Wednesday, December 11, 2013
This last weekend my cousin Franak and I went on a hike at Gates Pass in the Tucson Mountains west of Tucson. I had never hiked at Gates Pass or Tucson Mountain Park so I was really looking forward to this hike. We drove west on Speedway BLVD passed the International Wildlife Museum and over Gates Pass to the Yetman Trail. The Yetman Trail is over six miles long and ends at Starr Pass. The first one mile is on a well established yet rocky trail. After one mile we followed the Golden Gate Trail toward Gates Pass. This trail was a lot steeper and rockier. The tricky part of the hike was dodging the many Teddy bear cholla balls on the trail. Cholla cacti have some of the nastiest thorns in the Sonoran Desert and will attach themselves onto skin or clothing. They also seem to jump onto clothing or skin (hence their alternate name Jumping cholla). I spent long parts of the hike watching for these balls so my dog Nevada would not step on them. Disaster almost happened once when he stepped on one but managed to kick it off. I was certainly relieved. Besides the scenery and hike I enjoyed reconnecting with my cousin. Growing up we never lived in the same town so I rarely saw her. Hopefully with both of us living in Tucson this will change.
Special Consideration: This area has many illegal trails created by visitors. As a result it is easy to get off the main trails. Pay attention at trail junctions and carry a good topographic map.