Dutch John Spring (Mount Wrightson Wilderness) 12-Jan-2022

The last time we were able to visit our friends Heidi and Bob in Arizona was in early 2020. Then the virus struck. Bob turned 100 last year 😀 and, while a bit frail, is still sharp. They are both deeply concerned about contracting the virus, so we worked out a non-contact protocol for a short visit. We stood (masked) in the their backyard, said hello to Bob through the window, and talked with Heidi (also masked) from a distance of over 10 feet (3 m). We only stayed for a half-hour or so. Not like our visits in the Before Times, but at least we got to see and talk to them in person. 😁

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2020 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

Oh, 2020. You seemed so nice when we first met. You were fun for two months, then you turned ugly. Real ugly. A plague and a recession and wildfires and an election and continuing drought. Yes sir, you threw quite a bit of hurt at us! Yes you did! But we survived. And The LovedOne remained photogenic while social distancing from others kept her within camera range.


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Picacho Peak (Arizona) 20-Feb-2020

Picacho Peak (3,370 feet / 1,027 m) sits hard up against Interstate 10 between Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. In all the years we’ve been coming to Arizona we must have driven past it dozens of times without once thinking it could be hiked. But after coming across a post by BIT|Hiker we put it on our to do list. After hikes in the Santa Ritas and Tortolitas, we headed for Picacho.

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Wild Burro Loop (Tortolita Mountains) 19-Feb-2020

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The Tortolita Mountains lie only about seven miles from the outer suburbs of ever expanding (assuming the water lasts) Tucson, Arizona. Fortunately, a good chunk of this range has been protected within the 5,000+ acre Tortalita Mountain Park administered by the Town of Marana (Tucson’s neighbor to the north). There are a number of trails in this park but we opted to do the Wild Burro-Alamo Springs Loop for an easy visit to the varied flora of the Sonoran Desert – including the iconic Saguaro cactus.

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Tumacacori NHP (Tubac, Arizona) 17-Feb-2020

We made our way to the desert again – this time Southern Arizona – to visit our long-time friends Heidi & Bob and do a little hiking. Heidi and I go back almost 50 years – she was a “big sister” to me back in the day when I didn’t have, but sorely needed, one. She was a much admired middle and high school science teacher in the old mining town of Bisbee. Bob will be 99 in May! 😀 He’s squeezed a lot into those years – cowboy, hard rock miner, WW2 bomber pilot, Korean War fighter pilot, and city communications director. He also collects Victorian glass salt dishes. While staying with them south of Tucson, we took a little time to go a little farther south to visit Tumacacori National Historical Park.

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Wasson Peak (Saguaro National Park) 25-Mar-2018

Wasson Peak Saguaro National Park Arizona

The LovedOne’s knee was a no-go after our fifth hike, so she decided to spend the day in Tucson looking at art instead of going on yet another hike. Fortunately, Wasson Peak, a local favorite in the western section of Saguaro National Park, was close-by and she was able to drop me off at its El Camino del Cerro Trailhead in the morning well before the art museums opened.

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Madera Canyon (Coronado NF, Arizona) 24-Mar-2018

Madera Canyon Bog Spring Coronado National Forest Arizona

After The LovedOne’s knee held-up during our short hike in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness, we decided to try a slightly longer route (5.4 miles round-trip; 1,800 feet of elevation gain) in Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains (about 30 miles south of Tucson) for our fifth hike in Arizona this year. Starting from the trailhead at the Madera Canyon Picnic Area, we followed the Bog Springs Trail #156 to its junction with the Kent Spring Trail #157, then took that trail up to Kent Spring. From there, we followed the Bog Springs Trail back down to that junction and then followed the road (easier on the knee) back to the picnic area. This figure-8 route took us through forests of Silverleaf oak, alligator juniper, and Ponderosa pine, past a waterfall and three springs. Porcelain-white stands of gnarled old Arizona sycamores contrasted sharply with the surrounding forest’s brown and green tones. This is another a very popular area (particularly for serious birders), but with an early start, we were ahead of most of the weekend crowds. This was the one day we had weather in the form of clouds and strong winds – the worst of which arrived after we’d gotten back to the car.

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Marshall Gulch (Pusch Ridge Wilderness, AZ) 23-Mar-2018

Marshall Gulch Pusch Ridge Wilderness Mount Lemmon Arizona

After taking a day to travel and visit friends (and give The LovedOne’s knee a rest), we selected as our fourth hike this year in Arizona a short loop (4 miles round-trip; 900 feet of elevation gain) in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness in the Santa Catalina Mountains immediately east of Tucson. Starting from the Marshall Gulch Trailhead near Summerhaven and Mount Lemmon, we ascended the Marshall Gulch Trail #3 and returned via the Aspen Trail #93, all at an altitude over 7,500 feet. The Marshall Gulch Trail is a small part of the 800-mile Arizona National Scenic Trail which traverses the state from Utah to Mexico. This pleasant hike gave us a change of pace from the saguaros of the Sonoran Desert below and a chance to experience Canadian Zone riparian areas and Ponderosa pine forests. It also didn’t put too much strain on The LovedOne’s fragile knee. This is apparently a very popular area, so we were lucky to be able to hike it on a weekday (yet the parking lot was almost full when we got back!).

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Sunrise Trail (Scottsdale, Arizona) 20-Mar-2018

Sunrise Peak McDowell Sonoran Preserve Scottsdale Arizona

Our second hike in Arizona this year was the Sunrise Peak Trail in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. We ended-up there because The LovedOne’s knee was acting up and we didn’t feel comfortable committing to a longer hike. The straight out-and-back trail to Sunrise Peak is short (4.4 miles round-trip) but steep (1,100 feet of elevation gain) and immensely popular. It had been a long time since we’d seen this many people on any trail, particularly on a weekday. But then there are 1.6+ million people in Phoenix, so some of them undoubtedly had the day off. As feared, The LovedOne only made it to the “Scenic Viewpoint” (about 1.3 miles in) before her knee started protesting mightily. So she descended while I made a quick trip to the summit and back. Good views from up there but not a hike for those craving solitude.

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Ford Canyon Loop (Phoenix, Arizona) 19-Mar-2018

Ford Canyon White Tank Mountain Regional Park Phoenix Arizona

As we say in Oregon: When the going gets wet, the dry go to Arizona. And so it was that we found ourselves in Phoenix and Tucson for a week, visiting some old friends and doing six local hikes. The weather pretty much cooperated the whole time, with sunshine, mild air temperatures (mid 70ºFs to low 80ºFs), and only artistic clouds. There was a potent, cholla-hurling windstorm with clouds one afternoon but that was it for weather drama. We chose hikes that covered habitats from saguaros to oaks to pines, at altitudes between 1,500 and 8,000 feet. Cacti spines were dodged, no snakes were startled (or startled us), and a good time was had by all. Now that there are direct flights between home and Phoenix, we may have to do some more hiking down there…

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