Posts Tagged ‘Romero Pools’

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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I have been on a summer tour of places to take my innertube (aka “the floatie”). I’d heard about Lemmon Pools and decided to put them as the next stop on my “tour”. This was my first time to Lemmon Pools, and it was a perfect time of year to go. There was a small respite from the monsoon last week which made this trip very enjoyable. I drove up to Marshall Gulch and tried to hike away from the yelling crowds gathering at the picnic areas as quickly as possible. The first thing I noticed on the trail was the number and variety of fungi. I’ve never seen so many in this area. As I approached Marshall Saddle, there were two older gentlemen and one of them said, “You look familiar.” I introduced myself. “That’s it- we both read your blog!” they said and introduced themselves as Rob and John. They rattled off a bunch of hikes I’d done recently and said that they enjoyed following along with my latest adventures. How nice to meet some of my readers!

Fly Agaric Mushrooms- these were over 8 inches across

These were six inches wide

Pretty little flowers

Water along the Marshall Gulch Tr.

Perfectly colored to match its surroundings

I continued onto the Wilderness of Rock trail, one of my favorites, although I must say that the eastern part is not nearly as interesting as the western part. It’s still dripping gorgeous, but it lacks the spectacular hoodoos that are west of the Lemmon Rock Tr. It was getting warm out, but I wasn’t too worried about it, criss-crossing the stream made it easy for me to soak a couple of bandannas for my head and neck. After the turnoff for the route to the pools, I was shocked when I found myself in a familiar area. When I hiked through the Wilderness of Rock on my Arizona Trail hike, I had gotten really lost- here’s a quote from my journal from that day (5-12-08):

I got to another stream crossing and promptly lost the trail. There was a couple of cairns, but I kept running into giant boulders with steep drop-offs into the creek or big, deep pools of water. It was so frustrating, I kept backtracking to the cairns and trying to figure out the route, but nothing became apparent. I thought- this is one of the most-traveled parts of the trail so far- how can I not be able to find the way? All the available routes looked too steep or sketchy for my liking. After much deliberation, I settled on an area that looked passable. I took a step onto the slope, and felt myself slip. I had stepped on what I thought was solid ground, but it in fact was only a thin, slippery layer of pine needles over a steep, sloping slab of rock. I grabbed onto the trunk of the pine tree nearby, hugging it for dear life, and my heart sank into my stomach. I regained my footing, sat down and butt-scooted the rest of the way down to the creek.

I now realized that I’d mistakenly turned off onto the route to the pools and that day I must have been really close to Lemmon Pools without even realizing it.

I got to my campsite, set up, and was at the top of the route down to the pools when a couple came hiking up, quite surprised to see anyone else. The route down to the pools is easier than it looks from the top, you can either take the ledges to the left and switchback down, or follow a chute that is to the right straight down to the creekbed. There is a large pool with a smaller, deep pool fed by a waterfall. You can scramble up on either side of the falls to see the upper pools and falls. Just a gorgeous setting for a relaxing afternoon.

Lemmon Pools

Upper Pool

Upper falls-

The couple relaxed at the pools for about an hour and a half, and then I was able to have the pools to myself for the duration of the afternoon for floating, exploring, and relaxing. I was really happy that I backpacked in and didn’t have to hike out after my swim. The campsite above the pools is fantastic, with amazing views out toward Tucson and lots of rocks to scramble on.

Campsite above the pools

Campsite view down Lemmon Canyon toward Tucson

View from the campsite:

There was only a 10% chance of rain for the evening, so I was able to sleep under the stars. I have had to use my tent for the last several trips and I really don’t like the feeling of being in an enclosed space where you can’t see out.

The next morning, I was making breakfast when I saw a bear across Lemmon Canyon! I watched it move among the rocky hoodoos above the canyon, but by the time I got my camera out, it had disappeared into some brush. The past months I have been in some very bear-heavy sky islands and not seen any, so it was so unexpected to see this one in the Catalinas. My hike out was uneventful, I took my time and dipped into several pools on the way to cool off. There were ripe raspberries on the Marshall Gulch Trail, and I was able to end my hike with a tasty snack. It’s always so hard to make myself drive down from the pleasant 75 degree weather on top of the mountain into above 100-degree temps.

Lemmon Pools from above- the bear was on the other side of this canyon

Tiny horned lizard

Wild Geranium

Greenery and Columbines on the Marshall Gulch Tr.

Small cascade in Marshall Gulch

Yum!! Fresh wild raspberries!

After working all weekend, I was ready for another swim, and I realized that I had not hit Romero Pools in Catalina State Park yet.  It was tough getting up at 5 am, but when I checked the previous night’s storm and saw that Cargodera Canyon (the next canyon over) had gotten almost an inch of rain, I knew there would be a great flow at the pools. It turned out to be a perfect morning for a hike- it was overcast and cool on my way up. I was surprised at the number of people on this trail in the middle of the summer. Not as surprised as I was when I saw a man hiking in a saffron full-length monk’s robe.

Movie of the pools (not the guy in the monk’s robe)

Romero Pools

Romero Pools Waterfalls

Monday Morning Goodness

The water was perfect and I got my floatie inflated and relaxed for a couple of hours. The sun didn’t come out until almost ten o’clock, when I was hiking out. There was still a nice breeze, though and I was amazed that I was comfortably hiking at 11 am in the middle of August. There were a lot of college-aged kids hiking into the pools as I was hiking out- looks like my timing was right on today!

View toward Samaniego Ridge

To see the full sets of photos from my hikes, visit my Picasa account at http://picasaweb.google.com/desertsirena

At the beginning of the summer, I vowed to make “embrace the summer” my motto. Just because it is hot in the middle of the day doesn’t mean that I have to sequester myself in my house- it leads to frustration and cabin fever. When I worked as an archaeologist, we worked until 3 in the afternoon all summer and our bodies just adjusted to working in the heat. Staying active has made this summer fly by- it’s hard to believe that it is the middle of August already. What’s more is that I am able to deal with the heat much better this summer because my body has adjusted to it. Another reason I have wanted to stay active this summer is that I have a very tough trip on the Royal Arch Route in the Grand Canyon coming up in October, and it is important for me to be in top shape for this difficult loop. By hiking early, going to higher elevations, and hiking to swimming holes, I have been able to stay active all summer long.

For today’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Fundraiser picture, here’s a pipistrelle bat:

Pipistrelle Bat

One of the best parts of volunteering at Miller’s Wildlife Rehab is that I get up close and personal with all sorts of animals that would normally be whooshing by in the night, like bats, owls, and nighthawks. I feel so fortunate to be able to help care for these wonderful creatures.

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