Beauty of Seven Falls

Friday, January 18, 2013

Saguaro National Park West

Beautiful view of mist in the mountains 
Our hike this week took us to beautiful Saguaro National Park West in the Tucson Mountains.  Ten enthusiastic, overly bundled hikers (our temperatures here in Tucson had been below normal for 4 days and we had no idea what to expect up on the trails) met at the community center and started out at 8:30.  The weather was a little chilly, but beautiful Arizona sun did not let us down.  The morning was gorgeous. 

We got off to what we thought was a good start when JoAnn realized she had not placed her park pass on her windshield for the park rangers.  Not a huge problem because we had good old Jim to run - and I do mean run - back to the parking lot to put it in place. 
Run Jim, Run
We began our morning at the King Canyon Trailhead heading for the Gould Mine.  The Gould Mine was one of four mines of some consequence in the Tucson Mountains: Old Yuma, Gila Monster, Mile Wide, and Gould mines.  Sometime around 1906 S.H. Gould filed on nineteen claims for the Gould Copper Mining Company. As was the case with other mining companies, Gould encountered financial problems with the onset of the 1907 depression, but he succeeded in obtaining operating funds by taking a mortgage with the Pioneer Smelting Company from nearby Sasco. A thirty-five foot wide vein of copper was found at the 100 foot level. At the 200 foot level that vein broadened to a width of sixty feet. Unfortunately, an assay reported only three to four percent copper content in each ton of ore. Financial difficulty beset the Gould Company by the end of 1908 and it managed to survive only for a few more years by shipping excavated ore which had been stockpiled at the mine. It probably ceased operations sometime in 1911. In early 1915 the company was forced into bankruptcy and its claims were sold at a sheriff's auction. They were purchased by Douglas Gary of Tombstone who made no immediate attempt to operate the mine. For all the effort and investment only 45,000 pounds of copper with a value of $9,000 had been taken from the mine.

Copper mine desperadoes - LaNeta, Connie, Gina & me
We were able to see what was left of some of the buildings used for storage and shelter.  

JoAnn & Jim surveying the mine entrance

So how much barbed wire is needed?

There were barbed wire fences surrounding dangerous areas, such as the actual mine entrance, but of course that was meant for everyone except our adventurous Jim who spotted ringtail raccoons down in the shaft.

It took quite a hike to get to the mine and I was wondering if the men had to hike up to the mine every day or if they camped at the mine.  I found one picture online which showed the mining camp and it seemed to be at the base, not near the mine. 

Oh well, on with the hike….
Hi Ho Hi Ho it's on the trail we go....
I sometimes get caught up in the historic significance of the area, and fail to mention the beauty of what we see as we are hiking through the park.  The saguaro cactus that sometimes tower above us so high I can’t even figure out how to get the whole thing in the photos.  My good friend George told me last week, that I need a bigger camera.  L  Along trail we saw many different types of cactus, and we noticed a family of javelina on a lower trail from us.  Thank goodness, they were also downwind. 

Gordy measuring up to a saguaro - he lost
We proceeded from the mine past the Mam-A-Gah picnic area to the Sendero Esperanza Trail and from there to the Hugh Norris Trail.  The maps our leader JoAnn gets from the National Park Service are usually pretty accurate as far as the mileage of the trails and the elevation gain on each hike, but we had varying opinions on the distance of this one.  We all felt the total hike was more like 5 ½ or 6 miles rather than the 4+ miles the map was telling us.  Several of the group actually stayed behind when we stopped to take water and rest a little.  Being the novice hiker, I always push myself to keep up, so I made it to the saddle we were aiming for as a turn-around point.  I tell you, I was very glad that the trip back would be mainly downhill though.  OUCH!  My legs…. Anyway, enough with the whining! What are we hikers or cry-babies?  We made it to the saddle, and then doubled back, picked up the couple of people that had waited at the bottom, and trekked back to the Mam-A-Gah picnic area for MY favorite part of the hike….lunch.   
If you look real closely...saguaro are the supports 
After lunch, JoAnn located a shortcut that took us past a huge wash that probably looks more like a lake during monsoon season.  We didn't go into the wash, but those in the group that had been on this particular hike previously mentioned that there are petroglyphs on rocks along the wash.  It is just amazing that when you least expected - a petroglyph pops up.  Kind of like when my kids were young and their friends always seemed to show up right at dinner time.... Well, this hike was fantastic.  Wonderful weather, no mishaps, a lot of history and great fellowship.  

We retraced our steps past Gould Mine and took the loop trail back to the parking lot.  The total mileage again in question.  Boy, that hot tub is going to look good this evening.
Judy and Barb doing a few wardrobe adjustments?

See you on the trails!


  1. That's nice how they did that overhead shelter.

  2. Isn't that awesome? They don't waste anything out here. Everything is recycled. lol

  3. Looks like fun times! I wanna see some ring-tailed raccoons!

  4. I saw enough of those jokers in Illinois. Remember the mother raccoon that tore a hole in our roof and had her babies in the attic? Not fun....

  5. I remember that persistant coon-cat

  6. My 3 grandchildren for you had just begun. I finished now. Also, no need to thank me. Lol