Beauty of Seven Falls

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wild Burro and Lower Javelina Trails in the Tortolita Mountains

Wild Burro Canyon
Our group started out at 8:30 a.m. to beautiful blue skies and moderate temperatures with a group of 9 hikers, including JoAnn, Jim, Ernie, Gina, Esther, Mike, Judy, Dave and me.  We stayed very close to home again this week; our destination - Dove Mountain right here in Marana. Dove Mountain is a part of the Tortolita Mountain range boasting some 29 miles of trails, which includes all the classic Sonoran Desert terrain, rugged ridges, diverse wildlife, historic ruins and signs of prehistoric inhabitants.

Dave pays attention...

JoAnn w/map - giving route

We took the Wild Burro trail to the Western Lower Javelina Trail loop, and then back to the Wild Burro Trail to the remains of the old line shack.  We’re still very early in the hiking season so this hike was relatively easy and short.  The route is about five miles round trip with an elevation gain of 150 feet.  

FYI – In case the term “line shack” doesn’t mean anything to you, it is a remnant of a stone cabin that the cowboys used when tending the cattle ranch that was once here in Wild Burro Canyon.  I have actually tried to find info on the cattle ranch and who owned it, but I don’t want to give out incorrect info so I don’t post some of the things I dig up.  There were and still are a lot of cattle ranches and farms in the area, so I’ll keep “digging”.  I guess my dream of being an archaeologist may still come true.  Lol

Beautiful skies
Majestic Saguaros
The first part of the hike, along the Wild Burro Trail is very sandy footing.  That’s okay, because many of us are still trying to get our hiking legs beneath us, so we appreciate these moderate hikes with part wash – part climbing trails to start with.  (Thank you JoAnn).   The saguaros are plentiful along these trails, and so are the chollas.  When the Wild Burro met up with the Lower Javelina Trail we started noticing more rocky terrain and started a little climbing.  We stopped several times along the way to enjoy the views and to hydrate.

Line Shack Ruins
When we reached the line shack we stopped for a real break and snack.  It is a very humbling experience to be this close to our not too distant history.  I can imagine cowboys huddling around a fire outside under the stars, or inside the stone cabin trying to keep warm during the frigid winter months in the mountains.  You can sit on the walls of the cabin and let your imagination run wild.  

Line Shack Ruins (Pic of LaNeta from last year)

Hi Ho Hi Ho, back down the trail we go....

Strange rock formations - How? When? Who?

Remember???? OW!
We did this same hike last year, but thank goodness this time we had none of the excitement that went along with the adventure last year.  This was the hike where one of the jumping cholla decided to piggyback a ride on the palm of my hand.  Terrible!!

This isn’t a difficult hike by any standards, but it is one of the most beautiful in our repertoire.  I know I say that a lot, but if you don’t look down when you are climbing up the trails…if you just look out and up, you can imagine yourself in a much more wilderness type area.  If you look down, you are met with views of the Ritz-Carlton Resort and golf course.  

Rugged terrain

Jim hitting the bottle again

After resting and socializing at the line shack, we started our trek back to the Wild Burro Trailhead.  I have to admit that this seemed to be really difficult to travel now.  Dragging through that sand seemed endless and yes some of us didn’t mind verbalizing the drudgery.  Others of us commented that it was just strength training for the more difficult hikes to come – thanks Esther. 

My theory of bigger steps being better didn't pan out.
The day was heating up quickly so we need to make it back to the trailhead.  Temps were estimated to reach the lower 90s and I think the weatherman may have actually hit it right this time. 

We made it back to the trailhead/parking area and decided to stay and have our lunch there.  A wonderful hike!!!

See you on the trails…..

Sunday, October 20, 2013

David Yetman Trail in the Tucson Mountains

If you asked 10 people why they hike, you will probably get 10 different answers.  Personally, I hike to push my limits both mentally and physically, to take in the beauty of the trails and for the camaraderie of hiking with friends.  I have a fear of heights, so hiking mountain trails is a real rush for me when completed.  Whatever the reason, I am just happy that hiking season here in southern Arizona is back in full force.

Our group started out at about 8:30 on a beautiful Tucson morning with temps in around 50 degrees.   We had a nice sized group of 11 – JoAnn, Sally, Esther, Judy, Gina, Connie and me made up the women and the guys were Jim, Ernie, Rob, Mike. 

Our hike this week took us to the David Yetman Trail in the Tucson Mountains.  Our group is just getting started for the season so we are just doing 4 or 5 mile hikes to start.  Our plan was to hike the trail to the Bowen House and just a little beyond, then turn around and hike back to the stone structure to have our lunch. 


This trail is named for David Yetman, Ph.D, (research social science) former City Councilman and host of a local Public TV program called The Desert Speaks. The trail is listed as easy to moderate and several in the group have been on this hike many times.  There are a couple of hotels in the area and one of the amenities offered is hiking, biking and horseback riding on the trails in the area and it seems some of the signs must have been confusing because many of them had been pulled out and lay on the ground on the side of the trail.  Never fear, we have “fearless leader” JoAnn to lead the way.

Beautiful scenery
Joann giving the lay of the land

We made pretty good time over mixed terrain – large stones, gravel, sand, and hard-packed dirt.  The scenery on these trails – even the easiest of outings – is absolutely stunning. 

Anyway, I found out that the Bowen House has a direct link to me!  I am from Illinois, and Sherry Bowen, a typesetter and later city editor for the Arizona Daily Star, came from Rockford, Illinois and moved to Tucson in the late twenties with the hope that the change in climate would help his wife’s serious heart condition.  

The Bowens first lived in Tucson but soon decided to homestead in the Tucson Mountains.  He had the home built of native stone in the early 1930s.  They lived in a cabin while the house was being built and after moving into the home eventually expanded their claim to 2000 acres.

Front: Esther, Judy, Gina & JoAnn
Rear: Jim, Sally, Mike, Rob,  Ernie and Connie
Ruby Bowen kept a diary of her first year in the Tucson Mountains.  The diary makes several references to the wildlife that existed in the area including Javelina, deer, wild horses and sheep.  She also mentioned a mountain lion that would come near the house when she was cooking meat and that one time attempted to get in a window. Maybe the one the group is peering out of above.  

The Bowens left Tucson in 1944 and moved to New York City where Sherry Bowen worked for the Associated Press.  The valley and their homestead became part of Tucson Mountain Park in 1983. 

Vandals started a fire which destroyed a large portion of the house years ago, but you can still make out the marks where the rooms divisions were.  There were 2 fireplaces and you can make out where the toilet was and remnants of the stone bathtub are still there.  Also, there are pipes where water came in for the shower and in the kitchen area for the sink.  None of us could figure out where they would have gotten water pumped in from though, or if they had a water tank of some kind out in the back.   Anyway, we agreed it was a nice piece of history in the area.

Walking through history

The men at the turn-back point
We had reached the stone house in record time, and after visiting with a small group of hikers from Green Valley continued on our way toward the crossroad in the trail.  After resting and having water at our turn-around point we all started back.  The ladies started out first with Gina leading the way.  We were having a great time – hiking, talking, and taking in the beautiful views – when we noticed the guys were not behind us.  Hmmmm...

Gina way out front (too far out front)

Connie, JoAnn and Esther
Before long we started noticeably climbing along the trail.  JoAnn mentioned that we were no longer on the trail we had come on.  Still not worried too much we continued to climb.  We stopped to rest and noticed we could see the men way down below on the original trail.  We waved and yelled but they were too far away to hear us.  Mike later said he saw us, but wasn’t sure it was our group because why in the world would we be way up there?  

Well, we had gone so far on this alternate trail we decided to see if it would lead us back.  Short answer – no….it just ended.

Oh well, we turned around and started back to the crossroad.  Before we got all the way back, JoAnn spotted an area that didn’t look to difficult to maneuver and we decided bushwhacking was the way to go.  How exciting!  Here we are, a group of women alone, bushwhacking!  Okay, I may be sounding a little melodramatic but it was fun. 

Heading off-trail!  Hiking in it's truest form - Bushwhacking!

We made it back to the original trail and continued on to the stone house.  We had added an additional 2 miles or so with our off-trail adventure so we got a little more of a workout then the men did.  LOL

This is how we found the men after we got back...SLACKERS!

Gina and Judy resting up after eating
After finishing our lunches and resting up we headed back to the trailhead and home, another successful hike under our backpacks. 

Heading back
Sally - styling and profiling

Oh yes, how can I forget?  If you ever see the fickle finger of fate attached to the arm sticking out of the pink shirt below....RUN!!!

Gina pointing the way again? NOT!

See you on the trails! 

Me sampling the stone tub.  Is there a snake in that hole?