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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Saguaro East; Hiking Loma Alta and Quilter... A "Wise" Choice

Having exhausted our welcome at Gilbert Ray, one of our favorite campgrounds in the whole wide world, we were forced to move on. So now we are back in Madera at Bog Springs, a close second favorite to Gilbert Ray. If I could get away with it, it would suit me fine to just bounce back and forth between the two all winter long...according to temperature and forecast. There seems to be plenty of vacancies in both, as long as you arrive on a weekday. Both camps offer great hiking and biking opportunities. 

There are three generous sites at Bog Springs that can easily accommodate Goldie and Sue Bee, and still have enough room for company in big trucks (Cowboy Brian).

We met Susan and Maikel at Saguaro East's main entrance. They were taking us to a newly finished trail constructed in Saguaro National Park's 4000 acre acquisition in the '90s. Oh goodie; new territory!  

 Mountain biking is allowed on the Loma Alta trail... obviously an old ranch road before the acquisition. We only saw one couple though, riding high dollar Ellsworth's (drool). 

We hiked Loma for a couple of miles to access Quilter, passing the ruins of an old windmill and tanks left over from ranching days.

It didn't take long before we were wandering through impressive, dense stands of healthy Saguaros... smooth juicy green flesh, unriddled with bullet holes. 

Take binoculars, they will help you find "crested" saguaros beyond the trail. There are also and a couple of spectacular crested barrel cacti trailside. 

We also found some saguaro with multiple arm deformities, as if they overdosed on fertility drugs.

...not to mention four really goofy looking hikers.

I always get a kick out of saguaros with "personality." It would be fun to do a post with photos of expressive saguaros and let readers suggest "captions" for them. I'm afraid a few would be X rated :) 

All in all it was a warm day of hiking an area we had never been to before... thanks to Susan's tireless research and her bold-to-the-point-of threatening interrogations of innocent passers by (But I swear to God, lady, I don't know where any crested saguaros are! I'm from Minnesota for crying out loud! Now get off me). 

I hope you are taking notes. These are gold nuggets I'm passing along to you here.

Now go take a hike!
Mark and Bobbie :)


  1. You are so right.... I need a hike. All this work on the house and snow has me feeling a lot housebound.... But my day is coming!!! Have fun!!

  2. I can't find a search bar on your blog.... How will I ever find all these wonderful hikes and camp spots???

  3. Those are some cacti with character! I never get tired of looking at them. Thanks for sharing your trails.

    Looks like we'll be in your neck of the woods (Ouray) for a couple of weeks this summer. I'll be searching your blog for the best trails...

  4. Gilbert Ray is one of our favorite campgrounds, too. Hate that they limit you to a week. In 2011 when Jim had cataract surgery in Tucson we had to hang around the area for over a month. Alternated one week at GR and 2 at Catalina SP. Tried to get them to let us stay an extra week at Gilbert Ray but even though it was April, hot, hot, hot and the park was nearly empty, they made us move on.
    We also like Madera Canyon. Had three Lazy Daze there at the same time, so, yes, there are several sites for RVs. Don't think we would like it with snow on the ground, though!

  5. G Ray is sweet but even more so M Canyon (except when there is snow in the forecast!). Looks like you are making the most of both places! Cool! -scamp

  6. I never tire of saguaro pictures. So, keep them coming! You definitely found some beauties.

    Too bad we didn't know about that trail before we left the area.

  7. Very interesting photo's, and those quote "goofy looking hikers" look like happy hikers to me, and that warms my heart. Maybe, just maybe, I will be lucky enough to get to Lovely Ouray sometime this summer....Laverne

  8. It's always exciting to hike new trails but then find camping areas that feel like home. I have never hiked in the shadows of the huge Saguaros but enjoyed the pictures of your hike. I have now added this to my to do hikes....
    Thanks for the pictures and information.
    John Q

  9. Just love those saguaros with a personality, great pictures today again.

  10. Saw on the news about the Tucson snowstorm! If you are still at Madera hope you brought your snow shovel and skis! Yikes! Stay warm! (Glad we stayed in the valley) -scamp

  11. Have never seen a saguaro up close and personal, so have been enjoying all of the "pictures with personality". The one reminds me of the blowup balloon guy that is always waving in front of the jerky seller north of Ridgeway.

  12. I had the very same idea about captioning the cacti! Along with the feeling about some of them not being fit for print...

    My favorite shot today is the poor dying saguaro... you did it a great honor.

  13. klbexplores,
    That light you see is the end of the tunnel... or a train... one or the other :) Hang in.
    No search bar... maybe soon.

    Your are welcome.
    Please look us up in Lovely Ouray when you get there... we're always up for a hike!

    Jim and Gayle,
    Stupid rules and Gilbert Ray, for sure... especially since it's never full. So you've been to Madera! Cool. Picture it in 5 inches of snow right now :))

    Cool indeed! thanks. When doe it warm up around here anyway?

    John and Pam Wright,
    There is always next year!!! Come back.

    The Goofy people were happy!
    and let's get together at the Western Hotel when you get to Lovely Ouray! I'll buy you a beer :))

    John Q.
    Hey Pal... does that mean you are going to meet us down here next winter? About time!!

    Geo and Suz,
    Thank you guys.

    We weathered the snow storm... had to go around "Road Closed" signs to get back to Goldie after a day in Tucson. Just got back from a hike... beautiful!!!

    Chris and Mindy,
    Ha! You need to take a winter break and come the the Sonoran Desert... stunning over your "Spring Break." Flowers should be good this year with all the moisture.

    Why thank you...



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