Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gates Pass Exploration Tucson Mountains January 20, 2014

                         Tucson Mountains above Gates Pass

After lunch on Martin Luther King Day I drove up to Gates Pass in the Tucson Mountains to do some hiking and photograph the Tucson Mountains. There are few trails at Gates Pass but I was able to scramble up to the top of small mountains using unofficial trails (as a result I do not know length or elevation gain). I do not usually go off-trail because it encourages the creation of illegal trails and accelerates erosion in the mountains. Respect wildlife and plant life. Hiking around I did see a disturbing amount of trash some of which I picked up. Enjoy our wild lands but please pack it out.

                     Tucson Mountains looking toward Saguaro Park West

           Extremely windy Gates Pass Road

                       Gates Pass Road at the summit

Cactus Garden Three Tank and Carrillo Trail Loop Saguaro National Park East January 19, 2014

               View from the Three Tank Trail

I arrived at the Douglas Spring Trail head at around 12:30 pm after volunteering at the Pima Air Space Museum. Today my objective was to hike the Three Tank Trail and then return back to the trail head by way of the Garwood Trail. This loop is about 8 miles with 1500 feet of elevation gain. Trails involved include  the Douglas Spring Trail (described in past post), Three Tank Trail, Wildhorse Trail, Carrillo Trail and Garwood Trail.

Highlights on the hike included views on the Three Tank Trail and Little Wildhorse Tank.  After a half mile on the Three Tank Trail, hikers are rewarded with views toward the Catalina Mountains, downtown Tucson and Tucson Mountains to the west. These views are truly splendid and make the 1100 foot climb on the Douglas Spring Trail worth it. Another highlight includes Little Wildhorse Tank. The trail to Wildhorse Tank is accessible from the Carrillo and Wildhorse Trail junction. After a half mile hikers are rewarded with three natural tanks in the desert and another scenic view of the Catalina Mountains and Rincon Mountains.

On this hike I met a number of incredible people. On the Three Tank Trail I met a group from the Czech Republic. They were extremely friendly and we talked about Tucson as well as their home country. They had a map of trail in Saguaro National Park but no idea how to use it. Luckily I was able to give them some guidance on how to complete the loop for which they wanted to hike. On the Garwood trail I met a couple who like to hike at night looking for animals with flashlights. What was strange is that the wife enjoyed it more than her husband. They have gotten many different species of wildlife on film including Jackrabbits, Coyote and Mountain lion. They did tell me a disturbing story about three teenagers who tagged Saguaros and cut Barrel cacti with a machete all along the Garwood Trail. Luckily the three individuals were photographed on wildlife cameras and arrested by police.

                           Desert vegetation with Rincon Mountains in the background                             

                     Me on the Three Tank Trail

                                Little Wildhorse Tank

                           Scenic view from Little Wildhorse Tank

                              Saguaros, Mesquite and Palo verde from the Garwood Trail