Beauty of Seven Falls

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Parker Canyon Lake in the Coronado National Forest

Even under cloudy skies the lake is beautiful
This week's hike was Parker Canyon Lake which is located about 100 miles southeast of Tucson, AZ. in the Coronado National Forest. It is actually very close (about 6 or 7miles) from the Mexican border.

Ever have the feeling you're being watched?

It’s always interesting to get a view of "the blimp".  It makes for great conversation while hiking around the lake, but here is the skinny on it...  

In the summer of 2012, the U.S. military started bringing back dozens of surveillance blimps from the battlefields of Afghanistan. The 72-foot-long, unmanned surveillance blimp—sometimes called "the floating eye" when used to spot insurgents in Afghanistan—can help find drug runners and people trying to cross illegally into the U.S. We had extremely good views of the blimp from the lake.  

Parker Canyon Lake doesn't look very big, but it has a number of side canyons, inlets and coves that create a surprising amount of shoreline.

Our group of 8 hikers arrived at about 10:00 a.m. The weather was perfect – moderately warm temperatures, about 60 degrees with light breezes. The hike is approximately 5 miles and most hikers consider it to be easy to moderate. 

Our arrival

....and we're off

The trail around the lake is a fairly level dirt pathway that, for the most part, stays within a few yards of the water. There are a couple of places, however, where the route climbs rather steeply over high rocky bluffs and the trail becomes a slightly exposed, narrow passage 50 or 60 feet above the lake's surface.  Those of us who had done this hike several times have noticed that the trails have become overgrown and in some cases difficult to locate.  We joked that we were becoming bushwhackers, but I don’t imagine this is really a joking matter.  I think that many budget woes have caused a cutback in services in the national parks – including upkeep of the trails.  

Break time - LaNeta staying hydrated

Enjoying the views
Trails pretty overgrown with weeds
This hike is always a lighthearted beautiful hike.  We still have trouble identifying some of the plants and trees without George along but tried to do the best we could.  Some were pretty easy – the juniper and manzanita to name a few.  We were rewarded with multiply views of blue heron in the area.  It must have been nesting time at the lake and they sure made enough noise when we got too close to let us know we were not welcome.  

Dying Manzanita
Even in near death this is a beautiful shrub

One of the many herons spotted at the lake
There is a little picnic ground with table halfway around the lake where we always stop to eat our lunch. The bench is underneath a huge cypress tree and evidence of nesting birds was very present on the tabletop and seating – further indication that the area is being unattended.  Thank goodness it had gotten warm enough out where some of us could sit on our sweaters or jackets.  

Huge cyprus 

Gordy, JoAnn, Chun and LaNeta
Barb, Linda and Kirk
Everyone....except me.  :-(
The second half of the hike was as enjoyable as the first.  The views of the lake and waterfowl are just spectacular.  This is always a beautiful and calming hike, but also exciting because of the close approximation to the Mexican border.  You never know what or who may be hiding in the brush! 

This stone with pink tones matched Barb's outfit!

Blue Heron in flight

We keep sharp eyes out for whatever or whoever may be hiding in dense brush.  Lots of bears down here and many illegals and drug smugglers use this corridor.

 Next stop - Kief-Joshua Vineyards for wine tasting! 

Another reason many of the hikers enjoy going on the Parker Canyon Lake hike is because JoAnn always combines it with a visit to one of the wineries in the area.  Who knew we had all these wineries right here in southern Arizona?  When we arrived some of us went in search of our big bloodhound friend, Dizzy Gillespie. He was inside sleeping.

Kief Josha serving up his creations

Joann, Linda, Kirk.....and a friend

Linda happy about her choice of wine

We had another wonderful day at the lake and the winery.  Also, another successful hike!

See you on the trails…….

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