Friday, February 6, 2015

The Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trail

The sign tells us that hikers and bicycles and horseback riders are welcome here. From a hikers persecutive this is a pretty easy hike.

This super creative bicycle rack near the picnic area is a real piece of art... a snake complete with tongue sticking out and rattles on the tail.

While we were arriving and getting our things together to leave on the hike...

Suk was already exploring and checking out the morning train.

Hiking this trail was a special experience. It brought back a lot of memories. Even in Canada we followed the news story about the tragic events that seriously injured the Tucson Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords. On January 8, 2011, Giffords was a victim of an assassination attempt that critically injured her by a gunshot wound to the head.

A total of 13 people were injured and six others were killed in the shooting at the Casas Adobe Safeway in Tucson that day. This trail is a memorial for Gabe Zimmerman, who was one of the victims killed. The names of all nineteen injured or killed are remembered on this plaque. 

A memorial to Gabe marks the trailhead for our hike today.

Gabe (1980-2011) was a native of Tucson. He loved to hike and mountain bike throughout the mountains and canyons you can see from here.

He worked for five years as an aide for Gabrielle Giffords. 

He was engaged to marry Kelly O'Brien, a Yuma native who now lives in Tucson. Take a few minutes to see and hear Kelly speak out about her fiancee. Click on this link. 

This trail is a part of the recently completed 820 mile Arizona Trail that goes from the Mexican border to Utah... and it was dedicated in December 2011, just in time for Arizona's Centennial.

We only hiked a little more than a couple of miles of this 7th Passage, the 13 mile Las Cienegas Passage... one of the 43 Passages that the trail is divided into.

It was fun to see Hope Camp Trailhead on the top of this map... we hiked there last Thursday and had a snack at the junction with the Arizona Trail. If you know this area a little you can see where the Old Spanish Trail meets Como Alta Loma, which brings us home to Rancho del Lago and the Dell Webb community.

To have so many great hiking trails so close to where we live is wonderful!

The Arizona Trail is the awesome brainchild of Dale Shewalter, a Flagstaff teacher, who worked hard to bring his dream to reality. You can check out the list of 43 Passages on the Arizona Trail website.

I am looking forward to picking sections of the Arizona Trail to hike... like the the Grand Canyon section that crosses the Colorado River on a suspension bridge.  That would be so very cool!

Near the beginning of our the trail today we passed thru a forest of ocotillo. I would love to hike this part again when these dead looking sticks are boasting their blazing blossoms. In Sabino Canyon two weeks ago we saw ocotillo breaking out in leaf... elevation there is just over 2700 feet... but because the elevation on the Gabe Zimmerman Trail  is about 3500 feet or more, it is cooler and they are later to leaf out. Our ocotillo at Del Webb has had leaves for a week already... elevation of our house is 3200 feet.

The day could not have been more perfect for a hike!  

Some other hiker took a stick and put a box around this animal footprint.

After that first animal footprint I was seeing these prints quite often.  

When we got home we Googled up cat tracks and concluded this footprint was a mountain lion. A bob cat leaves a smaller track about 1-1/2 inches... and mountain lions are twice as big in the 3-4 inch range. 

Desert Christmas Cholla... the fruit is guarded by some very sharp spines.

As we got near to the Interstate 10, we could see a communications tower on the top of a distant hill.

Since Don Richards has hiked this trail several times before, he led our group today, pointing out the interesting details along the way.

I-10 bridge over Davidson Canyon.

Prickly Pear Cactus were plentiful.

The distant hills had interesting shadows, accenting their folds.

Why is this fence and gate in the middle of the park? Maybe range cattle are on the other side. I saw dried cow pies in the vicinity when we stopped for a snack and turned around to come back... but we never saw any live critters.

A couple of ladies took the gate as good turn around point and headed back to their car.

We met Sandy, a Pima County worker, who told us to watch for little lizards hibernating in the tunnel ahead... and don't try to touch them or disturb their sleep.

This tunnel that goes under I-10 is probably as long as a football field.

I had to use flash to get a sharp photo.  Hope it didn't wake the little guy.

A little graffiti brightens up our exit from the tunnel. Check out the large safety pin on this little guy's diaper... just a little art appreciation moment.

A Brown Spine Prickly Pear Cactus... with some extra long spines!

This may be a small version of Desert Broom... what a soft texture mixed in with the sharp cactus needles.

A nice little family of Hedgehogs.

But in the cycle of life, this little hedgehog died and was broken in half.  The inside was totally empty and the sun was shining thru the exterior network of needles.

Shirley likes these Yuccas... she says "it's all about the base!"

We met a couple biking on the trail...

and saw another couple of guys hiking on an alternate route.

When Shirley said she saw one lone little saguaro (nobody believed her) ... I told her I missed it... and wanted to find it. Persistence pays... it was the only one we saw all day here.

This dead looking tree beside the saguaro is a nurse tree... in the summer when it has leaves, it will shade the saguaro for the hot sun.

This little saguaro is only about 15 inches high. He must  be lonely out here without any family.

This trail was formerly known as Davidson Canyon Trail, because it follows this canyon... but was renamed in honour of Gabe Zimmerman in Feb 2012 by the Pima County Board of Supervisors at the request of the Arizona Trail Association.

The highest peak is Rincon Mountain... to the left side is Mica Mountain.

Notable peaks from right to left are Mica Mountain, Tanque Verde, and Pistol Hill, which is the most pointed, just left of centre. We live a little further left and south of Pistol Hill.

Some one abandoned this old car in the bottom of Davidson Canyon. We speculated on how this  car came to be there. Shirley said all you have to do is watch some "Breaking Bad" on Netflix and you'll know how it got there.

So I offered her a prize if she would write a creative story about the car... the prize is an 8 x 10 colour print of any photo she wanted from my blog.  I extend this offer to any of my readers. Let your imagination run wild and write a crazy story.  We can make it a little contest and put a deadline of two weeks... say February 20, 2015 midnight. All submissions sent by email... and all will be shared on the blog. Winner will be chosen by popular vote... kind of like the People's Choice awards! Why not give it a shot?

The guys who made the trail head sign have a sense of humour... and on the back of that sign they did a little metal art of Gabe Zimmerman hiking on the trail in the heat of the day.

Don't you just love this little guy? Not only is this so cool, but the whole trailhead signage was well thought out and very tastefully presented.

 When I showed it to Shirley, she asked me to give her 'the pose'. Don't I look a little like that metal stick man? She has quite a collection of photos of me doing crazy poses in different places around the world.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain." -Vivian Greene

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