Rock Garden

Tuna Canyon — Tuna is the native Mexican name for the type of cactus that grows here, and it is certainly true that there are many, many prickly pear — almost covering the Tonto on the flats toward Crystal until it is quite difficult to find a pathway through. This area is infrequently visited and there is very little information in any of the respected hiking guides. Any possible routes along the streambed are also unknown and chancy, since this very deep and narrow place is of the type that can be expected to make obstacles.

There are some stories about this area. These include the rescue of a bomber crew that parachuted here in 1944. Then Harvey Butchart describes his attempts to duplicate the access used to guide them out. He writes about an interest in trying the bed of Tuna but nothing that suggests he did. Another piece about this area is called Under the Rim in the book Burntwater by Scott Thybony about his visit to the 1986 air-tour crash site where his brother died.

Routes — Treks indicates that one can follow the riverbank from Crystal to Tuna and this could be an easy way to get here, but, although I haven't actually attempted this it does not look as if it will go very well. Downriver to Scorpion Bay; upriver to Crystal Canyon. For the Steck Tuna/Shinumo Loop, descend from Point Sublime.

From the route going west out of Crystal the initial Tonto area is easy, but travel becomes much harder with a major side-canyon in the middle of the east slope with some sign of reliable water here. Such a significantly deeper side-cut often does match up with a water source. To head Tuna, go up until just above the fork, then down into the east fork, down the bed and up into the west fork (good flow of water here from a spring upstream), and back onto the Tonto. Then along the west slope to pass over the saddle into the next (un-named) drainage west. On this west side and continuing to the head of the next western channel there is a very strong trail — perhaps an Anasazi track.

2004 October - This place was bigger than I expected and therefore a tough go as we tried not to lose any more time on our schedule. Camp 5 on the east side opposite the saddle on the other side.


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