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Crest Trail #144 - Santa Rita Mtns
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mini location map2020-08-15
7 by photographer avatarPrestonSands
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Crest Trail #144 - Santa Rita MtnsTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 15 2020
PrestonSands
Hiking12.60 Miles 4,370 AEG
Hiking12.60 Miles   7 Hrs      2.26 mph
4,370 ft AEG   1 Hour   25 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Hitting the road at sunrise in Oro Valley, I started hiking with scores of others by 7:30 am. I left Super Trail and the crowds for the pipeline connector route, and pushed on to Sylvester Spring, where I splashed cool water on my face on the already warm “excessive heat warning” morning. No water at Kent Spring, but a little in the creek nearby.

Next up was the Four Springs Trail, where mountain peaks peeped through the coniferous cover on a stairway to the sky. A real treat for the “sky island” lover. Oak-scrubby in a few spots, but a relative highway.

Crossing the ridge into Florida Canyon, I felt the full force of the sun as countless bees hovered over the parched and minimal summer wildflowers. I imagine the fir forest in this area was once shady and beautiful. I stopped here in the welcome shade of the Armour Spring boulder to top off on water. A stick carefully wedged into the spring crevice yielded a liter after about 10 minutes, while a squirrel attempted to make off with my cracker wrapper. The rugged topography of McCleary Peak framed a classic sky island view of the Rincons as I continued on to the Crest Trail.

The sun showed no mercy along the Crest Trail on the upper reaches of Cave Creek. The air was still and shimmered from reflected heat on the pale rock. The view here was amazing, with every mountain range to the New Mexico border visible. A wildflower patch in the saddle south of peak 8853 and a cool patch of forest beyond were a welcome sight. Upper Gardner Canyon’s trail-side grove of mini-aspens and the in-your-face view of Mount Wrightson were cool. I stopped for a lunch break under a little pine near the high point of the Crest Trail and considered by water supply. Probably not wise to make a side trip to Wrightson’s summit, I thought. Next trip.

The solitude of the previous several hours ended as I started descending Old Baldy Trail, but it was not crowded. Bellows Spring had enough water in the basin for me to get my hat and shirt wet.

At Josephine Saddle I opted to continue west a bit on Agua Caliente Trail and descend Carrie Nation to avoid the crowds. This was my first time on upper Carrie Nation, and it was steep! I was happy to reach the Carrie Nation Mine, as was my knee. I soaked myself in the chilly mine tunnel water and then continued down to the Madera trailhead in comfort.

Although toasty at times, it was great to finally hike the Four Springs and Crest trails, something I’d been wanting to do for years. Beautifully rugged and forested country.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Armour Spring Dripping Dripping
Very light trickle out of rock, took me 10 minutes to collect a quart of water.

dry Bellows Spring Dry Dry
One drop every few seconds, essentially dry. Some water in collection basin though.
_____________________
"As soon as I can I’m sneaking back in them mountains..." -Johnny Paycheck
HAZ Member
PrestonSands'
458 Photosets

  2020-08-15
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  2020-06-14
  2020-05-01
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  2015-06-17
  2015-04-14
  2015-03-26
  2015-03-01
  2014-07-26
  2014-06-06
  2014-05-18
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  2014-01-19
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