Friday, September 27, 2013

AMARG "The Boneyard" Tour Davis-Monthan Airforce Base September 25, 2013

                                 Reconnaissance Plane with radar dome on top

General Information: The tour of "The Boneyard" is given by the Pima Air and Space Museum twice a day from Monday through Friday. The tour is $7 more than the regular admission price. Because it is on a military airbase camera cases and purses are not allowed.  Each person needs to have a valid ID to get onto Davis- Monthan.  I would highly suggest this tour because the Docents are very knowledgeable about the history of each plane and AMARG.

History: After World War II the Army's San Antonio Air Technical Service Command established the storage facility to store B-29 and C-47 aircraft decommissioned after the war. Davis-Monthan was chosen because of Arizona's arid climate and hard compact soil. Today "The Boneyard" is managed under the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. AMARG oversees the storage of 4,400 aircraft from the Air Force, Navy, Army, Coast Guard and NASA. The grounds are divided into two sections one stores planes which are used for parts and another stores planes that could become operational in the future. (Information from 

                      B-29s; they were equipped to carry nuclear weapons.

                         Military Helicopters with covering over windows to keep the elements and wildlife out

                               Fighters lined up

                        A transport in the parts section with its tail missing.

                     Fighters which will never fly again used for parts

               KC-130 Tankers on the left

                            Fighter jets with the mountains in the back.

Tumamoc Hill Tucson, Arizona September 24, 2013

                                    Catalina Mountains with Tucson in the foreground

Location and hours: To get to Tumamoc Hill take Speedway underneath Interstate 10 until you reach Silverbell Road. Turn onto Silverbell and drive until Anklam Road. Follow Anklam Road behind Saint Mary's Hospital. You will see the trail (small road) on your right. Tumamoc Hill is a research facility for the University of Arizona so the area is closed from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm M-Friday. Parking can become an issue so come early.

The hike: The hike is three miles roundtrip with 1000 feet of vertical. The trail is a small fire road so route finding is not difficult. The view from the top is incredible with downtown Tucson, the Catalina Mountains, Rincon Mountains and Tucson Mountains all viewable. This hike is very popular so do not expect solitude. In fact I was constantly with  other people the whole time. Despite the crowds I am going to come back many times to watch the sunrise and sunset. Special Consideration: Stay on the road. Remember this is a research area so access is not guaranteed in the future.

                 West from the trail

                  Looking south from top. Photo framed with Ocotillos.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Esperero Trail Sabino Canyon, Arizona September 22, 2013

                The foothills of the Catalina Mountains

On Sunday I returned to Sabino Canyon earlier in the day to hike on the Esperero Canyon Trail. Even though the temperature was cooler at 95 degrees I still had to bring four liters of water. (I suggest carrying allot of water even on short hikes in the desert. In the dry air and heat it is easy to become dehydrated). This trail is easy to follow yet very rocky in places. Overall I hiked over six miles and will definitely be back.

The Esperero Trail follows the main trail from the Visitor's Center and then within 0.2 miles branches of to the left ascending toward Upper Sabino Canyon Road.  After one mile the trail enters the Push Wilderness and follows the foothills of the Catalina Mountains climbing in and out of Bird and Rattlesnake Canyons. This trail is easy to follow and beautiful. The views south and north are beautiful. The trail also has in my opinion one of the best displays of Sonoran vegetation near Tucson. There are dozens of picturesque Saguaro Cacti and Cholla Cacti. Other vegetation include Palo Verde and Prickly Pear Cacti. It is possible to connect into the whole trail system of the Catalina Mountains by hiking this trail. In the future I want to hike up Esperero Canyon and connect into Ventana Canyon. Special warning: Watch out for Mountain Lions around rock outcrops. If you see one back away, throw rocks and make yourself look big and formidable. Do not run. For in depth information on the location of Sabino Canyon in Tucson, Arizona, please consult my April 13, 2013 post on Bear Canyon.

                        Saguaro Cacti and sky

                        Dead Saguaro Cactus decomposing

                              Teddy Bear Cholla

                          A very picturesque Saguaro in Esperero Canyon

                             The beauty of Sabino Canyon late in the day

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Afternoon and Evening hike on Phoneline Trail Sabino Canyon, Arizona September 16, 2013

                                       Desert vegetation including Saguaro Cactus, Teddy bear Cholla, Ocotillo

On September 16th I arrived at Sabino Canyon earlier in the afternoon to hike more of the Phoneline Trail and see the sunset higher up. I left the visitor's center at 4 pm and hiked on the trail toward Bear Canyon. After 0.8 miles I crossed Sabino Creek which had a healthy flow. The desert was also greener a direct result of the healthy monsoon season in southern Arizona. The Ocotillos have robust foliage on them. I hiked on the Phoneline Trail for 2.5 miles until I turned around because of darkness. Overall I hiked about six miles. Enjoy my pictures of the beautiful sunset and evening.

                      On the Phoneline Trail looking toward Tucson

                            Looking up Sabino Canyon with last light. Pusch Wilderness is on your right and ahead.

                                    Ocotillo, rocks and setting sun colors

                Arizona sunset

                Vegetation with sunset colors

Evening hike at Sabino Canyon, Arizona September 14, 2013

                        Sonoran Desert vegetation with the Catalina Mountains in the background

                            Of all the hiking opportunities in Tucson, Arizona, Sabino Canyon in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains is one of the best. The views of the Tucson Mountains to the south and the Rincon Mountains to the west are extraordinary. Picturesque Saguaro Cacti and Cholla Cacti  are also prevalent. At least three trails radiate out from Sabino Canyon into the Pusch Wilderness. An adventurous hiker or backpacker can hike from Sabino Canyon to the top of Mount Lemmon. Because of its beauty Sabino Canyon is very popular. In fact most weekends the parking lot fills up by mid-morning. To park a visitor's pass is required: $20 for the Coronado National Forest (good for a year includes Mount Lemmon and Madera Canyon to the south) or $5 for the day.

                  Today I arrived at 5 pm to enjoy the desert in the evening and watch the sunset. Daytime temperatures are still around 100 so early morning or late afternoon hikes in the lower elevations is recommended. I left the visitor's center and walked to Sabino Canyon and then off-trail (I don't recommend doing this in the Sonoran Desert to the Phoneline Trail and back). Overall mileage was only 3 miles but I saw a beautiful sunset and some wildlife including a Roadrunner, Mule Deer and many different species of birds.

                 Ocotillos and Saguaro Cacti with the Rincon Mountains in the background

                          Desert sunset with Tucson Mountains
                   Evening in the desert

                                Ocotillo and sky

                     Ocotillos and Saguaro with last light

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pima Air and Space Museum Tucson, Arizona September 7, 2013

                            Grunman F9-8P Cougar

        If you are taking a trip to Tucson, Arizona, I would suggest visiting the Pima Air and Space Museum on Valencia Road off Interstate 10. This museum is one of the largest air museums in the world with over 300 aircraft on 80 acres. Docents lead tours of the Spirit of Freedom Hangar, and Hangars 3 and 4.  For $7 extra a visitor can visit the Bone yard at nearby Davis Monthan Airbase. I would suggest visiting the museum over the course of a few days because it is big and can be overwhelming if you try to see everything in one day.

Hours and Admission: The museum is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm. Parking is free. Admission is $15.50 for adults and $12.50 for Pima County Residents, Seniors and Military. Different levels of membership are available for visitors who want to return multiple times. A tour of the Bone yard is an extra $7. (Information from www.pimaair.or)

                          Quintin at the controls

                Huey Helicopter used in Vietnam

                        B-29 Bomber

                 P-51 Mustang

                                        Part of the artists project

                                    Douglas B-23 Dragon

                             Outside the museum

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ramsey Canyon to Crest Huachuca Mountains September 1, 2013

                             Abandoned house in the canyon

On the outskirts of Sierra Vista, Arizona, in the Huachuca Mountains is Ramsey Canyon. This canyon is renowned for its scenic beauty and plant and animal diversity. Along Ramsey Creek sycamores, maples and columbines are prevalent while in the upper parts of the canyon Chihuahua and Apache pines dominate. Some bird species include the Lesser long-nosed bat, Elegant trogon, Berry line hummingbird and Violet-crowned hummingbird  At the mouth of the canyon the Nature Conservancy owns a Preserve where they band hummingbirds and offer birding walks throughout the year. In the preserve is also a Visitor Center and bed and breakfast. The main trail into the canyon is the Hamburg Trail which takes visitors into the Miller Peak Wilderness and up to the Huachuca Crest Trail. By parking at Ramsey Canyon it is possible to access almost all trails in the Huachuca Mountains and the wilderness. A week pass is $4. Watch out for drug smugglers and human smugglers in these mountains especially at night (Information from

The hike:  Today I am hiking up the Hamburg Trail to the Wisconsin Can Trail and finally the Huachuca Crest Trail.  It is possible to do a loop by hiking along the Crest Trail  for two miles and back along the Pat Scott Trail to the Hamburg Trail. This loop is about 10 miles. My hike started off really well as I hiked along Ramsey Creek. I enjoyed looking at the small waterfalls in the creek and looking at the beautiful vegetation in the canyon including the magnificent pine and maple trees. After a 1.5 of hiking I reached the Hamburg Vista which gave a great view of the upper and lower parts of the canyon. The next part of the trail I saw two fawns of the year walking in the forest. After reaching the crest I started hiking north when storm clouds rolled over Miller Peak. I started to hear thunder and made the decision to turn around and hike back down. As I started down off the crest, hail about the size of marbles teemed down on me. I put my raincoat on and walked faster. Soon I became soaked and the trail became a torrent of water. It did not stop hailing and raining until the lower part of the canyon where I was finally able to dry my clothes and belongings in the afternoon sun. Overall I hiked about 7.5 miles with over two thousand feet of elevation gain.

                        Looking toward the upper part of the canyon

                    Small waterfall in Ramsey Canyon

                                   Beautiful sunlight on a maple


                         View west from the crest

                Looking north along the crest before the thunder started

                                         Huachuca Crest Trail

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Butterfly Trail Mount Lemmon August 24, 2013

                        Vegetation in the Catalina Mountains at 8,000 feet

Directions:To access the Butterfly Trail drive the Catalina Highway (Mt. Lemmon Highway) to a trail head on the right before Soldier Camp. The trail head is five miles northeast of the town of Summer Haven. Mount Lemmon is a nice area to hike during the summer because it is about 30 degrees cooler on the mountain.

Hike Description: During  the first 1.5 the trail descends quickly to the Crystal Spring Trail cutoff. Along the way visitors hike underneath conifers including Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine. The trail in this area is steep so watch your step especially if the ground is wet. The next two miles the trail meanders through a burned area to the Davis Spring Trail cutoff. This part of the trail has the best views to the east. Keep an eye out for wildflowers, today I saw at least five different species. From July to mid September watch for afternoon thunderstorms. Today in the afternoon a nasty rain storm blew into the mountains. Luckily, I had my raincoat and was ready however, I met many other visitors without rain gear who were miserable. Overall, I hiked about 6.5 miles.

                      View looking north

                                    Golden Columbine
                         Nevada on the trail


                                 At the creek near the Davis Spring Trail junction

                               Hackberry Beardtongue (a type of Penstemon)