Amy ordered a dog backpack so when she/we are on a hike and Jack needs a break, into the pack he goes. He appears to enjoy the test but at 30+ pounds, it's more weight than we normally carry so his breaks from walking will likely be brief.
Some of our group of 10 gather in front of LaBuzz to car pool the 20 miles and 6000+' elevation gain to the Butterfly trail head. Marc G invited Amy to drive his Tesla, which she throughly enjoyed.
An entirely different world where rain is abundant other than I think May & June, maybe Sept. and Oct. too.
We begin our hike on the Butterfly Trail and later switch to the Sunset Trail to form a very nice, 8.5 mile loop with 2300' of climbing.
We descend for 2.4 miles, passing many formations of flowers. In places, it was like walking through a jungle and at times, I could not see my feet. On a previous visit, I encountered two, black rattlesnakes and I dread the thought of hearing the rattle and not being able to see my surroundings.
The Bighorn Fire of two years ago cleared out some areas and allowed for some....
In addition to doing the loop, we were looking for a side trail that would take us to a military plane crash site from 1957.
More flowers and at last....
....Amy led us to the site which she had visited a few weeks ago. Actually, Amy was the route finder on today's hike and did a great job, also providing this information about the crash: Three F-86D Sabre Dogs from Davis-Monthan AFB were attempting an arrow formation when one jet pulled up and the tail struck the belly of another jet. The two pilots ejected out of each of their planes and parachuted a half-mile apart on Mount Lemmon. They were both rescued the next morning. One jet crashed near the Butterfly Trail, the other disappeared. 3 months after the disappearance, a rancher called the Air Force to report a mysterious crash. It was the other Sabre-dog, which had corrected itself and continued on its easterly course before crashing in Truth or Consequences (350 miles away).
We got back on the Butterfly Trail and while heading toward a ridge, passed through a burn area. Now we were on a 3+ mile climb which was rather steep in places. I've not been hiking much so began to feel the effort in my thighs. Then it began to rain, lightly but persistently. We didn't much mind as we were already soaked from our effort on this humid day.
We finished our ascent slightly below Mt. Bigalow, then followed a dirt road for a bit. The rain paused but now many of became quite cold due to our wet clothing and 65 degree temperature. Hiking out here, it never occurs to me to pack a simple and light rain protective piece. We departed the dirt road and descended....
.....steeply via the Sunset Trail, passing many huge Ponderosa pines. One of the highlights of today's hike was.....
.....admiring several gnome displays. Someone put in a lot of effort to create these intricate....
Near the end of our hike we passed beneath General Hitchcock Highway and eventually to our cars. I declined the offer to drive the Tesla so Amy could have another go with it.
I live next to a wild area through which I walk Jack. Recently, I noticed the tell-tale sign of a snakes movement in the sand so was on the lookout for a rattlesnake. A few days later, in the distance I saw a snake stretched across a trail so hustled to the area but not a rattlesnake, just a very long, non venomous snake.
We've entered monsoon season. It was forecast to be an active one and so far, it is. A wild fire in the region had been raging for a couple of weeks and only 40% contained but a burst of rain, in one spot within the fire of 4" and the fire is no more.
Wow. A rainbow between The Cleaver and Pusch Peak..
Still need to do some tree trimming to remove some obstruction to the fabulous views caused by the setting sun. Well, have a group hike set up for tomorrow.
Jack goes crazy playing with a pig which lets out a long growl when its center is pressed.
We declined to ride this Saturday and Sunday mornings, otherwise occupied being lazy but we did make the 2 mile drive to Catalina State Park to hike to the "Hidden Falls" which may be running after last night's rain. Lot of saguaros on a nearby hillside.
Amy pauses beneath an arch made by a dead saguaro.
Clouds have lingered to assist in producing beautiful scenes. Center bottom of the above image is the "green rock" which I planned to hike past but alas, the usually faint trail to it is now over grown with vegetation so I did not find the trail.
We pass north of the green rock but again, I could not find access to it. Sure, I could have bush whacked across to it but fear of rattlers and getting cut deterred me.
We reach where water usually falls but not enough has collected from the rain so it is dry for now. With rain forecast for most of the next 10 days, that should change.
We scramble down from the base of the dry falls to resume our trek.
The level of ant activity was amazing. I suppose the rain and run-off from it caused some mayhem below that needed repaired.
So many saguaros dead from the Bighorn Fire of 2 years ago but lots still thrive.
Grinding holes from Hohokum activity from around 800-1000 years ago. There are hundreds of these examples around Tucson.
Wow, check out this image as we near the end of our 5 mile hike. That's an agave or century plant which has produced the stalk with the yellow flowers and Pusch Ridge in the background.
Ten of us gather at a trail head to begin our trek to Big Cat Mountain. Today's forecast; freaking hot! The current temperature; something less than freaking hot! We're passed by a few mountain bikers and that seemed the better way to travel the route, today.
We follow a rolling route for about 2 miles and then begin a very steep.....
....and at times really, really steep climb to Big Cat Mountain. Yes, it's kind of rugged but so, so beautiful.
Our group reaches the peak and takes a well deserved break. An idiot spray painted a message on the rock.
Then we begin the down climb. I forgot my hiking pole so it made the descent somewhat perilous but I survived with only a brief slip or two. We finished with 5.2 miles and all had a good time but I did run out of fluids at the end with the temp at 98 degrees!!! My next hikes will be at elevation where it is 15-25 degrees cooler.
The new Cooper Hawks can be seen around where I live. One has conquered flight while the other is seen running like a Roadrunner. Hopefully it learns flight before the night critters find it.
I made the mistake of ordering a pair of bike shorts with large red panels, kind of garish and they don't match with any of my jerseys. So, I wear them only if my others are dirty. Anyway, while on a ride, I felt a sting, looked down and there's a bee and it just stung me. Did the red attract it...ok, just a coincidence.
A family of hawks built a nest for the 4th straight year, in one of our many trees. The mom and dad aggressively patrol the surrounding area and if anyone moves too close, one of them will dive and attempt to use their talons to brush us. I've been "struck" many times, once drawing blood from the back of my head. It is with relief that I likely saw the inaugural flight of one of the babies (the parents will now stop dive bombing me), this morning. It was standing in the parking lot so I approached to coax it to a safer spot, above. Then....
....it walked into a sprinkler's dispersion and I realized, since it hatched, this was its first exposure to water.
I wanted to break in a new pair of hiking shoes so went to the near by Linda Vista Trail. I usually choose a 2 mile loop and while doing so, saw the above deer and later a Road Runner.
The morning scenes are quite beautiful with....
....rare clouds overhead. We are a few days away from the start of the official monsoon season. The forecast is for an above average rain season and I can feel the humidity creeping up. The mountains received some light precipitation, last night.
I returned home and while eating lunch, saw movement out the sliding door. I took this image to make sure I had something as the baby hawk had learned how to fly. Then, I crept outside, leaned the camera over the railing and....
....so cool. It soon flew to a nearby tree. Last year, the three little hawks met their demise via one way or another so good to know one of this year's batch has made it.