October 22nd: Krein Summit Hike in the Tucson Mountains
One of the main reasons we decided on the west side of Tucson for our Snow Bird castle was access to hiking. And it was hiking we could enjoy by just walking out the back door of our trailer.
As you can see from the above map, our trailer (house symbol) is just a few minutes walk to miles and miles of gorgeous Sonoran desert hiking in the Tucson Mountains. And with all the recent rains the desert is lush and green and beautiful.
One of our favorite hikes is to Krein Summit which was unofficially named for a local hiker from Tucson Estates where we have our winter retreat.
The black line is our route and one we have hiked many times but never tire of.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
Here we are at the start of the hike on the Sarasota Trail. The summits in the background are Golden Gate Mountain (left) and Brens on the right.
Seen here in all their green glory are ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), triangle-leaf bursage (Ambrosia deltoidea), jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) and a "young" Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea). This time of the year there are usually no leaves on the ocotillo and the triangle-leave bursage and jojoba are crispy looking. But 3" of rain over the last 3 weeks has worked its magic.
The dominant shrubby ground cover is triangle-leaf bursage. When that is greened up it makes a dramatic difference on the overall "greenness" of the landscape.
This is looking up the south slope of Little Cat Mountain. In the foreground is Brittle bush (Encelia farinosa) which is often leafless this time of year and also our beloved teddy-bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii). In the back ground are the ubiquitous palo verde (Parkinsonia florida) and Saguaro.
Let's go hiking!!!
A common shrub in the Tucson Mountains is limber bush Jatropha cardiophylla.
This is the first time in the 8 years we have been here that we have seen leaves on the limber bush. Rain, baby - RAIN!
The Tucson basin is surrounded by 6 mountain ranges.
Of all of those, nothing evokes the feeling of the wild and rugged west like the Tucson Mountains do.
If you look closely you can just barely see an Apache barely visible behind one of the boulders.
Over the summer the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Dept had these signs installed at all the trail intersections. A big help for newbies who, like we once were, become confused by all the trails in this area.
Here is the north facing flank of Little Cat Mountain. Rugged. Beautiful. And oh, so green!
Now we are in for some climbing.
Most of the trails are steep and rocky and one must be careful not to end up hugging a Saguaro.
Beauteous! Golden Gate Mountain is on the left. On the right is "First Ridge" which is our destination before we head back down off the mountain.
Up and up and up we go.
As we gained elevation the views opened up. This is looking to the south. In the distance are the Santa Rita Mountains with the two prominent summits, Wrightson and Hopkins in heavy cloud cover. In the middle is Red Butte and in the foreground is Starr Pass which cuts through Big and Little Cat Mountains.
Here Betsy enjoys the views of nearby Sheep Cave Canyon and the more distant Catalina Mountains.
Krein Summit has a 360 degree view. This is looking to the northwest and we see Golden Gate Mountain and Brens. Is the middle is the saddle where the Yetman Trail terminates at the West Trailhead below Gates Pass.
A nice collection of Sonoran beauties!
We saw several plants of the beautiful desert rosemallow (Hibiscus coulteri).
Other plants we saw in bloom:
Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)
Desert Zinnia (Zinnia acerosa)
Turpentine Bush (Ericameria laricifolia)
Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea)
Caliche Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea laxa)
There is one down side to all the rain we have been having - mosquitoes! Although not quite like the Great Lakes of Eastern Shore areas, there are enough of them around to curtail our porch sitting.
The pesky Asian tiger mosquito adds to the problem since it will feed all day, not just at dawn and dusk and it can tolerate sunlight as well.
I recently started using a mosquito repellant with an active ingredient called picaridin. It works. On me the mosquitoes do not light or bite.
See you on our next hike!
~Mike and Betsy