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Incredible Maples along Ash Creek

Well, this hike really does live up to the hype. I was supposed to go to the Canyon this weekend, but changed my plans because of the storm forecast. After seeing all the pictures posted last weekend, I decided the time had come to make the trek out to Ash Creek for some fall colors and summit Bassett Peak. My friend Cindy said that there was water about 2 miles in near some red maples, so I decided to make it an overnighter.

On November 7th, I didn’t start hiking until 2:30, only wanted to go two miles anyway. The drive in was pretty and I was excited about seeing a new Sky Island. Scattered maples began to appear, then giddy-inducing larger patches. I don’t know what it is about vibrant colors in the wild, they make me deeply happy.

I saw only two people the whole two days, they were hiking out and I asked them if they’d seen any water on the trail. I got a little less than two miles in and there was another roadbed that split off to the right with more of the black tubing I’d seen on the trail. The tank was a little ways down on the split, dripping and full of clear water.I chose a campsite in the colorful maples along the trail. The area was unfortunately outside the wilderness area and cattle-bombed. I’ve spent enough time in cattle country to just deal with it, move the larger patties aside and settle in. I had a relaxing evening by the fire with my journal.

Camping in the maples

In the morning, it was overcast and a lot warmer than I had expected. I continued hiking along the drainage. The maples are such a delight! Such a range of colors. I passed another tank with clear water along the way. I thought to myself, “This is such a great hike, but what it could really use is a tunnel of maples.” And then I crossed the wilderness boundary and got exactly what I wanted. A tunnel of multi-hued maples.

The Maple Tunnel

I reached the small grove of aspen and started up the switchbacks. It is so neat to be able to look down on the multicolored drainage as you gain elevation. I was pleasantly surprised by the interesting volcanic landscape of the ridgeline, I guess the only pictures I’d really looked at were of foliage, not the rest of the hike. The skies had cleared and the views upon reaching the ridgeline were incredible.

Bassett Peak and the colorful drainage below

Volcanic ridgeline

Rincons and Catalinas

The volcanic ridgeline begs for a return trip in both directions. The trail switchbacked up Bassett Peak and there was a short steep route the rest of the way to the peak. One of the reasons I like backpacking is that it gives me more time to spend on top of peaks. I love standing on top of one Sky Island looking at the other ones.

Summit of Bassett Peak

Pinalenos

Interior of the Galiuros

Winchester Mountains to the south

I hiked back down to the aspen grove and relished another run through the maple tunnel. Reached my campsite, grabbed my stuff and shot a million more pictures. What a great hike!!

Looking down at the aspen and switchbacks

Aspen and Maples

Such a beautiful place!

As I was driving out on Ash Creek Rd., I saw a bunch of horses hanging out on one side of the road near a fence. I got out to take pictures of them with the Pinalenos in the background. When I approached, all the horses, including a couple super-cute little ones scattered away from the fence. I stood near the fence and soon almost all of them came over to see me. I love giving massages to horses, and one by one, they hung their necks over the fence so that I could rub them. I must have been there for a half-hour, it was fantastic. One mom and her baby watched me from a distance. What a treat! I eventually had to tear myself away from the horses, but a little farther down the road another group of horses ran across the road right in front of my car! Such a great way to end a perfect couple of days.

Horses waiting their turn for massage

Mom and baby kept their distance

I love horses!

Free-running horses

In Wildlife Rehabilitation Fundraiser news, food prices have jumped recently.  Wildlife Rehabilitation in Northwest Tucson depends on donations to function, so if you’ve been waiting to donate, now is a great time! Click the button to donate securely via PayPal.

Baby Great Horned Owls

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