Archive for the ‘Arizona Trail’ Tag

Sycamore Canyon Panorama   Leave a comment

The Arizona Trail Runs Through Sycamore Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains — Panorama by kenne

“She was actually learning to love Arizona.

The beauty and color and solitude,

the vastness of it had called to something deep in her.

First, she had complained of the dust, the wind, the emptiness,

the absence of people. But she had forgotten these.”

— Zane Grey

Riding The Arizona Trail On Horseback   Leave a comment

Riding The Arizona Trail On Horseback in Sycamore Canyon — Photo-Artistry by kenne

The Canyon from Horseback

The young don’t know enough
About being young
They squander youth
And never know ’til later.

Any lad of twelve will testify
An eight-year-old can’t even qualify
To be a child
At eighteen our own ignorance
At fifteen is finally written
In language we comprehend:
We know the score
Reality’s the icing on the cake
Of youthful fantasies;
When the young grow old
They know a lot
About being young
But almost nothing
About being old.

— Jack Purcell from Poems of the New Old West


I Spotted An Old Friend   1 comment

Eastern collared lizardEastern Collared Lizard — Images by kenne

Eastern collared lizard

Eastern collared lizard



Arizona Trail on Horseback   2 comments

Arizona Trail on Horseback-8-Edit-1-art-72Arizona Trail on Horseback — Photo-Artistry by kenne

Recently I spent some time photographing wildflowers in the Molino Basin. One of the trails through the campgrounds is part of the Arizona Trail. When I arrived, there was a horse trailer with three horses and four guys saddling-up the horses. Since I was there to photograph wildflowers, I started hiking the trail.  About the time I reach a section of the basin that had experienced a wildfire a couple of years ago, I looked back and so two riders with a packhorse. Of course, I had to take a few photos, and at the first opportunity, I asked how far they were going. They had begun a three-day, two-night ride to a ranch just outside Oracle, Arizona, which was on the northside of the Santa Catalina Mountains. I wished the well and continued photographing wildflowers.

— kenne

Images by kenne


Common Buckeye On The Arizona Trail   1 comment

Common Buckeye-72Common Buckeye On The Arizona Trail in Molino Basin (April 24, 2020) — Image by kenne



Mariposa Lily — Molino Basin   2 comments

Mariposa Lily-Molino Basin-72Mariposa Lilies in Molino Basin — Images by kenne

My previous post was a reblogged from April 28, 2013, “Lily of the Desert.” Because of
the pandemic, I haven’t been on the trails in Sabino Canyon and the nearby
The Forest Service has closed access to parking areas and campgrounds,
but not the trails. One such trail is the Arizona Trail, which winds through the Santa
Catalina Mountains. One place to access the Arizona Trail is in Molino Basin. So,
this morning I headed up the Catalina Highway to the 4000-foot level to photograph
the wildflowers, which are beginning to blooming at this elevation level. Among the
flowers blooming were the mariposa lilies.

— kenne

Mariposa Lily-Molino Basin-2-72Mariposa Lily

Mariposa Lily-Molino Basin-4-72Mariposa Lily



Riding The Arizona Trail   Leave a comment

Riding the Arizona Trail - blog

Riding the Arizona Trail -2 blogUtah Couple Riding the Arizona Trail from Utah to Mexico — Images by kenne

Our April 27, 2017, SCVN Friday Hike was trail #39 (Part of the Arizona Trail) out of the Gordon Hirabayashi Camp Grounds to the Sycamore Reservoir. The trail head is near the horse corral where we met a couple from Utah who spent the night at the campgrounds before continuing on the Arizona Trail to Mexico. Now, that’s a real adventure!

— kenne

We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk.
The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness,
a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later
where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.

— Robert Pirsig


Sycamore Canyon Trail   1 comment

Sycamore Canyon Panorma IMG_3198 blogSycamore Canyon Panorama — Image by kenneSycamore Canyon-_Art III blogSycamore Canyon Trail — Computer Painting by kenne

Yesterday’s (April 28, 2017) hike from the Gordon Hirabayashi Campgrounds (4,880′ elevation) to the Sycamore Reservoir was the last SCVN Friday hike on our Spring schedule. Eleven people, including three guides, took #39 trail out of the campgrounds to the Sycamore Reservoir, a somewhat out of the way riparian area in the Sycamore Canyon in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. The trail is 3.25 miles one way with an accumulated gain of 821 feet. The trail is also a segment of the Arizona Trail, providing majestic views, including Thimble Pear and Cathedral Rock.

This is one of my favorite hikes at the mid-level elevation of the Santa Catalina Mountains, so I was pleased to be the lead guide for the eleven hikers, which included three women from Germany.

The SCVN guided hikes will start again in June on Mt. Lemmon.


Sycamore Canyon Panorama   Leave a comment

sycamore-canyon-on-the-arizona-trail-1-of-1-panorama-blogSycamore Canyon Along the Arizona Trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains (October 7, 2016).
The Arizona Trail is a National Scenic Trail covering 800 miles across desert and mountains from Mexico to Utah.
— Panorama by kenne

Hiking Part Of The Arizona Trail North Of Oricle   1 comment

Hiking Rolling Hills-8858 blog

Hiking Rolling Hills-8857 blog

Hiking Rolling Hills-8855 blog

Hiking Rolling Hills-8852 blog

Hiking Rolling Hills-8850 blog

Hiking Rolling Hills-8854 blog

Hiking Rolling Hills-8853 blogImages by kenne

The rolling hills north of Oracle, Arizona.


Capturing Moments To Remember — Five Naturalists Hike To Thimble Peak   9 comments

Thimble Peak-1 blogPanoramic Image from the Mountain Meadow Below Thimble Peak — Images by kenne

As Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists (SCVN) we spend a lot of time in the Canyon and the Santa Catalina Mountains leading children and adults on outdoor activities. One of the iconic images of the Canyon is Thimble Peak. It can be seen from the Sabino Canyon Recreational Area Center, the tram ride up through the Canyon, Bear Canyon and many of the area’s hiking trails.

One very popular trail is Blackett’s Ridge trail located between Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon. This difficult hiking trail ends about a mile from Thimble Peak, separated by a deep ravine — “So close, yet so far,” is the thought most people have when reaching the end of the Blackett’s Ridge trail. Serious rock climbers might venture on, but most adventurous hikers look for other options for hiking to this majestic pinnacle.

One option is to hike, or take the tram, up through Sabino Canyon, then taking the Sabino Canyon trail to the East Fork trail, looping around to the Bear Canyon trail.

Another option is to take the Bear Canyon trail out of the Sabino Canyon Recreational Area up through Bear Canyon passed Seven Falls.

A third option is the one that five SCVN members (Phil Bentley, Alexa Bieberstein, Tim Ralph, Ed Rawl and Kenne Turner) decided to do when learning that the elementary school class coming to the Canyon on November 7th had been cancelled.

Thimble Peak-8673 blogWash Leading Out Of The Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site (Historical WWII Prison Camp)

This option involved driving the Catalina Highway to the Gordon Hirabayashi Campgrounds, where under a beautiful blue-sky morning, we began the twelve-mile hike in cool temperatures, with a forecast of sunny warm temperatures in the afternoon — windy with gusts of 40 mph.

Thimble Peak-8684-2 blogTim, Ed, Alexa and Phil At The Sycamore Reservoir Trail Saddle (Part of the Arizona Trail)

The Arizona Trail, which runs from Mexico to Utah goes through the area making use of many existing trails in the Santa Catalina Mountains. As predicted, the winds were gusty.

Thimble Peak-8687 blogPhil, Alexa & Tim

This sign at the saddle on the Sycamore Reservoir trail is a common site for those hiking to the Sycamore dam. On our way to Thimble Peak, we stopped at the dam for a break before continuing on to the Bear Canyon trail.

Thimble Peak-8718-2 blogThe Peak Is In Sight! (Phil, Alexa, Ed and Tim)

Even with the very windy conditions, it didn’t take long before we began shading layers of clothing.

Thimble Peak-8729-2 blogPhoto Taking Time (Phil and Alexa)

This scene is located where the Bear Canyon trail goes left down into the canyon to Seven Falls. After a few photos, we headed off to the right through a beautiful mountain meadow toward the trail that would take us to Thimble Peak.

Thimble Peak-8789 blogThimble Peak

We were now only a few hundred yards from the pinnacle. You can click here to see 44 images on my Flickr account of our hike in a full-frame slideshow. 

In addition to many photos, I managed to take several video clips, which I have edited into a video posted on YouTube and inserted below. The video contains a special treat with naturalist Phil Bentley singing America the Beautiful overlooking the Tucson valley from the base of Thimble Peak pinnacle.

Thimble Peak-8756-2 blogAt The Base of Thimble Peak Overlooking the Tucson Valley (Ed, Phil, Alexa and Tim)

Thimble Peak-8768 blogAlexa Climbing The Pinnacle (Thimble Peak)

A Thimble Full Of Life

All one needs
in life is

a thimble full of
this and that
to experience life. 

We determine
makes up

what makes up

Do you have a thimble full?

— kenne

You can see all 44 images at:

Cowgirls Along The Arizona Trail   2 comments

Sycamore Reservoir

Sycamore ReservoirImages by kenne


Cowgirls are special and work hard every day
They feed their own horses, and stack their own hay
They know who they are, and where they are from
Their family comes first, but when the chores are all done

We get in the saddle in rain or in shine
It’s not the destination, but the thrill of the ride! 
On horseback all our problems just slip away
Just workin’ and playin’ the cowgirl way.

— Kathleen West


The following is from Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

“Sissy: You really don’t believe in political solutions do you?The Chink: I believe in political solutions to political problems. But man’s primary problems aren’t political; they’re philosophical. Until humans can solve their philosophical problems, they’re condemned to solve their political problems over and over and over again. It’s a cruel, repetitious bore.

Sissy: Well, then, what are the philosophical solutions?

The Chink: Ha ha ho ho and hee hee. That’s for you to find out. I’ll say this much and no more: there’s got to be poetry. And magic. At every level. If civilization is ever going to be anything but a grandiose pratfall, anything more than a can of deodorizer in the shithouse of existence, then statesmen are going to have to concern themselves with magic and poetry. Bankers are going to have to concern themselves with magic and poetry. Time magazine is going to have to write about magic and poetry. Factory workers and housewives are going to have to get their lives entangled in magic and poetry.

Sissy: Do you think such a thing can ever happen?

The Chink: If you understood poetry and magic, you’d know that it doesn’t matter.” 


Capturing The Moment — Panorama Views Along The Turkey Creek Trail   6 comments

Turkey Creek TrailPanorama made from three images, looking south along the eastern rim of The Rincon Mountains

Turkey Creek TrailPanorama of the Rincon Mountains made from three images. Each panorama was taken along the Turkey Creek Trail In Happy Valley, East of The Rincon’s. Turkey Creek Trail is a section of The Arizona Trail, east of Tucson. The trail leads into the Saguaro National Park, home of North America’s largest cacti, the giant saguaro. However, as these images show, the rolling hills and canyons of the east-side of the Rincon’s are in stark contrast to the saguaro forest location at the lower elevation of the west-side of the mountains.— Images by kenne

Hiking The Sycamore Reservoir Trail From The Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi Recreational Area   1 comment

Hiking up the ridge the Sycamore Reservoir Trail from the Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi Recreational Area  to the Sycamore Reservoir.

The Sycamore Reservoir Trail is now part of the Arizona Trail.

Looking down from the ridge above the Sycamore Dam and riparian area.

Sycamore Reservoir Trail Gallery (Click on any of the thumbnail images for a larger view.)

There are some who complain about the long drive up the Catalina Highway to Mount Lemmon for summertime hiking at the cooler higher elevation temperatures. Being able to escape the desert heat in the summertime is a blessing, but it wasn’t till the middle of the last century that the journey became easy.

Work on the Catalina Highway began in 1933 in order to make it easier to get to the summit of Mount Lemmon. Starting at Tanque Verde Road in east Tucson, the highway goes several miles north before starting a 5,300-foot climb, passing through five of North America’s seven distinct life zones.  Although a road up to Summerhaven was built in 1920, the road was on the north side of the Catalina’s, a good distance from the more populated Tucson area to the south of the mountain range. Prior to the early thirties, the route to the community of Summerhaven from the south was a trail from lower Sabino Canyon to soldier Camp on up to Mount Lemmon.

Efforts to build a highway from the south struggled for seven years until Frank Harris Hitchcock convinced federal prison authorities that a prison camp in the mountains could provide a cheap labor source. The facilities called  the Catalina Federal Honor Camp were much like those in other western mountain campgrounds, i.e., barracks, a mess hall, a laundry, powerhouse and a small sawmill. As a tent camp, with no walls or fences, the prison camp was primarily made up of car thieves, bootleggers, tax evaders, draft dodgers, Mexicans entering the country illegally, and conscientious objectors, existed until 1951, when the road was finished. During that time period over 8,000 prisoners worked on the road, including 44 interned Japanese-Americans during World War II.

To supply water to the camp, Sycamore Reservoir was constructed several miles away, which included a pump-house to pump water through a six-inch pipe up over the ridge to the campgrounds. The pipeline was above ground placed on rock pilings, many of which can be seen from the trail from the honor camp to Sycamore Reservoir. Like many small mountain reservoirs, they become even smaller from mountain floods washing rock and sand into the reservoir. What remains of the dam and the lake area serves to maintain water levels for a riparian area that extends into the two canyons that form the dam site.

As mentioned above, during the war Japanese Americans were interned at the camp. Among those was Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi, an American sociologist and religious pacifist who defied internment. In 1942 he turned himself in to the FBI, after which he was convicted of curfew violation and sentence to 90 days in prison. He appealed the verdict, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled against him.

Given the wartime conditions, officials would not transport him from Seattle to the Prison Camp in the Catalina’s, nor would they pay for his train fare. After two weeks hitchhiking to Arizona, he arrived at the Prison Camp. Since it took him two weeks to arrive at the camp, his papers were not ready, causing the warden to suggest that he just leave. Hirabayashi thought that might look a little suspicious, so the story goes that he should go into town, have dinner and go to a movie — the papers were ready when he came back. One has to wonder how this took place given the camp location in relationship to the city, but then it could have involved days before arriving back to the camp.

Hirabayashi was to later spent one year in federal prison for refusing military induction. In 1999 the Prison Camp recreational area was renamed the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreational Area, where he had served 90 days during the war.

In April of this year, President Barack Obama announced that Hirabayashi would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his principled stand against Japanese-American interment. The honor was present posthumously May 29, 2012.


Backpacking The Italian Springs Trail To Manning Camp   9 comments

None of my outdoor experiences — hiking, river canoeing/rafting, and camping– involved backpacking. So, when one of my hiking buddies, Tom Markey, asked if I would be interested in backpacking from Redington Pass to Manning Camp via the Italian Springs Trail, I jumped at the possibility. I learned later that this is a hike Tom had talked about for ten years — guess we finally found someone willing to take it on with him — another crazy guy!

Although the road through Redington Pass is a very passable gravel road, Markey was hoping that our mutual friend, Tom’s truck, would be able to take us down a deeply rutted cattle road in his truck, shortening the fifteen-mile hike to Manning Camp by three miles. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the truck was not high enough to chance the old cattle road. So, strapping on our thirty-pound backpacks, we set off with Tom in the lead. 

Since I was nursing an often injured left angle, I was more than willing for Tom to set the pace. Having hiked with Tom many times, it was not unusual for me to drop off the pace because of stopping to take photos. However, it was generally easy for me to catch up — not this time. As we hiked on, I realized that Tom was trying to make up for the time we lost, having to hike the additional three miles.

Not far into the hike, Tom’s pace was slowed by this guy in the middle of the trail — causing a trail detour. This was the first of two snakes we spotted on the trail.

The trail led through several rolling ridges. Here you can see Mica Mountain in the distance (higher point to the left).

After about an hour, we reached the point where the cattle road would have taken us. As the sign indicates, the Italian Springs trail is part of the Arizona Trail.

After hiking several rolling ridges, we finally reached a point where the elevation allowed us a beautiful view back toward the Catalina Mountains. In the distance to the left is Tucson. Although a wilderness area, we are not far from the metropolitan Tucson area. You can get an idea of where we started by looking right down to the base of the Catalina Mountains..

As the trail got steeper, it led us into more trees among large boulders. At least the increased elevation was providing cooler temperatures. However, the climb was beginning to take its toll — rest stops were becoming more necessary in the 5% humidity.

Now late in the afternoon and with each slow, calculated step, it was becoming clear that we would not have enough time to complete the fifteen-mile hike to Manning Camp before dark — even on this “supermoon” night.

“What does the trail look like ahead,” Tom would ask. My standard response was, “It keeps going up!” We began to feel pain from muscles we thought we had lost years ago. Our priority had now become finding a flat area to camp, leaving us four miles short of the goal of reaching Manning Camp. By not reaching Manning camp, where water was available, it would be essential for us to conserve our water for the return hike tomorrow.

Finally, we reached an area at the base of Mica Mountain, which provided an open flat space where we could spend the evening. It also offered a great view of the sunset and, later in the evening, the rise of the “supermoon.”

Tired and with the sun setting, we decided to pass on preparing a warm meal and begin preparing the campsite. This would also help us conserve water, which was needed to reduce the occasional muscle cramps we had started to experience.

As Tom worked on the campsite, I captured a few sunset photos before assisting him. Cooler temperatures came with the setting sun, but the afternoon winds were to stay with us all night. The following images in this posting would have been of the supermoon rising in the east, but I was too tired to crawl out of the warm sleeping bag into the windy, cold mountain air. 

Morning brought a beautiful sunrise over the Rincon Mountains — this image looks down toward Redington Pass and the Catalinas. Anticipating hot temperatures in the past by mid-morning, we were eager to pack up the campsite and start down the trail.

Occasionally, we would turn to look back at Mica Mountain — “I can’t believe we did it!”

. . . and again.

With Mica Mountain framed in the background, Pat Markey took this photo of Tom and myself.

Finally, back at the trailhead, Pat was already there waiting — to our delight! She also had some much-needed water for us. We had been nursing what little water we had over the last several miles of our eleven-mile return from Mica Mountain. In our minds, the Italian Springs Trail lived up to its reputation of being the most challenging trail in the Tucson area. Completing the two-day backpacking hike was plenty of reward for two early seventy-year-old adventurers. However, there were moments when we were convinced that we were crazy to have taken on such a hike this time of year. 

Would we do it again? No! One time is plenty!

Was it worth it? Absolutely!

— kenne

(Click here to see a slideshow on Flickr.) 

View Video Clips From The Hike

(Taken with my Lumix camera — video & audio not as good as with my Canon VIKIA HF10 — at least I didn’t have to censor Tom.)

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