Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tortolita Mountains May 23, 2015

                                         Saguaro Cactus

Location: The Tortolita Mountains are located to the west of Tucson, Arizona. From downtown Tucson, take Interstate 10 to the Tangerine Road exit. Turn right once you get off the interstate. Drive on this road until you get to Dove Mountain Road. Turn left and follow this road until you see signs for the Ritz Carlton. The Wild Burro Trail head is located right next to the resort.

The Hike: I arrived at the trail head at 6 am in the morning in order to escape some of the afternoon heat. My plan for the day was to hike a loop starting on the Wild Mustang Trail and returning via the Alamo Springs Trail. The Wild Mustang Trail gives hikers great views of Wild Burro Canyon, Tucson valley and the Catalina Mountains. The first couple of miles on the Upper Javelina and Wild Mustang trails hikers gain considerable elevation. There are no trees and it is nice to complete this portion of  the hike in the morning. While hiking I was surprised at the number of gnats and how bothersome they were. In fact if I rested for more than a minute my legs became covered in bugs. A nice surprise for me was the fact that Saguaro cacti were blooming in the upper part of Wild Burro Canyon. The plan was to eat in the shade at Alamo Springs but the gnats were too aggressive and I ate while hiking. In the upper part of the Alamo Springs Trail I saw my first rattlesnake of the year which was a big Mojave. He was moving along the side of the trail. I heard the rattle and backed off. Very quickly the snake disappeared into a bush. The weather was becoming warm so after a mile on the Alamo Springs trail I returned via a cutoff trail to Wild Burro Canyon. Along the way back to the trail head I hiked the very rocky but beautiful Lower Javelina Trail. Total mileage was about eight miles with minimal route finding skills needed. This is not a summer hike because of the low elevations involved.

   Saguaros and rock on the beginning of the Upper Javelina Trail

         Splendid view from Wild Mustag

                Looks toward the Catalina Mountains on the Wild Mustang Trail

                       Blooming Saguaro

                              Mojave rattlesnake

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