|Beautiful and dangerous boulders|
We returned to the Tortolita Mountains this week to hike the Upper Javalina Trail. The Tortolita Mountain range boasts some 31 miles of trails, which includes classic Sonoran Desert terrain, rugged ridges, diverse wildlife, historic ruins and signs of prehistoric inhabitants. This was an easy hike and relatively short. I believe the loop we took was only about 4 miles with maybe 100 ft. elevation gain. It has brown markers with arrows along the trail showing the way. Of course, it helps if you have a map showing which arrow designates which trail. lol
|No verbiage - just colored arrows|
|Don lending a hand (or two) in guidance|
We started at the Wild Burro Trailhead at the parking lot and followed the markers to the junction of the Upper Javelina Trail. The trails lead us up and around the Dove Mountain Golf Resort where we were able to view much of the surrounding beauty, including Twin Peaks. We joked about there being one peak where there used to be two. One of the peaks has been mined out by a local construction company and I am sure in time the remaining peak will meet the same fate.
|Ladies take the lead|
|Gents bringing up the rear|
Our group of eleven hikers was a nice balance. Ladies included JoAnn, Nancy, Connie, Chun, LaNeta and myself; gents included Jim, George, Ernie, Gordy and Don. The weather was forecast to be above normal again this week, so it is good that, as always, we got an early start. The trails at Dove Mountain are kind of tricky. While in the sun you feel like you want to start taking off your sweaters or jackets, but as soon as you round a bend and hit a little shade you decide you can wait a little longer. It didn’t take long for us to peel down to t-shirts this time.
|As we say in the Midwest, "Da group"|
The one thing that never changes - although it constantly evolves - no matter what mountain or what trail we are on, is the beauty of the trails. Whether we are 2 hours from home or right around the corner as it was in this case, once we are on the trail we are transported to another time. The time we spend out there in the wild completely dependent upon each other is what makes the hike.
|Climb Connie, Climb!|
|Enjoying a chuckle at Jim's expense|
It was wonderful to have George, our historian/botanist/wildlife expert along. George quickly went into the explanation of the Tortolita Mountain name for some of our new hiking buddies. Tortolita is Spanish for “little dove”. In this case the Inca Dove, thus the name of the Dove Mountain Community. The Inca Dove is a small, slender, gray bird with a black bill and a blue ring of flesh around its eyes. Its feathers look like scales. Thank you Jorge for all you teach us!
|George pointing out nests in the cholla|
|Poppy blossom in a brittlebush|
|Chuparosa on left - thistle on right|
|George admiring his favorite - |
Cristate or Crested saguaro
|Beautiful specimen - The Cristate|
not George and Jim lol
Somehow, coming around a bend in the trail around the mountain and seeing the big Ritz Carlton resort (and getting wonderful whiffs of food from their kitchen) brings you back to the here and now. No more dreaming of ancient Hohokam men cutting petroglyphs into the side of rocks or the women grinding corn on the stones.
|Beautiful Ritz Carton|
The Ritz Carlson is the playground for rich and famous pro golfers. For the eighth consecutive year, the Town of Marana is the proud home of the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play Championship. The tournament brings together the world’s top 64 players for a week of exciting competition at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain. Last year play was delayed for the better part of a day because of a freak snowstorm. That’s right snow, measurable snow on the golf course. This year our temperatures have been running above normal for about 2 weeks. The tournament starts in about two weeks; let’s hope the weather holds up. Sadly, this may be the last year of the tournament being held here in Marana. There is talk that they may move to another location next year.