Archive for December, 2009

Opening week at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

It has been a great week. We have had several guests participate in our complimentary morning hike and have been rewarded with some gorgeous sunrises. This time of year the fog tends to settle in the Tucson valley, and from Upper Javelina trail it looks like the city is draped in a big cotton blanket. This 1 hour hike is a great way to start your day. With fresh air and grand views the only thing missing is a hot cup of joe. Oh yeah… we finish the hike near the To Go Coffee Shop where they can fix your favorite morning brew. It doesn’t get much better than that. I can’t wait to see you there.

Rick Gray
Lead Guide/ Southwest Trekking
Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain
Marana Az.

Mountain Bike at The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Resort

Monday, December 14th, 2009

The Ritz is to open December 18, 2009 here in Tucson.  Southwest Trekking will be offering two hour guided outings right out their front door.  And/or four hour outings into more remote areas away from the resort,  We will also be offering mountain and road bike rentals.

Below you will find a profile of the mountain bike trail near the resort in The Tortilita Preserve.  Along with a map and video of some the trails in the area.  Now remember that profile shows a distance of ten plus miles and it is not a technical or cardio hard trail.  I would guess it to be a beginner trail as far as difficulty.  The only thing that makes it harder is the distance and we do not need to do the full loop.


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Graph/Profile (above) of Mountain Bike Trail in The Tortilita Preserve

Map (below) of Mountain Bike Trail in The Tortilita Preserve


The New Dove Mountain Ritz Carlton

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

The New Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Resort outside of Tucson, Arizona will open December 18.  Southwest Trekking will be offering guided hike/treks, guided mountain biking and road and mountain bike rentals.


Above is a graph of one of the trails right out the door of the resort.  Yes, it is short but dramatic.  And below is a video of some of the trail.

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Winter is Coming

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Over the past few weeks the Tucson area has seen a mesurable amount of rain, These winter rains are generally more gental, and occur for longer durations than the monsoons, doing a better job of soaking the soil. These rains, especailly in November and early December, start the germination process for many species of wild flowers. (If you are trying to grow wildflowers in the Tucson area, now is the time to get them planted.) With some luck and more rain, we will see the benifit of this precious moisture late Febuary and into March with wonderful displays of wildflowers and Palo Verde trees blooming.

With rain in the valey, we can also expect snow in the higher elevations of our surrounding mountain ranges. This snow is extreemly important for both the high country and the desert. As the snow melts, it will collect in rivers and basins, eventually feeding our canyons which are dry most of the year. A few amazing places to view these temporary rivers are Sabino Canyon, Mila Grossa Canyon, Auga Caliente Canyon and Ventanna Canyon. These rivers supply gallons upon gallons of fresh water to the repairin vegitation growing on the banks, as well as animals found at all elevations in the Sonoran desert. Make sure to tread lightly around these precious streams as many species relay on them to survive.wash

Saguaro Cactus

Friday, December 11th, 2009

SaguaroSaguaro’s are the tall picturesque cactus, and you will only see them in the Sonoran Desert.  They are home to the Gila Woodpecker and Red Flicker, owls, bats, insects and even hawks. Saguaro’s store thousands of gallons of  liquid, and can weight severalPleats tons depending on the number of arms they have and how much it has rained. They are slow growing and long living cactus, with an average life span of about 250 years. They are about 90%  liquid and can retain thousands of gallons of water.  The pleats up and down the cactus allow it to expand and store more water.  Saguaro’s grow their arms around 75 years (for additional water storage), and start flowering around 50 years (about 5 to 7 feet tall). 

The cactus flowers are Arizona’s state flower, and a valuable food source for the migrating Lesser Long Nose bats. They flower for about two to three weeks between May and June, and will eventually produce fruit. The fruit contains thousands of tiny black seeds surrounded in a reddish pink pulp.  The pulp supplies food many animals, including bats, and in turn, the animals spread the cactus seeds in their dropping which helps the Saguaro propegate. 

Nursing PlantYoung cactus are especially prone to freezing in the winter months, and will typically start growing under trees and shrubs looking for shelter from the cold. Saguaro’s have an impressive root system containing a tap root, which is about 4-5 feet long, and an intricate system of radial roots. These radial roots lay about 2 inches beneath the ground, and extend out from the cactus as far as the cactus is tall. These roots usually cover up the roots of surrounding vegetation, and will typically kill off the “nursing” plant that allowed the cactus to live.

Hohokam Indians believed that the Saguaro’s were their ancestors, and respected these large cactus with the belief that Saguaro’s were their ancestors. Actually, people were living in this region (Sonoran Desert) before these cactus were. As the ice age ended, southern regions became extremely hot while northern areas started to warm up. Humans, plants, and animals began to migrate North in search of more suitable temperatures. The plants were the slowest to migrate, and arrived in the Sonoran desert after humans did.

IMG_1194When the saguaro finally dies, it will fall over and begin to decompose.  This happens rather fast as the stored water evaporates quickly under the desert sun.  Many insectsbugs on saguaro use these fallen cactus as precious and valuable sources of water, especially during the dry seasons.  Unfortunately, the stored liquid found in the Saguaro’s is extremely toxic to most mammals.  Eventually the Saguaro “deflates’ as the water disappears, and the spines and green skin starts to decompose.  Over time, the internal skeleton of the cactus can be seen.  Saguaro skeletons are composed of long ribs of wood that run the length of the cactus, bottom to top, and through their arms.  The skeletons provide an excellent habitat to many species of animals and insects. 

Saguaros are an integral part to the delicate eco system found in the Sonoran Desert.  As with all native plants and cactus in the Sonoran Desert, they are protected under the Department of  Agricultre’s Arizona Native Plant Law.

Two Cactus

Hiking with Southwest Trekking

Monday, December 7th, 2009



Caryl Jean Clement and John Heiman (owner of Southwest Trekking) on a twelve mile trek into the Santa Catalina Mountain Range. 

Join us on one of many treks offered by Southwest Trekking

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