Went on the morning sunrise hike today with a guest and saw a family of javalina. There were about 8 or 10 of them strolling around, munching on some leaves, and actually blocked the trail for awhile. Which was a great up close encounter, but also a little scary as these guys can bite when cornered. So we let them have their space, and with a little claping and shouting they took off for the hills. It’s always a little rewarding when you get to see the wild life being wild. Getting up does have its advantages.
Posts Tagged ‘SW Trekking’
So I hate to say it, but we’ve gotten some calls recently that some hotel guests have been getting lost on our trails, and in some cases needed to be “rescued”. I won’t name names, because I don’t want individuals or establishments to be called out, but these people broke most of the rules one would follow when heading out into the desert. So trying to not sound condescending, here are some pointers for HIKING in the desert during summer months.
1. It gets hot. Really hot. I mean really really hot. If you’re from Florida or Texas, you still don’t know what hot is until you’re roasting under the afternoon sun in temps over 110 degrees with absolutely no shade. Oh, and “It’s a dry heat” doesn’t help you when you dehydrated. And one more bit of science, the ground gets even hotter as the superheated air gets trapped within the fist few inches from the surface. Almost 20 degrees hotter. I’ve seen peoples soles actually melt off of their shoes. Don’t be that guy and think you can handle the heat. No one can. Ever wonder why desert animals are nocturnal?
2. It is dry. You won’t find water along most of our trails. And during the summer, this is even more exagerated. If you forgot water, you’re pretty much screwed. You won’t find a stream or puddle down here in the desert. And that myth of getting water out of a cactus is exactly just that, a myth. Most cacti are high in alkalines making them rather poisionous to humans. Moral of the story, take WATER with you and take MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED!
3. The sun can kill. This goes back to #1. It gets really hot. Heat stroke can kill, and it happens more than you would think. And in an environment such as a desert, it happens even faster. Not to mention the horrendous sun burns it causes. So keep it off of you by wearing long sleeve shirts and a hat. It can be almost 20 degrees cooler in the shade, and since there aren’t really shade trees on our trails, you’re gonna have to make your own with a wide brimmed hat. It’s also much cooler in the early morning (5am), so plan outdoor activities for the early hours.
4. Don’t get lost. Any fun outing can quickly turn into a disaster if you get lost. Our terrain, while very beautiful, often looks similar wherever you go. So take a map, and probably a compass. If you don’t have a compass, take your phone but don’t relay on a signal. Don’t count on trail signs to get you around during your hike as they often “move” or disappear, and especially so in county run parks. Trail signs are not always a given. Get a map, understand where you’re starting from and where you’re planning on going. If you do get lost, at least you’ll have the right tools to get out.
5. Ever see 127 hours? Make sure to tell someone where you are planning on hiking. If you haven’t, at least leave a note on your call with the following information: Date and time of departure, intended route, and number of people in your party. That way, if you don’t come back to your car, instead of a Park Ranger giving you a ticket for violating the parking lot hours, they’ll send someone out looking for your party. If you’re stranded in our desert without water during our summers, you’ll be lucky if you make it through two days. So every minute counts in a rescue situation.
6. Heed advice of others. Take it all with a grain of salt, but if an experienced trail guide tells you heading out at 2pm for a 5 mile hike when it’s over 100 degrees is a bad idea, they’re probably right.
Exercise the common sense and follow these basic rules and you’ll be fine. Be safe and have fun out there.
Was away for a while, out getting married!! Now all of the nuptuals are out of the way, it’s time to get back to reality. It seems like things are heating up in the desert. Spring appears to be over, and we are wiggleing our way towards summer. Hotter, longer days and really dry conditions mark the begging of the heat. With highs supposedly reported in the 90′s for the weekend, now is the time to get your last low elevation sonoran desert adventures in. So don’t hesitate to give us a call, we’ll be happy to show you the sights and places around Tucson.
Just remember that if you do go out to follow these simple rules:
1. Go with someone, or let someone know where you are going. If you dry out into a prune, at least someone will know to find you.
2. Avoid the heat of the day. Between 1-5 pm are usually the hottest times, try to avoid being out during the heat. If you do go out, make sure to bring plenty of water. This leads to:
3. Water Water Water. It’s called a desert for a reason, and you don’t want to be “that guy” who ran into trouble because they didn’t have enought water. Plan a gallon a day per person for a hard hike.
4. Hat a sunscreen. I’m not your mom, so I’m not going to lecture you on how dangerous the sun can be. SPF 50 is a good bet for any extended activity outside. Hats keep the sun off of you, and really make a difference.
Have fun, and I’ll see you out there.
As any local knows, yesterday was a pretty rare treat. As Brit eluded to, the entire surrounding mountains of Tucson, and even the basin, received some snow. Being a transplant from Chicago, I’m not a stranger to snow. In fact, I would actually rather be out hiking, biking, or climbing in inclement weather; it seems to add an additional element which is not apparent when the skies are clear and sunny.
So when I woke up and saw that white canvas of a mountain, I immediately suited up and put the dog in the car. Knowing that the Mt. Lemmon Hwy is notoriously closed when winter conditions are present, I wasn’t too surprised when I was turned around by the sheriff department at the base of the mountain. So I went to plan B and drove to the the Augua Caliente/ La Mila Grossa canyons. No snow on the ground there, but up canyon a little was pure white. So off we went; the dog blazing the trail and me running behind. Shortly into the hike/run, and after gaining a ridge and some serious elevations, the plants and cacti had a crust of snow on the windward side. Another mile in and the snow was sticking to the ground, and by the time I reached Augua Caliente Peak at around 5,000 ft. in elevation it was all white with about 3 inches of soft fluffy powder. My dog was thoroughly enjoying himself, running and sliding in the snow and I was was taking in the great views. And then, up in the clouds that I had entered, it started to SNOW! I was getting snowed on in the desert while standing around prickly pears and juniper trees. After a brief stay up in the snow, both my dog and I ran back down the trail, jumped in the car and headed home.
It’s nice to have the Coronado National Forest and the Santa Catalina Mountains as a backyard.
On Wednesday, we were treated with an unusual rain storm that hovered over the Tucson area. It’s rare to get these cooler rainy days, so it’s best not to waste them. The upper 2,000 ft. of the Santa Catalina Mountains were socked in with clouds and rain, and thats where I wanted to be.
I drove up the mountain to Molino Basin, which is where I parked my car and got on my bike. I started pedaling up hill, and didn’t stop until I was at the Palisades Ranger station. So after that 13.5 mile climb that covered almost 3,000 vertical feet, I was ready for the trails. Starting with some extreemly sweet single track riding off of Bear Wallow Rd., I was able to hook up with the Upper Green Mountain Trail, which in combination with the Brush Corral Trail, adds almost 7 miles of extreemly intense downhill riding. This drops you out at the General Hitchcock Campground which is pretty much the top of Bug Springs Trail. So I hopped onto Bug Springs, rode that 5 miles of absolute joyous downhill right into the Molino Basin Trail. After another 4 miles of sweet downhill single track, I was back at my car. Not too bad for 30+ mile ride. And most of it was in the RAIN and CLOUDS!!!!
In an effort to better promote the Sunrise and Sunset Hike offered at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa, Southwest Trekking has been making an effort to take out the resort staff on the hiking trails in the Tucson Mountain Park. With the Lorane Lee Hidden Canyon and Bowen Trail heads literally 200 yards from the front door, the JW Marriott Resort and Spa has some of the best on site hiking found in Tucson.
Southwest Trekking offers a complementary one hour Sunrise (departing at 7:00am) and Sunset (departing at 5:00pm) Hike to all guests staying at the resort. Depending on group size and ability, we will either hike the Bowen or Lorane Lee Hidden Canyon trail. Both hikes offer stunning views of the amazingly rich Sonoran Desert and a knowledgeable guide to explain the unique fauna and flora found in the region. The morning hike allows guests the chance to start their day with some fresh air and exercise, while the Sunset Hike offers a chance to view the setting sun in a truly scenic setting.
This morning, I had the opportunity to take Steve, the concierge from the JW Marriott Resort and Spa, out on the morning hike. Steve was ambitious and I was itching to get in a little walk, so we were able to make it out to the stone house located 1.5 miles in on the Bowen Trail. It was Steve’s first time seeing the stone house, and I’m quite sure he was as impressed as I was the first time I saw it. We had a nice morning exchanging interesting facts about the city of Tucson and the Sonoran Desert while strolling through some of the most amazing stands of Saguaro Cactus found in the area. It was an eye opener for Steve as to how accessible and immense the trail system is out in the Tucson Mountain Park, and how diverse the vegetation is along the entire hike.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any animals this morning, save for a few trail runners and one dog, but it’s not uncommon to spot some Javalina, Mule Deer, and coyote on the trails in the early morning. Steve mentioned that he could now understand why having a guide was important and beneficial to the guests; not only do we know where we are going, but we can also explain some of the interesting characteristics of the Sonoran Desert. This was the whole reason for taking the staff out on the trails, so they could actually know how amazing the hiking is located at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa. I took this as a success.
As more and more hotel staff start joining us on the morning hikes, I’m sure we’ll see the popularity of the hike go up. And the reason is simple, once you get to experience this amazing desert, you can’t stop talking about it. If you are staying at the JW Marriott in Tucson, I encourage you to join us for one of our complementary hikes. It’s also important to remember that there is amazing mountain biking right out the front door of the hotel as well. If you ride, or want to ride, talk to a Southwest Trekking guide when you check in for more information.
It was raining this morning, and that was a real treat. I even got to use my windshield wipers!
As these monsoon storms roll into town, animals break their nocturnal cycle, insects and mosquitoes start to emerge, and washes begin to flood. Here in the desert, flash flooding and cloud to ground lightning are common occurrences during our intense summer storms. There are a couple things you can do to stay safe during the monsoon season.
- Watch the weather, and keep an eye on the sky. These monsoon storms build quickly, and often with little warning. Always better to see it coming then being caught by surprise.
- If it’s raining, or looks like it may be raining somewhere in the distance, stay out of washes or dry riverbeds. As water sheds off of hills and collects in canyons and riverbeds, it will move down hill at rather fast speeds. There sometimes can be a literal wall of water that contains debris such as stones and vegetation which can cause serious damage. It doesn’t need to be raining on you, often times it’s when a localized thunder storm up hill from you that will cause a wash to fill.
- Lightning is probably the most dangerous element to you. Our summer monsoons are often very busy with electrical activity. I’m sure you have seen what happens when a tree or cactus is struck by lightning, and we wouldn’t want that to happening to us. If you hear thunder, than you are at risk of lightning strikes and it doesn’t even need to be raining. If you are caught in a storm, try and seek shelter in a low laying place. Avoid tall objects such as buildings, trees, and Saguaro’s. If you have any metal objects on you like a water bottle, watch, or jewelry, you should remove those items and store them somewhere away from where you’ll be seeking shelter as the metal can conduct electricity.
The monsoon season is a wonderful time of the year, with vegitation and animals both taking a much needed drink in this very dry desert. It is a great time to get out and expierience the natural world, just be wise and carful when it comes to our storms. Happy trails.
The day began with three guests on the 6am Sunrise hike. As we rounded the mountain on the Lorraine Lee Hidden Canyon loop, the sun broke free of the clouds and the dew on the cactus spines shone a bright golden hue. With the sun now warming our souls we marched on. The guests enjoyed a great workout, “better than a stairmaster any day” one guest commented. We spoke about our plant life and how other worldly it is to our guests from other regions. Back at the Jw the guests thanked me for a very informative hike, and went on with their day. After consuming some much needed calories, I prepped the bikes for the next adventure.
The first escorted bike ride was with an off-site guest. He arrived promptly, and after a brief photo shoot with his mom, we got underway. He is an experienced mountain biker, which for a guide is a wonderful opportunity to speed up and enjoy the thrill. Once on trail I gave him some pointers on riding in our area and we were off. The fast pace riding was a ball for both of us, and we were soon challenging each other on the climbs, and grinning big on the descents. It was a hard decision to turn around to get back on time, but my next guest would be waiting.
I put away his large bike and got out the small for my next guest, and there she was. A mother of two from Minnesota and beginner mountain biker. As we climbed the hill into the trail head and parking lot, she exclaimed “we don’t have hills like this in Minnesota”. I assured her she would have plenty of opportunity to get comfortable with our “hills”. Once on trail I observed her riding and gave advice. She was able to apply my advice well and her riding immediately improved. She said that, when she gets home, she is going to take her two teenagers out for a ride to teach them some of the life lessons of mountain biking. “Focus on the way around an obstacle, not the obstacle itself” and “Keep your head up and always look ahead”. After much up, down and around, a few photo shoots and many smiles we rounded out the trail. She thanked me for the “coaching” and it was now time for rest and relaxation for all.