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.
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.
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
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
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
- 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
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
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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