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Bren Second Ridge & the Bowen House, AZ
mini location map2017-01-21
65 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Bren Second Ridge & the Bowen House, AZ 
Bren Second Ridge & the Bowen House, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 21 2017
Hiking12.02 Miles 2,933 AEG
Hiking12.02 Miles   6 Hrs   41 Mns   1.89 mph
2,933 ft AEG      20 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I needed to go to either Sierra Vista or Tucson on personal biz, after which I was planning to hike. A quick glance out the window at the Huachucas [which were engulfed all the way down to about 5,500-6,000’ in dark grey clouds] made my decision an easy one. En route to Tucson, I watched the Santa Ritas, Whetstones, Rincons, and Catalinas taking quite a beating... but the Empire Mountains [which top out just below the 5,600’ mark], had no cloud cover, so I figured I’d be good to good with the Tucson Mountains.

The original plan to was to knock off both Bren and Golden Gate. I started with Bren and had an absolute blast. After the viral infection that wreaked havoc on my equilibrium last Summer, it wasn’t a happy few months driving by mountains like Bren and Golden Gate and looking up at the summits with fear instead of with excitement. My equilibrium is still not 100% but I feel very fortunate to have recovered enough that I found Bren to be fun and easy and I can now look up at Golden Gate with excitement instead of fear.

Just like the other summits I’ve done in the Tucson Mountains, the views from Bren were absolutely beautiful, [as were the views throughout my Tucson Mountain adventure today]. I couldn’t be sure which area on the summit was the highpoint, so I hit up all areas in question. The area with the triangle on CalTopo had a summit log by the highpoint area, but log definitely did not look official. It consisted of a single sheet of paper within a small, bent Pringle’s container. The prominent point to the SE of the one represented by the triangle on CalTopo appeared to be slightly higher; but I was not able to find a log on that area of the summit. I also did not find any survey markers, although I didn’t devote much time to looking...

…with very strong wind gusts, the summit was rather chilly. I was also short on time, given that I wanted to log at least 10 miles while spending the least amount of time on the trails as possible. Given how cold it was on Bren – and that I’d likely be finishing up in the dark OR on a treadmill if I decided to go for Golden Gate as well, I decided forgo Golden Gate and hit up the nearby Bowen House. I consulted good old Route Scout Topo which has saved me on many a hike and immediately came up with a very fitting plan: I’d head SE off Bren, hit up UN 3339, and then hop on the sweet looking ridge that runs NW – SE, located just to the South of UN 3339. From atop UN 3339, I spotted what looked like a full out trail leading up to this ridge; and sure enough, then entire ridgeline was routed to the point where it felt like a full out trail… so much so that I actually departed from the route in several places in order to get more of a thrill.

In addition to being loads of fun and very fast for off-trail thanks to being extremely well routed, the views along the ridgeline were sensational; and, to top things off, my spur of the moment decision to incorporate this ridgeline led to an ‘accidental summit bag’ of what is unofficially called “Second Ridge”. As I’m made my way along the ridgeline and approached one of the prominent points I noticed an ammo box nestled by a rock pile on the highpoint area. Both the ammo box & log inside were placed in January of 2009 by a party of 4 (Dena, George, Suzanne, & Vince). One of the messages in the log also indicated that there is also a “First Ridge” and a “Round Top” [I’m guessing somewhere in the Tucson Mountains as well]. I couldn’t believe just how many folks had signed the log. There were so many sign-ins that I actually didn’t have the time to read through them all. One person wrote, “Stung by a bee in the face but kept going. Fun hike.”

Speaking of the little darlings, I think today’s bee encounter, [amidst crazy strong wind gusts], was almost as surprising if not more so that finding the ammo box / log on Second Ridge. I was at the end of the main part of the ridge and about to make my descent when I stepped on a huge boulder to get some final views from atop the ridge. On the boulder was a small, shallow indentation that had some water; and by the small “puddle” of water, [that probably did not even come to 1/4 of a liter], was a bee. I guess an off-trail experience is not complete without a bee encounter. At least this one proved to be a rare but pleasant encounter where my presence did not piss off the bee for once.

Last up was the Bowen House, which is really neat. I’d read about it a while back and it’s been on the ‘to hike’ list for awhile now, so it was very nice to finally see. I then went back by way of the Yetman Trail. There were a few times where I gave in to off-trail temptations and scrambled up some very small peaks/molehill types of things. Some of the bigger peaks looked very tempting, but I was starting to get tired by this point and short on daylight, given the distance I needed to cover to get back to my vehicle. At the end, there is a very nice route that leads from the parking area located to the NW of Bren back over to the parking area in front of Bushmaster, [which is where I had parked]. This shortcut bypasses having to hike on the very busy Gates Pass Road.

All in all, it was another super adventure in the Tucson Mountains, which never disappoint… and a nice break from some of the cliffing-hanging off-trail adventures I’ve been up to lately. The three biggest challenges I encountered where:

1. Not getting run over by motor vehicles while crossing Gates Pass Road
2. Not getting run over by bicyclists on the Yetman Trail
3. Getting back on time [for once] when using my mom as contact person
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