Monday, August 29, 2011

Butterfly Trail - Santa Catalina Mountains, Tucson

This weekend the hiking group headed down to Tucson to hike the Butterfly Trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains (on Mount Lemmon).The trail lived up to its name with lots of butterflies, but it was so much more. In order to have butterflies, there were also lots of wildflowers, including these asters.

Yellow columbine
Indian paintbrush (with a grasshopper)

Crimson monkeyflower
The trail was a bit different than I anticipated. I had originally thought that most of it would be ascending up the mountain. Since my knee was still a bit fatigued from my Peru trip, that was a good thing.
Unfortunately, over half of the trail was spent descending into a ravine to the spring before we could ascend back out.
Despite the longer descent - and my throbbing knees - the trail was pretty and there were delights like these wild raspberries growing along the way.
There were also interesting beetlesincluding these Pleasing Fungus Beetles
and their creepy looking larvae/pupae that were hanging off a log.
I was thrilled when we finally reached the climb. My knee was happier and I could go full throttle and race up the hills.
This gave me the chance to break out my hoop and play for a while as I waited for some of the others to catch up.
Just as we finished the hike, we saw this mushroom, that looked like it was straight out of Alice in Wonderland.
After a bit of confusion about where the cars were parked (we did a shuttle), we climbed into the shuttle car and then into the minivan that we carpooled to Tucson in. As we headed down the mountain, we hoped that there was enough gas to make it to the first station (luckily, there was - but just under a half gallon left when we filled up!)
Trail Stats:
Distance Hiking = 5.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation = 7725 feet
Elevation Gain = 1800 feet
Avg Time Hiking = 3 hours (we took 4 hours, including breaks and lots of pictures)