Hiking Club Diary

Hikers pause by Little Horse Tank pools. (Photo by Ruth Caldwell)

Hikers pause by Little Horse Tank pools. (Photo by Ruth Caldwell)

Trek to Garwood Dam/Wildhorse Pools

Ruth Caldwell

It’s a long drive across Tucson, but the hikers on Jan. 28 all agreed that the scenery made it worth the trip! Eight people made the trek to Saguaro National Park East. They hiked south along several trails, then proceeded up the Garwood Trail, passing a crested saguaro to the site of the Garwood Dam. This feature was built by Nelson Garwood in the 1950s.

The group continued on the Carrillo trail through a series of switchbacks with beautiful views of the park and of the Santa Catalina, Tucson, Rincon, and Santa Rita mountains while on a ridge in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. Beyond the ridge, the trail intersected with the Wildhorse Trail and turned south to go on a steep (.3 mile) trail to Little Wildhorse Tank, one of the only perennial areas of water in the park. They were not disappointed. Although less than in a normal non-drought year, there was still water in the pools!

Masked Skeleton at Robles Pass Trailhead (Photo by Elissa Cochran)

Masked Skeleton at Robles Pass Trailhead (Photo by Elissa Cochran)

Missing Hiker at Robles Pass?

Elisabeth Wheeler

Twelve miles of Robles Pass trails are located at the southern end of the Tucson Mountains. Many bikers ride these trails, but few hikers explore them. Guide Elisabeth Wheeler led hikers Kaori Hashimoto, Jack Jeffrey, Elissa Cochran, and Gayle Hosek on a six-mile exploratory hike on Jan. 12.

Hikers commented on the variety of saguaros viewed, including one with a prickly pear growing out of it. The group laughed about a COVID-masked skeleton riding a buckboard while enjoying Chris Jeffrey’s delicious chocolate pecan cookies. How did this specter get here as well as the other artifacts scattered about?

What is known is the story of how Robles Pass got its name, as told by Elisabeth. Another mystery to be solved is a large stone house with a prominent fireplace and many windows located on a hillside above Ajo Way. Hikers also enjoyed views of “A” Mountain, the Santa Rita Mountains, the Rincon Mountains, the Santa Catalina Mountains, and the Baboquivari Mountains. The weather, sunny and cool, was perfect for this fun exploratory hike.