Dads Trip to Sabino Canyon

Last summer I helped a local group of dads plan a trip to Sabino Canyon here in Tucson.  The first goal was to have dads spend more time with their kids without relying on mom; and then to share with them I enjoy so much, the outdoors.  We had someone in the community from the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists step up and help put it all together for us.  Kenne set us up with a great tour and fun activities for the kids, hopefully it inspired them to come out more and spend time with their dads in the great outdoors.

I’d like to extend a big thank you to Kenne and the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists!


24 Hours Alone

Back in November I did an overnight in the Catalinas. I decided to go up Pima Canyon, then to Window Rock and finally down Esperero Trail to Sabino Canyon. It was about 14 miles and I could have done it in one day but wanted to test out some cold weather sleeping solutions and used this as an opportunity to do that.

Pima Canyon was a beateful hike that runs through some cotton woods and past a couple of dams.  The trail is fairly easy to follow up to the second dam and there were plenty of people, even for a thursday morning.  After the dam the grass started to overtake the trail and the cairns started to become necessary.  I only ran into one person about five miles up, and then that was it until I got back to my truck the next day.  Towards the top of Pima Canyon is were I stopped to fill up on water from the spring; after the spring is where it started to get a bit dicy.  The trail was nonexistent in parts and stayed close to a 300+ cliff edge.  Navigation at this point was bush waking and following the GPS. Once you get close to Mount Kimball the trail starts to show back up.


On the way up I managed to get a few shots of the sun coming over the ridge. 

Around Mount Kimball there are plenty of social trails that go out to various views or climbing spots to be careful to stay on the main one.  When I arrived at the top the sun was at the perfect height to get some amazing shots.  Then I realized that I need to get to a camping spot quickly before my sunlight ran out.






After setting eating some food and hot tea I settled into my bivvy for the night.  I had my SOL bivvy with a sleeping bag and Big Agnes pad in it and stayed pretty warm all night.  In the morning when I started on the trail again I ran into this only a few hundred yards from where I was camping.  Looks like bear scat to me and I can’t find anywhere more recent than 2010 for bear sighting up there.

I made my way along the ridge lines to Window Rock where the winds were billowing through making it ridiculously cold.  I am pretty sure it was somewhere shortly after the window that I brushed up against another rarity in Tucson, Poison Ivy.  Just a little bit, but enough to cause some blisters.

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The views coming down Esperero were breathtaking and you wander into some unexpected creeks and waterfalls.  I didn’t see another person until I came off the trail and got to my truck.  Silence is golden and I am so thankful that there are still places you can go enjoy nature to this extent, and its so close to a metro area.  However people still left their mark as there was some trash that was discarded along the trail but it was easy enough to pick it up and pack out.

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“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” ― John Muir

Catalina State Park Visit

For the last three days the only paved road going up to Mount Lemmon has been so crowded that they have had to shut it down and only let cars go in as cars left.  To avoid all of that mess and still enjoy the cool weather we headed over to Catalina State Park off of SR77.  While we where there we toured the Hohokam Ruins and then hiked up the road to the creek that comes out of Montrose Canyon.






Morning Frost


Up on top of the hill where the ruins were.



Romero Ranch ruins







10 Hiking Essentials, or is it 14, Maybe 24….

There is a ton of information about what to bring for a hiking trip whether its be a short nature walk or multi-day backpacking trip.  Personally I’d recommend following Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 8th Edition list of 10 systems.  If you cover those ten areas with what ever equipment your comfortable using you should be good to go.  The key is to know how to use them all.  What good is you compass if you don’t know how to use it with your map? Or the fancy fire starter you bought that just throws pretty sparks everywhere.  I mean really know how to use it, not just watch a YouTube video but go out in the back yard and light some stuff on fire 🙂 !

This is what I carry to meet the Ten Essential Systems according to Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills.

Navigation (map & compass): I use my Garmin the most out of the three but I practice on a regular basis with the map and compass.  You could use a phone with one of the many GPS apps, even ones that can be used without a signal, however, you run the risk of killing your battery and then one of your most useful tools is now dead.

TEN Systems-2

Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen): I put on a good amount of sunblock before I even start on the trail and use the little tube to re-apply later.  During the summer months I’ll also carry my wide brim hat to block out more sun.

TEN Systems-3

Insulation (extra clothing):  This is what I carry for the winter months here (in addition to my jacket).  In the summer I still carry my jacket with me in the mountains, because of the dramatic temperature changes that can, and often do happen.  The neck thing is just a fleece tube that can be worn around the neck or as a hat/beanie.

TEN Systems-4

Illumination (headlamp/flashlight): A simple LED headlamp that take a common battery like a AAA. I usually carry a back up as well.

TEN Systems-5

First-aid supplies:  This might seem like an odd first-aid kit, but I can make bandaids with the gauze and duct tape and the other stuff is for dealing with more serious injury.  For blister control… duct tape.  Again this stuff is what you are comfortable with and what you know how to use.

TEN Systems-6

Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle): I’ve found that the REI brand storm matches are the best all around, they are like little rockets and the wood is sturdy so it doesn’t snap in half when you try to strike it.  Also, the cotton ball Petroleum Jelly mix is amazing, just melt one of those tubs on low heat and drop your balls in.  Once they are cooled fold them up in some foil, it acts as a nice moisture barrier later.  You can also just cut a little slit in the top an pull a bit of the cotton out and use it like a candle.

TEN Systems-7

Repair kit and tools: I always carry my Gerber Knife and the Leatherman stays in the top of my pack.  Indispensable tools.

TEN Systems-8

Nutrition (extra food): I usually have Mike & Ikes, beef jerky and GU gels.  The longer the hike the more GU I bring, its the easiest and tastiest way to make sure I get all the electrolytes I need.

TEN Systems-9

Hydration (extra water): Besides the bladder in the pack I have this thing with another 1.1 liters in it.  Its a great thermos so it will keep things ice cold in the summer heat and keep the hot coco steaming in the winter.

TEN Systems-1

Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag): This is what I carry for my emergency shelter, it is a bit big but I use it a lot.  If its cold you have the silver face in, if its hot you switch it around so it reflects the sun.  I also use it for ground cover to keep my stuff from getting too filthy.

TEN Systems-10

So actually, my list is 24 things I guess(if we count the food as one item), decided up into 10 systems.  No matter how many things you do carry with you be sure you read up on the instruction manual, watch some videos and practice, practice, practice.