OK, so I decided to drive the 30 hours to Ohio, yet again. My daughter had some items she wanted from her condo, in Ohio, I wanted to bring my bike and golf clubs and other things so..... The morning drive is tough with a rising sun in my eyes but it doesn't last long and eventually....
....I am in Ohio and in my beloved woods to continue to cut down more dead ash trees. I have no idea how many I have cut in the last few years but has to be around 100.
It's a dirty job. On this day, the temp was around 80 with high humidity but wearing shorts is a problem as the chips gather in my boots.
Then I checked out my grandson, Anthony at soccer practice. The kid has a real motor and a fast runner.
Back to the woods where I usually have to hack a path through the thicket to reach a dead tree.
A front will move through this evening so thinking the remaining leaves would be removed from both the live and dead ash trees, I walked around and painted the "for sure" dead ones.
A visit to my daughter's house to play with Anthony. Thinking he had already had lunch, we grabbed a couple of popsicles. He revealed he had not yet had lunch and then begged me not to tell his mom. I'm probably a bad influence on him as I agreed and told him we left the wrappers in the garage so he ought to remove the evidence. Above he comes running back, having hidden the wrappers.
There is a ravine running behind their house so I took him there to teach him some bouldering skills. Then....
....we dug a deep hole. He's a fun kid for sure.
I drove to Zanesville to visit my 101 year old mother, who continues to live an independent life. I passed the Longaberger Basket which used to be the corporate headquarters for the company by the same name.
Then another grandson visit where we competed in free throw shooting. He wins because he demands he take far more shots than I. But it was a close match, lol.
Our group of 10 arrived at the First Water trail head for our 7am hike to Battleship Mountain in the Superstition Wilderness. I was very surprised that for a Saturday hike, the parking lot was only about 30% full.
We departed, got onto Second Water trail, continued on a generally rolling route, reaching Green Valley which is still not so green since it was scorched last year. We descended a ravine having plentiful black rocks/boulders on either side, some of which populated our trail making the going tedious and then....
....reached the descent to Boulder Canyon. In the distance was Battleship. We'd already seen a tarantula during our hike, marked by a scream from hiking buddy Lorna so what else might we encounter???
Just as we began the down climb to Boulder Canyon, we encountered "Lydia" who had discovered a rattlesnake laying in the middle of the trail. After waiting 15 minutes, the snake had not moved so she turned around, bumping into us. We proceeded as a group made larger by one and soon....
....there it was. No longer on the trail but just to the side. Each of us raced around it, then Lydia continued on but soon stopped and warned us of another....
....rattlesnake. I've encountered dozens of snakes but never like this. Not coiled to strike but content to curl into a ball and rest its head on its body, in a sleep like state. In zoos, sure I have seen this posture many times but not in the wild. It never rattled, just remained as is, surely cognizant we were briskly walked by.
Our new friend, Lydia decided to throw her lot in with us, cancelling her other hike destination and we were glad she did. Reaching Boulder Canyon, we hung a right and began hiking upstream. I've never seen the canyon so overgrown. So much so, I lost the trail that crossed the canyon many times and just had to....
....head upstream and forget about the trail. There were many pools of water but enough boulders above the surface to keep our feet dry. The landscape was so different from all my 8 or so previous visits that I began to worry I missed a turn but then recognized a feature, gathered the group and we....
....ascended a steep slope, arrived at the base of the Battleship and began a climb up the first "wall".
I so much wanted everyone to at least climb the ship and all did so. We looked at the magnificent views which included Weaver's Needle in the distance and much closer.....
....Lower LaBarge Box Canyon and the entrance to the Narrows. So awesome.
Then we turned our attention to what was ahead. The peak is only 3/4 mile away but it is a very long/time consuming 3/4 mile. Many "walls", poking around to find the correct route, obstacles, etc... One choke point is.....
....Fat Man's Pass. I climbed above it and got this good view of the others squeezing through.
As any of us waited for our group to catch up, we could admire the fantastic views around us. The images just don't do it justice. And then.....
....we reached the "bridge". I was pleasantly surprised that we all made it through this section and then all others until we....
....reached the peak. Canyon Lake in the distance as we were surrounded by many prominent point such as Geronimo Head, Malapais Mountain, Weaver's Needle, etc... We rested, took many pics, ate and then....
...began the challenging descent. Again, everyone got through which, given the level of experience and fitness, should not have been a surprise. Of course, having gotten through all that we previously encountered, there really wasn't an option but to keep down climbing.
We arrived at the initial wall, got through that with good gripping shoes of course, and got back into the jungle like Boulder Canyon. We climbed out of that without a repeat encounter with either of the snakes but checking our water, many of us were low. Fortunately, one group member, Jeff, had over stocked his needs and generously shared. I can't say he saved any of our lives but it's possible! We finished with 12 miles and 1800' of climbing, which seemed far less than what we experienced.
I jumped in with the Cyclefit group for a short ride of 26 miles on Thursday. A guy crashed after his front wheel slipped into an expansion joint as he was turning but he was ok other than the usual road rash. Another had a flat tire and a dropped chain so kind of an unwanted, eventful ride. On Friday, Amy and I drove to Sierra Vista so I could participate in.....
....the Sky Island Tour. A record turnout of 300+ cyclists but really, that's not all that good considering its proximity to Tucson and what is a challenging route that took us through the mining town of Bisbee.
Amy was at the 7am start to take pics with her usual, brilliant smile.
And so we were off on our 62 mile route on a beautiful day having a starting temp of 57...brrrrr. That's me, 2nd from the left with the black sleeves. I did not stay in front for long. I hung with the lead group for 5 miles but then dropped anchor and soloed for a few miles before being caught by a group of 12-15. Really enjoyed riding with them as we climbed for about 10 miles. Drafting in a group is such an advantage.
We crossed the San Pedro River a few times. We descended into Bisbee and then began a fairly steep climb of 4.5 miles to....
....a rest stop at mile 38. Almost all of the 3300' elevation gain of this ride is in this 38 mile section. I was kind of beat but knowing I had a 14 mile section that was mostly descending in front of me, I did not linger and got back on the bike. I finished with 61 miles and an average of 16.5mph. Not great but considering my miles ytd, not horrible either. We drove back and a few hours later were hosting a euchre party. I fell asleep while sitting on the couch but that was after the card playing had ended. lol. Hiking on the near horizon.
Hey, sorry for the lack of awesome hiking images but I continue to prepare for a cycling event on 10/2 and then, back to hiking, honest. I ran my car through the wash as my and everyone's vehicle continues to pick up bug remnants at an unprecedented pace.
Typically, when I take a break during a ride, I just sit on the concrete in front of a market. I must say, with all the dead bugs laying around, it's probably not the healthiest environment. So, I was glad to stop at a market that had nice seating.
More rain moved through and with it, cooler temperatures. Looking up at the front range of the Catalinas, I see clouds lingering around Finger Rock. I wonder how over grown the route to the base of that formation has become.
One evening, the temperature cooled into the 60's so I started a fire in Amy's outdoor fireplace. We really enjoy sharing a fire and between my indoor fireplace and her outdoor version, we'll have many opportunities.
I was going to try out a new cycling group called, "Master's Cyclists" but it appeared rain was not going to move out by the 6:30am start so I bailed on that but then Sunday's group ride with Cyclefit was washed out too. Monday morning arrived and with it an awesome forecast as we enter our glorious fall, winter & spring seasons. It was great to not have to get inside by 10am as I rode 61 miles around Oro Valley.
A scheduled start of 6:30am so I arrive at the intersection of Oracle Road and Willow Springs Road shortly after 6am. Hmmmm, no one around as I check out yet another amazing sunrise. This was to be my first ride with the Cyclefit group of which there are 170 members and each of us has to buy a kit (jersey and shorts) to qualify. I followed the sizing chart but when my shorts arrived, I'd have to be 12 again if they were to fit and the jersey, kinda tight too but wearable.
The 6:30am start was more like an arrival time so now I know. I was glad to know a couple of people in the group from hiking or cycling so that was good. One of them, Jere, does tech support for Garmin and was helping a guy who was calling from Ohio. When he learned she was from Tucson, he said he had a friend in Oro Valley, Mark Wilson (me). Small world moment.
Our group of 15 start and stay on Willow Springs Road for the duration of the 40 mile out & back route. The road passes "24 Hour Town" which is the location of a famous mountain bike event held every spring. This being my first ride on my gravel bike in almost a year, I thought it best.....
....to turn around at mile 10ish. The fit of the gravel bike differs from my road bike and I thought I might be pushing it a little if I did all 40 miles. Sure, working the same muscles but not exactly the same with the different bike fit. Finished with 22 miles and 1100' of climbing. My legs felt fine so guess I should have done all 40. It was a good first ride with a friendly group.
My cycling mileage is now getting in three, 40-50 mile rides each week. That requires getting on the bike no later than 6:30am. The longer rides means I work in a break mid ride where I enter a market, grab a Gatorade to refill a bottle, get ice for the bottle, buy a snack (I've become partial to the pepperoni/cheese rollup thingys) and sit on the concrete in front. I enjoy people watching like the above couple. The man was patiently explaining to the woman how to activate the gas pump.
I also work in a short recovery ride the day after longer rides as I did this morning. Smoke from the CA fires is again having an impact on our views.
Another day, another early start from my home as I note the long shadows. The pavement around Oro Valley and Marana is awesome so that's where the majority of my rides occur. But, I've built up enough endurance and with an eye on a bike event in early October, it's time to ascend Mount Lemmon. Grinding up that beast is really beneficial if also painful.
Rather than ride, we made a last minute decision to drive the 2 miles to CSP so Jack the Dog could get some exercise. It was a good idea. We met a woman who has trained her horse to do a variety of tricks, including taking a bow.
The monsoon fueled growth of every form of plant has transformed our landscape. I've never seen it so lush and green.
It really is like walking through a jungle as plants along the trail have been cut back to allow passage.
Typically, the saguaros and other cactus are the lone representative of the color green but visually, they are a bit lost for now.
We reach a point on the trail that opens to the wash. Wow, a decent flow. Surprising because about a mile down stream, there is no visible flow. We continue up stream a little farther and....
......Jack excitedly enters the water, scampering around. We go off trail and begin to hike downstream.
Beautiful but the flow is broad enough that I can't avoid soaking my best pair of hiking shoes.
Toward that knob there is the "hidden falls". I should schedule a hike to that gem while the water still flows.
Amy recently bought a device called, "Chuckit" and it does a great job leveraging your arm speed to increase the velocity of a ball. Actually, it can hurl a ball so far that Jack is unable to track the ball so I dialed back and Jack loved the chase.
A family with 4 children approach so we turn around and go back to where we entered the wash and return via the trail. We were warned that a rattlesnake had just been spotted about 30' from us and sure enough, there it was, coiled and rattling. Dang, I had not bothered to bring my hiking pole so not much I could do with it. It was under some brush and I would have liked to have coaxed it elsewhere as it was a danger to the many dogs and people who frequent the trail. Maybe after we left, it calmed and slithered away.
Ugh, up at 4am, out the door by 4:30 and on my way to Willcox. AZ for the Willcox Flyer bike "race". For liability reasons it's not promoted as a race but pretty much all 300+ who show up are there to compete against everyone else. I participated in this event the last time it was held, 2 years ago, and like that time, I came woefully unprepared. My longest ride in several months was 45 miles while the Flyer is 66 miles. Driving through Willcox on my way......
....to the historic downtown from where we would launch, I passed a Dairy Queen. A memory came flooding back. It was me, 2 years ago, finishing the event and during the 3 mile ride to my hotel, I had to turn into the DQ so I could sit in the shade at the back of the building! Painful day and so this morning I had an epiphany; ya know, I could ride something less than 66 miles!!!
I arrived an hour ahead of the 7am start and that was about right considering the time it took to pin the race bib on my jersey, register, etc... There was a strong group of cyclists representing Bicycle Ranch and one of this group would win the event with a 20 mile solo from a small, leading group, finishing with a 24.8mph average. Other groups well represented with quantity, if not quality were Sabino Cycles, Cyclefit and Christian Cyclists.
I was still planning to do the full route as we were called to the start line, the Star-Spangled Banner was sung and then we rolled out. I got in with a good group but was burning too much of my very short wick so at mile 7, with a decent 23mph average, I dropped anchor so to speak and began a solo effort.
At mile 18, I crested a hill after a 10 mile climb. I decided that when I reached mile 25, I would turn around. During a descent, a group of Cyclefit people caught me and I enjoyed a few miles of drafting in their group but upon reaching mile 25, turned around.
At about mile 34, I reached a refueling point and then really enjoyed the 10 mile descent off the hill. I finished with 50 miles, 1800' of climbing and a 16.5mph average. I have no regrets about not doing the full 66 mile route. This will kick start a September of much more riding as I prepare for the Sky Island event in Sierra Vista, early October.
Amy, Jack the Dog and I drove a ways up Mount Lemmon to check out the green scene and water falls. I've ridden by Rose Canyon Lake many times but never checked it out so....
....we checked it out. Lots of good camping spots and a stocked lake that attracts quite a few anglers. Amy is now 2 weeks from knee replacement and way ahead of schedule, including....
We paused at Windy Point Vista and took in that always awesome view as behind us, clouds were building for another round of storms.
The view holds so much more green than is typical. It's almost like the Appalachian Mountains.
We also checked out Seven Cataracts parking area and saw a healthy flow of water.
And of course, paused at Thimble Peak Vista. On to the Willcox Flyer ride.
I have to keep it in perspective. If I was in Ohio, during a winter and got in 100+ miles a week....well, I would not be in Ohio during a winter, ha, ha. I signed up for the Willcox Flyer bike event and am ill prepared, unfit, etc... but I really need to get in a good ride. So, I've been riding and admiring the effects of our glorious monsoon.
I ordered two new cycling shorts and went bold on one, black/red. I'm kind of a low key dresser so not sure how frequently I'll be wearing these.
Riding from the east side one day, I visited the Tanque Verde wash and it had a.....
.....healthy flow. A couple of sheriff SUV's were there and they had just rescued someone who decided to try to drive through. Lot of that going on. The 3rd wettest monsoon on record has invigorated.....
....jungle-like growth. OK, also initiated outbreaks of flies, mosquitoes, caterpillars, butterflies, Colorado River Frogs, etc... but it's worth it. I have often said that a summer here is far more livable than a winter in the midwest and that is so true and thinking back on the last 90 days, despite all the rain, probably only 3 days have kept me indoors. The good news is, it's now September and we are on the cusp of glorious weather.
Our epic monsoon continues so when I was invited to join a small group to a previously unvisited, by me, location in Sabino Creek having waterfalls and pools, I gladly accepted. First, we had to trek about 3.5 miles on Sabino Canyon Road, having numerous stream crossing where often, the stream had risen above the road. My companions mostly wore something other than their "first string" shoes while I had not considered that. Hope that isn't a mistake as I trooped through water plenty of times.
Currently, hiking in Sabino Canyon and elsewhere is like walking in a lush arboretum. Flowering plants abound.
The frequent stream crossings provided wonderful looks up and down stream.
Much of our hike was in the shade on a day having a forecast high in the upper 90's. Plenty of humidity so this isn't one of those, "yeah, sure it's 100 but it feels like 85 degrees". No, the conditions felt like hiking in July in the midwest.
The sun begins to crest above Thimble Peak. What a great hike to the top of that earlier this year and due for a return visit as soon as the temps cool. Upon reaching shuttle stop #8, we leave the road and begin....
....hiking upstream. I thought this a particularly beautiful image with the sun shining on the nearby slopes. There were a lot of rocks and boulders, bordering the creek as we continued and soon, glancing to my right....
.....I saw not one but two, black tail rattlesnakes. I suspected a den and other snakes could be in our midst so I let everyone know. Each of us froze, checked our surroundings and determined the snakes were newly emerging for a morning hunt. Both snakes were retreating home so I didn't get the best image...this time.
My eyes are always looking for snakes and I am careful to see where my hands and feet will be before I take a step. On this hike, once alongside the creek, it seemed like a rich environment for rattlers so I was especially vigilant as Diane works her way ahead of me.
We reached our destination and some of us waded in. Since the stream is not fed by snow melt as it would be in the spring, the temperature was refreshing.
We did not linger for too long, regathered our things and unfortunately, the only way to return was past where we had seen the snakes. Oh, while I was waiting for the group, I had been sitting on a ledge and while pushing myself up, dislodged a rock and beneath it, a scorpion scampered away....nice! We approached where we had seen the rattlesnakes and strode cautiously. Sure enough.....
....one of them had reemerged and was laying exactly where we were required to step. The buzz of its tail was rather faint but it was pissed off because once more, it headed back into the den. Since it was taking awhile, most of us dropped down to the stream as an alternative.
We reached a spot that our hike organizer, Bill, described as the criss crossing falls. A guy was posing as his girlfriend took a pic. Some of us again....
....entered the water and even went into an alcove beyond the falls. We eventually got back onto the road and finished with a little over 7 miles. Good times with good people.
August seems to be flying by and I can't wait for the somewhat cooler temperatures to come although the last few days have revisited the 105 degree range. Hard to believe that in one week, the mighty OSU Buckeyes kick off their college football season...yehaw!!! I drove to Canyon Lake Marina to scout a trail with which I am unfamiliar as a short cut to Lower LaBarge Box canyon. I walked across #88 where a finger of the lake stretches up stream into Boulder Canyon.
Unfortunately, the trail peters out at a wall so I retraced my route and headed up Boulder Canyon Trail, looking for a side trail that would cut to the right. The quantity of these Sphinx Moth Caterpillars is ginormous! They are everywhere as I find the side trail and begin following it.
I follow it for a bit but the day is getting hot so satisfied.....
.....although not all that satisfied that I can follow it given grass is growing from the trail, I turn around.
Great view of Canyon Lake and surroundings. I finish with a measly 2 miles of hiking but accomplished what I intended.
I drive out of the area with a last, beautiful look at Canyon Lake.
Amy's recovery is going rather well and after a couple of days, she has eschewed the walker and cane and is hobbling on her own. TP has started and while painful, her mobility is increasing every day. I took a short ride and checked out the wash that crosses Wentworth and Tanque Verde Loop roads. My ride was short, just to keep the muscles loose because....
....I wanted to join the Sabino Cycles shop ride on Saturday morning. Sixteen of us turned out for a surprising short distance of only 28 miles on too many crummy roads. I like the group but the route and lack of distance is alarming for a bike shop ride.
Returning to Amy's we had noticed a new restaurant opened a couple of miles from home called the "Barnyard Crafthouse & Eatery" so we checked it out for lunch. Good atmosphere and menu.
We also took Jack the Dog to a nearby wash where he ran into and out of the water, chasing a stick. Returning home, he was squirted with a hose. He loved both activities. Next day I got in a 45 mile ride and at the end of that day....
....noted the monsoon has shifted east, mostly in NM but it will return as we are now experiencing our 3rd wettest monsoon on record. Well, got a hike coming soon and need to check an alternate trail to get the group to our destination so may do that in a couple of days.
Another healthy overnight rain and on this morning, I dropped Amy off for knee replacement surgery. Jumping on my bike immediately after, I headed north on Oracle and then a right on Edwin Rd where I was confronted with the above. A guy driving a truck offered to carry me across so I loaded myself and bike and enjoyed the dry ride. I thanked the driver and.... Damn! My glasses had fallen off so I had to ride my bike back, grab the sunglasses (too expensive too abandon) and recross the mud/water.
Riding Ridgeview, which is a nice loop within Saddlebrook, I noted rain in the distance.
I managed to avoid getting wet and captured a nice shot of a rainbow, finishing with 44 miles. Got myself cleaned up, collected the Amster from a successful procedure and delivered her home.
A great day for a hike in southern AZ. Over night rain (yeehaw) passed out of the area but left lingering clouds and cool temps. Nine of us began our hike from the Sarasota trailhead on the west side of the Tucson Mountains.
Beautiful how the sun happened to be shining on Kitt Peak. A short distance into our hike we rounded a corner and got a good view of....
....our destination, Big Cat Mountain. Although there is a scrambling route up this side, a better way is to hike clockwise around the mountain and ascend the back side.
Sooo green. Almost like hiking in the Appalachia Mountains without the pine trees.
We ascended to a couple of saddles, the final one yielding a view to the southeast. Then I found a cairn that indicated the off trail route start to the peak.
The game got strung out a little so we regroup a few times. Rubens, a new member of the group, looks at the views, always improving as we go higher.
After a fairly steep climb to a ridge, we pause briefly and then head to the "wall". I was first up and offered encouragement like, "You're looking good!" but also mixed in a "You're not looking good!" just to mix things up. ha, ha.
After ascending the wall, we continue to climb a ridge with some exposure but everyone navigated it. At last.....
...we reached the peak and enjoyed 360 views. After a short break, we began....
....the descent. Often, we marveled....
....at all that the rain has delivered. I was glad that all 9 made it to the peak and finished with 5 miles and 1500' of climbing.
Officially, we are in the 4th wettest monsoon season (since upgraded to #3) since records were kept. Amy and I thought hiking to the base of Tanque Verde Falls would be fun but this is also the scene of numerous rescues in the last couple of weeks. So, I stayed up all night looking at weather charts, monitoring weather radar and the following morning, deemed it safe for us.
We were surprised the the water flow, while nice, wasn't the torrent I expected. More like what you would expect from a snow melt in the spring. While it wasn't a raging flow.....
....it still made navigating a challenge. That is, if you didn't want to get your feet wet.
After surmounting one wall, Amy shows exuberance upon reaching a short, sandy area.
Advancing upstream presented more fun obstacles but there is always a workaround. Well, we reached....
....a corner and decided the workaround, if there was one, would require too high a climb so we finally did get our feet wet, lol.
Jack the Dog is not usually a fan of hiking but he was having great fun today. We had to lift him a few times but then reached a wall that made that impractical. So, I scrambled up it and....
...took a few pics of the falls. I walked up the right side and....
....discovered a couple of people laying in the sun. A beautiful location and worth the 1.5 mile experience to the falls.
While the temperature was moderate, the humidity was high so frequently I dipped my hat in the cooling water as we navigated our way downstream.
The clouds for another afternoon of storms was gathering in the distance as we continued....
....reaching the trail that took us back to the rim of the canyon and our vehicle. A fun, 3 mile hike.
A couple of hours after the lightning strike that ignited the Bighorn Fire.
Amy and I were visiting with hiker Katherine at her house which has a marvelous and close view of the western side of the Catalinas. I asked if she was evacuated during the fire but surprisingly no. From her living room, she saw the initial glow following the lightning strike that caused the fire. There, above the lone saguaro, in the circular brown area with some spotty green bushes, is the origination of the fire that burned around 120,000 acres. OK, looks like we won't be caught in a flash flood if we enter Tanque Verde Canyon tomorrow for a visit to the falls so will do that and leading a group on a hike, Sunday.
Jack continued to unmake a spare bedroom bed but his time with me is over as Amy returned from her exotic travel. All is right in our world again, ha, ha.
A few day lull in our awesomely active monsoon season is over. Lot of down trees and a few saguaros too.
After a long walk, Jack loves being soaked by water and with so much mud around, it's a good cleansing operation too.
I took a short ride to keep loose and while passing 49er golf course, noticed they had many trees down.
Another night of rain which produces some awesome views of the mountains as the clouds pass.
The wash coming out of Catalina SP is as full as I have ever seen it. The water rages. With all the rain, thinking about going boulder hopping to Tanque Verde Falls.
Our group arrives on the western flank of the Dragoon Mountains to hike the Slavin Gulch trail to an abandoned mine. With me were hike organizer Lorna, Bill B and Katherine. A combination of very fit and very fun company.
This was my first time doing the trail and only my second visit to the Dragoons. The recent rain has transformed the landscape and almost our entire hike would parallel a ravine that had a good flow of water.
The trail actually follows a road that had been blasted from the granite so copper and zinc could be brought down from the Abril mine.. Other than a few places, the trail is easy to follow.
Several times we would check the ravine, looking for pools where, on our return, we could take a break. We also marveled at a pattern found on some house sized boulders. We couldn't guess as to how the unusual pattern was formed.
We were headed for a notch in a canyon wall where the canyon narrowed and the granite soared above us. Bill was setting a murderous pace and so every time I paused to take a picture, I had to run to catch up. While the gang was checking out another possible pool stop.....
....I kept going so I could get ahead and have the luxury of not taking a rushed image. I heard my name being called and after walking back to the group, discovered Bill had stumbled at a creek crossing, instinctively reached out, grabbing a handful of Bear Grass. The razor edged grass left a deep cut in a finger. Observing the blood loss, I said it appeared he might bleed out, ha, ha. Bill wanted nothing to do with turning around so wrapped the finger with a paper towel and we......
....climbed higher. The climbing portion of the trail is about 2.75 miles with an average grade of 9% so not steep but steep enough.
There were many examples of balancing boulders and as usual, you wonder how it is possible they maintain their perch. Note the one, upper right in the above image.
We passed the remains of an old building just before the trail levels and we start paralleling a ridge above us.
The views to the southwest are great. At about the 3.75 miles we....
......don't actually reach the mine but the remains of a wooden chute down which the ore would have tumbled. As we refueled, I poked around a little and discovered what appeared to be a way to the ridge but our plans did not include this additional climb. Later, I read a couple of hike reports and confirmed this was a way to reach the ridge where there is a forest road and the mine opening along the way up. We began our descent.
Bill was in front, reached down to remove the stalk from I think a Century Plant and in so doing, surprised a black tail rattlesnake that was laying beneath it. After getting over the shock of the discovery which yes, was accompanied by the distinct buzzing, there ensued a discussion about the strike radius of a snake. I had read a rattlesnake could strike about 1/2 of its body length but I was overruled by my 3 hiking buddies who insisted the snake could launch itself and strike at a much greater distance. One of our group, who shall remain nameless, insisted she had seen video of a rattlesnake even standing on its tail! Each of us then sprinted past the snake which was about 5' away and shoulder high after slithering up an embankment. Later, I read I was correct, 1/3 to 1/2 of its body length.
Flowering plants were in abundance as we continued our descent. It really was like walking in an arboretum of flowering plants. We found a large pool.....
....descended to its edge where I was happy to sit in the shade and take pics. Lorna and Bill removed their shoes and socks and waded in, eventually reaching a spot where the water was chin high. Once the refreshing break ended, we resumed our hike, finishing with 7.5 miles and 1700' of climbing. Fun and beautiful day for sure.
I got in 3, 40+ mile rides last week so that's good but usually, during a ride, I don't like to stop and take pics so nothing to report but how about the continued rain! It's fun to watch storms build over the mountains and then shift into Oro Valley.
I went to Catalina State Park where the road was closed but walked toward the wash where.....
....Jack enjoyed running around and chasing a stick. Unfortunately, the water is almost black so after returning home, Jack needed a bath.
Jack's not big on baths so I had to drag him into the bathroom where his body language indicated his displeasure. Well, nice hike to report, soon.
Well how about that rain fans!?!?! We experienced our wettest month within the monsoon season, ever. Officially 8"+ at the Tucson airport but many locations received much more rain for July. Every canyon, ravine, gully, notch, wash, etc... is flowing.
I drove to the west end of the Santa Ritas where I wanted to scout an off trail start to a hike I organized. rather than the traditional approach from the south, this would be from the northwest, gaining the ridge on the left side of the head and then hang a right and summit.
A grader was out, clearing runoff from the paved roads as I got onto Mount Hopkins Road. Eventually, I got onto Monarch, which is dirt and I was not able to advance as far as I did last year when I previously did the hike. I parked and while hiking, passed this interesting "roundabout" that someone is maintaining.
During my 2.5 mile hike to the start of the bushwhacking route, I crossed a ravine that had a decent water flow. I began to have misgivings about the viability of the hike. Was the water flow receding or increasing and with more rain forecast, what would it be like in two days. I reached.....
....the point where we would begin the route. Last year, whatever grass existed, it had been maintained by grazing but now, post all the rain, the area was almost a jungle. Looking to the south I spotted....
....Little Elephant Head.
I walked off the road into the area where we would begin our hike. The grass was thick and at least as high as my knee. I get quite nervous about hiking where I can not see my feet during rattlesnake season. With all this new growth and a landscape far different from what I encountered last year, I decided I ought to cancel the hike. I hate doing that and know my reliability as an organizer takes a hit I suppose. Full disclosure, there were quite a few new attendees for the hike and while looking at the ridge and all that comes before it, I was reminded how difficult the route finding was and challenging of a hike. Hmmmmm, I need to take this one private and pick some of my hardy hiking buddies. Anyway,....
....I headed back and saw a golf ball. This is about the 5th time, while hiking in a remote area with no golf courses around, I've seen a golf ball. Weird although the above one was probably used for target practice.
I headed home, crossing one of many washes that are running with our welcome rain.
I rode to Saddlebrook, north of Catalina. The color transformation from the very healthy and still record breaking monsoon is remarkable. I found myself humming.....
....the theme song to the Green Acres show from decades ago. Meantime,....
....I have a spare bedroom and Jack the Dog enjoys going in and rearranging things. Not sure why that is but if I remake the bed, he'll eventually go in and root around for awhile. Meanwhile.......
....Amy's vacation continues, this time with a day of sailing. She really enjoys sailing. I don't understand the appeal of it but all that matters is that she does. One more long week until she returns but she continues to communicate and sends lots of pictures.
I decided to check the wildlife water tank again and if not filling, inspect the line that is supposed to fill the tank, up to where it originates. I asked hiking friend, Katherine, to join me since she lives way above me and starting from her place shortens the hike. We encountered a tortoise on the road in front of her house and thus ensued a debate, lift it to safety or leave it to follow the path of its choice. We left it.
Arriving at the tank, we look in and given the good amount of rain in the last few days, the tank should have had much more water. A small portion of the tank's bottom was still uncovered and a lizard was occupying it. We did not debate what to do about this as assumed it could climb the wall.
We followed the pipe as it snaked through a ravine which had a decent flow of water.
Katherine was shown some petroglyphs by a guy who cares for the tank and pipe but she was unable to show me where they were.
Higher we go until at last, we reach the water collection point. Beautiful place and the sound of the flowing water added to the atmosphere.
The collection point is within this box with a filter surrounding it. It is fixed to the rock and can not be moved. Maybe the flow has had a subtle change over time as the water was bypassing it. It would require a pretty good increase in volume before the box became effective.
Someone put a lot of work into repairing the pipe that was ruined by last year's fire. I'll look into this issue and see if we can get the pipe functioning. There are plenty of concave areas holding water for the animals for now. Oh, the tortoise was unharmed and had moved off the road. Finished with 3.3 miles.