Tag Archives: prison camp

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…

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Lightning and Fire, July 2013

We headed up the mountain to try to catch a glimpse of a small fire burning somewhere near the Prison Camp area (reported at 240 acres on July 1).

At Hairpin Turn we smelled smoke, but in the sunset and storm we could not see any signs of fire in the Prison Camp area and even the smell of smoke was gone as we passed the (closed) entrance to Prison Camp. At Thimble Peak Vista we enjoyed the view and decided to head back down, but when we turned around and saw the storm and lighting… A few images – a short hike up a ridge just off the Highway:

1307 Lightning 01

1307 Lightning 02

The storms slowly moved away and we started down the mountain again – I didn’t have much hope of seeing the fire (extinguished by the storm perhaps?) but Alison spotted the orange points of light above the old Prison Camp area just in time to pull into the Bug Spring Trailhead parking. From a few minutes up the trail:

1307 Prison Fire 01

1307 Prison Fire 031307 Lightning And Fire

A Night Hike to Point 4981 – May 2013

1305 Tucson Lights from Point 4981 above Hairpin TurnPoint 4981 is a slightly obscure high point in the Santa Catalina Mountains located above Hairpin Turn (near the start of the General Hitchcock Highway). I doubt I would have ever sought out Point 4981 but in 2012 while looking for better ways up to Gibbon Mountain from the Prison Camp/Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site I came across an old trail/route that leads up to a ridge with good views of Tucson and then takes a beautiful line out to Point 4981. This is a subtle pleasure I suppose – not a high peak, not particularly remote, no name or history that I know of – but certainly worth a visit if you love the backcountry of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

1305 Coral Snake

I caught a snake just off the trail in my headlamp – with somewhat familiar colors I thought Kingsnake – pointed and moved on –  but thankfully one of our friends took a second look and quickly identified this as a Coral Snake! This was a first for me – absolutely beautiful.

Directions/Info/Map/GPX for Point 4981 from cmiles-outside.info

2013 May Point 4981 Night Hike flickr set