Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hutch's Pool West Fork Sabino Creek January 11, 2014

                                   Map showing Sabino Canyon and the wilderness

Directions: Sabino Canyon is at the end of Sunrise Road at the base of the Catalina Mountains.  To get to Sabino Canyon from the University of Arizona take Campbell Road all the way to Skyline Road. Turn right onto Skyline and drive all the way until Sabino Canyon. Skyline will become Sunrise. A pass to the Coronado National Forest cost about $20 for the year. $5 for one day.

Today I wanted to hike to Hutch's Pool in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. To bypass some of the lower trails which I have I hiked I decided to pay $8 to ride the tram to stop #9 at the top of Sabino Canyon. The last tram leaves stop #9 at 4:50 pm. From stop #9 Hutch's Pool is a 7.5 mile roundtrip hike with approximately an elevation gain of 1300 feet. I want to hike another 1.5 miles passed Hutch's Pool to see more of the wilderness which will extend the trip to ten miles. Trails involved include Sabino Canyon and West Fork of Sabino Canyon. This hike required very little route finding. At the trail junction of West and East Fork Trails make sure to take the West Fork. There is no sign for Hutch's Pool.

Trail Description: The first two miles of the trip the trail is above the creek. Here the canyon is very dramatic with steep walls on the western side. The view opens up to the north as well with the towers on the top of Mount Lemmon visible in the distance. Before the trail junction the trail descends to the creek.  The West Fork trail follows the creek up canyon. After about a mile it crosses the creek. There are pools here but hike on; Hutch's Pool is half a mile farther. The destination is off the main trail. At a huge rock visitors will see a cairn and a trail to the right. This trail is rocky and relatively steep so watch your footing. The next mile and a half the trail ascends rapidly giving hikers views of West Fork Canyon. Use Leave No Trace principles because this area gets a lot of use.

The joy of hiking and traveling is meeting wonderful people. At 1.5 miles into my trip I met an older couple from Eastern Kentucky who were hiking to the pool. We talked about the Daniel Boone National Forest, The Red River Gorge and the University of Kentucky basketball team. I did not hike with them because of their slower pace. On the West Fork Trail I met a couple who live in Calgary, Alberta, as well as Tucson. I talked with them about Canada as well as Arizona hiking. I would also see them at Hutch's Pool and on the 4:30 tram back down. Finally, at the destination I met a couple in their seventies from Ontario who spend three to four months of the winter in Arizona.

                              Looking back down Sabino Canyon

                               Tree with the upper mountains of the Catalinas

                  Brett at Hutch's Pool

                        Another picture of Hutch's Pool. Very beautiful

                          Pools in West Fork of Sabino Creek

                         West Fork Canyon

                         Pusch Wilderness

                                 Another beautiful pool

                         Me with the dramatic scenery of upper Sabino Canyon

Saguaro National Park East Cactus Forest Garwood Trail Loop January 5, 2014


                                  Map of the Cactus Forest with route in different colors   
For visitors who are looking for a great place to hike in the afternoon the trails of the Cactus Forest are an excellent option. From the Douglas Spring Trailhead trails radiate in all directions. It is possible to link many different trails in this area depending on time and ability level. Carrillo Trail and Three Tank Trail are much steeper.
Today's hike is a distance of 5.8 miles with minimal elevation gain.  If you hike passed the Garwood Trail junction the Douglas Spring Trail starts to gain elevation quickly. Trails involved in the loop include the Garwood, Carrillo, Squeeze Pen, Pink Hill, Loma Verde, Wentworth and Creosote.  It is possible to simplify the loop by returning via the Kennedy Trail. You don't have to follow my loop remember part of the fun of hiking in this area is connecting trails to make your own adventure.

                               Many Saguaros together

                         On the Garwood Trail

                            Desert vegetation with Rincon Mountains in the background

Monument Wash

Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum January 10, 2014

                         Quintin walking on the grounds

Directions: The Arizona- Sonoran Desert Museum is located on western side of the Tucson Mountains. The most scenic route is to take the Speedway BLVD exit off I-10. Turn left onto Speedway traveling west. After a number of miles Speedway turns into Gates Pass Road. Follow Gates Pass Road over the Tucson Mountains. (This road is windy so take it slow). Turn right onto Kinney Road.

General Admission: Adults $19.50 Seniors $17.50 Youth $15.50 Children 4-12 $6.00 A year-long membership for families is $75. (Benefits include unlimited membership, guest passes, and discounts).

The museum's mission is to educate the general public to "live in harmony with the natural world" and to "appreciate and understand the Sonoran Desert." The museum accomplishes this through wildlife enclosures, plant gardens, and educational demonstrations. The zoo portion is organized by habitat. Animals seen in the Mountain Woodland and Desert Grassland are together. There is also a cat canyon, aviary, and hummingbird enclosure. The Sonoran Desert Museum is one of the top ten locations for public gardens in the United States. There are 1200 different species of plants with 56,000 individual plant specimens planted. Notable gardens include the Mountain Woodland, Desert Grassland and Cactus Garden. It is fun to sit on the benches, identify plants and watch native birds in their habitat.  Finally, throughout the day museum docents give visitors demonstration with some of the wildlife. (Information from the Arizona Sonoran Desert website).

                            Quintin playing with rattlesnake scales

                                 Prairie dogs

                           Wooden covered enclosure with surrounding desert

                             Cactus wren

                        Desert bighorn sheep

                              Quintin walking in one of the gardens


                    Cacti on the grounds