Archive for April, 2012

Saguaro you today?

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Hiking in AZ is spectacular. The area provides some spectacular views of various ecological zones. If you take the proper steps preparing for a trip into the desert it is hard to have a bad experience. Everybody seems a bit more cheerful on the trail. Each group that you pass will most certainly greet you with a smile. I like word play so I will sometimes ask them “saguaro you today?”.  Most times I get a good chuckle and that will open the door for further conversation regarding trails and sights to be seen.

Kindness and respect is the Southwest Trekking way. We’ll do the prep work so you can relax and enjoy the beauty of the Sonoran Wilderness. Give us a call and set up an outing today! (520) 296-9661.


Reverence and amazement

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Spring is the best. I enjoy watching all of the new buds flowering and maturing into fruit. The cacti are spectacular right now; they are showing off there bright colors and fragrant pollens. The bees are doing a number on the saguaro cactus. I have seen bats in the evening bouncing around the tops getting there licks in as well. Off the trail there is a similar story going on in the house garden. the seeds have sprouted and taken a solid root in our home grown soil. That is right, we grow soil at our house. Our compost is integral to the success of the harvest. This year I am experimenting with a Japanese tomato garden. It is a duel ring planter that gets feed compost into the center circle. When watering the planter the nutrients are supposed to seep down into the otter ring where the pants are rooted. It is my first season attempting to plant tomatoes in this manner. I am hoping that the early fruiting is a good sign. Take a look at what I’ve got on the plant as of right now…


Cactus Identification Help

Friday, April 27th, 2012

I’m looking for some assistance. I would like somebody to help me identify this cactus.

My best guess is that it is from the Organ Pipe family, or maybe an Easter Lilly Cactus. I found it landscaped at the JW Marriott. The folks tending the grounds were also unfamiliar with the exact name. It is a beautiful cactus though. The flowers this one is producing is spectacular. They shoot out almost as large as this cactus is tall.  Even if I do not know the name it is a real treat to see.

Happy trekking,


A full bloom tonight!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

The AZ state flower is one of the more unique ones out there. The iconic saguaro blooms in the evening and stays open for approximately 24 hours. Each saguaro will produce around 200-300 blossoms in a season (May-June). The blossoms attract a multitude of visitors, such as long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat during the night hours. In the daytime the flowers are pollinated by bees and birds such as the white-winged dove. They have a nice aroma that is comparable to an overripe melon. If properly pollinated they will produce a sweet red fruit that is enjoyed by virtually every desert critter. Humans, in particular natives of the Tohono O’odham, have been harvisting the fruit for many years. It provides needed moisture and calories in those harsh summer months ahead.

The bloom is obviously a special one. It helps to sustain life as well as provide a beautiful backdrop to a scenic hike (or bike) adventure. If you have not had a chance to view the blooms I recommend it. I know a great vista to view them from above. They pose great in photos if you are out on the trail early enough. Give Southwest Trekking a call to set something up.



Everyday a diffrent treat.

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

This morning brought another special sighting out on the trail. I was stopping to talk about some of the different species of cacti when a member of the group simultaneously spotted a mule deer and a horned owl hanging out at the same saguaro. The owl was carrying a small rodent. I’m assuming that it was an earlier morning snag because owls tend to be nocturnal. They see well in low light and have a keen sense of hearing. Some scientists believe that it is there hearing that allows them to track animals at night. The beating of there wings are muffled by their much longer feathers that are soft at the tips. Rodents have an acute sense of hearing as well; it is often the noise that will alert them to predatory birds. 

We stopped and watched the two animals until they both parted in separate directions. The owl flew over our heads giving us a great view of it’s trophy catch. I’m happy to see such a vibrant and healthy ecosystem in the Tucson Mountain Park. If you would like to experience it for yourself contact us here at Southwest Trekking for a personalized guide.

Happy Trekking,


Crested Giants

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

As I’m out on the trails I notice that I start to visually treasure hunt the Sonoran Desert. I glass the area for those gems that you may encounter both from the plant and animal kingdoms. One object that I enjoy encountering is a crested saguaro. They are a bit of an anomaly. Biologists are divided in the cause of these odd cacti. Due to some genetic mutation or imposing force these giants start to morph from a geometric top to a more or less lateral growth pattern. This causes the cactus to grow in an unfolding manner. It makes for some very interesting patterns. This mutation happens in the later years of growth. It is often undetectable during the adolescent stages. These crested giants are rare, they occur in approximately 1 in every 250,000 cacti. They are a treat to be seen on the trail. The one here is from Pima Canyon.

Important! Please Read

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Drink water! I can’t emphasize it enough. As the spring gives way to summer it is important to stay on top of your fluid intake. Especially if you are going to be doing any outdoor activities such as hiking or mountain biking. It is wise to start to prehydrating the evening prior to your activity in order to prevent any complications from heat exhaustion. The body is pretty proficient at cooling itself under normal conditions, however the summer months in AZ are harsh. Sweat is not always effective enough at keeping body temperatures in a safe range. Many different factors contribute to your bodies ability to regulate it’s temperature. The most important being water availability. Without water on reserve the body cannot produce proper amounts of perspiration. Other factors include age, current health status, poor circulation, sunburn, and drug and alcohol use.

Signs of heat stroke can appear abruptly. Look for signs of high body temps (+102 F), flush and dry skin, headache, dizziness, confusion, and rapid pulse. If symptoms to occur on the trail seek shade immediately and attempt to cool the body by whatever means possible. Cool water on the head, armpits, and wrists will help to bring down temperatures. Try and get indoors and into A/C  as soon as possible. If that is not an option then attempt to fan the person with a wet cloth draped over them. 

Having the proper knowledge and equipment is key to a safe experience out on the trails this summer. That is where a proper guiding service like Southwest Trekking is key. The expertise that comes with your guide can potentally save someone from doing serious harm to themselves. Safety and teemwork are a great montra out on the trail. We got your back out there so your experience will be all pleasure filled.

Happy trekking,


Mount Kimball Aspirations

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

I caught an evening hike in with family the other night after they got off work. We went up into PimaCanyon. The trail is great as it carves its way up the Pusch Ridge wilderness. The trail starts at Pima Creek at 2,900 ft(880m) to Pima Saddle at 6,350 ft. (1940m). Check out the New Mexico Thistle attracting the bees down close to the creek in the photo above. The group of us set out a little late in the day so we didn’t get to far out. Remember that the sun sets fast in canyons. I spotted a crested cactus out there on the trail. I’m not going to post a picture of it yet on the site. Let’s play Where’s Waldo with it and see if anybody out there can snap a picture of it. If you do, send it into Southwest Trekking and we’ll compare images. It’s a pretty unique and cool saguaro. At turn around point I couldn’t help but to set a goal to come back out some early morning and really attacking it. Who knows maybe all the way out and up Mt.Kimball….



Wildcat territory

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

taken from AZ game and fish website

This morning a group of hikers and I spotted a bobcat  walking around in the Tucson Mountains as the sun started to crest over the peaks. It was my first sighting in quite some time. I was ecstatic to see the animal out there walking around and enjoying the cool temperatures we are experiencing. One of the hikers asked if it was a threat to humans or if we should be cautious of him. My short answer to this question is usually “yes, always proceed with caution”. In general however bobcats pose no immediate threat to humans. That became rather apparent to the group as the cat wanted nothing to do with us and nonchalantly went the other direction. Typical of a cat, even wild ones strut around with an air of indifference.

I got to looking up some more information on bobcats. My search brought me to the AZ game and fish webpage. This is a great site with some reliable information about the animal. If you have a moment to check it out  follow the link below.

As always, happy trekking,


Interested in Anthropods?

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

The Tucson Mountain Park is host to a very interesting institution. The Sonoran Arthropod Studies Institute is dedicated to the preservation, study, and education of hundreds of thousands of creatures. Arthropods are characterized by their exoskeleton, segmented bodies, and jointed limbs. Think scorpions, centipedes, and butterflies. Every forth Saturday the SASI opens it’s doors to the public for a closer look at the critters that abound the desert floor. The institute even houses some other interesting guests like the Madagascar hissing roach. Check out the website, it is very useful and informative. You can always call them directly as well.

More information at or (520) 883-3945

There are some great trails close to that area that would be great for all levels of hikers and mountain biking. Some of my favorites are Brown Mountain and the Ironwood trails. Contact Southwest Trekking to put together a package and bundle the institute visit with a bike ride. It would be a great way to experience the Tucson area.

Happy trekking,