Friday, May 23, 2014

Esperero Canyon, Catalina Mountains May 16, 2014

                                   Saguaros with flowers

Location: Today's hike is Esperero Canyon at Sabino Canyon in the Catalina Mountains of Arizona. Sabino Canyon is located off of Tanque Verde Road  or Sunrise Road. The trail is accessible from the Visitor's Center at the entrance to the area. Remember there is a $5 fee for the day or a $20 fee for a year long pass.

The Hike: I arrived at the trail head before 7 am in order to take advantage of cooler morning temps.  In the afternoon forecasters were predicting temperatures over 100 degrees. The trail follows the foothills of the Catalinas dipping in and out of Rattlesnake and Bird Canyons. In this vicinity are some of the best stands of Saguaro cacti and Prickly pear I have seen in the Sonoran Desert. On this hike almost all of the Saguaros  had white flowers at the top. After Bird Canyon the trail enters a nameless canyon where it ascends to a high saddle that looks out over Esperero Canyon and Tucson. In this area I saw a Mojave rattlesnake coiled in a bush rattling at me. I gave him distance and the snake soon slithered away.  After leaving the saddle the trail then descends down to the floor of Esperero Canyon. The trees in the wash offer plenty of shade from the sun. There was no water in the canyon so don't depend on it as a permanent water source late spring and summer. Near (now dry) Bridalveil Falls I turned around because I was worried about how much water I had for the hike back. As I descended elevation I soon realized that water would be an issue. I had half a nalgene left for 2 miles of hiking. I conserved the water the best I could but ran out a half mile from the Visitor Center. Needless to say I was happy to drink  cold water at the trail head. In the future I will definitely have to bring six to seven nalgenes of water for these hikes. Near the trail head I did see a Roadrunner chilling underneath a Palo verde. He was definitely not enthusiastic to leave the shade and venture out into the 98 degree heat. I watched him for five minutes before finishing my hike. Total mileage was  10.2 with 2,000 feet of vertical change.

                                      In the nameless canyon looking back toward town

                                       Canyon wall

                             Mohave coiled up watching me.

                         Canyon wall with desert vegetation
                                                          Nice grassy spot at  saddle

                 Lizard in Esperero Canyon


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