In the beginning of December, after more car camping in the Canelo Hills, we headed north to Redington Pass, east of Tucson. Being close to a big city, this is a busy and popular area, for hikers and off-highway-vehicles. Redington Road climbs up out of the suburbs and gets a bit rough as the switch backs work their way up to the pass. It always amazes us where people will drive their vehicles. This is a pretty rough road, causing us to creep along at 5 mph or so and during our time camped on the pass, we saw several passenger cars driving by (once even a tiny Smartcar!) You drove that up here?! Maybe they were rentals or some people just hate their cars.
The road separates the Santa Catalina to the north and Rincon mountains to the south and is apparently a former military supply route. Eventually it descends from the pass into the San Pedro River Valley and farming and ranching communities. Even if you're not hiking, it is a lovely day drive. We camped by an old corral for a few days before packing up and hitting the AZT at the Redington Pass Trail Head. Sadly, this was one of the trashiest sites we'd stayed at. We picked up two whole bags full of bottles and other trash. It's sad and frustrating areas popular with OHV users and shooters are usually so trashy. We even saw a guy leave some empty deer feed bags in the old corral when he had a big pick up with plenty of room! We figured maybe he didn't want to get busted baiting deer - who knows how people think?
We backpacked north on the AZT on the Redington Pass passage. The trail was fairly easy walking, steadily climbing up from the pass and offering up sweeping views of the mountain ranges in either direction. We camped both nights in Aqua Caliente Wash. Our first morning there, Baron alerted us to something on the other side of the wash - a coatimundi sitting in a tree limb, eyeballing Baron and flicking his tail. By the time I got the camera, it came down from it's perch and moved on. Then, more started coming out from the bushes and grass! There must have been at least a dozen. Of course, they were too fast to get pictures and it all happened so quickly we didn't think of video. We've since learned they do travel in packs of up to 30.
We had a pleasant dayhike, taking a break at a cement cistern which collects water from nearby West Spring. After collecting water ourselves, we climbed through gusty winds up to a saddle at about 4,800 ft. Getting annoyed with the wind, we opted to turn around and make our way back to camp and hoped the coatimundi's hadn't raided it.
They didn't and we had a quiet evening. After hiking out, we car camped nearby along Redington Road. the following day we dayhiked south on the AZT to Italian Trap, the actual beginning of this passage. A very pleasant hike through grassy rolling hills.
We camped another night along Redington Road and then packed it all up and descended to Tucson to resupply. We couldn't find anywhere nearby to camp for free and, running out of time and options, decided to splurge and camp at Catalina State Park just north of Tucson. This is a really nice (and busy) park with many hiking trails.
Since it's such a pain in the ass to pack up all our stuff, we stayed two nights and enjoyed the luxury of showers, water, and electricity. We were one of two or three truck campers camped in the RV park, giving us another interesting glimpse of the RV life vs. the truck life. Stormy weather moved in and we packed up in the rain the next day and drove to Kearny.