Posts Tagged ‘Catalinas’

Pusch Ridge is a series of four peaks extending westward in the Catalinas: Pusch Peak, closest to town, The Cleaver, Bighorn Mountain, and the tallest,  Table Mountain.  From town, Table Mountain is a dark-green-dotted diamond shape, but from Oro Valley you can see that three sides of the Table are massive sheer cliff walls.

Table Mountain from Tucson

Table Mountain from Tucson

I have had a longtime fascination with Table Mountain ever since I came across pictures of the summit views. The thing that most piqued my interest, though, was a photo of the campsite on the summit. Underneath a stately Juniper tree was a beautiful stone fireplace made out of Catalina granite. That was it- there was no way that I was going to hike Table without staying at the campsite on top.

The fireplace at the summit

The fireplace at the summit

There is only a short weather window for this peak because it is off-limits from January 1- April 30th for bighorn sheep off-trail restrictions. Most of the time that it is open, the weather is too hot. Two years ago, I had attempted to backpack to the top for a lunar eclipse, but had a shoe failure and had to turn around. Last year, the weather didn’t cooperate with my schedule. This year everything fell into place and the experience was even more amazing than I had anticipated.

All the trip reports I had read said to take the Pima Canyon Trail three miles to a steep, loose, brushy gully.  The reports made it sound unappealing and I was not looking forward to it. I remembered that Cowgill and Glendening’s book mentioned that there was a ridge option that would probably have more shindaggers. Then I came across a report by a woman who went by the name “Bloated Chipmunk” on NW Hikers.net that had pictures of the route. It looked way better to me, especially with a full pack.

The morning of December 17th, Wendy and I met at the Pima Canyon Trailhead, excited about the adventure ahead. Our packs were heavy with 7 liters of water and warm gear for our night at the 6265′ summit. We hiked about two miles on the Pima Canyon Trail and saw the slabs of our ridge route to our left, across the brushy creek.

Chilly start to the hike

Chilly start to the hike

First glimpse of our day's objective- looks far!

First glimpse of our day’s objective- looks far!

We followed the trail until it crossed the drainage. There was a distinct sharp smell of cat urine and a large sprayed area under an overhang. We decided that hit would be better to backtrack and try to cross the creek closer to the slabs. There was a spur trail and a small opening in the brush that allowed us to get into the creek. We took a break before beginning the ascent and  I spotted a pair of antlers in the creek. When I went to investigate, I saw an entire deer that had been picked clean, probably by our feline friend.

Our deer departed friend

Our deer departed friend

There were tufts of hair everywhere and the skeleton was picked clean

There were tufts of hair everywhere and the skeleton was picked clean

The beginning of the route was on large slanted granite slabs and was quite fun to walk on. There wasn’t a lot of vegetation and the views were great! The ascent was an off-trail choose your own adventure with the occasional cairn. Sadly, the slabs ran out and we picked our way through patches of prickly pear and ocotillo.

On the slabs of the ridge route

On the slabs of the ridge route

Me and The Cleaver

Me and The Cleaver

Out of the slabs and into the brush

Out of the slabs and into the brush

As we gained elevation, we lost most of the cacti and hiked into the sea of shindaggers. Wendy and I wove a path between them when possible, but sometimes there was no choice. The only way to deal with shindaggers is to step directly on the center. We reached a saddle and took a break for lunch with a fantastic view of our objective.

Shindaggers aplenty

Shindaggers aplenty

After lunch, we climbed steeply up and toward the Table, aiming above a rocky outcropping with scattered oak trees. The vegetation changed again with our first juniper and pinyon pines appearing near the base of the Table.

Our route went up the litle drainage above the oaks

Our route went up the litle drainage above the oaks

Getting closer!

Getting closer!

Base of the Table

Base of the Table

By this time, Wendy and I were getting pretty tired. We wished that we had a flat table ahead of us, instead there was another 1000 feet of elevation to go. We pressed on, but went a little far to the west and got into some boulders that made travel more difficult. The bonus was that we got to see the great views down the west gully right before the final ascent.  Somewhere along the way we were in a brushy area and I looked down and found a black case with a camera in it.

Oro Valley, Tortolitas and Picacho Peak

Oro Valley, Tortolitas and Picacho Peak

Patches of snow at the top

Patches of snow at the top

Finally, we could see blue sky and the end of our climb. We went through some pinyon and junipers to a clearing with breathtaking views of the Catalinas and the sheer cliffs of Table Mountain dropping off below. We dropped our packs at the fireplace and toured the summit, dotted with patches of snow. Now came the payoff for lugging all our stuff up here- watching the sunset and sunrise from this incredible promontory and an enjoyable night by the fabled fireplace.

Cathedral and Kimball

Cathedral and Kimball

Prominent Point and the Santa Ritas

Prominent Point and the Santa Ritas

Snow-covered Mt. Lemmon

Snow-covered Mt. Lemmon

There was a small glass jar summit register near the fireplace and I read through it before dinner. The first name I saw was the woman from NW Hikers.net who’s triplog I’d read. The second entry I read was an entry from February that said “Lost camera in a black camera case” and gave a phone number! I was so excited that we were going to be able to reunite the camera with its owners. I lost a camera this summer and would give anything to have it back.

View Northwest

View Northwest

Wendy got our fire going and we had a decadent meal of cheese fondue with all sorts of items for dipping and chocolates for dessert. The fireplace was great- it had a chimney and everything which diverted the smoke upward. The fire warmed the rocks and it radiated heat all night long as we slept in front of it. We hit a perfect weather window and the temperature was quite reasonable for 6000′ in December.

One of my favorite campsites ever!

One of my favorite campsites ever!

A little chilly last night!

A little chilly last night!

The night was a long one, and it stayed cold for a while after it finally got light out. I spent the amazing sunrise hanging my head over the cliff face and watching the light change. We ate breakfast in our sleeping bags and didn’t want to leave.

View north from atop Table Mtn.

View north from atop Table Mtn.

Eventually, we tore ourselves away and started hiking downhill, packs much lighter after a day’s water and food were consumed. We followed what looked like the standard route down the face which was much easier than our ascent route. But if we’d taken this ascent route we wouldn’t have found the camera.

Incredible rock and views on the way down

Incredible rock and views on the way down

Bighorn and Pusch below

Bighorn and Pusch below

It was a beautiful, cool day and we shindagger-stomped our way down the ridge, taking short breaks and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. It felt like we were flying compared to yesterday’s ponderous ascent. The golden cottonwoods in the canyon got closer and closer and then we were back to our slabs down to the creekbed.

What a place!

What a place!

Getting closer to the bottom of the canyon

Getting closer to the bottom of the canyon

Our deer departed friend had been moved in the night and looked more macabre than ever. We found our way out of the creek and intersected the Pima Canyon Trail. Clouds started rolling in and the wind picked up. The last two miles back to the car on the trail felt like they would never end.  It felt great to look up at Table Mountain knowing we’d finally spent the night at the fireplace.

Slabby ridge

Slabby ridge

A look back at our ridge

A look back at our ridge

We had been talking for the last two days about what flavors of gelato we were going to get at Frost after our hike. The weather changed so quickly that by the time we got our gelato, we had to eat it in Wendy’s car with the heat on!

That night, I called the owners of the camera and they were so excited that we had found it! They had gone back up the next week to try and locate it to no avail. It had become a running joke between their friends that someone was going to finally find the camera that was lost on Table Mountain. I dropped it off the next day on their porch and they sent a lovely card thanking us for returning their long-lost camera along with some pictures from the day they lost it.

What an amazing, life-affirming couple of days on the mountain. I’ve found another of my favorite campsites and Wendy is always a blast to hike with. So glad I finally got to spend a night on Table Mountain and it certainly won’t be my last.

You can see the full set of pictures at https://plus.google.com/photos/108844153292489172003/albums/5826811070181856545

In Wildlife Rehabilitation news, I was going through old pictures when I came across this shot of mama and baby bunnies from 2010. So cute! You can read their story here.  Click below to donate to Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson.

Baby bunnies that were born at the Wildlife Rehab to a broken-leg bunny

Baby bunnies that were born at the Wildlife Rehab to a broken-leg bunny


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Peak 4910- The Cleaver

Peak 4910- The Cleaver

This was such a great hike, with much less blood loss than expected. Eventful parking lot, there was a large fire crew when I got there and tons of Pima County Sheriff conducting a search for someone when I left.

Weaving my way through the ocotillo and staying away from the nastier cacti, I kept to the ridge to the left of the drainage. The Cleaver loomed above. I reached a point where I had to travel in the drainage but it was not for very long.

Weaving through the desert vegetation

Weaving through the desert vegetation

Working toward the saddle

Working toward the saddle

Soon I was able to pick my way up toward the saddle on another ridge that was quite steep. It helped that the Alt Hiking Meetup group had been through here recently, their mashed-down vegetation made my travel a bit easier.

View NW from the saddle

View NW from the saddle

It was a relief to finally reach the saddle and the base of The Cleaver. Only one tough part left. There were two short scrambles near the base, then a bouldery ramp to the summit. The short climbs would have been nothing if I had been hiking with someone, but solo they got my heart racing a little.

Base of The Cleaver

Base of The Cleaver

Short climb at the base of The Cleaver

Short climb at the base of The Cleaver

Ramp to the summit

Ramp to the summit

The summit of The Cleaver- what an amazing place to be! I so enjoyed the challenge and seeing Pima Canyon from yet another perspective. Such a great thing to live in a place where a wild and rugged summit like this is in a canyon so close to my home. I took a lengthy break and read through the small summit register.

Summit Register

Summit Register

View down the drainage I came up

View down the drainage I came up

Micro Chicken atop The Cleaver- Prominent Point and Mount Kimball across Pima Canyon

Micro Chicken atop The Cleaver- Prominent Point and Mount Kimball across Pima Canyon

As I headed back, I was a little nervous about getting back down to the saddle. I remembered what Wendy does when she gets nervous: she sings Irish songs. I don’t know any Irish songs, though- the song I chose was Paul Revere by the Beastie Boys. It worked well, especially the “one lonely Beastie I be” line.

Prominent Point- another Pima Canyon peak I have my eye on

Prominent Point- another Pima Canyon peak I have my eye on

East face of The Cleaver and Bighorn Mtn.

East face of The Cleaver and Bighorn Mtn.

After the saddle, I saw a helicopter flying up and down the canyon. That can’t be good. I worked my way back the way I came. I was on the ridge on canyon right and saw the helicopter go up Pima Canyon, flying low. Trying to sidestep some prickly pear, I misjudged and ended up with a cheekful of spines. Great. Out came the tweezers and I tried to get the spines out before the helicopter flew by and caught me with my pants down. I managed to tidy myself up just in time before they flew over me.

I traveled the rest of the ridge down to intersect the Pima Canyon Trail. I was feeling tired and realized that I hadn’t really eaten a whole lot for how long I had been out. It was nice to be able to stretch my legs for the mile and a half to the trailhead.

Just before the trailhead, I came upon a Pima County Sheriff carrying a very large rifle and another with a backpack. They told me to talk to the other Sheriffs at the trailhead. I told them I had seen only two people all day- two men out taking pictures in the morning. They said that it didn’t fit their description. I wished them luck with their search. I wasn’t able to find out anything on the web later about who they were looking for.

A couple of hours after I got home, my body got revenge for not eating enough and I got the worst leg cramps I have had in a long time. But The Cleaver was totally worth it.

Still smiling!

Still smiling!

In Wildlife Rehabilitation news, I’ve begun to plan next year’s Birds, Blues, and Bellydance event to benefit Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson. We’ve had a blast the last couple of years and next year’s event (probably late April) will bring some new performers to the eclectic mix! Of course, our educational birds will be attending as well- Elfie the Elf Owl, Citan the Harris Hawk, and Luna the Great Horned Owl. Click below to donate to Wildlife Rehabilitation:

Citan the Harris Hawk

Citan the Harris Hawk

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Palisades Trail below Mud Springs

It has been a long time since I have been backpacking- since my Royal Arch via Point Huitzil trip in April. I was super-excited to put the big pack back on and spend a night out close to home. I have been trying to complete all the trails in the Catalinas, so I searched the map for something appropriate. Last summer, I did a hike on the Box Camp Trail and spent the night at Hutch’s Pool before hiking out to Sabino Canyon. I decided that the Palisades Trail, with a night at Hutch’s Pool and out to Prison Camp, would be a good day and a half adventure, albeit a little toasty in the lower reaches.  I parked my car at Prison Camp, also known as Gordon Hirabayashi Campground, and checked out the signs and the ruins since I was a bit early. Click here to read the story of the Prison Camp, it’s very interesting and sad. I waited by the side of the Catalina Highway to get a ride with some friends from the Tucson Hiking Meetup group that were driving up to hike the Mint Springs Trail near Summerhaven. While I was waiting, I saw a skateboarder coming down the mountain, followed closely by his friend in a pickup truck. Don’t see that everyday! Bill Carter was kind enough to let me hitch a ride up to Organization Ridge Road, where I started my trek.

I love mossy Sky Island boulders

It felt so good to strap on the big pack, even though it was heavy with a gallon and a half of water. It has been a very bad year for precipitation and a lot of the usual water sources have been dry, so I carried all I’d need to get myself to Hutch’s Pool, one of the sure-fire water sources in the Catalinas. I walked the short distance down the road to the Palisades Trailhead- there were quite a few cars there for 9am on a Wednesday morning.  The trail marker said 6.8 miles to the East Fork junction. I was super-excited about the prospect of seeing fresh scenery in the Catalinas, and was practically dancing down the trail. There were low-hanging clouds and the occasional rumble of far-off thunder. I immediately came upon several stands of wildflowers.

Western Dayflower

Chiricahua Mountain Columbine

The trail was wide and easy to follow as I came into a burned area. I got my umbrella out since my tree cover was gone. The views of the front range were obscured by low clouds that would burn off as the day progressed. Here’s a video taken near the wilderness boundary- you can hear how excited I am to be out backpacking:

Dark skies over Mt. Lemmon

Cathedral Rock enshrouded in low clouds

The trail followed the burnt ridgeline for a while, passing more boulders and rock formations as I lost elevation. Then rugged Pine Canyon came into view. As the trail traversed into Pine Canyon, views opened south to an interesting view of Thimble Peak. I stood aside to let a large group of Southern Arizona Hiking Club members pass by. One of the hikers stopped to ask me about my plans, and looked a little worried when I told her I was heading downhill in the heat of the day. I told her that I was carrying about 6 liters of water and that I hike all summer long. Right after my encounter with the hiking group, I walked into a muddy area full of bright green ferns known quite aptly as Mud Springs. I didn’t go investigate the pools that are supposed to be in the drainage, but there was a trickle of water running across the trail. The trail had been mostly cool, with cloud cover up until this point, so I didn’t really need extra water.

Thimble Peak comes into view

Mud Springs ferns

Video just below Mud Springs:

I knew that the trail between Mud Springs and the East Fork gets a lot less use, so I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as navigation. Fortunately, someone had cairned the heck out of the lower trail, so there was hardly a spot that I didn’t know where to go. The trail criss-crossed the dry creekbed, sometimes through stands of oak and juniper, but most of the time on exposed grasslands. I crossed an old, rusty wire strung across the trail several times and saw a broken white insulator. The trail gave great views of a 150-f00t waterfall in Pine Canyon. Sadly, it was dry.

Very fancy!

150-foot waterfall in Pine Canyon

The trail then made a traverse across the nose of the ridge through some great rocky outcroppings, one that had fantastic views of the whole Sabino Basin. Here’s  pictures and a video from the rocky lookout:

View of the East Fork and Sycamore Canyon Trail

Sabino Canyon

Cathedral Rock and the West Fork

After the rocky outlook, the trail switchbacked down with views of Palisades Canyon, Sabino Canyon Trail, and the Box Camp Trail where it meets the West Fork. The trail does not match the old alignment shown on the Topo map, it was very clearly cairned in the tall grasses. I could see the canopy of the East Fork and couldn’t reach it fast enough- my head was getting increasingly hot even underneath the umbrella. It was 12:30 and toasty by the time I crossed the bone-dry East Fork and reached the trail junction. I was a little sad that there was absolutely no water to be found. I took a break at the junction, and it was completely bug-infested, so badly that I had to wear my earphones to drown out the sound of the no-see-ums and mosquitoes. After eating and cooling off for a bit, I went to investigate the weather-I had heard thunder and saw that there was lightning over the West Fork, right where I was planning on staying at Hutch’s Pool.

Hike to Hutch's pool in that direction

I had a decision to make. I had only two liters of water left, and it was around 3pm when it started to rain. I made one last-ditch attempt to get some more water by turning my umbrella upside-down, but only collected about two cups of rainwater. My desire to sleep out under the stars plummeted as I realized that it would be a hot, buggy night at Hutch’s Pool and I was already covered in bites. I decided to hike all the way out and had cloud cover for the lazy switchbacks that climb out of the East Fork.

Pine Canyon on the right

I passed the Bear Canyon junction and made my way towards the Sycamore Canyon reservoir, but didn’t make the trip over to visit. I have always found the water I’ve filtered from there to taste disgusting. I had the one last climb out from the reservoir to Shreve Saddle, a climb that I have always approached at the end of a long day, and it always kicks my butt. There is the most hilarious giant Arizona Trail sign at Shreve Saddle- they put the big metal signs in the most unlikely places.

Butterfly Weed

Hiking up to Shreve Saddle

At the saddle, it began to rain again and I called my husband to tell him that I’d be home early. I reached the Soldier Canyon Trail junction, which is about a quarter mile from the trailhead, and my right quad started to spasm with every step. Good thing that didn’t happen a couple of miles back! Finally made it back to my Jeep just before 6pm, quite a long, hot day for the middle of the summer. I would not recommend this hike in the summertime to people not acclimated to hiking in the heat. Click below to see the full set of pictures from this hike:

Palisades to Prison Camp 8-10-11

A couple of days later, I went to Sabino Canyon for a night hike and got to see all sorts of critters. Two tiger rattlesnakes and a diamondback, tarantulas, and many scorpions of all sizes. Some of our group had black lights to look for scorpions, and they saw one that looked strange. The reason was that the bark scorpion had many tiny baby scorpions on its back, and the babies did not fluoresce under the black light. Fascinating.

Scorpion with babies

It must have been the season, because later we saw a Wolf Spider carrying babies on its back:

Wolf Spider with babies on back

To top off a fantastic night of sightings, we got a great encounter with a Gila Monster, who ran away, puffing itself up. It then turned around to hiss and show the inside of its mouth at us. What an entertaining night!

Gila Monster

In Wildlife Rehab Fundraiser news, we’ve got more raccoons- hungry raccoons! Your donation helps to feed these and many other birds and animals at Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson:

Hungry baby raccoon

After a good meal!

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Moonrise over Mica Mountain

Summertime hiking in Southern Arizona requires some flexibility- you have to be willing to either get up before the sun rises, acclimate to hiking in the inferno-like heat, or become nocturnal. One of my favorite times to go on a night hike is around the full moon. This month, I decided to visit one of my favorite areas for watching the moonrise- the Arizona Trail heading east from  Molino Basin toward Redington Road in the Catalinas. When going for a full moon hike, it is important to choose a trail that will be illuminated during the time that you want to hike. This trail is ideal because it is on the eastern side of the Catalinas and gets illuminated right at moonrise.

I started my hike at 6:30, just as the sun had gone behind the hill and shaded the trail. The Arizona Trail uses the Bellota Trail, which starts at 4300 feet, switchbacks 450 feet up to a saddle, then plunges down the other side 800 feet to West Spring. It crosses several drainages before continuing toward Bellota Ranch, a fancy dude ranch nestled in the valley. This particular piece of trail and I have a long history and I have lost count of how many times I have hiked it.  In what seems like another lifetime, when I was really sick from my Fibromyalgia, I would come here and barely be able to make it up to the saddle and be sore for days afterward. At one time, the longest hike I had ever done in one day was a 13 mile out and back trying to get to The Lake. Several years ago, my husband Brian and my dogs hiked this piece with me when I was trying to complete the Arizona Trail. And more recently, this is where I ended up last year to watch the Supermoon eclipse. It’s one of those trails that you feel like you could almost hike it blindfolded and your body would remember where to go.

Me and Zeus and Bailey on the Arizona Trail in 2008

I made my way to the saddle, stopping to admire the Manzanitas with their “little apples” on and to sniff the junipers. The view from the saddle of the Bellota Ranch way in the valley below, Agua Caliente Hill, and Helen’s Dome atop Mica Mountain in the Rincons remains one of my favorites, no matter how many other spectacular places I have seen.


View from the saddle in the daytime (Picture taken in 2008)

I was so intent on watching my feet on the rocky descent that I missed the actual moonrise. When I looked up the moon was well above the rocky outcrops of the northern face of Mica Mountain. As I made my way down the switchbacks I saw several deer bounding away and stopped to watch the sunset for a bit. The trail reached the first drainage and climbed out of it before descending to West Spring, a concrete tank for the cows with a trough around it. More bounding deer- a larger group this time, and the trail reached a gate. It then followed a two-track through a drainage that was lined with junipers and the occasional cottonwood.

Hello Moon!

I’d camped along this road on my Arizona Trail hike during deer hunting season, it was much quieter now. I had met Kean Brown, the cowboy-hat wearing manager of the Bellota Ranch who had explained to me that the horses that I usually see in the area are retired horses from the ranch that are now free to rome as they please. Just as I was thinking, “I wonder where the horses are?”, my headlamp illuminated a pair of eyes belonging to a large brown horse with a white stripe on his face. All the other times I’d seen the horses, they had kept their distance, but this one started walking toward me. I am a massage therapist and I love to work on animals, but I very rarely get to interact with horses. I took a deep breath to calm myself, knowing that horses can sense tension, and put my hand out near his face. The horse pushed its face into my hand and I stroked its head, talking in a gentle voice. After letting the horse get comfortable, I massaged his sides and along his spine, feeling him shift his weight toward my hands. At one point, it was hard to believe it was real- I’m massaging a horse in a beautiful moonlit valley! It was truly magical. After a while, I bid my new friend adieu and began hiking back toward the trailhead.

Last light on the trail

My horse pal

The moon was out, but I was a little snake-paranoid, so I had my headlamp on for much of the hike. I did encounter one rattlesnake at the last creek crossing before the ascent to the saddle. It was a very calm, non-rattling snake and was kind enough to pose for some pictures before slithering off the trail. I found a slab of rock to take a break on before the final climb to the saddle. The truth is, I really didn’t want to go back. I had brought a small cushion to relax on and would have been perfectly content to sleep there for the night. My husband was expecting me back that evening, so I settled for a short nap. I awoke refreshed and made the moonlit ascent to the saddle and down the other side, reaching my car at 11 pm.  What a fantastic way to beat the heat and still get in a decent hike- you can bet there will be a lot more night hiking to come this summer.

A very calm Rattlesnake

In Wildlife Rehab Fundraiser news, we’re busier than ever at Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson, as it is baby season. We’ve had tons of Cooper’s Hawks, Kestrels, and Screech Owls, as well as some really special animals, like a baby Ringtail and a two-week old Javelina. It’s a ton of work, but so rewarding! The other day, I got to release a beautiful female Red-Tailed Hawk- so incredible to watch it soar away. Your donation goes to feed the hungry masses:

2-week old Javelina that we had for a short time before it was transferred to another rehab facility.

Red-Tailed Hawk with jesses on its legs- going for a test to see how she flies before getting released

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Last light on Thimble Peak

Towering over Sabino Canyon at 5323 feet, Thimble Peak is a prominent feature of the front range of the Catalinas. For those of you not acquainted with sewing, (which I’m guessing is at least some of my readers), a thimble is a sewing aid that you wear on your finger to help push a needle through fabric. I was talking to my friend Bill Bens at a recent Arizona Trail trailbuilding event and mentioned that we should try for the Thimble soon. He said that he had a standing invitation from someone who knew the route- Steven, a man known in Tucson hiking circles as “Mr. X” of the X Hiking Club. As it got closer, Bill said that there would be 10-12 people going in the group including Matt Nelson, a friend of Steven’s and a professional guide that would help belay us up to the actual summit of Thimble Peak (most hikers only go to the lower, non-technical summit). Steven had scouted out a route to Thimble Peak that scrambled up all 7 Falls toward a drainage coming off the base of the peak. After summiting Thimble Peak the plan was to hike over to the NNW to a drainage that would deposit us at the end of the tram road.

Blackett's Ridge and Saddleback visible from the Bear Cyn TH

On January 19th, ten of us met at Sabino Canyon and shuttled over to the Bear Canyon Trailhead, starting our hike around 8:30 am up the access road. We reached the Bear Canyon Trail at 9am and made our way up the canyon. I remember years ago when a hike to 7 Falls was the whole hike, today it was just a means to get to the real fun! The group spread out a bit and I was happy to get a little time to myself. There was a fair amount of water in the creek, giving a nice sonic backdrop to the easy stroll. Bill and I stopped before the descent to the falls to eye up our route across the canyon before continuing to the falls for a break.

Cathedral Rock and the Front Range of the Catalinas to the left

Across flowing Bear Creek

View of the drainage above 7 Falls

This is as far as most people go, but it was just a warm up for the hike to come

After some snacks, Steven went over our plan for the day and some pointers about the scramble ahead. Then it was time for us to start scrambling up each level of 7 Falls. It was so neat to see each of the pools and look at the waterfalls from a totally different perspective. There was one that was quite large, with a rainbow visible in the spray. There were a couple of tricky spots, but Steven and Matt were there to spot us and talk us through the best way to go. We crossed the stream a couple of times and finally we reached what Steven calls “The Penthouse”. It was a gorgeous set of pools that I must revisit in the summer with my inner tube for some quality floating time. Here’s a video:

Scrambling up

Gorgeous upper waterfall

Steep terrain ahead

Matt and Steven spot and lend a hand- a slip here would send you down the large fall in the previous pictures

Today, there was no time for dawdling because we had places to go and a Thimble to climb. We bushwhacked up the drainage, which started out as series of broad ledges that made for easy scrambling. The drainage split and we followed the right fork. Pretty soon, our next objective came into view- a notch between the rocks that make up the base that Thimble Peak sits on and a tall rock face. I’d scouted the route on Google Earth the night before and it looked like it was going to get super-steep and nasty as we got closer to the notch. The scramble got progressively steeper and as we neared the notch, our nice ledges were replaced by unstable rocks and boulders. It was tough going, but we took our time and stopped for a couple of short breaks for shade and to catch our breath. Even though it was the middle of January, it was unseasonably warm and I  was glad that we weren’t attempting this in any hotter weather. The views down to the Bear Canyon Trail and beyond were incredible. Here’s a video:

Scrambling up the ledges in the drainage above 7 Falls

David eyes up our notch on the right

Grasses on rock make for a beautiful but slippery combination


Getting closer!

Looking down the steep drainage


Conditions deteriorated further after we regrouped at the notch. The steep, loose, and nasty terrain made me long for the unstable boulders of the upper drainage. The rock wall that made up the east side of the notch was beautifully striated and dwarfed the hikers behind me. But the terrain was so steep that before long, I was towering over the rock wall with a wonderful view of Helen’s Dome and Mica Mountain in the Rincons.

The higher we climbed, the more loose and crumbly the terrain

Glad we weren't planning on coming down this way!

Steven is just a small red dot compared to the giant cliff

Oh Helen- what a glorious sight!

After thrashing up the hillside, we reached the base of the rocks that Thimble Peak sits upon and contoured around on jumbled pink, white, and black-striped boulders to meet up with the conventional route that most hikers take to Thimble Peak from the upper Bear Canyon Trailhead at Prison Camp (Hiryabayashi). This point in and of itself is quite the destination at the base of Thimble Peak- great views of the Catalinas. By this time it was 1pm, and though we all wanted to be up top, we took a short, well-deserved lunch break first to refuel before the final push to the top of the peak.

Our route around the base of the Thimble toward the notch between the two summits

Wonderful Catalina views

After lunch, it was time to tackle the final chute and then climb a ten-foot wall to attain the summit. The chute was filled with giant boulders and had plenty of good hand and footholds. At the top of the chute, I put on a harness and lined up with the rest of the group to take my turn at the final obstacle. I was happy to have Matt belaying us up the wall to the actual summit, most people have to be content with the nearby non-technical summit which sits 10 feet lower. A couple of well placed feet and hands later, and I was hiking up the final slope to the flat-topped peak of the Thimble!

Scrambling up the chute

View from the top of the chute

Bill climbs with help from Steven and Matt

People at the Thimble Peak vista point on the Catalina Highway could be looking at us right now!

What a place- the summit is quite large and would make an incredible place to spend the night! The 360 degree views are spectacular in every direction and we all amused ourselves by pointing out different landmarks and trails. As we enjoyed the summit, we were visited by a soaring Peregrine Falcon. Here’s a video from the summit:

Matt marvels at the views

A victorious group atop Thimble Peak

Bear Canyon, Agua Caliente Hill, Mica Mtn. and Rincon Peak

After many photos were taken, it was unfortunately time to descend. I watched as Matt and Steven showed how to get down the wall. It was my first time rappelling where I wasn’t in charge of letting the line out myself. I’m trying to get better at trusting the rope- but it is always a struggle, as I am pretty afraid of heights, especially descending. The reason that I push through it is that every time it has proved to be worth the momentary discomfort.

We went back around the base to where the grassy slope extends northward. The conventional route goes back to the upper Bear Canyon Trail via a route that contours to the northeast. But we weren’t doing anything the conventional way today. Instead we took the western slope of the ridge toward some large rock towers on our way to a drainage that would deposit us at Tram Stop #9, at the end of the Sabino Canyon Tram road. There were great views back to Thimble Peak and more scrambling.

Coming carefully back down the chute

I love the vegetation at this elevation

We were up there!

The bushwhack toward the drainage took us past some wonderful rock towers

Bill says: "Just another crummy day in the Sonoran Desert!"

As we found the correct drainage and started heading down it, the split between the two summits of Thimble Peak became visible. Tram Stop #9 would come into view every so often but the rugged terrain in the drainage made for slow going. Finally, the front people in the group reached the tram stop and radioed back, asking if we’d be interested in riding the tram out to the parking lot. I was surprised that there was a tram there at all, as it was almost 5pm, and radioed back that I was definitely on board. I walk the tram road pretty often as a night hike, and wasn’t really interested in a 3.7 mile roadwalk on hard asphalt to cap off an already tough day. Some in our group insisted on hiking the road, but a bunch of us hopped on the tram and enjoyed sunset views of Thimble Peak on the ride out.

Looking back


'Shwacking down the drainage toward the tram road

Split between the two summits

Looking back up the drainage that we descended

View of Thimble Peak from the tram- no shame in my game for catching a ride on the last tram out and saving myself a 3.7 mile roadwalk that I've done a million times before.

Click the picture below to see the whole set of pictures from this hike:

Thimble Peak 1-19-11

What an adventure this day turned out to be- we had hiked from 8:20 am until 5pm and only covered 6.4 miles with 2600 feet of elevation gain. It was a great group and I had a smile on my face that lasted the rest of the week as I visited family in chilly Chicago for my grandmother’s 80th birthday.  And now for something completely different: pictures of non-hiking situations on my visit to Chicago!

Me with my two younger brothers, Shawn and Sanjay Rana out to see Shawn's band play

My Nonna at her surprise party

My nephew Devin and my Dad

Me and Mom

Olivia and my husband Brian

It was good to see my family and friends and everyone’s children. Brian and I did typical Chicago-in-the-winter things like sit at peoples houses and eat. Thankfully, we flew out before the “Snowmageddon” hit (or “Snowpocalypse” if you prefer) and buried everyone for two days. Now, for the Wildlife Rehab Fundraiser picture, here’s a trio of young Cooper’s Hawks that we had at the rehab in 2010. These three are among the 543 animals total that went through Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson last year: 113 bunnies, 124 quail, 54 hawks, 23 falcons, 38 owls, 13 waterbirds, and a whopping 267 songbirds!

Baby Cooper's Hawks- 33 came through the rehab last year

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The Hill That Felt Like A Mountain

Agua Caliente Hill Trail

Agua Caliente Hill is one of those places that I’ve always looked at and thought “I’ve got to get up there someday”.  It is 5369 feet high and nestled between the Catalina and Rincon mountain ranges on the east side of the Tucson valley. It can be seen from many hikes in the area and I knew that the views would be incredible from up top. I also knew it would take some effort to get there, with almost 3000 feet of elevation gain and a round-trip distance of about 9 miles. Effort that I wasn’t sure I wanted to expend when I woke up this morning. I’d worked late the evening before and was considering scrapping plans for the hike in favor of something more leisurely. But a quick glance at my calendar and the realization that I have several strenuous hikes planned that I need to train for got my butt moving, albeit slowly. I knew if I could just get myself on the trail that I’d be happy that I did.

I started hiking at 11:20 am (better late than never), looking forward to an area that I haven’t yet explored. Is there anything sweeter than fresh trail? I think not. The trail climbed almost immediately, switchbacking to attain the ridgeline. I was kind of tired, but told myself I might as well get used to the climb- I had 4.5 miles of ascent ahead.

Ridgeline views of the Rincons

Thankfully, the trail started out gently- the climbs were interspersed with flats on the ridgeline and the trail dipped into drainages, breaking up the ascent. The views from the ridgeline were great and I knew I’d made the right choice by going on a hike today. The first drainage had a skanky-looking, scummy green cattle tank in it called Cat Track Tank. This being national forest rather than wilderness, grazing is allowed. After crossing a couple more drainages, the trail climbed toward a saddle and the junction with Forest Road #4445. There was a gnarled, old saguaro at the junction and a great view of the Catalinas.

Peak 4778 in the distance

Drainage that contains Cat Track Tank

Gnarled Saguaro at the junction with FR 4445

At the saddle, which is at 4000ft, Forest Road #4445 dives toward Agua Caliente Canyon, while our trail #46 continues- you guessed it- climbing. The trail skirts Peak 4778, then levels out for one last, joyous stretch before you have to pay the piper to get to the top.

Summit (on right) is still a ways away

A mercifully flat part before the final big climb- Bassett Peak in the Galiuros in the distance

I could see the Galiuros and the snowy top of the Pinalenos to the east, and the Arizona Trail south of Molino Basin and the Bellota Ranch in the valley below. Here’s a video:

It was here that I made a mistake. By this time it was 1:10 pm and I had only had some yogurt for breakfast and a handful of trail mix at the junction. What I should have done was stop and eat my sandwich that was in my pack before continuing on. Instead, I thought, “It’s less than a mile to the top- I’ll just eat lunch when I get to the summit”.  0.7 miles with 750 feet of elevation gain left to go on an empty stomach makes for some unpleasant hiking and I bonked shortly after starting the final climb. I should have known better. One of the first hiking tips I ever remember learning is: No Food- No Fuel- No Fun. The summit now seemed so far off, like one of those dreams where you’re running and running (or hiking) but the goal keeps getting further and further away.

Still, there was no way I was going to come this far and not make the summit. I stopped to eat some snacks, but by this time it was too late to give me much energy. Of course this was when the trail went from a nicely-manicured and graded path to really steep, loose, and rocky. Ugh.

Steep and Rocky

It took everything I had to drag my sorry ass up the rest of that hill. At times I literally sat down in the middle of the trail to regain my energy.

Looking back toward the Catalinas and Tucson Mtns.

The last push was interminable, and I slogged upward, paying attention only to my feet, trying not to look at how far up ahead the summit was. (it was never closer than I thought, just disappointingly farther) It was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and repeating till there was no more trail left. The last 0.7 miles took me 40 exhausting minutes, but I finally reached the summit.

I made it!

The views immediately buoyed my spirits and I grabbed my sandwich (finally!) and dropped my pack for a lengthy break on the hard-earned summit of Agua Caliente Hill. And what views- 360 degrees of Sky Island goodness! Here’s a video tour of the summit:

There is a fire ring with a grill grate, for those who spend the night up here, and nearby I found the summit register under a pile of rocks. I settled in to eat lunch and read the summit register. It went back to 2005 and I can’t believe how many people I knew in the summit register! Hiking partners, people on my trail crew, and others. There were also the usual funny and insightful entries, like these two:

Fatty and Skinny

Summit Log Musings

Then I turned the page and saw an entry from December 2005 that stopped me in my tracks: Joe Domin, aka GPS Joe, who signed in with his hiking partner Gabriele, aka Sun_Hiker.


I never met GPS Joe, but “knew” him from his many contributions to the hiking websites I frequent, HikeArizona.com and ArizonaHikers.com. GPS Joe went missing back in early November while hiking in the remote and wild Mazatzal Mountains, near Payson, and is yet to be found. My heart sank and my eyes welled up with tears. Joe has been missing now for 66 days as of this writing, despite incredible efforts to locate him. He went for a solo hike on November 8th without leaving an itinerary with anyone, and as a result, no one realized that he was missing until a week later. His vehicle was found at the Mount Peeley Trailhead, which gave a starting point, but didn’t help all that much because GPS Joe often went off-trail to bushwhack to remote peaks. An extensive Search and Rescue effort was mounted to try and find him, to no avail. Even though official Search and Rescue was called off after five days, the hiking community banded together and many hikers volunteered their time slogging through the thick brush and rugged terrain to try and locate him until snow finally made the area impassable. Such an unfortunate mystery and one that I hope will be solved soon. At least he went missing doing what he loved. I had a good cry for GPS Joe and replaced the summit register where I found it. You can read the HikeArizona forum thread on GPS Joe here.

While I was reading the summit register, I was visited by a very friendly Painted Lady butterfly who landed on my hand! I spent another hour wandering around the top of the hill, taking in the views and writing in my journal. I liked that I could see the path of the Arizona Trail south of Molino Basin, where I’d spent the night chasing the eclipse several weeks ago. Always the backpacker, I  wished that I was spending the night up here so I had more time to explore- it looked like there were several interesting bushwhacks that can be done from the top of the hill.

Friendly Painted Lady

I can see the Arizona Trail from here- click to enlarge

The hike down felt longer than 4.5 miles. The steepness of the last part before the summit was not much more fun to come down than up, and I was relieved when I reached the junction and the grade became more reasonable. My body still wasn’t too happy with me, even after eating lunch and I could tell I was more tired than usual because I was none too happy about the ascents out of the drainages on the way back. Finally, as the sunset painted the mountain with an orange glow, I reached my car. On the drive home, I listened to the memorial service for those killed in the shooting at the Safeway on the radio. I found myself crying for the second time today for the fallen as I drove home- what an emotional day it turned out to be.

Last glow at the trailhead

For today’s Wildlife Rehab Fundraiser picture, we got a Hog-Nosed Skunk at the rehab recently. I seem to have a soft spot for the stinky critters. We have four kinds of skunks in Arizona: Striped (the most common), Spotted, Hooded, and Hog-Nosed.

Hog-Nosed Skunk

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I’ve put together a look back at the past year of hiking and backpacking. For those who are regular readers, I’ve added quite a few pictures that didn’t make it in to the blog in other posts. You can click on the name of the hike to go to the journal entry about that hike, and all of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them. Enjoy!

In January I teamed up with Bill Bens and Mitch Stevens for a hike up Ragged Top in the Silverbell Mountains, northwest of Tucson. It was the first of a series of hikes we did together that required scrambling, something I really hadn’t experienced much before this year. I really took to it, and sought out a number of hikes with a scrambling element for the rest of the year.

Ragged Top

Coming up the South Gully- Photo by Bill Bens

Me and Bill at the summit with Picacho Peak in the background

In February I started the month with another scrambling route up Elephant Head in the Santa Ritas with Bill and Mitch. Another rugged, tough route leading to superlative views.

Elephant Head

Summit Ridge of Elephant Head

Summit ridge of Elephant Head

Summit cairn made of elephants

The day after my 36th birthday, I hiked my first piece of the Grand Enchantment Trail, a 730-mile route that goes from Phoenix to Albuquerque. I also started my Wildlife Rehabilitation Fundraiser to benefit Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson, where I am a volunteer.

Starting the Grand Enchantment Trail

Antelope Peak

Nighthawk at Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson

In March I tackled another piece of the Grand Enchantment Trail in the Superstitions from the Tortilla TH to First Water TH. This was my first time in the western Superstitions, and I loved every rugged, rocky minute of it.

Campsite View on Horse Ridge, looking at a snowy 4 Peaks

Entering La Barge Box

Me and the Weaver's Needle

I attempted to summit Baboquivari again, but was turned away by ice and snow on the first pitch. However, we got to spend the night at the Lion’s Ledge, one of my favorite places I’ve ever slept and any time on Babo is time well spent.

Babo's East Face

Dave takes in the sunrise

Lion's Ledge- we slept right under the cave-like spot with the dark stain running down the face

I also wrote about Arizona’s State Parks that were slated to close due to lack of funding and hiked the Hunter Trail at Picacho Peak State Park and the Flatiron and Peak 5024 at Lost Dutchman State Park. Thankfully, only a couple of the state parks ended up closing and nearby towns helped pick up some of the expenses for the other ones. It was a great spring for wildflowers. I gave several slideshow presentations about my Arizona Trail hike to raise funds for Wildlife Rehab.

Poppies and Lupine at Picacho Peak

Lost Dutchman State Park in bloom- Flatiron in the upper right

Hoodoos on the way to Peak 5024

Looking down on the Flatiron

In April I was fortunate to hike two pieces of the Grand Enchantment Trail in April- the Santa Teresa Wilderness with my friend Judy Eidson, and the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness. To give an idea of how remote the Santa Teresas are, when I called the Coronado National Forest to ask a question about the trails, they said, “We have no idea, no one goes out there, let us know what you find when you come back, ok?” I look forward to my return to Holdout Canyon – a spectacular place.

Holdout Canyon, Santa Teresa Wilderness

Winding Mariposa Lily

Taking in the view

Climbing above Preacher Canyon

Pretty waterfall in Cottonwood Canyon

Desert Honeysuckle in bloom, Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness

Great Blue Heron

Bends in the Stream

In MayI heard that Forest Service crews had been clearing the Sutherland Trail, so I teamed up with Lee Allen, David Rabb, and Tom Kimmel to hike from the top of Mount Lemmon to Catalina State Park via this formerly fire-damaged trail. The 6000 ft. of elevation loss was tough on the knees, but the views and the company more than made up for it.

Happy to be on the Sutherland Trail

Sutherland Trail


All spring long, I’d been telling my husband Brian, “Don’t worry, once it heats up in June I’ll be home a lot more often!” But then I bought the one piece of gear that made my summer bearable: my green inflatable innertube, known affectionately as “the floatie”, and the hiking really didn’t slow down at all. The floatie’s maiden voyage was to Hutch’s Pool on a overnight backpacking trip using the Box Camp Trail down to Sabino Canyon.

Coming down the ridge on the Box Camp Tr.

Coral Bean bloom

Happy to have Hutch's Pool all to myself!

I enjoyed the floatie so much, I took it on a trip to Horse Camp Canyon in the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness and floated the black pool on a day when I had the only permit for the whole canyon.

Important piece of summer gear in Aravaipa

Made even sweeter by the fact that I had it all to myself!

Also in June, I began harvesting and processing saguaro fruit and making syrup and delicious fruit leather. I really enjoyed it and everyone loved the flavor. Can’t wait to do it on a bigger scale next summer.

Saguaro fruit cut open

In July, a month that I would normally be cowering in my house avoiding the heat, I was able to find lots of ways to keep active this year. I went on short hikes early in the morning or night hikes, and was able to get away to the cooler Sky Islands for a couple of backpacking trips. Early in the month, I went to the Santa Ritas for an overnight at Baldy Saddle and saw one of the best sunsets I’d seen all year.

Baldy Saddle- Yep, I was right- it was an awesome campsite!

Looking north at the Santa Rita Crest- 7:19 pm

My favorite of the evening- 7:34 pm

Mountain Spiny Lizard Fight

Later in the month, I hiked the Grand Enchantment Trail through the tall, cool Pinaleno Mountains (also known as “The Grahams”) with Judy Eidson and Connie Simmons.

Through the waist-high ferns on the Clark Peak Tr.

View from Taylor Pass

Slick Rock, Ash Creek Trail

Sunset on The Pinnacles, Ash Creek Trail

The "spirited cascade"

I squeezed in one last hike in July, a trip to Chiricahua National Monument with my friend Wendy. Fantastic hoodoos and rock formations to tickle the imagination.

Hoodoos come in Large, Small, and Medium size for your viewing enjoyment

Punch and Judy Rock

August was all about the pools: Jammed Log Pool, Romero Pools, Lemmon Pools, Tanque Verde Falls- I hiked in early, got my float on, and was hiking out by 9 or 10 in the morning.

Who says the desert is a dry place? Photo by Bill Bens

Wendy takes a turn on the floatie at Jammed Log Pool

Tanque Verde Falls dwarfs me in my floatie- photo by Wendy Lotze

Lemmon Pools

Fly Agaric Mushrooms- these were over 8 inches across
Campsite view down Lemmon Canyon toward Tucson
Monday Morning Goodness at Romero Pools
Rattlesnake from night hikes in Sabino Canyon

Gila Monster from night hikes in Sabino Canyon

In September the leisurely hikes of summer came to an end, because it was time to start ramping up the difficulty levels to get in shape for the Grand Canyon in October. I hiked a long loop in the Santa Ritas, Pusch Peak, a dayhike to Lemmon Pools and an overnighter in Aravaipa to break in my new hiking shoes on uneven terrain with a full pack.

Lunch at Burnt Saddle- Elephant Head on the ridge in the foreground

So many unusual wildflowers! Crest Trail, Santa Ritas

Tiny Twin-Spotted Rattlesnake on the Foursprings Trail, Santa Ritas

View west from the summit of Pusch Peak

Lounging in Aravaipa Canyon

Rincon Mountains seen from the Lemmon Rock Trail

Shadow of Mount Lemmon on the Galiuro Mountains

And at the end of the month, I snuck in one last hike with the floatie in Sycamore Canyon in the Pajarita Wilderness near the Mexican border with some friends.

Near the slot pool

The Slot Pool- Bill and Ray went up and to the right, Lee and I swam across.

The green floatie- best $2 I've spent all year!

As much as I grumbled about training with a loaded pack on dayhikes, I was thankful for it in October when I spent 11 days in the Grand Canyon backpacking the Royal Arch Loop and at the Grand Canyon Hikers and Backpackers Association Volunteer Service Project. The Royal Arch Loop was the most difficult trip I’ve done to date.  Remember at the beginning of the year when I said I enjoyed scrambling on hikes? The whole year I’d made myself more and more used to scrambling and traveling on exposed areas, and it all came in handy on the Royal Arch Loop. Aesthetically, my favorite trip of the entire year and I can’t wait to do it again.

Sunrise on Mt. Huethawali from South Bass Trailhead

A Grand Vista

The Royal Arch

The anticipation was way worse than the actual rappel

Elves Chasm

A majestic pose before continuing across the slope

Kent, Ron, and Paul on the saddle leaving Copper Canyon

I hiked out of the Royal Arch Loop and back into the Grand Canyon for six days of work on the Volunteer Service Project. We got a lot of work done at Cottonwood and Bright Angel Campgrounds, and in our free time we hiked up to the North Rim for fall colors, pizza, and beer, as well as up Wall Creek and the Miner’s Route. 11 days and a little over a hundred miles of Grand Canyon goodness.

Hiking up to Cottonwood CG

Yay! We walked up into fall on the North Kaibab Trail!

Wall Creek Waterfall

Cairn where the Old Miner's Route meets the Tonto

After spending the last half of October mourning the fact that I wasn’t in the Grand Canyon anymore, in November I found plenty of places close to home to hold my interest. I took two solo backpacking trips: one to The Spine near the White Canyon Wilderness, and one on the Samaniego Ridge Trail in the Catalinas. I also hiked the little-used Brush Corral Trail in the northeastern part of the Catalinas with some friends.

Traveling atop The Spine from boulder to boulder

5:38 pm- looks like a postcard

Morning view of the White Canyon Wilderness

Samaniego Peak

Hiking up to the Mule Ears

Samaniego- what a wonderful ridge!

Incredible views on the Brush Corral Trail

Brush Corral Trail ridgeline

Between the oaks

In December I made one last trip to the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness (my 4th this year) and enjoyed the fall colors. It is trailbuilding season on the Arizona Trail and I led my first work event up near Oracle on the 9th  in the Black Hills passage. I plan on sneaking in one last trip before the end of the year to my favorite very large hole in the ground before the year’s over.

Fall colors in Aravaipa Canyon

The inagural crew of the Crazies North

Whew! I sure got a lot of adventures in this year! Thanks to one of my favorite websites HikeArizona.com, I was able to keep track of my miles hiked and other stats. This is the first year that I logged all my hikes, and by the end of the year, I will have hiked approximately 750 miles. Lucky me.

I want to thank all of my readers and people who came to my talks who donated to my Wildlife Rehab Fundraiser. Since February, over $700 worth of donations have been given to Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson! If you haven’t donated yet but would like to, you can send a check made out to Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson to Pima Federal Credit Union  P.O. Box 50267 Tucson, Arizona 85703. Please put Hiking in the memo, so they know where you heard about their facility. Any amount is appreciated! You can also donate via PayPal by clicking the button below. Even if you don’t have a PayPal account, you can donate securely via PayPal with a credit card.

"Elfie" the Elf Owl thanks you for your donations!

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