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Butterfly Trail Day Hike
Tucson, Santa Catalina Mountains
June 6, 2009
by Wendy Rennert
by Michael Humphrey
Bill, Lisa, Wayne, Karen, Brock, Alexis, Elizabeth, Wendy, Michael [photo by Bill]

We did this hike as a two-car shuttle. The drivers dropped off the cars at the far end of the trail and spotted three wild turkeys on their way back to meet the others. On a windy but beautiful day, nine hikers started out in 57 degree temperatures at the Lower Bigelow Trailhead in honor of National Trails Day. The beginning of the trail is the trickiest, as there are a few unsigned junctions with other trails. We took one wrong turn to a dead end, but quickly found our way back to the actual trail.

Once we climbed the first half mile through the Ponderosa forest, we were rewarded with great views. Though a bit early in the season, we did see a few butterflies on the trail of the same name.

Some of the wildflowers were just past their peak, but others seemed to be just coming into bloom, including Columbine, Verbena, Indian Paintbrush and Hedgehog Cactus flowers.

Lush, large ferns carpeted the forest mostly towards the end of the trail, and blue seemed to be the color of the day, as we saw blue beetles, caterpillars and a lizard with a blue belly (These caterpillars will end up turning into the Lycaenidae Lepotes butterfly, I think).

Amazing views from many points along the trail
Plenty of shade and cool breezes

We also found a horny toad.

Then we proceeded on a long down hill section of single track trail.

We had lunch at the bottom of the ravine, where there was a small amount of water, significantly less than just 2 weeks before.

There was a group of bikers that passed by as we ate, only they were not riding the bikes, they were carrying them at that point due to the terrain. No thanks!

Some of our group went to explore the site of the wreckage from the 1957 crash of two F-86 Sabre Jets.

A trickle of water at the bottom of the ravine
Bill found the wreckage (Bill Zimmerman photo).

After that our group split up a bit, as I either had a little bit of dehydration or ate something that didn’t agree with me, so I had to slow way down for the remainder of the hike out of the ravine. I gave instructions to those in front as to which way to continue at the junctions up ahead. Two of our hikers graciously remained with me in the back of the group and we radioed our whereabouts every so often to keep the others posted.

Since a few of the hikers had to get back to Phoenix right away, we had a comical moment where the remaining six of us piled into a tiny car for the short drive back to get the other car at the beginning of the trail. Think of the old gag bit where an endless number of clowns keep getting out of a tiny vehicle!

A greeting to the back of the group from our youngest hiker!

Unfortunately, that turn of events brought us back to the trailhead a good two hours later than it normally would have, so the restaurant that we wanted to go to was closed by then, but we did happen upon a fabulous Italian restaurant called Zona 78 which was very tasty.

We had a very long day, but overall a pleasant and beautiful hike.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated September 13, 2016