Category Archives: Running

First Days of Fall, October 2013

The first days of Fall are lovely in Tucson, the sun seems just as bright as it was last month, but the experience of standing under it has changed – the piercing rays of summer are gone, replaced by something still lovely-bright but more gentle. We don’t have the picture postcard Fall color change here, but the beautiful blue skies of Fall are amazing…

1310 View from Mount Kimball
An amazing view from Mount Kimball – I especially love this view of Table Mountain (far left)!

I managed to ascend the notoriously steep Finger Rock Trail, turn onto the Pima Canyon Trail and take the side trail up to Mount Kimball during mid-day hours without any concern for the heat/temperature! What a contrast to the summer months when even early am/late pm hikes/runs on the lower/front range Santa Catalina trails are brutally hot.

But perhaps Fall had not quite arrived – the joy of cooler temps did not last the entire hike – the last two miles down had the summer ‘baking in the hot sun’ feeling that anyone from Tucson should be able to instantly call to mind…

1310 Molino Basin to Agua Caliente Hill Trailhead
Looking toward Agua Caliente Hill after coming over the high point on the Bellota Trail.

Out of the Santa Catalina Mountains on the Bellota Trail – views into two stunning canyons along the Milagrosa Trail – across Agua Caliente Canyon and up new-to-me trails to the Agua Caliente Hill Trail and down Agua Caliente Hill Trail with Alison! Between unfamiliar trail junctions and new stretches of trail I didn’t even think about the temperature during this run. There are many more ‘serious’ point-to-point hikes out of the Santa Catalina Mountains (esp. into the Rincon Mountains), but at just over 11 miles (about 14 if you have time time go to the top of Agua Caliente Hill) this is a fantastic journey that is a bit less committing.

1310 Richard on the East Fork Trail
Richard running the East Fork trail – great views, smoother trails and downhill from east to west this is an absolute blast to run!

We met Richard at Prison Camp, provided a little extra water (he ran up via Bear Canyon) and then joined him for on his run down to the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center via the Molino Basin, Sycamore Reservoir, East Fork, Sabino Canyon and Phoneline Trails. This was a repeat of an adventure from February of this year (pictures) – we weren’t any faster this time – but we were smarter and finished the run in much better shape! Much of the landscape looked the same – although the area near Sycamore Reservoir seemed to have more green – and the temps were beautiful!

1311 Ryan finishing his run to the Basin
Ryan finishing his out and back run to Sabino Basin.

Richard and I ran in shorts and short sleeve shirts, never reaching for more until we finished – and sitting still and relaxing at the end the extra layer felt like more of a luxury than a necessity… But a few days later on a night run on the Phoneline Trail (with friends from the Summit Hut) the weather seemed changed. Sitting in the dark waiting for Ryan and Dave to return from Sabino Basin (most of us had stopped at the last junction down to the road) I added a long sleeve shirt, then a light wind jacket, then a thin beanie but still shivered and hugged myself for warmth in the chilly night air – maybe technically not the coldest night of the year, but the first night where my light layers were inadequate, I think it is time to change the gear in my pack, Fall is here…

Adrenaline Night Run, June 2013

1306 Sunset at McDowell Mountain Park

Aravaipa Running‘s 26km Adrenaline Night Run race starts in the desert heat at sunset – for a minute I run with my friend Ryan but he speeds off and is soon out of sight… I feel good – hot, but good – and a few miles in I turn on my headlamp. Why hasn’t the runner in front of me turned on their headlamp? We hit the first aid station and I hear no-headlamp-runner ask for batteries – I feel bad, I have a spare headlamp and spare batteries with me – should have asked, arg… After the first aid station there is a nice section downhill fun – but the last section of the loop is a series of awesome-on-a-mountain-bike rollers that wear me out before the Start/Finish line aid station.

1306 Adrenaline Night Run Finishing Lap 1

Finishing the first of two laps at the Adrenaline Night Run 26km

I take a nice break at the Start/Finish aid station while the great volunteers fill up my reservoir with ice and water – again out into the desert – I see headlamps spaced along the course but for awhile I can not hear anyone and I am essentially alone and not feeling great – why exactly did I sign up for this, wasn’t there a half marathon distance I could have done, will I ever do one of these again… But somewhere before the 4-mile aid station I start to have fun again and by the time I hit the last aid station I realize that if I keep running I can easily finish under 4 hours – longer on the course than I had guessed/hoped but it motivates me to keep a good pace all the way to the finish line where I am greeted by cheers from my friends!

1306 Saguaro and Stars

Night sky – taking a break after finishing before driving back to Tucson.

It takes about two days before I start thinking about what to sign up for next…

1306 Adrenaline Night Run

Fairbank to Contention, San Pedro River, June 2013

1306 Fairbank Historic Townsite

Starting the day at the Fairbank Historic Townsite.

Memories of the heat on my last San Pedro adventure – and climbing temperatures across Southern Arizona – motivated me to get an early start, after a few errands and a bit of driving I arrived at the Fairbank Historic Townsite. I wandered around the site for a few minutes inspecting buildings and reading signs – but I was quickly on the San Pedro Trail.

1306 Looking towards the San Pedro from the Fairbank Cemetery

A fallen cross in the Fairbank Cemetery – overlooking the San Pedro River.

The Fairbank Cemetery was a short (well signed) side trip from the main trail – I didn’t know what to expect but the hill-top location overlooking the river and feeling of the place surprised me a little, a bit lonely and distant. I lingered a few minutes and moved on.

1306 Path along the River after Willow Wash

Beautiful single track along the river – temporarily lost in the grass…

After Willow Wash the wide trail became single track – sometimes overgrown – and I followed what I think were Mountain Lion tracks along the trail to the Contention area. After a nice break in the shade I decided to take the river bed back – it was dry near Contention and stayed dry for sometime, but eventually there was a bit of flowing water.

1306 Shade

Green grass beginning to appear – almost to flowing water!

I took the river back to Highway 82 and then followed a small path along a fence line until emerging at the old rail platform under the highway near Fairbank – just a short walk from the car – finished before the worst heat of the day!

GPS Information

1306 Fairbank To Contention


Undammed and flowing north from Mexico into the United States the San Pedro River is amazing – I recently started doing some reading to understand a bit more about the area – some links that I thought were interesting/useful: