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Arizona Fossil Hunt LbNA #66502

Owner:Martini Man Contact Supporter
Plant date:Feb 9, 2014
Found by: FamilyTreeShaker
Last found: Feb 14, 2016
Hike distance:3-5 mi
Last edited:Feb 20, 2016
Time: 3 – 5 hours
Distance: 4 miles

Terrain: Typical Sonoran desert canyon hiking. Starts out gradual, but gets steep as you ascend the canyon. To finish this series you will do about 1,400 feet of elevation gain. Hiking poles highly recommended.

Update: Unfortunately this three box series just became a two box one. The last box at about 2,400 feet looks like it got burned up. I would still recommend the whole hike as the view at the end is fantastic.

This is a joint effort of Wisconsin Hiker and Martini Man. These boxes previously made a 1-day appearance on the trails at the Dead of Winter event in Rockford, IL.

We have been visiting the Tucson area for a number of years and always enjoy our time there. The area offers many opportunities for hiking and letterboxing and we decided to make our own contribution.

If you want to do a little fossil hunting, find your way to the KocrRegnifLiartDaeh in Tucson. After parking your car (and beware, this is a popular trail so arrive early), begin your hike, making sure to stay to stay on the KocrRegnifLiart, as there are other trails that branch off from the start. The first mile is pretty easy although it does ascend some. After one mile, you will reach a VERY large boulder on the right. Continue on and you will quickly begin ascending switchbacks as the trail gets steeper. The switchbacks continue for a little while until, after another quarter mile, you reach an area of the trail that is shaded by mesquite trees on either side. Counting the trees on the left, stop at the third tree on that side, just before a root crosses the trail. From this spot, sight 110 degrees and make your way a little off trail and uphill to another mesquite tree. At its base, under rocks you will find a:

Tullimonstrum Gregarium
Carved by Wisconsin Hiker
The Tully Monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium), is apparently unique to Illinois and was a soft-bodied invertebrate that lived in shallow tropical coastal waters of muddy estuaries about 300 million years ago.

After stamping in, return this box where you found it and continue on.

Return to your hike up the canyon wall. A little over a half mile from the first box, you will pass a neat looking little cave. Nope, nothing there, but it looked interesting. However as you pass the cave and move further up start watching for a large Canyon Oak(?) tree atop a large rock outcropping on your right. You will know you are there when you have KocrRegnif at 320 degrees and the tree can be seen above you at 130 degrees. Once there, go uphill towards the tree between what we think was a sotol on the right and an ocotillo on the left. The way up is somewhat steep, so take your time and exercise caution. Once you reach the outcropping’s wall, with the tree looming way above you, look to your right for two rocks that form a nice alcove. Note that the alcove has a door now. Being mindful of Arizona’s critters, remove the door and you will find a:

Spiked Ammonite
Carved by Martini Man
Ammonites are extinct marine animals that lived 65-400 million years ago and their fossils can be found all over the world. The spikes were used to ward off predators.

Now that you have this box, you can continue up, up, up to the end of the canyon. In another half mile or so, you should reach a nice wide open view of the upper canyon.

This is the end of the letterbox series we planted up here. But feel free to enjoy the views up as we did and perhaps have a lunch here as well. We were told that another quarter mile up the trail is a great view of the city of Tucson. There’s also plenty of real estate up there for more boxes as well as the opportunity to make a big day out of it and go all the way to KocrRegnif!

As always, take care in the desert when hiking and also searching for letterboxes as Arizona is the desert and the creatures and plant life can be harsh. Please re-hide well and let us know via email how it all went as we live very far away and will not be able to check them often.