I park in a development that is just south of the closed Catalina State Park. A few years ago someone was going to develop the hills above and put in a graded dirt road. Then the project went into bankruptcy and so hikers have a nice access to the wilderness. My intended route today would not approach the above section, instead the origination of the fire on Bighorn Mountain which appeared quiet.
The trail/road rises steeply and I get a good view of the Tortilitas where there was another large fire. I see no smoke so maybe it is contained. I take a well worn trail off the road and see....
….a lookout. I leave the trail and approach him, noticing there are a total of 3 of them. He asks if I am out for a hike and I confirm that I came out to check out the burn area. Hearing not a discouraging word, I thank him, regain the trail which takes a serpentine route toward the pink swaths of retardant.
From Oro Valley, it appears the pink line is very close but takes 2+ miles of hiking to reach.
Crossing the retardant area, I begin to see spotty burn areas. I hear some voices ahead and.....
…..how about that! A team of 9 fire fighters, headed toward a distant ridge, their work done here.
As they had been working, they had ample supplies which have been repacked and waiting helicopter pickup.
Too bad. A large water tank is filled by this pipe but large sections have melted. Will be interesting to see when/if it is replaced.
In this area, the fire stopped at the edge of the trail. Will also be interested to see how many of the plants will survive having their feet burned. The trail was not previously so obvious but the foot traffic in the last 3 days has significantly enhanced it.
I heard a chainsaw off to my left so still some activity going on and to my right I heard, "Sir". The above guy approached me and I knew my hike was done. He didn't try to stop me but said it may not be a good idea to go any higher. With a helicopter due to pick up the supplies, the effect of the downwash on all the loose material would be significant. We had a nice conversation about the fire and that his crew has created a new trail on a nearby ridge so that's good to know. Wish I had thought to ask about wildlife encounters and what they had observed.
As I descended, I saw plenty of evidence of ongoing fire fighting efforts over the ridge in Pima Canyon. I'll give it another couple of days and then come back if efforts on this side of the ridge are finished. There are access routes between Bighorn and Table Mountains that are choked with brush but perhaps they are open now.
I check out the water tank. A month ago, it was filled to the brim with water overflowing from the pipe. I assume the efforts to put out the fire drew water from the tank.
The fire continues in Pima Canyon. There is a glow to the underside of the smoke. Finished with 5 miles.