Sunday, April 04, 2010

Galiuro Mountains, Tortilla Trail, Powers Garden

A day off work is not missed. When one is living temporarily away from one's family, one needs to stay busy. For me, it is bike ride or hike Arizona. Friday and Saturday, I spent it in the Galiuro Mountains, two hours east of Tucson.

My goal was to visit Powers Garden, to see hat the Powers family set up for themselves over a hundred years ago. I got there via the Tortilla Trail (trail #254) from the Deer Creek trail head (not the Deer Creek Cabin as some guidebooks suggest.)

I started out at around noon after driving from Tucson. I made a route mistake about 1.5 mile into the hike. There was a trail junction and the signs were poorly displayed. I ended up going about 2 miles out of my way, towards Kennedy Peak. I got back on course when I found a trail marker pointing toward Mud Spring (not much going on there). The hike ended up being around 12 miles, one way for me. I arrived at the Powers Garden Trail / Rattlesnake Canyon at around 6:30 (a 6.25 hour hike).

Until that point, I did not see a soul. However, I ran into a group of LDS scouts from Central, AZ. One of the boys was working on his eagle project (fixing the barbed wire fence in the Powers Garden pasture). I had a good visit with a couple of their leaders. They invited me to stay in the cabins with them (first come, first served). I elected not to, opting for my original plan to do it alone. The Powers Garden area has two cabins and a shed. The cabins have beds with mattresses. I wish I would have taken them up on the bunk offer because my body is not what it used to be; that was one rough night sleep.

The trail head began at 5000. Climbed about 1400 feet over 5 miles to Topout Divide. It then dropped to around 5800 feet for a mile or so and then when up to 6100 feet before descending into Horse Canyon. After around 1.5 miles, the Tortilla Trail met the Powers Garden/Rattlesnake Trail. I needed to cross quite a few creeks but nothing significant until Rattlesnake Creek. Even then, I did not get wet.

This hike is challenging. Only a super fit person should attempt this route in one day. It is harder than it appears. Knowing where I made my navigation mistake, I was able to cut off quite a bit of time on the return trip, as it took me less than 5 hours.

I ran into a group of 4 hikers with fanny packs about noon. They were only 2 miles into the hike and they thought they were going to go there an back before dark. Not likely. I hope they realized their folly and turned around.

The trail was rough, due to LOTS or rocks and horse hoof imprints that were etched in the soil a few weeks ago when the conditions were very muddy.

I thought Horse Canyon was amazing. Not spectacular but quaint. It was made by a low volume stream with a number of small waterfalls.

This hike is tough but worth every sweating step.

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Tortilla Trail, 6100 feet, above Horse Canyon

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Tortilla Trail, 6400 feet, Topout Divide

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