Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lost on the Arizona Trail, the Rincon Valley #8 near Cienega Creek

Most of the really interesting things we saw on our hike today today would have been missed if we hadn't got lost. We got an unexpected introduction to railroad repair and maintenance!

Today we probably saw about 20 different railroad maintenance machines... and I took over 200 photos of them all! It all happened in about an hour when we missed a turn in the Arizona Trail.

It has been kind of fun to figure out what some of these machines might do.

This guy is pulling a heavy duty air compressor.

And this machine we actually got see doing some work.  Do you see the rack folded up on the front end?

Well, it gets extended out on the track and holds laser levelling equipment for levelling up the track. AFTER the old ties are removed (see them on the side) and the new ties are replaced, they use laser  to find the optimum elevation of the rail to make for a smoother ride.

The machine can grab the rail that is attached to the ties and lift it about one to two inches.

Then these vertical paddles are driven down on each side of the tie...

and while the tie is lifted, it packs the rock underneath so the tie will stay at the desired height.

How cool is that?  I watched this operation with absolute amazement!

Then following behind the track levelling machine was the sweeper and edger. This guy grooms the edge of the road bed and then sweeps it clean.

We got lots of waves from the workers...

and there were lots of waves given.

We even got to see a train come thru on a different track, so that completed our railroad class today.

We started our hike today at the parking lot of the Gabe Zimmerman Trail and headed off to the north east and walked down Davidson Canyon to Cienega Creek.

Crossing Cienega Creek was pretty easy... no one fell in.  There were rocks that we could step across on.

Occasionally we came upon new flowers... and this Desert Lupine was the first I've seen this spring.

The trail soon took us out of the creek bottom where we could see a railroad bridge and the rich green cottonwood trees in the creek canyon.

We were still on the right trail...

These little markers kept giving us assurance of which way to go.

It was just after going under this railroad bridge that we unknowingly lost our way... we missed seeing the next marker and headed mistakenly down a frontage road along the railroad.

The Desert Marigolds were smiling on the day welcoming us... glad to see us enjoying their beauty!

I love this Soap Tree Yuca in bloom.

We were early enough in the day that the morning sun had not burned off last nights raindrops.

On a distant hill we saw this castle-like house... and there was a lot of discussion about stopping by there for coffee.

We passed by close to this grandfather saguaro...

And this skeleton saguaro continues to stand erect on the hill... continuing to hold his arms high.

This Desert Evening Primrose opens in the evening, but does not stay full open much of the next day. I have had trouble catching a good shot of these flowers.

We've seen several when hiking on the local Loma Alta desert loop around and after sunset. When we came back the next day we could not find any of them. We were thinking they were being eaten by the javelina's. When fully open they are about the size of a pansy.

The Desert Zinnia's have been blooming for at least a couple of weeks.

The Desert Marigold is of the longest blooming and most common desert wildflower.

Can you tell me the name of this tiny desert flower?  It looks like a daisy... but all the daisies are much larger. Help me with a name for this little gem.

Martha making it safely across on the way back.

We had a surprise visit with a couple of Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

What gorgeous dogs! The owner told us that the mother is going to have babies in April. We were all leaving the parking lot about the same time as these dogs.

This map shows the Arizona Trail as it goes from the Gabe Zimmerman trailhead north... that's the route that we had planned for today.  The Arizona Trail is over 800 miles long and is divided into 43 sections called Passages.

This map shows the Arizona Trail from the Mexican border to Utah border.

The remaining photos are not mine... they are images taken off the Arizona Trail site and credits are with each photo. There are certainly some outstanding viewpoints along this trail.

I don't know how much of the trail we will ever get to hike... but Arizona is full of spectacular views.

In order to complete this entire trail there was a huge push to get it done for Arizona's Centennial Anniversary... so a lot of workers put out extra effort to reach the goal on time.

This is a photo taken at the dedication of the Arizona Trail.

Several bikers enjoy this trail as well.  I think I would like to do some sections of the trail on a bike. They even do bike races on this trail.

And some enjoy seeing the back country on horseback.  So take your pick.

No doubt the part of the trail thru the Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular of all.

To see all the different Passages of the Arizona Trail, click on this website.  From this site you can click on any one of particular interest... like the one we started on this past week was Rincon Valley #8... and it is 14.8 miles from the Gabe Zimmerman trailhead to Hope Camp.  The website gives an excellent trail description, tells about all the interesting spots along the route.  This section touches Colossal Cave Mountain Park. This would be fun to break into a couple or more sections and instead of hiking back to the starting point, park a couple of cars about 7-8 miles along the trail where the trail crosses a road or other accessible point, like the Colossal Cave Mountain Park campground.

"We like to hike not to escape life... but so life does not escape us!"


  1. Replies
    1. That is so cool. And I thought we saw it all already! That is one awesome track laying machine. You got to put your mouse over the coloured type above and click on it to see the video.