                 Major wash in Catalina State Park

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tucson Meet Yourself October 10, 11, 12

                        Polish Fiesta came from Poland to perform on Friday and Saturday

Around the second week of October Tucson, Arizona, hosts the annual Tucson Meet Yourself festival. Tucson Meet Yourself "is a celebration of the living traditional arts of Southern Arizona's and Northern Mexico's diverse ethnic and folk communities." This is a longer festival with acts starting around 12 pm on Friday and ending around 6 pm on Sunday night. On three different stages dancing groups, musicians and bands perform traditional acts.Recently this festival has become known for its food and locals even call it "Tucson Eat Yourself." Admittedly the food choices are amazing. Dozens of booths feature food from Vietnam, India, Poland, Mexico, and Jamaica just to name a few. However, for me Tucson Meet Yourself is about seeing great entertainment and learning about new cultures.  One of the enduring hallmarks of this festival is that it is free to watch the acts all they ask is for a one dollar donation. Enjoy my photos from Friday and Saturday's acts.(some information from

                                  Polish Fiesta danced traditional Polish dances

                                 The girls of Polish Fiesta
                                        Belly Dance Tucson

                                   Belly Dance Tucson

                  Group who sang Russian songs

                     Gertie and the TO Boys

                         Sonora Dance Group

                        Beautiful dresses of the group

                              Seven Veils Belly Dance

                 Indian food stand

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pima Canyon Catalina Mountains October 4, 2014

                                         In the Foothills of the Caatalina Mountains

Two weeks after hiking this trail I finally have time to blog about it.

Location: Pima Canyon is accessible from the Catalina Foothills. Take Oracle Road passed Ina Road and turn right onto Magee Road. Follow this for 1.5 miles to the trail head.

Last year I hiked Pima Canyon with my friend Nathan and loved it. The trail was less popular and the canyon very impressive. I returned with the intention to hike to the top of the canyon where the Mt. Kimball trail branches off of Pima Canyon. I made good time in the lower part of the canyon where the trail was in decent shape and not very steep. In this section I saw many different colors of Desert morning glory. The Palo verde and Jojoba also grew like crazy after the September rains.Three miles in I reached a place where Pima Creek descended over two rocks. For most of the year this canyon is dry but in early October the water was definitely flowing. At the falls I met a semi-professional photographer who was taking photos of butterflies. He moved to Tucson from Chicago, Illinois, when he started to work for a camera lens company. After I left the water fall the trail became very overgrown. I had to use route finding skills to find sections of the trail. I also stopped trying to dodge Prickly pear and other thorny plants causing my legs to become riddled with small thorns. Around mile four part of the trail had been washed away by the recent rains.I continued another twenty minutes before I realized the high temperature would not be in the low 90s but the upper 90s.  I decided to turn around after I determined that I barely enough water to make the 5 miles back to the car. I rationed water extremely well but became a little disoriented near the bottom of the trail. The last mile to the car I hiked with no water something I do not want to do again in the desert. Total mileage: 10 miles.

After the hike I assessed mistakes made and decided on a number of changes. For future hikes I will take the same amount of water but will supplement it with Gatorade. I also need to bring more food such as trail mix to offset the loss of salt that I am loosing through sweat. Even experience hikers can become complacent and sometimes need a kick in the pants.

                  Desert morning glory

                      Lush vegetation in the canyon

                    More vegetation in the canyon

                  Butterfly enjoying water
Waterfall in canyon

                                     Yellow flowers

Monday, October 13, 2014

Greek Festival Tucson, Arizona September 27, 2014


After year off because of a fire in the church, the Greek Festival returned to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodoc Church  on Fort Lowell Avenue. Over the course of three days there were dances, church tours and lectures by U of A professors on various Greek topics. Visitors could enjoy all types of Greek food from Gyros and Spanikopita to Baklava and Greek wines as well. Tara ate a Gyro while I  ate Chicken Souvlaki both of which were very good. Quintin enjoyed the dancing and food but was tired by 8 pm. After Tara and Quintin left I toured the Church. It is sad to see that construction has come to a halt because of a lack of funds.

                                   Quintin enjoying the festivities

                                Big tents

Sabino Canyon Seven Falls, Catalina Mountains September, 27, 2014

                                             Bear Canyon with water from the recent rains

Location: Sabino Canyon is the trail head for Seven Falls. To get to Sabino Canyon from the University of Arizona take Campbell Avenue north toward the Catalina Mountains. Turn right onto Skyline Road. Skyline will become Sunrise Road. Keep driving until you reach Sabino Canyon Road. Turn left and you will see the parking lot on the right.

A year and a half ago I hiked the 7.6 miles to Seven Falls by way of Bear Canyon. I remember the hike was very pretty but I also remember it as being very popular with tourists. If you come to Tucson or live in Tucson this is the hike everybody chooses to do. As a result, of this popularity rescues in Bear Canyon are common. In fact today I saw a woman who injured her knee when she jumped from a high rock into one of the deeper pools.  I also saw a number of couples who were carrying very little water. The trail is easy to follow and few route finding skills are needed. There are four creek crossings that could pose challenges during the monsoon season. There are also a few areas where people have created illegal trails by cutting switchbacks. Please stay on the trail. These illegal trails cause erosion and they also can get you in steep rocky terrain.  On this hike I did see 50 or more Army personnel (from Marana) who were hiking this trail to stay fit. They were very friendly and even helped out the woman who injured her knee.

                                          One of the falls

                                                A zoo up at the falls

                                              If you look closely you can see four of the falls

                                     Bear Canyon terrain