Going for a Swim in the Desert

From Gordon Hirabayashi to Hutch’s Pool

The desert of southern Arizona can be one of the most beautiful and enjoyable places on earth during the months surrounding the winter solstice. But that same desert will make concerted efforts to kill unwary travellers the rest of the year, especially in the summer months when temperatures regularly top 120°F and even the most reliable water sources all but vanish. Many a summertime hiker has longed for a deep pool of cold, clear water to relieve the burning of the torturous desert sun overhead. Hutch’s Pool is just such a place.

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Plane Crash!

Tucson is home to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, a very large, very old, and still very active air base. Originally called “Tucson Army Air Field, the site was quickly renamed Davis-Monthan Army Air Field, then, when the Air Force was spun off from the Army as an independent military service, the site received the name it carries to this day (source). Davis-Monthan has been, and continues to be a very active air base; as with any highly active military installation, accidents do happen, and airplanes do occasionally fall out of the sky (very occasionally, mind you – the Air Force does not enjoy wasting money or airmen on plane crashes).

One such crash is just a stone’s throw from the Butterfly Trail. Continue reading

Winter Superstitions

View from the top

As wilderness adventurers in some places are strapping on skis, snow shoes or crampons outdoor enthusiasts in Arizona are donning hiking boots and picking up trekking poles for lowland desert trips.  The Superstition Wilderness Area is particularly popular this time of year with day hikers, probably because of a relatively dense network of shortish trails and convenient access from the Phoenix area.

Several reliable springs provide water year round, a precious occurrence in the central Arizona desert.  One such fount is Whisky Springs, Continue reading

Mines, Saguaro and Tucson

Standing tall at 4 687 feet above sea level, Wasson peak is the highest point in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park, and, indeed, the entire Tucson Mountain range. Hikers wishing to bag this peak have no shortage of ascent options, with trail heads to the south, west, and north-east. The southern trail head, at the start of the King Canyon Trail, is probably the most convenient approach for Tucson residents. From there, a nice half-day hike of about 8 miles along very well maintained and signed trails takes would-be peak-baggers from 2 915 feet to the top of the mountain and back. Along the way are a few abandoned mines, old stone buildings, excellent views of the Tucson Mountains and surrounding country, and, of course, lots of saguaro cacti.

A hill, studded with tall saguaro cacti, is lit by a bright, afternoon sun

Sunlit Saguaros

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Turkey on Mt. Lemmon

Horned Lizard

A Horned Lizard enjoys a quiet, sunny day.

This little critter is not a turkey, but it must live among turkeys.  At least, one would think an area called “Turkey Track” would host more than horned lizards.  My scaled friend, here, was enjoying some pleasant weather in Spencer Canyon campground the day after a particularly stormy night.  The campground is divided into several areas, of which one is called Turkey Track.

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