Beauty of Seven Falls

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

One of the "Wonders of Sabino Canyon" - Seven Falls in Bear Canyon

Bear Canyon
We returned to Bear Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains for our recent hike.  This is one hike none of us ever tire of because of the awesome views we are rewarded with when we visit and revisit over and over.  You can never take in everything when you go, so it never gets tiring (except the climbs up to the falls). 

We gathered at our usual meeting place at 8:00 a.m. and were really not surprised that our group - we had a total number of 16 - was the largest so far this season.  The weather promised to be perfect, warm and sunny and this is always a favorite hike.
The more the merrier 
On the tram

We arrived at Sabino Canyon and purchased our tickets a few minutes before the trams were to leave the visitors center at 9:00 a.m.  The tram takes us to the Bear Canyon Trailhead which we use to hike to Seven Falls.  One member of our group, Gina didn’t wait for the tram, 
she hiked up the tram road and was sitting at the trailhead when the rest of us arrived.  Show off!  LOL

The weather was beautiful, the views were beautiful, and our group enjoyed each other as we traveled up the trail in Bear Canyon.  Not really sure why they named it Bear Canyon, but I am extremely happy that we have never seen any dangerous animals, only spectacular views….
Nothing like it....

The seven streams we have to cross on the way up to the falls were pretty full this trip.  We have had a nice amount of rain and some snow up in the mountains and it all runs down to the streams.  We had to be very careful because footing was a little slippery as we crossed.  

Slow and steady....

It was hard for us all to be together at all times because the group was so large, but I felt confident that the 3 groups we seemed to break into were taking care of each other.  There were quite a few other hikers out on the trails for it not to be a weekend, but I guess everyone is anxious to see the falls when they are really running.  
Bluest skies

Rough trails

Sparkling clear pools

 The trail is only 5 miles when you take the tram to and from the trailhead, and the elevation is about 700 feet.  We made plenty of stops for water along the trail though it really is hard to think about hydrating when the weather is so perfect.  I tend to think more about whatever food I have packed for our breaks.  

When you reach that last set of switchbacks before the falls, and you can hear the water running, you get a feeling that is hard to describe.

View from the trail across from the falls

Pool up above that the kids jump into
Maybe that’s just me….but it seems like everyone enjoys our breaks, whether we're eating or just resting.

Jim and Gina

Chun and Steve

LaNeta, Connie and Eugenia

While we were enjoying our break at the falls, a group of young people arrived.  Most were clad in just swimwear and proceeded to climb up to the falls.  Young people like to dive off the rocks into the deep pools right below the top falls. It's very hard to watch because you hear of kids getting injured doing these stunts, but it never deters them.  They were having a ball! Keep in mind it's January and the water that's in there is from snow melting up above!
Getting his mind right for the leap of faith....

Jump! Jump! Jump!
After about a 30 minute break we were ready to head back down the trail.  This is such an exhilarating hike that we had to make Jim, who was leading us back down, slow down because we would get to the tram stop way too early and just have to wait around there.  Of course, some of us in the past have just walked down the tram road instead of waiting.  

Oh, did I mention we return the same way, so of course those same 7 streams were waiting for us to cross....

Oops!  I'll let LaNeta tell you what happened....

Come on Lynne and Bill

Yay!  Eugenia made it!
Most of us made it across with reasonably dry footwear.  

As I said, I never get tired of this hike, and have already made plans to return with another friend - soon, before the water dries up.  After all, we are in the desert you know.

And speaking of desert.  It looks like we deserted one of our members on the trail, but this was Barb across from the falls.  She opted to stay on that side rather than have to climb back up after having lunch down on the beach.  I think it makes for a very pensive, solitude, lovely moment.  That's her with the white shirt just about in the middle of this picture.  I could only zoom in so much....
Barb's moment of solitude across from the falls...

See you on the trails.....

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pima Canyon Trail in the Catalina Mountains

Breathtaking views!
Our group hiked beautiful Pima Canyon Trail in the Catalina Mountains recently.  I have hiked this trail several times now, but this time had to be the best so far.  The trail is rated as moderate in most of the guides and at last I am able to agree with them.  The “novice hiker” seems to be growing up.  I had no time to whine – what type of example would that set for the others who look to me as the leader of the group now. 

Our motley crew (minus me) = JoAnn, Linda, Danielle, Eugenia, Chun, & Kirk
Our group of 7 hiking enthusiasts gathered at the Pima Canyon trailhead to beautiful sunshine and cool temperatures, but clouds seemed to be gathering in the Tucson Mountains to the east. 

Something more sinister?
This is only a 6 ½ mile hike - about 3.2 miles in and the same back out.  The elevation change is about 850 feet, but they only count the total elevation.  For those of you that like climbing – there is lots and lots of climbing and stretching (if you happen to have short legs like I do) connected with this hike.  

I found a perfect place to rest
Some of our members shy away from this hike because of the challenges, but I think this hikes has some of the most beautiful views in the Catalina Mountains.  The views make it well worth the climbing. 

From the parking lot we started out on private property to the trailhead.  The trail is very well marked and a short ways in the signs indicated that we were entering the wilderness area.  After 15 or 20 minutes in we started climbing. 
Kirk - steady as a rock, up on top of a rock
The canyon views are very spectacular, with rock face rising on either side. I know that many of the canyons in the Catalinas are beautiful, but it’s hard to beat this one.  

We had only hiked for 30 or 40 minutes when we noticed what we first thought were clouds moving closer in.  This is when the views become very hard to describe.  

The clouds were in fact, fog!  
The fog....

If you have never been in total sunshine one moment, and then engulfed in fog the next, I cannot even begin to tell you how it felt.  It seemed like something right out of a horror movie, only we were not afraid.  We were together enjoying the unusual feeling of being wrapped in clouds and fog.
The fog
Kept on coming.....

Did you ever have the feeling you were being followed?   
We took plenty of water breaks and time-outs to take in the breathtaking views.  We were enjoying ourselves to such an extent, none of us were even keeping track of time or how long it was taking us to get to the dam.
What do you think?  Oldest cottonwood tree living?
Clear path

Nest hiding in a cactus
When we reached the dam, we took a leisurely break for lunch and rest. Looking at the mountains from afar can never give you the same rush you get from climbing through them.  Exhilarating!

Beautiful crested saguaro
Saguaro coming up out of stones

I never get tired of getting to the dam and seeing the grinding rock.  There is this really large flat rock and the indentations from where the ancient inhabitants ground their mesquite pods into flour are still very prevalent.  You only get to see them if you go all the way to the dam though.

Grinding rocks
One of our members – Eugenia – kept saying her feet were not being obedient because her legs felt like rubber.  I knew just what she was saying because that’s how I felt last year. 

Our return trip to the trailhead was pretty uneventful, just filled with magnificent views. 

Chun in the jungle

A little bit of color

Our poet laureate Kirk has done it again with poetic verse to describe our hike:

Pima Dream
by Kirk DeLong 

Like water we flow over mica and crystal quartz jewels.
Cascading into Pima Canyon pools.
Dream of surreal sand paintings on cathedral walls
Stone glaciers calving; black water slides painting their faces.
Eagle eyes witness the tree of life shadows washing over us.
Mystical mist unveils a stairway to Shangri-La.
Lost horizon recedes into clouds.
Like water we flow.

The author

 See you on the trails…….