Beauty of Seven Falls

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wild Burro Canyon in the Tortolita Mountains

Beautiful, ancient tree by the side of the trail
Our hike this week has to have been one of the most exciting so far.  Our group of 10 hikers met at the Community Center at 8:30 a.m. and once again we had beautiful blue skies and moderate temperatures .  Our destination was Dove Mountain, in Marana. Dove Mountain is a part of the Tortolita Mountain range boasting some 29 miles of trails, which includes classic Sonoran Desert terrain, rugged ridges, diverse wildlife, historic ruins and signs of prehistoric inhabitants.
We started at the Ritz Carlton Trailhead, and would be hiking in the Wild Burro Canyon.  And yes, this is the same Ritz Carlson which is playground for rich and famous pro golfers.  Each February, the top 64 players in the world compete on the Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain.  
Getting started
We hiked the Picture Rocks area several weeks ago, but this area of the Tortolitas also has petroglyphs, or rock carvings, the work of Ancient Indians, known today as the Hohokam.  Their geometric designs and figures of animals and people onto rock surfaces endure today, but we didn’t find any on this hike.
Wikipedia picture
By all accounts this was a fantastic hike.  We were able to locate a few crested Saguaro cacti.  These are called crested because of a relatively rare condition of abnormal growth in which the growing tip becomes elongated vertically to the direction of growth, thus producing flattened, ribbon-like, crested, or elaborately contorted top.  I have included a picture of one so you get an idea of what they look like. 
We were able to identify tracks of jack rabbits, and possibly bobcats or coyotes.  Your imagination can really run wild in the desert…
After completing the Lower Javelina Loop, we stopped for a break at before heading back to the Wild Burro Trail and enjoyed climbing around and trough the ruins of a line shack.  A line shack was a small cabin built on the open range where cowboys could take shelter while tending cattle or other duties associated with working on a large ranch.  

Well, needless to say, everything was joy–joy, love-love, happiness- happiness, etc., etc., until we started back to the trail....
Calamity Me?
Lovebirds in an empty nest? LaNeta & Gordy
Yep, it was all fun and games until a jumping cholla cactus decided to join us, and I do mean JOIN us.  One decided to piggyback a ride with our group ON THE PALM OF MY HAND!!! 

This was possibly the worse continuous pain I have felt since getting a rose tattoo on my back in 2008.  It radiated pain from my palm, up my arm, and to every nerve ending I wasn’t using at that particular moment.  Horrid!  Thank God for level headed hiking members.  LaNeta had lovely, pink jeweled piece of medical equipment (her description) a utility knife with a pliers attachment and Jim took total control of the situation. 

With a cool head and steady hand (even with me pounding on his shoulder every time he yanked one of the spines free) he soon had me free of the offending hitchhiker.  JoAnn pulled out the bactine and with several pats on the back, and kisses to make it all better from fellow hikers, we were on our way.  I kept my hands directly in front of me for the rest of the trek down Wild Burro Trail to the trailhead. 
This was a pretty moderate hike, with the round trip probably a little over five miles with 150 feet elevation gain.  Not-withstanding the little hitch in our get-along with the cholla toward the end of the hike...a good time was had by all. 
Our protectors on the trail for this hike: George, Gordy, and Jim

Of course, there was a time or two they let their guard down...

Jim relaxing along the way
George taking five

JoAnn, our fearless leader

Until the next time....see you on the trails!


  1. In my near insanity moment of pain, I credited Connie with the utility knife. I have since given proper credit to LaNeta. Thanks Sweetie!

  2. I thank them both, but blame them too. They knew you should have walked wide around that thing. Lol. Looks like I know where I want to go when I get to Tucson. One of those nice trails. Maybe we can get pops out there too.