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Re: “Tucson Mountains Trail Hound: Gates Pass Mystery Trail

Cool, thanks Carl: history through the Tucson Mountains has led us to an interesting and fairly unique set of circumstances, one of the very cool parts of our lives in Tucson. I'm not sure our agencies and community are projecting out into the future aggressively enough: anyone who has visited Colorado Springs' Garden of the Gods can shudder at what the future can look like, if we don't actively cultivate and protect the remaining "wild" qualities of peri-urban parks. We're countin' on you and the Weekly!!

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Posted by Pablocolada on 02/12/2015 at 3:34 PM

Re: “Tucson Mountains Trail Hound: Gates Pass Mystery Trail

Well stated Carl; I only disagree with your estimation of your impact via your articles in the Range on the casual hiking community, and the degree of competency and sophistication of the majority of hikers from that specific trailhead, which I visit weekly. It appears to be the SECOND MOST VISITED trailhead in the park, after Gates Pass itself, and attracts all manner of buffoon: the vast majority are first time hikers, tourists on holiday, urban dwellers out on a rare adventure. It is an easy target: cars are left overnight, parked as to block several spaces the next morning. Refuse from evening non-hikers is common. Few have ever looked at a map (based on the frequent conversations I have with passersby), or have even a hint of a plan. I watch people follow the natural paths, without a clue as to which trail they intend, and maybe next time they venture a little further down the road, extending the impact onto more and more "unnamed" trails. The adjacent area behind Old Tucson is a mess, once you start poking around the side trails. Many damaged saguaros. Trails are, by and large, Unnamed for a reason, and many of your readers may not possess your personal knowledge, experience, keen eye, and concern for ethics: the trails are not constructed for a certain level of impact. They can be large and visible, but one has to look at water diversion bars and landscape choices (rock vs. wash vs. slope). And then there are the less apparent aspects of wildlife habitat management decisions (the new mtn. bike re-routes and attendant wash avoidance on trails adjacent to the Yetman are great examples of thoughtful trail construction.) The National Park employs different strategies in other locations in the park, based on different specific user impact. I don't believe that any trails in the Tucson Mountains need any advertising, since they are SO VERY accessible and multiply cataloged on various on-line websites. It is virtually an Urban Park. Far too many destructive visitors frequent Gates Pass, and some of them probably talk to people who know people who read The Range. There are plenty of other "gems" in the area that actually require a little gumption to get to - everybody drives over Gates Pass: I am still scratching my head over your perception of who visits that trail-head: your "surprise" is definitely warranted.

My larger concern would be with other nearby trails, should you wind up being as enthusiastic in future instances, since I don't know you well enough to guess your future intentions in the column! I only wish you had included some context in your article about the profusion of CLOSED historic trails in the Tucson Mountains, the marginally successful attempts to better-direct the old trails, and the reasons why - the situation is much more poignant there than any other area nearby. Maybe a future article will cleverly weave the topic in...

Our (since it is "our park") head naturalist ranger at Saguaro West for many years is Richard Hill, and he's great to talk to about all manner of topics - tell him I sent you! I can also indicate [in the off-line realm] a few great Crestates, visible from those very trails, if you know where to look.

There is a difference between patronizing and insulting text, but not worth either of our time bantering about here ;-] -PK

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Posted by Pablocolada on 02/12/2015 at 1:59 PM

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