Friday, May 23, 2014

Green Mountain, Catalina Mountains May 18, 2014

                  Sky Islands vegetation

Location: The Green Mountain trail is located directly off the Catalina Highway in southern Arizona. The trail is accessible from two different locations: San Pedro Vista and Bear Canyon Picnic Area.

The Hike: Nevada and I reached the trail head at 10 am. We parked at the Bear Canyon Picnic area because the main parking area was full. The first part of the trail follows Bear Canyon. Here the flora is Ponderosa pine, Limber pine, oaks, Manzanita and Velvet ash classic southern Arizona sky islands vegetation.  The trail ascends Bear Canyon for 2.5 miles before reaching Bear Saddle and the junction of the Guthrie Mountain Trail. Here I ate lunch with two older gentlemen and their very well behaved dogs. These guys were very friendly and we talked about various places to explore in southern Arizona.  After lunch Nevada and I hiked over the ridge toward the junctions of  Maverick Spring and Short cut trails. Along this section the views toward the San Pedro valley were extraordinary. 0.8 miles from Bear Saddle I noticed Nevada was getting tired so I decided to turn around. On the way back to the trail head we stopped many times for water and rest. It is frighting how dry the vegetation is in the Catalina Mountains. Hopefully these mountains do not burn this summer.  Near General Hitchcock Campground I watched a Coatimundi for a couple of minutes in the forest. This was definitely a treat because previously I only saw a flash of the mammal as it crossed the trail.  Overall we hiked about 6.4 miles. (Information Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country by Erik Molvar).

     Looking toward San Pedro Valley

          Blooming Hedgehog Cactus

                         Bear Canyon
             Nevada near General Hitchcock Campground

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


Arizona Sonroan Desert Museum May 11, 2014

On Sunday afternoon Tara and I took Quintin back to the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum for the afternoon. We like the museum because the grounds are beautiful and there are plenty of paths for him to walk on. On this particular day the animals were resting in the shade because of the warm weather. If you want to see the animals more active I would visit earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. Enjoy the photos from our visit.

                    Quintin walking on museum grounds

                            Q in the desert
                               Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum

                         Tara and Q looking at the Prairie dogs.

                                  Cactus wren on top of Saguaro