We’ve finally had a touch of winter here in Tucson, where temperatures reached into the high 80s in early February and it felt like summer back east.
At the end of February, while cooling rains pelted the parched city, snow fell atop 9,147-foot Mt. Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains just north of Tucson. Mt Lemmon is the site of the southernmost ski area in the United States. (Temperatures at the summit can turn 30 degrees colder than those in the city, which sits some 7,000 feet below.)
That’s good news for Tucson hikers and anyone who values the surprisingly rich life of the desert. With refreshing spring rains, dry creek beds turn into gushing waterfalls, wildflowers bloom and hikers and picnickers flock to newly lush surroundings.
Today’s guest post is by my friend and fellow baby boomer Mitch Stevens, founder of Tucson-based Southwest Discoveries, where he leads tours throughout Arizona and adjoining states.
In this post, Mitch ventures out of his comfort zone into the great Northwest to tackle Oregon’s forbidding, snow-covered Mt. Hood. His entourage consisted of a hiking buddy and a drill sergeant-like guide — but it was his ill-fitting boots and unseasonably warm weather that proved problematic in the end.
By Mitch Stevens
It was an eerie sensation to be grinding along in pre-dawn blackness. We had to start our journey at 12:30 am to avoid melting snow and ice-fall near the summit.
Bundled up against the chill, it was hard to… Continue reading
>Note: Note: This is the fourth in a series of “Hiking the Escalante” guest posts by Mitch Stevens, founder of the Tucson-based tour company Southwest Discoveries.
The series showcases some of the memorable adventures that await along the Escalante River Basin and its tributaries in southern Utah.
In this post, Mitch concludes the series with his visits to the Toadstools — which he describes as “a surreal and scenic experience that looks and feels as if it were taken straight from a science fiction movie” — and Calf Creek Falls, which he calls “awe-inspiring and mesmerizing.”
These hikes are well suited to adventurous, fit baby boomers with an appetite for great scenery and a side dish of geology. (Just don’t eat the Toadstools!)
By Mitch Stevens
Third in a Series
In our first two guest posts from Mitch Stevens, founder of Tucson-based Southwest Discoveries — which runs guided hiking tours of Arizona and the Southwest — Mitch gave riveting accounts of “The Most Beautiful Hike in the Southwest” and “The Incomparable Stevens Arch.”
His Hiking the Escalante series that appears on his website focuses on the extraordinary Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument in southern Utah.
In today’s guest post, Mitch takes you into Dry Gulch, Spooky Gulch, and Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon.
The names alone are enticing, and if you’re looking for some adventure and what Mitch calls “spectacular solitude” deep in the heart of southern Utah’s no man’s land. you may want to add them to your life list.
As Mitch notes, though, these are not suited for hikers who are overly claustrophobic or with limited climbing… Continue reading
In our previous post, guest blogger Mitch Stevens, founder of Southwest Discoveries, which runs hiking tours in Arizona and adjoining states, wrote about what he calls the most beautiful hike in the Southwest: Coyote Gulch in southern Utah.
Today he writes about what he calls perhaps the single most impressive natural feature in the West: Stevens Arch. It’s part of his “Hiking the Escalante” series and makes me want to fly/drive/hike to southern Utah right now (or maybe when it cools down a bit). Reading his description of the sometimes rough and tricky terrain, though, I think I would want Mitch to lead the way. Here’s Mitch:
By Mitch Stevens
Today we have a guest post from Mitch Stevens, who runs a terrific Tucson-based company called Southwest Discoveries, which specializes in hiking tours in Arizona and elsewhere in the Southwest.
This is the first post in a series that Mitch has written about “Hiking the Escalante,” showcasing the beauty and splendor of the awe-inspiring formations created by the Escalante River in southern Utah. It will give you a good sense of hiking Coyote Gulch, what Mitch calls the “most beautiful hike in the Southwest.” (And that’s saying a lot.)
Not incidentally, Mitch welcomes — encourages — baby boomers to join his hiking tours. This one is for active, fit boomers who enjoy the best that nature has to offer.
By Mitch Stevens
Sheer cliffs, red rock walls, ancient geologic sculptures and dozens of tributaries await the adventurous trekker when hiking Coyote Gulch; a stunning, nine-mile… Continue reading
When I moved to Tucson in late 2015, one of the first people I looked up was Mitch Stevens, who runs a tour company called Southwest Discoveries, which specializes in hiking and walking tours in some of Arizona’s most spectacular scenic areas.
While Southwest Discoveries is relatively new, Mitch is an old hand at leading hikes and tours, with an extensive background at the helm of Sierra Club outings. He’s particularly interested in drawing baby boomers to his tours, which is how we originally connected.
Mitch has lived in Arizona for decades and is a walking encyclopedia in the geology, archaeology, history, and culture of the Southwest.
Arizona’s searing summer heat levels off in Autumn, with October and November ushering in perfect hiking weather that lasts throughout the winter and into spring.
Red Rock Country
Mitch has… Continue reading
In the spirit of the holiday season — and getting into shape after indulging in all those holiday parties — I’m running a guest post from my fellow Tucson, Arizona, resident Mitch Stevens, founder of Southwest Discoveries.
Mitch or one of his trained guides at Southwest Discoveries will take you on a personalized hiking tour in the Tucson region or around Arizona, including the Grand Canyon and Sonoran Desert. His market is primarily baby boomers and multi-generational hiking groups, which is how Mitch and I originally connected.
Appropriately, Mitch writes about the benefits of going hiking (which I can now do in the winter, having recently relocated from upstate New York to sunny Tucson — following in the footsteps, as it were, of countless other baby boomers heading south and west).
So I’ll hand… Continue reading