Written by Mary E .Clark–Kuebler, Wild Stew Field Crew Member.
Our second hitch of 2023 did not begin as planned. An unprecedented winter storm rolled through Tucson as we were preparing for another 8 days on the Romero Canyon trail; the heavy rain caused extensive flooding in Catalina State Park, closing off access to our trailhead (and temporarily stranding hundreds of campers!).
However, the Wild Stew Field Crew is always adaptable. For the first 3 days of our work week, until we could access our main worksite, we maintained the Linda Vista Trail in Oro Valley with US Forest Service seasonal employees. We brushed 3 miles of trail and installed 7 steps and 2 drains: all greatly needed improvements. We returned to our homes in Tucson at night and enjoyed the change from our usual rustic living, but on Saturday, after Catalina State Park reopened, we were ready to backpack into the wilderness.
We returned to our exceptional campsite from our last hitch, and continued our hard work repairing and reestablishing degraded trail. We installed numerous steps and drains — 14 of each and restored 0.6 miles of tread.
A short snowstorm on Monday morning gave us some beautiful photo opportunities, but we missed the warm temperatures from our last hitch. We appreciated our nightly fires more than usual on chilly Monday and Tuesday nights.
On Wednesday, we finished more tread as well as completing a different sort of maintenance task: cleaning out the overbuilt fire ring at our camp. Making this ring more usable, and packing out nasty trash buried in the ashes was a satisfying endeavor.
Finally, we hiked out; the 5 miles out felt longer hiking down than up, with full packs and heavy tools. At least we felt hot again after a few frigid days! We will miss the quiet and scenic Romero Canyon trail, but look forward to our next adventures in the Catalinas in February.