Archive for August, 2009

Col Devin and Railroad Trail

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

[Part of our ongoing behind-the-hike series concerning hikes covered in Day and Overnight Hikes – Tonto National Forest.]

This area was in the recent “Rim Fire” (see last entry) – and I can’t say what may be left of it.

This was part of my Rim Rush – a 4 day weekend where I banged out several trails including this one, two segments of the Highline Trail and Mescal Ridge.

DATE HIKED: 30 May 2008

COMPANIONS: None

START TIME: 10:30a

END TIME: about noon

ACTUAL MILES: 3.9

There’s a part in the book’s introduction where I describe my mom reluctantly leaving her little boy (Now – I’m 42!) alone at the trailhead. This hike. Relatedly, my son Ben had the opportunity to go, but chose to hang around in camp instead – mostly, it seemed, to prove he could hang around in camp instead. Since this was an easy hike up to a railroad tunnel, I gotta think that decision was political.

This route up and down the Rim was originally part of the Moqui Trail,an ancient route connecting the central deserts to th Navajo and Hopi lands up north. South of the Rim, the route roughly follows AZ89.

It was then re-blazed by Col. Devin, while he worked for General Crook.

Now, it is part of the Arizona Trail.

Some good source material about the RR Tunnel.

I hiked this trail on the same day I hiked the Washington Park – Geronimo portion of the Highline. Had I gotten my dear mother (who was part of that car shuttle) out of camp in time, I would have made the whole odyssey with daylight to spare. As it was … well, next time. Mom, to her credit, prodded her little Prius within up the rutted dirt road to within a couple hundred yards of the trailhead. That’s where I inherited those tendencies.

Washington Park has several unofficial campsites right on the creek, and would make a nice basecamp if you got there early enough. The road gets worse the higher you go, though, so HC if you want to actually park at the TH. There are a number of private residences dotting the area – so watch where you pee.

Tonto News Roundup August 09

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I have returned from vacation (yes – a camping vacation). So, somewhat overdue, is our monthly round-up of news affecting outdoor recreation in general and the Tonto National Forest in particular.

The “Rim Fire” near Washington Park, smack in the middle of the Mogollon Rim, is now 85% contained. The lightning-sparked blaze has been burning up and down the rugged face of the rim since July 20th. The fire is being managed under a modified suppression strategy due to concerns about steep topography and firefighter safety.  Fire managers are using existing roads, trails, (like the Highline) and topographic features to contain the fire.  Recent rains have also helped. They expect complete containment by August 15th. More info here.

Note that this closes the Col. Devin and Railroad Tunnel Trail, and the Washington Park to Geronimo segment of the Highline Trail, both profiled in my book.

The 2009 Arizona Big Game Super Raffle raised more than $540,000 to directly benefit Arizona’s wildlife. Eleven winners were selected on July 18 to receive the ten special big game tags and an Swarovski optics package. (Swarovski helped sponsor the event). These funds are used to support habitat monitoring, conservation, restoration or other improvements such as elk-friendly fencing.

Volunteer opportunities:

The Tonto NF seeks volunteers to help clean-up one of the busiest areas in their jurisdiction: the lower Salt River area (you know, where drunks go tubing) on September 26th, which is also National Lands Day. More information here, or you can show up before 9am on Pebble Beach.

AZ Game and Fish need folks to spend all night chasing after black-footed ferrets with a spot light.

From October 1st to October 5th, they’ll be conducting their annual ferret survey. Twice thought to be extinct, a small population of black-footed ferrets was discovered in 1981. A mere 18 were left when captive breeding efforts began in 1985. In 1996, Arizona’s Aubrey Valley, west of Seligman, was selected as a reintroduction site. Volunteers must be able to stay attentive from sunset to sunrise, be able to carry up to 30 pounds while backpack-spotlighting for two-hour durations. They must also be willing to learn how to use a Global Positioning System (GPS).

Individuals can volunteer for one or more dates. A parent or guardian must accompany any youth under the age of 18.

Those wishing to volunteer, or needing more information, should e-mail azferret@azgfd.gov by Sept. 21 with “October Spotlighting” in the subject line. Please indicate what night(s) you are available to help; include a first and last name, a contact number, and if anyone else will be attending with you.

Also, please list any of the following equipment you can bring: GPS, clipboard, backpack (to carry a 30-pound battery), headlamp, pen, compass, binoculars, walkie-talkies, 4×4 vehicle (please list passenger capacity), compass, spotlight (that can plug into a cigarette lighter), or a cordless rechargeable spotlight.

Weather in the Aubrey Valley can be unpredictable, so individuals need to dress appropriately.

[Portions from the AZGDF news release].

I spent a long time crawling through road construction throughout the inter-mountain west, so this is dear to my heart currently: Interactive Map for AZ road construction (from AZ DOT).

Finally, some personal news. I am now the Phoenix Camping Examiner for Examiner.com. I get paid by the pageview, so check it out, if you have an interest. And if you’ve read down this far, that’s a safe bet.