Three Troughs – Santa Rita Mountains – Madera Canyon

Our hiking adventure today took us to the Santa Rita Mountains located 40miles southeast of Tucson.  Tucked away in the mountains is Madera Canyon filled with hiking trails and one of the world’s premier birding areas.  Our group of hikers were hoping to conquer Mount Wrightson with an elevation of 9,453 feet today.  On arrival we saw the snow peaks on the mountain and decided that it was best to stay below the snow line.  We looked over the map and decided on Bog springs Trail and then loop back down through Kent spring and Sylvester spring.  The Santa Rita Mountains especially Madera Canyon have a lot to offer.

Our hike stated at Bog Springs trailhead and started to climb up into the trees.  One eighth of a mile in we had deer crossing our path.  They stopped to look at us but then they just slowly moved through the tall grass past some trees.  We continued climbing the trail it was fairly wide, then we turned off to head to Bog springs and it started to narrow and get steeper.  As we climbed we went from small trees to larger trees and eventually into the pine trees.  This is an amazing experience with the changing of plants and ground cover.  When admiring the landscape and searching for flowers the wind was getting louder blowing through the trees.  At one point it sounded almost like ocean waves crashing on to the beach along with the wind (Oregon Coast).  We continued on to Bog springs and were a little surprised at what we found there.  A cement trough filled with water with a metal sign.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but I had not imagined that (check out the picture below).  We continued down the trail to the next spring.

Heading to Kent spring was an up hill windy picturesque hike.  We were popping in and out of the trees on our very narrow now cliff side trail enjoying views of the valley.  We were now seeing more and more pine trees along the trail and less and less cactus plants.  I found the only flowers on the trail they look like little white stars.  I photographed them quickly and continued down the trail.  Then the trail switched back a couple times and we started heading down back into a forest with larger trunk trees, I found some of them fascinating.  One was struck by lightning and had split, with half laying on the ground.  There were others with large holes in them, and many white bark trees.  Then we started hearing water running and came across a little stream it was so peaceful.  We took several pictures and moved on.  After that we arrived at Kent spring which was a rock trough labeled with a metal sign not much different then the last spring.

The path to Sylvester spring was the most beautiful we walked along a stream, stopping many times for photos and videos.  Water in the desert is so beautiful and rare that you just want to savor it as long as you can.  This trail is very wide and more like an old road along the creek.  We came upon our last spring it was a cement trough but this one I noticed a plate on the top, it said that it was placed by game and fish for conservation.  When I hike trails with dry creek beds I just image where the water has flowed or I look at the rocks and try and figure out how high the water has been in the past.  This trough made me think about the desert animals during a drought.  It made me rethink these simple looking troughs.  I imagine the effort it took to bring the materials to build them and the number of animals that have benefited from them during times of extreme heat.  Though the 3 springs we encountered today may have been simple and not much to look at they have a great purpose and it reminds us that the simple things in life should not be over looked.