Beauty of Seven Falls

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Return to Bear Canyon Trail in Beautiful Sabino Canyon

Beautiful view of Seven Falls
Our robust group of 9 met at our regular time of 8:30 a.m. and headed out to Sabino Canyon in the Coronado National Forest.  Most of our group has been to Sabino Canyon many times, and I was psyched to see how far I had progressed since last year when I hiked this for the first time.

This hike is listed as moderate on most of the trail guides and to a “Novice Hiker” that means the degree of difficulty is pretty high.  Sabino Canyon is located in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The Bear Canyon trail is approximately 9 miles round trip. We cut about 4 miles off this total by taking the shuttle from the welcome center up to the actual trailhead. When I hiked this trail the first time, I was actually crawling up the rocks by the time we made it up to the Seven Falls.  

JoAnn leading us over one of the crossings

Everyone was very surefooted this hike
Gordy bringing up the rear

This is not an easy hike by any stretch of the imagination.  The trail crisscrosses over Sabino Creek and because of the melting snow up in the higher elevation of the Santa Catalina Mountains all of the crossings had plenty of water streaming through.  The first thing I would like to mention is that I did not slip off any stepping stones into the stream this year.  YAY!  I was seven for seven.  There are seven crossings going up and the same seven coming back down.

The canyon was even more beautiful than I remembered.  I guess on my first hike, I tried to keep my eyes on my feet to make sure I didn’t trip and fall.  It is one of the most beautiful hiking areas in southern Arizona. Not only do you see the ever present saguaro, cholla, and prickly pear cactus, but the streams flowing through and across the basin.  There are just breathtaking views.  The few photos I insert in this blog does not come close to capturing the real beauty.

Breathtaking view of the walls of the canyon from the trail
A little history of Sabino Canyon:  Some of the earliest human occupants of Sabino Canyon were the Native American Hohokam people.  There is evidence in pieces of pottery, or shards, and pit house foundations that the Hohokam people lived in the canyon between 300 and about 1400 AD. With the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, Sabino Canyon became part of the United States.  The Gadsden Purchase, or Treaty, was an agreement between the United States and Mexico, finalized in 1854, in which the United States agreed to pay Mexico $10 million for a 29,670 square mile portion of Mexico that later became part of Arizona and New Mexico.

One of many fallen boulders
In Tucson's early days, people took picnics to Sabino Canyon. In 1887, there was a big earthquake in Mexico, 150 miles away from Sabino Canyon. Many of the huge boulders you see in the canyon fell from the canyon walls or were moved in that quake. In 1890, the Forest Preservation Act was passed by the United States Congress and in 1905 when the Forest Service was created, Sabino Canyon came under its supervision.

One of the things that really stood out on this hike was the lack of blue skies.  If you notice pictures of other hikes we've been on, the sun is always high in the sky and the sky is usually so blue it looks artificial.  The lack of sunshine didn't dampen our spirits or diminish the beauty of the canyon.  It was about 80 degrees when we finished so it’s probably a good thing it was partially cloudy. 

It took us about an hour and a half to make it from the trailhead up to the falls.  That is where we took a nice break and had our lunch.  The pictures below show some the views we enjoyed while resting, eating and chatting.

Connie & LeNeta

Ernie & Gordy

JoAnn and Jim deciding the next hike

Connie catching a cat nap.

After a brief lunch we headed back down the trail.  It always seems much easier going down.  It was a wonderful hike - as usual.  Some of us  enjoyed picking out mountains we could see as we waited for the shuttle for the return trip to the parking lot.  Others used this time to catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation....

I wanted to take this boulder with me....
See you on the trails!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Catalina State Park

I have to give a shout out to our hike on Wednesday, January 9th.  I was unable to do the blog that week, but we had an awesome time at the Catalina State Park.  We hiked the Canyon loop Trail combined with the Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail.  The total is approximately three miles with 100 ft. elevation gain.  Here are a few pictures of the hike....

The most amazing saguaro I have seen to date!  

It actually had a prickly pear cactus growing between it's arms!

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.  

See you on the trails!

Saguaro National Park West

Beautiful view of mist in the mountains 
Our hike this week took us to beautiful Saguaro National Park West in the Tucson Mountains.  Ten enthusiastic, overly bundled hikers (our temperatures here in Tucson had been below normal for 4 days and we had no idea what to expect up on the trails) met at the community center and started out at 8:30.  The weather was a little chilly, but beautiful Arizona sun did not let us down.  The morning was gorgeous. 

We got off to what we thought was a good start when JoAnn realized she had not placed her park pass on her windshield for the park rangers.  Not a huge problem because we had good old Jim to run - and I do mean run - back to the parking lot to put it in place. 
Run Jim, Run
We began our morning at the King Canyon Trailhead heading for the Gould Mine.  The Gould Mine was one of four mines of some consequence in the Tucson Mountains: Old Yuma, Gila Monster, Mile Wide, and Gould mines.  Sometime around 1906 S.H. Gould filed on nineteen claims for the Gould Copper Mining Company. As was the case with other mining companies, Gould encountered financial problems with the onset of the 1907 depression, but he succeeded in obtaining operating funds by taking a mortgage with the Pioneer Smelting Company from nearby Sasco. A thirty-five foot wide vein of copper was found at the 100 foot level. At the 200 foot level that vein broadened to a width of sixty feet. Unfortunately, an assay reported only three to four percent copper content in each ton of ore. Financial difficulty beset the Gould Company by the end of 1908 and it managed to survive only for a few more years by shipping excavated ore which had been stockpiled at the mine. It probably ceased operations sometime in 1911. In early 1915 the company was forced into bankruptcy and its claims were sold at a sheriff's auction. They were purchased by Douglas Gary of Tombstone who made no immediate attempt to operate the mine. For all the effort and investment only 45,000 pounds of copper with a value of $9,000 had been taken from the mine.

Copper mine desperadoes - LaNeta, Connie, Gina & me
We were able to see what was left of some of the buildings used for storage and shelter.  

JoAnn & Jim surveying the mine entrance

So how much barbed wire is needed?

There were barbed wire fences surrounding dangerous areas, such as the actual mine entrance, but of course that was meant for everyone except our adventurous Jim who spotted ringtail raccoons down in the shaft.

It took quite a hike to get to the mine and I was wondering if the men had to hike up to the mine every day or if they camped at the mine.  I found one picture online which showed the mining camp and it seemed to be at the base, not near the mine. 

Oh well, on with the hike….
Hi Ho Hi Ho it's on the trail we go....
I sometimes get caught up in the historic significance of the area, and fail to mention the beauty of what we see as we are hiking through the park.  The saguaro cactus that sometimes tower above us so high I can’t even figure out how to get the whole thing in the photos.  My good friend George told me last week, that I need a bigger camera.  L  Along trail we saw many different types of cactus, and we noticed a family of javelina on a lower trail from us.  Thank goodness, they were also downwind. 

Gordy measuring up to a saguaro - he lost
We proceeded from the mine past the Mam-A-Gah picnic area to the Sendero Esperanza Trail and from there to the Hugh Norris Trail.  The maps our leader JoAnn gets from the National Park Service are usually pretty accurate as far as the mileage of the trails and the elevation gain on each hike, but we had varying opinions on the distance of this one.  We all felt the total hike was more like 5 ½ or 6 miles rather than the 4+ miles the map was telling us.  Several of the group actually stayed behind when we stopped to take water and rest a little.  Being the novice hiker, I always push myself to keep up, so I made it to the saddle we were aiming for as a turn-around point.  I tell you, I was very glad that the trip back would be mainly downhill though.  OUCH!  My legs…. Anyway, enough with the whining! What are we hikers or cry-babies?  We made it to the saddle, and then doubled back, picked up the couple of people that had waited at the bottom, and trekked back to the Mam-A-Gah picnic area for MY favorite part of the hike….lunch.   
If you look real closely...saguaro are the supports 
After lunch, JoAnn located a shortcut that took us past a huge wash that probably looks more like a lake during monsoon season.  We didn't go into the wash, but those in the group that had been on this particular hike previously mentioned that there are petroglyphs on rocks along the wash.  It is just amazing that when you least expected - a petroglyph pops up.  Kind of like when my kids were young and their friends always seemed to show up right at dinner time.... Well, this hike was fantastic.  Wonderful weather, no mishaps, a lot of history and great fellowship.  

We retraced our steps past Gould Mine and took the loop trail back to the parking lot.  The total mileage again in question.  Boy, that hot tub is going to look good this evening.
Judy and Barb doing a few wardrobe adjustments?

See you on the trails!