Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finger Rock Canyon to Mount Kimball Megahike

In addition to organizing 130 or so participants in 27 teams for the Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count this past Sunday, I was a participant myself, covering Area 15 – Mount Kimball. This is a famous hike among local outdoor enthusiasts. It's known for not being terribly complex or requiring special skills, but it is unrelentingly steep in long stretches. In just 5.3 miles, it climbs 4225 feet – a similar elevation change as the from the Rim Village to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I was joined by my friend Andrew Broan for what was to be a 10-hour, 11-mile, 6200-calorie-burning hike through gorgeous desert, pinyon-oak woodland, and oak-ponderosa pine forest with a stunning view of desert lowlands below. A moist cold front had just passed through, the last shower ending just before dawn, and the highest elevations on our route were under 4-6 inches of snow. We saw several species rarely, if ever, spotted in the Tucson Valley: Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Black-chinned Sparrow, Yellow-eyed Junco, Mexican Jay, Arizona Woodpecker, Olive Warbler, Bushtit, Bridled Titmouse, and White-breasted Nuthatch. We also had the bonus of a Whiskered Screech-Owl responding vocally to my whistled imitation in broad daylight. It only hooted once, but that's all it takes.

Here is a long, chronological series of photos from the day.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats Rich on compiling a mega-count and doing what sounds like a fantastic job. You even got to do one of the most fun areas on the count, if I was down there I would volunteer for that area ever year.

    Oh, I liked the lichen photos on your blog too!

    Have a great rest of the CBC season and a merry 2013.