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Tucson, Arizona 2016

Finger Rock Canyon to Pima canyon Trail Hike - part 3

Our Crazy Post Retirement Wanderings Hiking and Triking

Finger Rock Canyon to Pima canyon Trail Hike - part 3

This is one of the most demanding hikes in the Santa Catalina mountains. There are only a handful of other hikes that are more difficult. The more difficult hikes are also two or more trails strung together. This was a one way hike. We parked at the Finger Rock trailhead, and were picked up by a pre-arranged ride at the Pima Canyon trailhead. Overall the trail wasn't too hard to find, except for in a few places up near the top of Pima canyon where the trail sort of disappeared in a couple places.

We found quite a bit of information about this trail on, It's the Arizona trails website, and it's a great resource for people who are looking for a hiking trail, especially near Tucson, Az. provides lots of very useful information, including distance, elevation, AEG, elevation gain, average duration time of hike, pictures along the trail and a write up of what to expect.

The main idea always is to get fresh air, good exercise and interesting pictures, and that constitutes a good experience and is good for my health, and is a pleasant pastime.

Because the hike was so demanding I did some research on how many calories would be burned on this hike, and how to replace the calories in such a way that I didn't run out of energy along the way. With the trail gaining nearly a mile in elevation and then losing nearly a mile on the way down, all of the uphill and downhill muscle groups would be used pretty vigorously. Plus with the distance of a little over 12 miles, it would be a full day hike. I didn't anticipate it would take 14 hours, but it did, and I was plenty tired at the end of the trail. As it turned out, I made two sandwiches of peanut butter and honey and brought a cliff bar and a bag of granola, and was unable to eat either of them, because I just didn't have any appetite, for some unknown reason, perhaps due to the elevation effects? Not sure. I started to get a little hungry just before bedtime, but I could tell that the overwhelming effort of this huge effort had made an impression on my body. I didn't feel quite right until the next day, when my appetite came back in full force. The weather on that day was absolutely perfect. Cloudy most of the day, and about 60F at the upper elevations. There was a nice breeze, and the canyon wall shielded us from the morning sun for the short periods when the sun did come out from behind the clouds. I only brought along 3 liters, and I should have brought 4 liters, or perhaps even 5. Fortunately the day was cloudy, or I would have run out of water much sooner and would have had to rest and wait until dark to conserve body hydration by hiking in the cool evening air. As it turned out, I ran out of water in the last half mile before the Pima canyon trailhead.

One thing to remember about hiking this trail in the summer is that it's located in the desert southwest, and it's really too hot for this much exercise self heating in the summer without getting a heatstroke. But it is probably mostly be ok to great from about November to April. The summer wildlife such as rattlesnakes, gila monsters, tarantulas, scorpions, and other things come out in the summer.

It's magical to hike in Arizona in the fall, winter and spring. Only risk in winter is that you can have rainstorms, which translate to snowstorms in the mountains from December- March. Ice and snow on steep trails is the enemy of the mountain hiker. Low friction on steep smooth rocky trail surfaces are not good. Hiking poles and crampons are useful in dealing with snow and ice, but one still needs to be careful in ice and snow. But the rewards are definitely there for the winter hiker that performs careful planning and uses caution. There was no snow left on these trails from the snow in late December, because all the snow below about 7,000 feet that was not on the north facing canyon walls was completely melted by the date of this hike. Nearly all of the hike was below about 7,000 feet.

On the day when we hiked the Finger rock to Pima canyon trail, we got a start on hiking very early in the day at about 6:30AM. The hike gains about 4,600 feet going up Finger rock trail and then loses it all going down Pima canyon over the total of about 12 miles, and that makes for a full day hike if not a long day hike at 14 hours duration. There were some good views, but I was a little disappointed that there weren't more good views from the top of Mount Kimball along the trail of both the north and east directions. One could get a glimpse looking each of those directions, but there were so many large trees, one couldn't really get any good pictures.

One should also bring a headlamp in case one has delays or loses the trail, during the day on the trail, so that one can make ones way in the dark along the trail to ones destination safely without staying the night out on the trail in the dark, or attempting to walk along steep trails without falling over a cliff to ones' death or injury. On this hike we hiked for about 3 hours in the dark. In essence we hiked down most of Pima canyon in the dark. Without light that would have been a disaster.

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