Sunday, April 09, 2006

Molino Canyon

Several people have asked me recently about hiking trails near Tucson. So I wrote up a little guidelet and sent it to them. Much of the hiking here seems obvious and straightforward, but that’s because I know most of the trails. For a newcomer approaching a range for the first time, it’s hard to know what to do, or what is worth doing. When I’m traveling I often feel overwhelmed by a new area. The current Tucson hiking guides are ok. Last time I looked them over was a year or so ago at a local bookstore. I browsed through the section. Two things I definitely didn’t notice were an off trail hiking guide and a dog hiking guide. Of course, in the latter case, Arizona appears to have a statewide dog leash law, which means hiking with a dog pretty much sucks anywhere. But I think there is big potential for the first idea: an off-trail guide, or “adventure guide” to southern Arizona. Since I often hike “with dog”, I like to go to unpopular areas where no one will be bothered by my dog. I like desolate hikes anyway, which is why Samaniego Ridge and Red Ridge are some of my favorites. Recently I’ve discovered some great canyon hikes in the lower Catalinas. Check out my new online guide to “Off-trail hiking in the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona”. The guide will grow as I discover new favorite places and as time permits. After December 2006 or May 2007 (when I finish my PhD), the guide may grow much more and may even become a book. Ahhh, canyoneering everyday… sounds good to me.

In other news, days are getting long enough in Tucson to do evening hikes. Today I worked until 5:00 PM, drove home and picked up Sab, threw some water into a pack and drove out to Molino Basin. In light traffic the drive takes less than 30 minutes. On the way out the low-angle light of the sinking sun brought out the horizontal relief of the Catalina’s front range. Normally the south-facing range is so blasted with desert light that one can’t see any horizontal relief. Anyway, the ridge was popping out like mad as I drove up the approach to the Catalina Highway. After parking at Molino, we high-tailed it up-canyon, past the “falls”, past the side canyon to the left, past “House Rock” and into the Zone of the Large Boulders. It was great fun and we made good time rock-hopping and keeping our movements dynamic. As we reached Creepy Rock Garden (which must be bypassed to the left unless you and your dog have some bouldering skills), the few clouds above turned pink and we turned around. Down was almost slower than up. I felt the eyes of mountain lions upon my back. Driving back down the mountain was a joy. Almost zero traffic. Do you use your brakes coming down Mt Lemmon? You don’t need to. Going between 3rd and 4th gears (with an automatic), I easily make it down all the way without exceeding ~40 mph. I touched my brakes once. It wasn’t even a challenge. A few years ago in Rocky Mt NP, with friend Steve’s 4Runner, we went from a high parking lot about 15 miles (?) to a campsite without touching brakes OR gas. That was fun. I’m not saying drive dangerous, just control your speed in advance of corners by downshifting, and perhaps braking slightly before the corner. We made it home around 7:45, making it 2.25 hours door to door for a ~3.5 mile hike in an awesome, deserted, and fairly remote canyon. Tucson does have some perks!


Anonymous said...

Maybe you should also make a book of trails for the decrepit. Just a thought, no sidewalks though.

Anonymous said...
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