Finger Rock Canyon

This is one of the most continuously steep and rocky trails in the Tucson area, so it has a reputation of being tough.  The changing vegetation and steep terrain can draw you up the canyon.  At the same time looking up the steep canyon can make the effort daunting.

Circa 1996
Some B/W from my first year at the UA.  This was the trail I seemed to hike most for some reason in college, and then I didn't revisit it for several years.

This is in the hidden valley before the trail heads up to the saddle and then to the summit of Mt Kimball.  On the way up, the trail skirts between the bottom of the cliffs and a steep slope below, then it pops into a secluded pocket of pines.  It's an interesting area and a nice reward to the steep climb, even though there's still more ahead.


This is an almost 360 panorama from the slopes of the peak adjacent to Kimball which I've heard refered to as Kimball Guard.  This was my first visit to the canyon and I somehow missed the trail split and ended up going up Pontatoc Canyon.  I realized my mistake once I got into the wrong canyon but decided to push on rather than backtrack.  The trail faded out and I bushwacked it up to the ridge that separates Ventana Canyon and continued up until contouring around the south face of Kimball Guard on what seemed to be remnants of a trail to the saddle.  I was way too tired at that point to go up to the summit.  I may have been following segments of an old trail that faded in and out the whole way up, or it may have just been game trails.  An older hiker I later met recalled that the original trail to Kimball headed up Pontatuc Canyon so maybe I was on the remains of it, but I have no idea if he was correct.  Kimball is the peak on the left across the saddle, the peaks on the right are Mt Lemmon in the distance then Cathedral Peak and Window Peak. 


Circa 1997

I think this was my next hike up which I actually got to the summit on.  Not sure why I had B/W and color, must have reloaded my camera. 

 
View northwest over the cliffs of Pusch Ridge with Table Mountain on the left and below in Oro Valley are huge swaths of bulldozed flats for houses.  The second photo looks across Ventana Canyon to Window Peak and beyond across the Tucson valley to the Rincons.


Circa 1999
 
JJ visited from Phoenix and went with me on this hike.  The first view looks steeply down Montrose Canyon to the north.  The second photo is curiously similar to the earlier one above, only this time featuring a worn out JJ.  This photo and the previous ones show the peaks before the Aspen fire burned most the trees around the summits, Cathedral Peak was especially deforested by the fire.


Circa 2000
 
Another hike up, this time in a late winter storm as it dusts the highest peaks with snow.  The first photo is at the bottom of the canyon and the second is up the canyon about a third of the way where the trail is perched between cliffs and steep slopes above and below, both with Finger Rock poking into the clouds.


Clouds lift to reveal a dusting of snow on the flanks of Mt Kimball. 


March 28, 2009
Mike and I decided to make an attempt and see how far we could get.  We were startled by some coatis rustling in the brush which I initially thought was a larger animal, since we couldn't see them for a bit.  They moved along in a pack just off the trail so we watched them for a while and then they passed by us again while we took a snack break.  They didn't show much interest in us as long as we were more than about 30 feet away, but still kept an eye on us.  This was about the last place I would expect to see them of all the places in the Catalinas.  We eventually got to Kimball Saddle but decided not to go up the extra bit to the summit since I had been there before and Mike wanted to save his energy for the descent.  We instead went up a short distance in the other direction towards Kimbal Guard to a lookout rock with good views.


Looking up at Mt Kimball with Finger Rock on the left.  The trail contours a little below the base of the cliffs on the right and then hooks past them to where there's a spur to a saddle with good views.  It was in that area that we came across the coatis and took our break.

  
The first photo is the first coati that we saw and then the others came popping out of the brush to follow it once they realized we weren't going to harm them.  Then they climbed as a group into one Alligator Juniper at a time and started going to town on the fresh berries.  If you're not familiar with these types of juniper berries, they're about as appetizing as eating a pine cone.  The coatis' tails aren't prehensile but they seemed to be as they spiralled them around the branches to grab hold and used them to partly swing across to other branches.

coati1.wmv
coati2.wmv
coati3.wmv