Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kellogg Mountain Trail

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Another Saturday adventure! Today we were up bright and early and got a good start on the adventure. It ended up being a great example of "Early bird gets the worm" - and the "worm" for us was a beautiful drive up the Catalina Highway and a quiet, peaceful hike on Kellogg Mountain trail. We were able to enjoy the cool mountain air and watch the clouds move in, but made it home safely before the rain came. Maybe waking up early can have some great benefits, right Curtis? :)

Catalina Highway is a road that goes up and through the Eastern parts of the Catalina Mountain range and up to Summerhaven, the town on top of Mt. Lemmon (the highest peak in the Catalina Mountains). The road is about 26 miles to the top, and Kellogg Mountain trail is around mile 17. Catalina Highway can have heavier traffic consisting of both vehicles and bikers, but since we drove up so early it wasn't an issue this morning. We've driven this road many times, sometimes all the way to the end, and other times we drive only to a trailhead. There are so many vista spots and trails that branch off the highway, and we have only gone on a fraction of them. 

The scenery was much more green than we have seen before. We also enjoyed seeing waterfalls running off the tall rock faces as we drove past. It's very evident that monsoon season has brought plenty of rain this summer.

A letterbox series planted by our good friends is what brought us up here. The carves were excellent and the trail was beautiful and rewarding. We didn't see anyone else out there until we started heading back, which made it even more enjoyable and ideal for boxing.

The trail had a few steep spots, but nothing too strenuous. We got some great views to the East that only got better as we hiked further!

The above is facing West. Yes, it's true, we're still in Southern Arizona! If you ever want a taste of Colorado scenery, all you have to do is drive up a mountain. :)

Facing South. I tried to take lots of panoramas, but this is the only one that pieced together right. Oh well. It looked like the Santa Rita mountains got hit by the rain before the Catalina Mountains did.

After finishing the letterbox series, we had the choice to head back or continue on the trail to reach Mt. Bigelow. Of course we chose to go on! It was only about a half mile to the end. Sadly, there is no easy way to reach the top of Kellogg Mountain - but even if we did, there were lots of trees so there wouldn't be one good spot with a good all-around view.

We reached the top of Mt. Bigelow in no time. We attempted to find a Geocache that was supposedly up there but had no luck. There wasn't really a great 360 view up here either, (unless you're authorized to climb up the fire watch tower!) but we wandered around and saw all we could!

Facing South toward Micah Mountain and Rincon Peak

Kellogg Mountain is the closest peak to the South of Bigelow.

We took a side trail to the East that resulted in amazing views.

The Flowers of the Catalina Mountains. :)

This one was camera shy so I had to hold onto it!

Bam! All the next pictures of facing East. I could not get enough of this view!

Hello down there, Kellogg Mountain!

We found this perfect spot on the mountain side. There was a rock face that welcomed us to sit down, relax, and take in the beauty. The only sounds were birds chirping, it was cool with a light breeze, and we were together. This is my new favorite place in the world. :)

A kissing picture only seemed necessary in this setting. ;)

We sat here for a long time just enjoying. Of course I got lots of pictures so that we can remember this perfect spot! Sorry about the picture overload!

Okay, enough with that. We finally decided to head back. I think altogether, we only hiked about 2 miles round trip - we just made it longer by stopping and taking it easy. It wasn't until we were back on the trail that we started seeing other hikers, and then as we were driving down the mountain there were so many cars driving up!

We pulled off at one of the vistas when we spotted this long chain of waterfalls flowing down the mountain side. You might need to click on the picture to see them better - it was much cooler in person, and it was actually loud for being so far away!

Zoomed in on some of the waterfalls. This water source is what flows into Sycamore Reservoir and Seven Falls - two other hikes we've done in the Catalina Mountains that took place before I was actively taking pictures and blogging. I guess that means we have to do them again so I can share with you how great those hikes are! ;)

Facing East - the second time I came down to Tucson to visit Curtis was Thanksgiving 2012 with my family, and we drove up Catalina Highway on Thanksgiving day. We had stopped at this same spot to take family pictures. Such good memories. :)

Facing West. It's not this green year round! Drive up and enjoy it now! :)

It was only noon around this point, so it seemed necessary to stop at Culvers to keep the adventure going a little longer. Later this afternoon, Curtis and I did something else new together - watercolor! Well, I used to do it quite a bit, so I convinced Curtis to try it out with me. He was a great sport and played along, and he is actually has some artistic talents, even if he doesn't think so. ;)

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