Our hiking adventure today took us to the Santa Rita Mountains located 40miles southeast of Tucson. Tucked away in the mountains is Madera Canyon filled with hiking trails and one of the world’s premier birding areas. Our group of hikers were hoping to conquer Mount Wrightson with an elevation of 9,453 feet today. On arrival we saw the snow peaks on the mountain and decided that it was best to stay below the snow line. We looked over the map and decided on Bog springs Trail and then loop back down through Kent spring and Sylvester spring. The Santa Rita Mountains especially Madera Canyon have a lot to offer.
Our hike stated at Bog Springs trailhead and started to climb up into the trees. One eighth of a mile in we had deer crossing our path. They stopped to look at us but then they just slowly moved through the tall grass past some trees. We continued climbing the trail it was fairly wide, then we turned off to head to Bog springs and it started to narrow and get steeper. As we climbed we went from small trees to larger trees and eventually into the pine trees. This is an amazing experience with the changing of plants and ground cover. When admiring the landscape and searching for flowers the wind was getting louder blowing through the trees. At one point it sounded almost like ocean waves crashing on to the beach along with the wind (Oregon Coast). We continued on to Bog springs and were a little surprised at what we found there. A cement trough filled with water with a metal sign. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I had not imagined that (check out the picture below). We continued down the trail to the next spring.
Heading to Kent spring was an up hill windy picturesque hike. We were popping in and out of the trees on our very narrow now cliff side trail enjoying views of the valley. We were now seeing more and more pine trees along the trail and less and less cactus plants. I found the only flowers on the trail they look like little white stars. I photographed them quickly and continued down the trail. Then the trail switched back a couple times and we started heading down back into a forest with larger trunk trees, I found some of them fascinating. One was struck by lightning and had split, with half laying on the ground. There were others with large holes in them, and many white bark trees. Then we started hearing water running and came across a little stream it was so peaceful. We took several pictures and moved on. After that we arrived at Kent spring which was a rock trough labeled with a metal sign not much different then the last spring.
The path to Sylvester spring was the most beautiful we walked along a stream, stopping many times for photos and videos. Water in the desert is so beautiful and rare that you just want to savor it as long as you can. This trail is very wide and more like an old road along the creek. We came upon our last spring it was a cement trough but this one I noticed a plate on the top, it said that it was placed by game and fish for conservation. When I hike trails with dry creek beds I just image where the water has flowed or I look at the rocks and try and figure out how high the water has been in the past. This trough made me think about the desert animals during a drought. It made me rethink these simple looking troughs. I imagine the effort it took to bring the materials to build them and the number of animals that have benefited from them during times of extreme heat. Though the 3 springs we encountered today may have been simple and not much to look at they have a great purpose and it reminds us that the simple things in life should not be over looked.
What a great day for a Canyon Loop Trail hike the weather is perfect. We have had a lot of snow in our mountains so we are experiencing a lot of water in our wash systems. This trail provided several water crossings, flowers, cactus, and even some birds. Our water crossings consist of walking on small rocks or if you want to take your boots off, ankle deep water. Today I just stuck to the rocks and hopped along and crossed without getting my boots wet. This trail loops up and around the bottom of the Catalina Mountains it is considered an easy trail. I consider it a nature walk trail nothing to difficult. There is a small hill and small stair section but other then that pretty flat and well maintained. After the second water crossing I noticed some little bird playing in a tree chirping away at each other. We are not in blooming season yet but I was still able to spot some small purple flowers along the trail and get a picture of them. This area also has Saguaro Cactus like most areas in Tucson. I like to find the ones that are the biggest,oddest shaped, most arms, or perfect looking ones to photograph. Walking along I found some cactus fruit also on a pencil cactus and on a barrel cactus. I like to use my hikes this time a year like a scavenger hunt for colors. There were a lot of people that were on the trail today and cutting off on larger hiking adventures down the Sutherland trail and the Romero Pools trail. Almost the whole trail today I could hear the water flowing over the rocks and sand it was very peaceful. Please enjoy my photos from Catalina State Park.
Ok so it’s not really a hike, but I think it is important to find beauty right outside your window. Today I looked out and saw that my apple tree is in full bloom. This is a huge deal I have been trimming, feeding, shaping, and watering this tree for several years and have not gotten even one bloom. This past few weeks there are more blooms then I can count. I also was enjoying some wild flowers that I planted in a garden box several years ago that seem to be year round. Another garden box has pea pods planted by one of my kids that are just starting to bloom. I included a picture of the chili peppers I planted several years ago that are to hot to pick for fear that my skin might burn off. I touched one to my tongue the first year and it was numb for several hours. If you do not give hot peppers enough water the results are FIRE HOT! When was the last time you stepped out and found beauty in your space. Maybe you have snow glistening or rain drops dripping off of your garden gnomes, or squirrels running about. What ever is out your window take a second to enjoy it. Enjoy every season and find the beauty in it.
Apple Tree Bloom
Apple Tree Bloom
Apple Tree Bloom
Desert Wild Flower
Chile Peppers from last year
Pea Pod Bloom
Pea Pod Bloom
From Washington State 13 years ago I relocated to the desert of Tucson, AZ. My first impression was: where are all the trees? The mountains are naked and ugly to look at. Spoiled with the privilege of growing up in a rain forest environment and not even realizing it, I was now starting a new adventure in the desert. I was determined to find the beauty in this dusty, dirty, treeless gem of a place so different then any other I had experienced.
It wasn’t until I started to remove myself from my car and get close and personal with my surroundings that I could see the beauty in the desert. Getting out and experiencing the Sonoran Desert through local hiking trails has been eye opening. It has been full of adventure and discovery not only of the desert but also myself. I will be sharing the self discovery and the beauty of the desert from trail to trail. Come back to see the weekly hikes that I have embarked on including trail names, pictures , and tidbits along the way.
Thanks for hiking (reading) along with me today I hope you enjoy the hike through the beautiful Tortolita Mountains.
The Tortolita Mountains are one of the Mountain Ranges in Tucson and the trails are very well marked. This particular trail the Wild Mustang was very technical and steep at times. I saw all different types of rocks. Some strewn with lots of red coloring others looked as though they did not fit into the landscape. Surrounded by wild life and desert vegetation this hike was so breath taking and rewarding. We heard a bird that sounded like an emergency beacon calling out as we walked (It was a bird). We saw a family of Javalina in the distance that was crossing over our trail. A bird nest in a Cholla cactus and many saguaros were in our landscape. After climbing the trail awhile we also were able to see the snow on the Top of Mt. Lemmon in the distance. Every step gave us a whole new view to take in and enjoy. Please enjoy the pictures from the hike and imagine walking along.
Saguaro and Cholla Cactus
View from the trail