Today's hike was located at the main parking lot at Gates Pass in the Tucson Mountains of southern Arizona. If you are arriving from the interstate take the Speedway BLVD exit and turn west toward the Tucson Mountains. Speedway will soon become Gates Pass Road which is scenic but curvy. The parking lot is near the summit and it accommodates a large number of cars.This is a popular area for locals to see the sunset.
I arrived mid-afternoon to hike later in the day. Forecasts were calling for mid-eighties and sun so I wanted to take advantage of the cooler weather late afternoon provides. My goal was to duplicate a hike I did on February 7, 2015. On that day I summitted an unnamed peak on the same ridge as Bushmaster peak. On that hike I was using non-established but well-worn trails. At the beginning of the hike navigation can be difficult because visitors have made many different paths. If you pick the wrong path you might be carefully traversing a forest of Teddy bear cholla. On this particular hike I did have to turn around below the summit because I found a bee hive. I was hiking along when I saw three bees enter a cleft in a rock wall. I stayed for a couple of minutes and watched about a dozen bees enter and exit. Luckily, I was upwind of them so they did not know I was present. Stumbling into bees in the Sonoran Desert is a scary proposition because many of them have hybridized with African killer bees and are very aggressive. On a hike I would much rather see a rattlesnake than bees. I quickly departed and returned to the car the way I came. On this hike I continued my run of beautiful flower displays. Today I saw Staghorn cholla and Teddy bear cholla in bloom. If you want a detailed description of the route please consult my February 7, 2015 post.