Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category


Sycamore Canyon

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A nice little canyon near the AZ/MX border.

So Az.


A Hike to Window Rock

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Ventana is Spanish for window. Ventana Canyon is named for a large natural window through the rock high up on a ridge that borders the canyon. The hike gains 4400 ft in 6.5 miles. The early part of the hike is fairly level, following the edge of private property as the trail winds through some thick brush. The trail follows along the canyon bottom and includes quite a bit of rock-hopping and some heavy brush in this section. We got an early start (6:30 am) and were going before sunrise. The weather forecast was for a sunny, warm day, and we wanted to finish before it got too hot.

As you slowly climb with the rising canyon, you start seeing some great views both up and down the canyon. This part of the Santa Catalina’s is very rocky, with lots of granitic spires and peaks.

A few miles up the canyon, the trail begins to climb steeply. The temperature was cooler here, and the wind was very brisk. We had to keep moving to stay warm.

Near the head of the canyon, the trail contours around to the east and follows the ridge that connects to Window Peak. The walking becomes much easier once you top the ridge, passing by juniper, oak, holly and manzanita.

A small amount of climbing brings you into the pines and closer to the objective.

Window rock is just before the peak, and offers a nice spot to take a breather and look down into the canyon. Many people head back down from here. We grabbed a snack, had some water, and set off for the peak.

The trail from the window countours around the west side of the peak and crosses a saddle before heading down the Esperero. We turned north at the saddle and followed the ridge to the peak, which consists of several vertical blocks. Our destination was the one on the right.


Hiking in the Dragoons

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My friends Pete, Jon and I took a nice little hike through a very pretty section of the Dragoon Mts. The loop follows a climbing route up a steep draw to a pass, then drops down into a high valley that runs along the ridge top.

The total elevation gain is something like 1000′, and the total distance is about 6 mi.

The rock formations stick up like hands and fingers of granite, with limestone in the background.

Words don’t do it justice, so here’s a few photos:

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Klamath Falls, 2010

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I went back to KF to visit my mom for a few days this October. While there, I decided to take a hike up to the top of Hogsback Mtn. It’s been a long time since I’ve been up there; we used to bushwhack up it as kids.

An old friend who still lives there, Darrell Hagen, told me about a trail going to the top (imagine that!), so I followed his directions and found the trail. It’s a nice place to look out over the Klamath Basin. It was a bit hazy, but here’s a few shots:


Boyce Thompson Arboretum

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Tina and I took a day and drove up to check out the Arboretum. It’s been a while since we’d been there and I wanted to get some digital pictures. It can take a full day to walk all the trails on the property. It was hot the day we were there, so we did a couple of shorter trails and headed off to find lunch and something cool to drink.

The area is Sonoran Desert, but there’s a great variety of plants growing there, from desert areas all over the world.

Here’s some photo’s:


Mt. Wrightson in Sept.

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We decided to hike up Mt. Wrightson this weekend. The weather was clear and there was a nice wind. The S. Az. Hiking Club was holding a race to the top, but we had other plans. Our goal was to hike from Madera Cnyn up to Baldy Saddle , .9 mi from the summit, then follow Florida Ridge back down to the bottom.
We knew the hiking club was going to take the short route up (Old Baldy Tr), but we followed the Super Tr instead. It’s a bit longer to the first saddle, then we joined the Old Baldy trail up to Baldy Saddle.

We ran into some of the first folks to summit on the way up. The fast guy had completed the 5 mi, 4000′ climb in 1 hr, 16 min. I think the slower guy did it in 1hr, 29 min. That’s movin’!
We took our time and reached the saddle just as Pete Cowgill and his wife, Judy, were coming down. Pete had just turned 85 and said this was his last race up the mountain. I think he said the same thing several years ago. :-). I hope I’m still able to climb like that when I’m 85.
We headed north on Florida Ridge, taking a few pictures along the way. The total distance for this hike was 13.2 mi, 3000′ gain, 4000′ loss (or thereabouts). Yeah, we finished lower than we started. :-)


Hiking up Mt. Hopkins

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Last weekend was a good time to hike up Mt. Hopkins. The 8450′ summit can be reached either by a windy, paved road (which is closed except for guided tours) or by crossing the ridge that connects to Mt. Wrightson. We took the ridge.

The hike starts at the Madera Canyon parking lot. We took the Vault Mine trail up to Agua Caliente trail. The Vault Mine trail is fairly gentle at first, then climbs 1400′ in .6 mile. The total elevation gain is 2000′ in 2.2 miles to the AC junction. At the junction we turned right on the AC trail (away from Josephine Saddle) and walked to the second saddle, where a faint trail climbs up on the ridge.

We followed this trail through old growth Juniper and wild salvia for perhaps .6 miles to the paved road coming up from the west side of Mt. Hopkins. From there, it’s a steep 1.5 mile hike to the top. The total elevation gain from the AC trail is about 1200′. The last 500′ bit is very steep.

We ate lunch in front of the Whipple Observatory, a large square building built on a rotating base. The whole building can be turned.

The view of course is very nice. Mt. Wrightson is close by with it’s tall cliffs, and the views out over the wavy desert are lovely – especially after the summer rains have turned everything green.

We hiked back down to the AC trail and followed it all the way to Josephine Saddle. From there, we took the Super Trail back to the parking lot. Total Distance is about 13 miles and total elevation gain is about 3950′.  Of course, the climb up averages just about 1000′ per mile. It’s nice taking the long way down to give the knees a break.



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The summer monsoon season is coming and our hikes are moving to higher elevations to start. This is a good time to check out Sycamore Canyon (near Arivaca), Mt. Lemmon, and Mt. Wrightson.