Martina Mountain • Highpoint: Roskruge Mountains
• Pima County


Martina Mountain
 

View of the main peak and its lower eastern neighbor, taken as we returned. The saguaro blocks out the sun
 

View up from the saddle. Note the saguaro at the very top
 

Now about 150 feet below the top, aiming for that saguaro
 

Now on the ridge, looking at the summit
 

View back at the saddle
 

Northeast view: that saguaro, plus the Roskruge Mountains. You can also see Wasson Peak, Golden Gate and Cat Mountain, then way in back, The Santa Catalina Range, Agua Caliente Peak and Mica Mountain
 

View southwest toward the Coyote Mountains with Babo rising behind
 

Me, then Scott on the rocky slopes, a view of Scott's FJ as we return, and the concrete pad at the end of the road, in case anyone cares
 

Tucson's highest point
 

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Date: December 30, 2017 • Elevation: 4,042 feet • Prominence: 1,242 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes • Gain: 1,140 feet • Conditions: Blue skies, warmer than normal • Teammates: Scott Casterlin

Martina Mountain is an impressive peak less than a mile north of state highway AZ-86, about 20 miles west of Tucson. The peak rises about 1,400 feet above the desert, culminating in two summits, the west being the highest. It is the highest peak in the sprawling Roskruge Range, which covers about 30 square miles. However, Martina stands apart from its neighboring peaks, as though it was not part of any range.

I proposed this peak to Scott Casterlin, who was interested. I drove down early in the morning, arriving at his place as the sun was rising. I put my gear in his FJ, and we piled in, heading west toward the peak. On the way, we were stopped for a short while as a large trailer-motorhome was on fire after being rammed by another vehicle, which itself was in bad shape. Firefighters were on scene. It had just happened. I could not find anything on the web about it, though.

We got past that, and drove west until we were past the town of Robles Junction (Three Points). The let-in point is a gate on the north side of the highway, immediately before the "Entering the Tohono Oodham Indian Reservation" sign. This is state land. The gate was unlocked, so we entered, then traveled northwest on a sandy but mostly-firm road about a mile and a half. Martina Mountain was visible to the west, about two miles away.

The road became progressively worse, and we got to another gate at a corral, which meant we had overshot a junction we were looking for. We drove back and spied a wire-stick gate in the fence. This was our junction, but not at all obvious. To this point, the roads had been fine (except for the bits north of this gate), and any reasonably strong 2-wheel drive vehicle with decent clearance could get this far, the worst being some ruts and sand. Past this, a very strong 4-wheel drive vehicle would be mandatory.

We got past the gate, then followed a weaving path through the brush where the road passes through the many braids of an arroyo. After this, the road passed through one more wire-stick gate, then straightened and improved slightly, heading west. There was one section later where we had to lean the vehicle to get up one eroded section. The road was rocky and sloppy. Scott then eased his FJ up a side road that switchbacks to an old mine on the peak's north slopes. He parked in a wide clearing before the first switchback, elevation about 2,900 feet. The drive in had taken close to an hour from the highway, and it was almost 9 a.m. when we started hiking. The day was cloudless, bright blue and sunny, and would get "record warm" for this date, nearing 80 degrees. For now, we had cool conditions, about 60 degrees, with shade.

We hiked up the remaining road, going slow. I was surprised to see the bends at the switchbacks covered in concrete, still solid after so many years. At the last switchback, we walked a little more up the road, then left the road, now aiming for the saddle that separates the two summits. There is no trail, but the terrain was usually open, not too brushy, but with lots of rocks. Scott took a higher tack than I did. In about 15 minutes, I had gained the 400 feet to get onto the saddle. Scott was above me about a hundred feet. Looking up, I could see a straight-forward ramp up to the top, the top 200 feet looking fairly rocky with some cliffs.

I trudged upwards and met with Scott again. We then hiked slowly up, leaving the brush and getting onto the rocks. The rocks were not a problem. They were usually solid, and did not pile into cliffs or other barriers that couldn't be bypassed. It actually went far better than it looked from below. We were aiming for a lone saguaro cactus, too young still to have arms, high on the ridge above us. We were at this saguaro quickly.

Now it was just a matter of picking our way along the ridge to the summit, about 500 feet away and 40 feet higher. The rocks formed a sharp profile, with real cliffs to the west. When necessary, we dropped onto the east side to get past the more exposed parts. There was no trick to this, and at 10:15, we were at the top, the one-way hike taking 75 minutes, covering just a mile, with over 1,100 feet of gain.

We spent awhile up top. With clear and dry conditions, we had great views of the surrounding peaks. To the southwest was the rocky and mean-looking Coyote Mountains. Behind it and to the left was the pillar of Baboquivari Peak. We could see peaks as far away as Newman Peak, the Santa Catalinas and the Rincon Mountains, and peaks down by Nogales. Conditions were excellent, and we were in no hurry. The sign-in log book held just a few names going back to 2000. The Southern Arizona Hiking Club seems to make a yearly hike to this peak. Their entries accounted for about 90% of the signatures. We did not see one for 2017, nor from anyone else. We may have been the only people to summit this peak for 2017.

For the hike down, we followed the exact same route, not wanting to get clever with new routes. Back to the road, we decided to walk to its end and see what was there. It's obvious there was a mine up here, but nothing remained. There was a concrete pad at the road's end, just big enough for a shed. I have no idea when this mine was active. From here, we hiked back to Scott's vehicle, arriving at 12:15. We had moved about the same speed as we had going up. Still, a three-hour round-trip hike was good for us two old guys.

We then slowly drove back out the roads to get onto the highway. Scott wanted to scout Mount Fagan, which lies southeast of Tucson. We were toying with the idea to climb it today if we could get close to it. So we drove east, and along the way, exited Interstate-10 at the Vail exit, to tag another "highpoint"...


Dawn & Shalom Rds
• Highpoint: City of Tucson

Elevation: 3,260 feet • Distance: none • Time: 3 minutes • Gain: 2 feet

We went north on Vail Road to Dawn Road on the right, then a mile to its corner with Shalom Road on the left. This is the southeast corner of the city of Tucson and its highest point. The land is desert but surrounded by newer homes. We had to step over a fence to inspect the highpoint. There's a mound of dirt about two feet high. Rocks and a stick once assembled into a cairn had been kicked apart and scattered.

To celebrate our hike and this amusing highpoint, we ate good Mexican food from a food truck in "Old Vail". The food was excellent and inexpensive. I had three soft tacos with shredded chicken.

We continued south on state route AZ-83 to inspect the roads to Mount Fagan. We got in a mile or so, but the roads became very rough and it was clear that we did not have time today for this hike, so we called it off. Getting Martina Mountain was a worthy prize for the day, and we will return for a trip up Mount Fagan in the future.

My thanks to Scott for driving. His FJ was strong enough to handle those roads to Martina Mountain. In my own vehicle, I woud have parked back at the gate at the junction and had to walk an extra couple miles each way. That would not have been too bad, but getting as close as we did obviously saved time.

(c) 2017 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.