Archive for the ‘Aspen Fire’ Tag

Aspen Loop One Year Out After The Big Horn Fire   7 comments

SCVN Friday hikes on Mt. Lemmon have

Begun with more excitement than usual,

Last year’s hikes being a casualty of the

Big Horn Fire and the pandemic.

Marshall Gulch #3

Marshall Gulch Parking Area

Leaving behind morning temperatures

In the mid-eights, we gathered at Marshall Gulch

To hike the Aspen Loop, combining the Aspen

And Marshall Gulch trails for a 4.3-mile hike.


Marshall Gulch survived the fire, as did

Most of the trail. But the Aspen Trail

Wasn’t so lucky with parts that burned

From the 1993 Aspen Fire burning again.

Aspen Trail (June 15, 2015)

Over the years, I watch aspens and pines

And many other native plants return

Among the charred remains of the Aspen Fire

Only now to experience that same fate.

Last year’s fires were followed by the driest year

On record, delaying the reclamation process

And trail clearing to provide for safe hiking

On the grayest powder covering the trails.

The mountain ferns were among the plants

To return only weeks after containing the fire,

Providing hope to those grieving over the lose

Of so much beauty found on these mountain trails.

Now so exposed, the trail seems longer

Each step requiring a watchful eye

For this out of shape hiker, navigating

The loose gravel and ankle turning rocks.

Just beyond the ridge, a line of trees

Was missed by the very erratic wildfire

As if it turned on a dime, redirecting

The firefighting crew from Montana.

Soon the trail turns away from the freshly

Scared land rambling among tall ponderosas

Shadows formed by the whole clear

Cloudless sky moving across the trail.

Images by kenne

I’ve hiked the trails on Mt. Lemmon

Now ten summers, where troubles cease,

untangled silent knowledge contemplating

A void in a world that exceeds stillness.

— kenne

Ten Years After The Aspen Fire   2 comments

Rose Lake July 2013Ten Years After The Aspen Fire (July 31, 2013) — Images by kenne

Rose Lake July 2013

Hiking Through An Aspen Grove On Aspen Trail   4 comments

In June of 2003 for the Aspen Fire destroyed 85,000 acres on Mt. Lemmon,
located in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Last Friday, we hiked the Aspen Trail,
part of which goes through some of the burned areas.
The aspens were among some of the first vegetation to return,
making these trees now about 15 years old.
Our hike was almost too late in the fall
since many of the aspens have already lost their leaves.

Aspen Trail-3-72.jpg

Aspen Trail-2-72

Aspen Trail-4-72

Aspen Trail-6-72

Aspen Trail-3-72Quaking Aspens On Aspen Trail, Mt. Lemmon — Images by kenne

Swirling leaves,
Like erratic wings of butterflies,
shimmered, shook, slapped,
Simultaneously clapping as we passed.

Grace in the grove, the ticking,
whispering clatter of the breeze
Passing back and forth between worlds,
Spirit and sound merged together.

— from “Riding Through a Grove of Aspens” by Emily Dickinson 

New Mexico Locust   2 comments

New Mexico Locus (1 of 1) blogNew Mexico Locust — Image by kenne

The New Mexico Locust are among the first blooming plants on Mt. Lemmon. Because Locusts have a high fire tolerance, they were among the first to return after the Aspen Fire in 2003. 

— kenne


Hiking The Aspen Loop In The Santa Catalina Mountains — Photo Essay   6 comments

Hikers-2840 blog IIHikers in a New Aspen Grove Up from Marshall Gulch On Mt. Lemmon — Image by kenne

In 2003 the Aspen Fire destroyed many homes in Summerheaven and thousands of acres on Mt. Lemmon. Last Friday the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists led hike was on the Aspen Loop that goes through some of the areas destroyed, now recovered by new aspen and pine groves. 

A precursor to the Aspen Fire was the Bollock Fire, 2002 in the eastern part of the Catalinas. Parts of the area burned in 2002 is now experiencing the Burro Fire that started Friday and has now consumed 9,000 acres. The Burro Fire is one of a half-dozen wildfires in the Coronado National Forest. Did I say it is hot and very dry in southeastern Arizona?

— kenne

Slideshow images by kenne


This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Air, Soil, Water, Fire — Those Are Words   2 comments

Mushrooms (1 of 1)-10 art_edited-1 blogMushrooms in the Fourteen year-old Mt. Lemmon Aspen Fire — Image by kenne

Air, soil, water, fire—those are words,
I myself am a word with them—my qualities interpenetrated with
theirs—my name is nothing to them,
Though it were told in the three thousand languages, what would
air, soil, water, fire, know of my name?

— from A Song of the Rolling Earth by Walt Whitman

Channeling Mt. Lemmon Trails Before The Aspen Fire By Hiking With Jim Martin   Leave a comment

Images by kenne

The last SCVN summer hike on Mt. Lemmon included two very special naturalists, BJ and Jim Martin. The two have been active members of SCVN for over thirty years. I first met BJ and Jim on one of the summer hikes four years ago. BJ would wait at one of the picnic tables, and/or visit with people at one of the mountain visitor centers, while Jim hiked with us — sometimes as a guide.

This summer the Martin’s had not been on the hikes, so it was a pleasant surprise when they were at the Catalina Highway carpool location.

The trails scheduled for our last summer hike would take us in and out of the Marshall Gulch picnic area on Mt. Lemmon, so BJ would select a picnic table where we would later have lunch. Part of the hike would take us through some of the areas burned during the 2003 Aspen Fire. Appropriately, one of the naturalists, Jeff Ornstein, wore his Aspen Fire t-shirt. Now eleven years out, the mountain vegetation is making a welcomed comeback, while signs of the fire still remain. 

As I hiked with Jim, I kept trying to channel what he would have been seeing before the Aspen Fire, the closest I will ever get to experiencing the Aspen Trail before the fire.

Jim may not be hiking as often as he use to, however, both Jim and BJ remain active working nature demonstration tables at the Sabino Canyon Visitors Center. 

Hope to see you somewhere on the trail.


Aspen Fire, Eleven Years Out   1 comment

Brunt Trees (1 of 1) blogNear The Top of Mt. Lemmon — Image by kenne

Eleven years ago much of Mt. Lemmon was damaged by forest fire, Aspen Fire. As nature will have its way, much of the burned area has been reclaimed with maybe twenty more years before the forest to reach it previous height.

The other day while hiking the WIlderness Rock trail under a deep blue shy, I noticed the brilliant contrast of gray-white “sticks” along mountain ridge. Part of nature’s reclamation is the slow downing of the burned trees. Each year, more of more of the sticks are falling.


Crystal Springs Trail Forest Fire Recovery   7 comments

Images by kenne

Much of the Crystal Springs Trail area in the Santa Catalina Mountains was destroyed by the Aspen Fire ten years ago. Since then, much of the area has recovered with new vegetation. However, many of the large trees, although dead for ten years, still stand. Time is wearing on the dead forest and many large trees are falling each year, some falling across the mountain trails. Photos taken on a recent hike show the increased frequency of trees falling.


Hiking To Higher Elevations Above Rose Canyon Lake   2 comments

Rose Lake July 2013

The Monday Morning Milers (MMM) are a mix-age group with a variety of hiking skills, ages spanning over 50 years. On this morning, Jim, Kristin, Tom and myself took a more challenging route from the other MMM hikers. They stayed on the canyon path out to a lower vista, we set out to climb the high ridge above the canyon. Here Tom is trying to decide whether the way Kristin and Jim are going is the best way when there’s not good trail. Since there’s not much of a trail, we set out bushwhacking our way to the top of the ridge above Rose Canyon. Most of this area was in the Aspen Fire ten years ago and is now covered with bushes with lots of thorns.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Most of the MMM hikers took the trail that runs between Rose Canyon and the Catalina Highway up from Windy Point. Jim, Kristin, Tom and I bushwhacked up the higher ridge above the canyon, which is where most of the images in the above slideshow were taken. Our return to Rose Canyon Lake was more difficult than the climb up. The four of us spread out trying to find the best path back. In doing so, I headed more down into the canyon, separating me from the others. Rather than heading back toward them, I kept going down into the canyon with the objective up climbing up to the trail the others took to the vista. Once reaching the trail, I was on track back to the lake where Kristin, Tom and Jim were waiting. (You can click on any of the images to stop the slideshow, then click to advance.) — Images by kenne


The Sky Above, The Earth Below — An Abundance Of Beauty Between   2 comments

Butterfly Trail July 2013View of Oracle Ridge from Butterfly Trail on the north slope of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Butterfly Trail July 2013Decade old burn area recovering nicely on the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. — Images by kenne

The Santa Catalina Mountains represent the “great escape” for year-round residents and visitors in Tucson, providing a refreshing escape from the desert’s summer heat. Surrounded by the Santa Cruz Valley to the southwest and the San Pedro Valley to the northeast , much of the mountains are still recovering from the 2002 Bullock Fire (28,957 acres) and the 2003 Aspen Fire (84,750 acres). To put those acres into perspective, the total acreage of the Santa Catalina Mountains is 128,000. Even so, there is a lot of beauty in the mountains that beckon us to this mountain Shangri-La. Recent rains have reduced the chances of forest fires in the Catalinas. 

One of the trials on the north slope provides a striking hike in a pine forest with beautiful views of the San Pedro Valley to the north. 


SCVN Friday Hike On The Oracle Ridge Trail #1(June 14, 2013)   4 comments

Oracle Ridge #1 SCVN HikeOracle Ridge Trail, View South Toward Mount Lemmon (Since I Was Leading This Year’s Hike,This Is An Image From Last Year) — Image by kenne

Oracle Ridge Trail #1

Once a trail
through the Mount Lemmon Forest,
shaded by tall ponderosas
until the trail reached the ridge
where the only shade
was from large alligator junipers.

This picture made it a favorite
of many southern Arizona hikers,
till ten years ago
the ridge was charred
by the Aspen Wildfire,
leaving only minds eye images.

Now, ten years out
many blacken trees remain
as new aspen, pine seedlings
and New Mexico locust
bring back the green
to the ridge.

Always a moderately
difficult trail on the return,
the loss of shade
has made it less inviting
to those looking for 
a cool retreat from 
the desert heat below —

still #1 for some.


Short iPhone Video Clip At Dan’s Saddle Where We Rested Under Sparse Shade Before Starting Our Return Up The Ridge.

Phil Bentley Playing The Harp

The Aspen Fire — Nine Years Out   3 comments

Aspen Loop Trail Images On Mt. Lemmon by kenne
(Click on one of the thumbnails images to view the Gallery.) 

Each year, since the Aspen Fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains nine years ago this month, brings more evidence that forest is coming back with new growth and old decay. These images illustrate both with more and more of the large old trees losing out to gravity. Nature is a wonderful thing!


SCVN Oracle Ridge Trail Hike, June 6, 2012   1 comment

Taking a break on Oracle Ridge Trail — Images by kenne

(Click on any of the thumbnail images to view the complete gallery.)

This is the third blog entry containing images from last Friday’s hike on Oracle Ridge Trail. Until the 2003 Aspen wildfire, the ridge trail went through a forest, yet nature still provides a lot of beauty to our eyes. (Note: It will take 80-100 years for the forest on the ridge to return — nine down and 71-91 years to go.)

The earlier entries on the Oracle Ridge Trail hike are:


Posted June 12, 2012 by kenneturner in Information, Nature, Photography

Tagged with , ,

Hiking Aspen Loop From Marshall Gulch On Mount Lemmon   5 comments

It’s the time of year when the Monday hiking group take to the higher elevations — this Monday (Memorial Day) was the Aspen Loop out of Marshall Gulch picnic area on Mount Lemmon. There were eleven of us, Jim leading five in the loop’s clockwise direction and Edi leading the other six in counter-clockwise direction .

The normal snow and rain fall this past winter was below normal, so the trail was very dusty, even in this young aspen grove. 

There were very few wildflowers to photograph — this American vetch was an exception.

Jim discussed with us our interest in leaving the trail to bushwack up to Marshall Peak — “Why not?” was our reply.

Parts of the area were destroyed by the Aspen Fire, which burned for about one month in June and July of 2003. Now some nine years later, many of the large trees have begun to fall with fast growing ground cover, such as New Mexico Locust and Aspen taking over much of the once shady area.

In some places the thorny New Mexico Locust had to be cut so we could reach the top of Marshall Peak.

Once reaching the top, Jim found the registry and recorded our names. It was also a time for some equipment repair.

This was one of the views looking toward the Tucson basin area with the Rincon Mountains to the east and the Santa Rita Mountains to the south.

Leaving the top, we bushwacked a more direct route back to the Aspen Loop.

Although shorter, the route was steeper with a lot of fallen dead logs and plenty of thorn-covered brushes. When I took this photo, I didn’t realize I was photographing where I would fall after stepping into a hole between two logs.

At this point, we are not far from the Aspen Loop trail, which can be seen to the left in this photo. With the other half of our Monday hiking group having just passed along the trail, we decided to follow them back to Marshall Gulch.

Finally, we are back on the loop trail.

Marshall Gulch is a popular place this time of year, even more so on this Memorial Day weekend.

The New Mexico Locust are coming into bloom on the mountain.

Jim stops to rest in a chair cut from one of the large logs along the trail.

Back at Marshall Gulch, my bandaged right wist and bloody legs are evidence of my fall (while protecting my Nikon) going down from Marshall Peak.


%d bloggers like this: