Beauty of Seven Falls

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sutherland Trail in the Catalina Mountains

I’m doing a two for one blog this week.  I know you’re scratching your head and asking “what the heck does that mean?”  Well, some in our group did the same hike two days in a row.  Okay, I know you are now asking “why the heck did you do that?”  Esther, one of our newest members got called in to work unexpectedly on our regular hiking day and was going to have to miss the hike.  We sometimes walk our dogs together, so I suggested we take them to the Sutherland Trail.  I just thought I would offer a word of explanation, because you will be seeing pictures from both days.     

JoAnn leading the way

Our group of 9 set out at our regular time on a beautiful Tucson morning.  We have hiked this trail several times before but this time was a little different.  The Sutherland Trail is an ‘out and back’ hike.  It is approx. 5 mi. round trip and has an elevation gain of approx. 700ft. 

The one thing I noticed different right away was the dry washes.  After leaving the parking lot, to get to the trailhead you must cross three washes.  The last time we were here there was quite a bit of water in the washes.  It was in the early spring and snow was melting in the higher elevations.  We didn’t have to step on stones to avoid getting wet this trip.  It was completely dry. 

Esther with Rio, Rusty and Benji

The Sutherland Trail was named for a family that settled in this area in the 1800s.  In 1892, William Henry Sutherland sold his interest in the Arizona Stage Company, which ran from Casa Grande to Tucson. He felt cattle ranching would be more lucrative and, with his sons, built a ranch house and well at the mouth of Cargodera Canyon; one can still see the ruins today. Cattle usually range within one and one-half miles of a water source, and the Sutherland ranch stood on the banks of a wide wash, now named after him, to insure his cattle had water. Like many ranching families, Sutherland owned a home in Tucson and the family spent only part of the year on the ranch. Today Sutherland's ranch can be identified by two-foot high adobe walls, slowly melting into the desert. The ranch house is 28 feet long and 18 feet wide. An old road is still visible, running out of Sutherland Wash and heading northeast toward the mountains.

Other than the breathtaking views, this was an uneventful hike.  We stopped plenty of times to drink water and take in the sights and just catch up with what everyone I did during the week.  I have only been hiking since 2011 but I have learned a lot about my hiking buddies.  They talk about their children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends.  I feel like I know some of them personally.  After moving so far from my own friends and family, my adopted hiking family fills the bill as surrogates.  If you want to make friends – I mean real friends – join a hiking group.  When you realize you are depending on people you just met for your well-being, there is a closeness that develops beyond waving over the backyard fence.  When we are out there on these mountain trails anything can happen.  There are real wild animals in these mountains; mountain lions, bears, bobcats, coyotes, and more.  It’s a good feeling to know that someone has your back up there. 

Hydrate Connie!
Hydrate Judy!

Okay, enough about the trail….how about more views?

Jim's tough look
As usual, one of our favorite parts of any hike.....LUNCH!  Especially when the views are this gorgeous!

A quick look around before settling down for lunch

Mike found shade!

The guys take full advantage of the breaks

Another wonderful hike under our belts!  

See you on the trails.......

Rio only agrees to walk so far....

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