December 27, 2012 - January 7, 2013

by Redhorse

          Plans to bring in the New Year riding Catalina State Park in Arizona started while riding Jack's Creek in New Mexico during the summer.  Several trailriders were invited along for this adventure, but conflicts stood in their way.  Redhorse & Misty Valdez kept planning the trip; heading West on December 27, 2012.

          We overnighted at the Ward Country Coliseum in Monahans, Texas.  Retired policeman and trailrider, Wayne Poor, paid us a nice visit in camp.  Being several days before the New Year, didn't stop some over zealous celebrators from shooting off fireworks about 100 yds. from where we were camped.  Misty's new mule, Miss Whiskey, along with Mouse & Luke, got an introduction to the booms & high pitched whistling.

         The next day started early and was smooth sailing even hitting El Paso about high noon.  What we lacked in visual contact in the wild traffic, we made up for in perseverance! Traveling weather was good and we both were blessed with a Heavenly co-pilot.

          We arrived in Tucson during rush hour on a Friday!  (Next time we've vowed to adjust our arrival time & date.)  Misty catching a red light behind me saved one or both of us from being in a wreck.  I intentionally slowed down to catch the next light.  Meanwhile, at the next intersection ahead of us, someone ran the light resulting in a two car wreck closing the two left lanes.  As luck would have it, I could see the situation and headed for the right turn only lane and with Misty blocking for me, we rolled through the cleared lane out of harm's way. Yeehaw for team work!!

          With the help of my iPhone map, we pulled right up to the barn and stalls about 8:30 pm Texas time, tripometer at 972 miles.  There were no horses in the dozen pens so we opted for three of the covered stalls. Of course it was pitch dark out, and with flashlights we got the animals squared away for the night and crawled in our rigs.  We both declared driving anywhere was out of the question for the next week and Delford Daniels became our Chauffer! 

         The most beautiful site greeted me the next morning! I opened my door to survey where the heck we were and there stood a 12-15 foot Saguaro cactus on the side of the hill! Misty had camped here and ridden among these giant Saguaro cactus before but I hadn't! I was like a kid in a candy store pointing out features in most of them and capturing them with my iPhone camera. From childhood, I'd only seen these impressive giants on postcards or documentaries.  I'm still excited about riding among them!

          Our first day riding was December 29, 2012.  Delford Daniels brought his mule, Sister Mary Margaret and horse, Diablo over to the barn so they would be handy for riding.  Where he was staying, it would be about an hour ride.  It was a bright, sunny day with no breeze.  We had a great ride! Delford got one of his Birthday gifts early. 


         December 30th was our second day riding. It was as beautiful as the day before. We had a great steak supper at the Budd's Grubb!  It started raining while we ate, and it rained through the night. 


          December 31, 2012 - Rained most of the night and early morning.  We hit a feed and tack store with 50% sale, headed to Old Tucson Town Studios where over 200 movies have been films.  The Saloon Can-Can Ladies were all over Delford! We celebrated the New Year back in camp around a great campfire! We waited for the Big Ball to drop in New York, New York time, and we were headed to our rigs. HAPPY NEW YEAR!






On January 1, 2013, we had a pre-dawn fire drill.  Misty saw the flames a short distance from the barn.  She promptly dialed 911 and within minutes a fire truck was on the scene.  As it turned out, the Fire Department wasn't notified that there was a State Park controlled burn scheduled.  Normal politics at work. Jerry Kincaid, from Santa Fe, another trailrider that winters in Catalina, joined us riding the next several days.


January 2, 2013 was Delford's birthday. He had received a gift daily from his "Trailrider Survival" gifts. We gathered with some of his friends for breakfast at a local restaurant. We rode to the sheep tanks and the foothills of Mt. Lemmon.











Delford chauffeured Misty, Jerry & Redhorse to Mt. Lemmon the next day, January 3rd.  The snow was plentiful and people were enjoying all kinds of sports.  The little village had lots of shops and stores. We had packed a nice lunch and enjoyed it in the parking lot of one of the stores.  Parking was a premium in this compact village.  When we got to the bottom of Mt. Lemmon, on the Catalina side, we toured Tanque Verde Ranch and the Mule Power Farms. We had a great day!





January 4th, we ventured to the area below the winter campsites of Delford and Jerry.  The scenery was beautiful and the trails were mostly sandy.  The valley was long and wide.



Our last day to ride was January 5th, and it was again a beautiful day.  The temperature was almost 70 and the sunshine bright as ever.  We rode to where the pass heads up to the summit of Mt. Lemmon.










Catalina Park is definitely on our return list of camps and trails.  The weather in December, January and February is awesome.  If you haven't ridden these trails, you owe it to yourself to do so!  See ya there!



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