Tonto Jr said 30 degrees when I left SunLakes at 7AM. The AZT Section crew met up and drove southeast of Tucson to set up the shuttle at Charlais Rd and LaSelvilla campground deciding to hike north to south since both Ambika and I had hiked this part of 8 from north to south. I still think this is a great campground though the road into it is a bit rough.
We started hiking at 10AM and enjoyed our views in most directions especially looking back at the La Posta Quemada folds. I didn't know those folds had a name. (Huge limestone blocks -- including the one in which Colossal was formed-- were thrust into their positions by geological forces that actually brought ENTIRE hills
from as far away as the San Pedro River.) It's really pretty hiking by the picnic areas and then across the Old Spanish Road above the other side of the camping areas and Agua Verde river. There are a couple interpretive signs for a bit too so we had to stop and peruse them.
As we headed south a bit you came around the side of the mountains to get a different look to the northwestish to see the Rincons and some more of the Quemada Folds. Shawn fixed a trail marker with some new stickers and we continued on our way, still wearing our jackets which 3 of us kept on the entire hike. We don't get to do that often so it was a nice change. As we made our way past and above the Ranch area we encountered 3 hikers. I'm thinking her name was Pam, a HAZlurker and Jamie and I didn't catch the third person's name. She inquired if we were HAZers and asked for our trail names. She knew Tibber as she held up her hand as if it had a camera in it filming
We paused to read the Volunteers sign that's rather large where you would turn to go into the ranch. We continued up and around the hill, our only major climb for the day. I think the grade on this uphill is quite nice and you can keep up a pretty nice pace until you top out at the saddle and look over into the Chihuahuan desert to the south. I also spotted the white castle in the distance and would end up taking several pictures of it for several miles. I got some good zooms; it is quite the property.
From here we headed downhill for quite some time until we came to just about the border with Cienegas Reserve about 1/2 mile from the RR trestle. We did see a train across the way. And then one of those long trucks pulling a couple cars on the lower tracks. Once you get over that hill above the Ranch I heard the train a couple times. I don't know why but I love that sound and it blew its whistle a couple times so I could yell, "Choo, choo! Choo, choo!"
We took our short lunch break here and then headed toward the train track. As we were hiking we could hear the train and didn't realize we still had another hill to get around to see it so I did my best, with Shawn in the lead, to trot up that hill to get that picture of the train crossing the trestle. Whew, we made it. I filmed it and then took a couple pics of the engines at the back. It was a pretty short train. We hiked under and admired the trestle and then Shawn clicked the road crossing button as I did my best Beatles walk and waved at the vehicle that had stopped. I think they were on to me as they waved back.
We followed the old road to the intersection with the single path that takes you down to the Cienegas River and under the old railroad trestle. The river was running a little. We did see the remnants of the water that had rushed through here as it was 1/4 or better up the trees in the river bed. Walking on the little narrow logs across the river was a little dicey but with poles, it was a piece of cake. We passed by a giant beautifully shaped cottonwood tree before heading up out of Davidson Canyon that feeds into the river. We continued uphill to the Gabe Zimmerman TH junction and then headed east and then south above Davidson Canyon with, of course, some look backs at the Rincons.
As we continued you had views of the Empires and the Santa Rita Foothills. To the other side of the Empires was another nice mountain range and I thought they were the Whetstones and based on the map, it was indeed. It was still breezy as we made our way under I-10 thru that very long double tunnel. It got almost pitch black as I was filming
. From there it's another bit of an uphill until you top out for most of the rest of the hike until the last bit. For the rest of the hike we spotted a helicopter hovering over an area just to the SE of the AZT 7. It was still there as we left. I did finally get close enough to get my zoom on. At one time a rope with some kind of hook? was below the helicopter but we never saw what was attached if anything. It could have been practicing Rescue.
We took a break on one of the pipeline road crossings about 1 1/2 miles from Charlais Road where TontoJr was waiting. I just feel this little break toward the end makes those last miles fly by and you're not so worn down when you're done. I need to save some strength to drink my beer; especially since little did I know the restaurant we were going to lost its liquor license
. I think this is the fastest we've ever hiked 11 miles but the trail is pretty good so it made, by our standards, fast hiking easy enough.
We finished our day at El Minuto in Tucson, a place Shawn had not visited since the last century, give or take. Well the Chili Rellenos they ordered were not very good but my Carne Seca Quesadilla was awesome (altho it could have used some more carne seca) and would have been even better with a margarita.
Pictures are ready. I will start video production tonite 12-21-2016.