Our epic monsoon continues so when I was invited to join a small group to a previously unvisited, by me, location in Sabino Creek having waterfalls and pools, I gladly accepted. First, we had to trek about 3.5 miles on Sabino Canyon Road, having numerous stream crossing where often, the stream had risen above the road. My companions mostly wore something other than their "first string" shoes while I had not considered that. Hope that isn't a mistake as I trooped through water plenty of times.
Currently, hiking in Sabino Canyon and elsewhere is like walking in a lush arboretum. Flowering plants abound.
The frequent stream crossings provided wonderful looks up and down stream.
Much of our hike was in the shade on a day having a forecast high in the upper 90's. Plenty of humidity so this isn't one of those, "yeah, sure it's 100 but it feels like 85 degrees". No, the conditions felt like hiking in July in the midwest.
The sun begins to crest above Thimble Peak. What a great hike to the top of that earlier this year and due for a return visit as soon as the temps cool. Upon reaching shuttle stop #8, we leave the road and begin....
....hiking upstream. I thought this a particularly beautiful image with the sun shining on the nearby slopes. There were a lot of rocks and boulders, bordering the creek as we continued and soon, glancing to my right....
.....I saw not one but two, black tail rattlesnakes. I suspected a den and other snakes could be in our midst so I let everyone know. Each of us froze, checked our surroundings and determined the snakes were newly emerging for a morning hunt. Both snakes were retreating home so I didn't get the best image...this time.
My eyes are always looking for snakes and I am careful to see where my hands and feet will be before I take a step. On this hike, once alongside the creek, it seemed like a rich environment for rattlers so I was especially vigilant as Diane works her way ahead of me.
We reached our destination and some of us waded in. Since the stream is not fed by snow melt as it would be in the spring, the temperature was refreshing.
We did not linger for too long, regathered our things and unfortunately, the only way to return was past where we had seen the snakes. Oh, while I was waiting for the group, I had been sitting on a ledge and while pushing myself up, dislodged a rock and beneath it, a scorpion scampered away....nice! We approached where we had seen the rattlesnakes and strode cautiously. Sure enough.....
....one of them had reemerged and was laying exactly where we were required to step. The buzz of its tail was rather faint but it was pissed off because once more, it headed back into the den. Since it was taking awhile, most of us dropped down to the stream as an alternative.
We reached a spot that our hike organizer, Bill, described as the criss crossing falls. A guy was posing as his girlfriend took a pic. Some of us again....
....entered the water and even went into an alcove beyond the falls. We eventually got back onto the road and finished with a little over 7 miles. Good times with good people.
August seems to be flying by and I can't wait for the somewhat cooler temperatures to come although the last few days have revisited the 105 degree range. Hard to believe that in one week, the mighty OSU Buckeyes kick off their college football season...yehaw!!! I drove to Canyon Lake Marina to scout a trail with which I am unfamiliar as a short cut to Lower LaBarge Box canyon. I walked across #88 where a finger of the lake stretches up stream into Boulder Canyon.
Unfortunately, the trail peters out at a wall so I retraced my route and headed up Boulder Canyon Trail, looking for a side trail that would cut to the right. The quantity of these Sphinx Moth Caterpillars is ginormous! They are everywhere as I find the side trail and begin following it.
I follow it for a bit but the day is getting hot so satisfied.....
.....although not all that satisfied that I can follow it given grass is growing from the trail, I turn around.
Great view of Canyon Lake and surroundings. I finish with a measly 2 miles of hiking but accomplished what I intended.
I drive out of the area with a last, beautiful look at Canyon Lake.
Amy's recovery is going rather well and after a couple of days, she has eschewed the walker and cane and is hobbling on her own. TP has started and while painful, her mobility is increasing every day. I took a short ride and checked out the wash that crosses Wentworth and Tanque Verde Loop roads. My ride was short, just to keep the muscles loose because....
....I wanted to join the Sabino Cycles shop ride on Saturday morning. Sixteen of us turned out for a surprising short distance of only 28 miles on too many crummy roads. I like the group but the route and lack of distance is alarming for a bike shop ride.
Returning to Amy's we had noticed a new restaurant opened a couple of miles from home called the "Barnyard Crafthouse & Eatery" so we checked it out for lunch. Good atmosphere and menu.
We also took Jack the Dog to a nearby wash where he ran into and out of the water, chasing a stick. Returning home, he was squirted with a hose. He loved both activities. Next day I got in a 45 mile ride and at the end of that day....
....noted the monsoon has shifted east, mostly in NM but it will return as we are now experiencing our 3rd wettest monsoon on record. Well, got a hike coming soon and need to check an alternate trail to get the group to our destination so may do that in a couple of days.
Another healthy overnight rain and on this morning, I dropped Amy off for knee replacement surgery. Jumping on my bike immediately after, I headed north on Oracle and then a right on Edwin Rd where I was confronted with the above. A guy driving a truck offered to carry me across so I loaded myself and bike and enjoyed the dry ride. I thanked the driver and.... Damn! My glasses had fallen off so I had to ride my bike back, grab the sunglasses (too expensive too abandon) and recross the mud/water.
Riding Ridgeview, which is a nice loop within Saddlebrook, I noted rain in the distance.
I managed to avoid getting wet and captured a nice shot of a rainbow, finishing with 44 miles. Got myself cleaned up, collected the Amster from a successful procedure and delivered her home.
A great day for a hike in southern AZ. Over night rain (yeehaw) passed out of the area but left lingering clouds and cool temps. Nine of us began our hike from the Sarasota trailhead on the west side of the Tucson Mountains.
Beautiful how the sun happened to be shining on Kitt Peak. A short distance into our hike we rounded a corner and got a good view of....
....our destination, Big Cat Mountain. Although there is a scrambling route up this side, a better way is to hike clockwise around the mountain and ascend the back side.
Sooo green. Almost like hiking in the Appalachia Mountains without the pine trees.
We ascended to a couple of saddles, the final one yielding a view to the southeast. Then I found a cairn that indicated the off trail route start to the peak.
The game got strung out a little so we regroup a few times. Rubens, a new member of the group, looks at the views, always improving as we go higher.
After a fairly steep climb to a ridge, we pause briefly and then head to the "wall". I was first up and offered encouragement like, "You're looking good!" but also mixed in a "You're not looking good!" just to mix things up. ha, ha.
After ascending the wall, we continue to climb a ridge with some exposure but everyone navigated it. At last.....
...we reached the peak and enjoyed 360 views. After a short break, we began....
....the descent. Often, we marveled....
....at all that the rain has delivered. I was glad that all 9 made it to the peak and finished with 5 miles and 1500' of climbing.
Officially, we are in the 4th wettest monsoon season (since upgraded to #3) since records were kept. Amy and I thought hiking to the base of Tanque Verde Falls would be fun but this is also the scene of numerous rescues in the last couple of weeks. So, I stayed up all night looking at weather charts, monitoring weather radar and the following morning, deemed it safe for us.
We were surprised the the water flow, while nice, wasn't the torrent I expected. More like what you would expect from a snow melt in the spring. While it wasn't a raging flow.....
....it still made navigating a challenge. That is, if you didn't want to get your feet wet.
After surmounting one wall, Amy shows exuberance upon reaching a short, sandy area.
Advancing upstream presented more fun obstacles but there is always a workaround. Well, we reached....
....a corner and decided the workaround, if there was one, would require too high a climb so we finally did get our feet wet, lol.
Jack the Dog is not usually a fan of hiking but he was having great fun today. We had to lift him a few times but then reached a wall that made that impractical. So, I scrambled up it and....
...took a few pics of the falls. I walked up the right side and....
....discovered a couple of people laying in the sun. A beautiful location and worth the 1.5 mile experience to the falls.
While the temperature was moderate, the humidity was high so frequently I dipped my hat in the cooling water as we navigated our way downstream.
The clouds for another afternoon of storms was gathering in the distance as we continued....
....reaching the trail that took us back to the rim of the canyon and our vehicle. A fun, 3 mile hike.
A couple of hours after the lightning strike that ignited the Bighorn Fire.
Amy and I were visiting with hiker Katherine at her house which has a marvelous and close view of the western side of the Catalinas. I asked if she was evacuated during the fire but surprisingly no. From her living room, she saw the initial glow following the lightning strike that caused the fire. There, above the lone saguaro, in the circular brown area with some spotty green bushes, is the origination of the fire that burned around 120,000 acres. OK, looks like we won't be caught in a flash flood if we enter Tanque Verde Canyon tomorrow for a visit to the falls so will do that and leading a group on a hike, Sunday.
Jack continued to unmake a spare bedroom bed but his time with me is over as Amy returned from her exotic travel. All is right in our world again, ha, ha.
A few day lull in our awesomely active monsoon season is over. Lot of down trees and a few saguaros too.
After a long walk, Jack loves being soaked by water and with so much mud around, it's a good cleansing operation too.
I took a short ride to keep loose and while passing 49er golf course, noticed they had many trees down.
Another night of rain which produces some awesome views of the mountains as the clouds pass.
The wash coming out of Catalina SP is as full as I have ever seen it. The water rages. With all the rain, thinking about going boulder hopping to Tanque Verde Falls.
Our group arrives on the western flank of the Dragoon Mountains to hike the Slavin Gulch trail to an abandoned mine. With me were hike organizer Lorna, Bill B and Katherine. A combination of very fit and very fun company.
This was my first time doing the trail and only my second visit to the Dragoons. The recent rain has transformed the landscape and almost our entire hike would parallel a ravine that had a good flow of water.
The trail actually follows a road that had been blasted from the granite so copper and zinc could be brought down from the Abril mine.. Other than a few places, the trail is easy to follow.
Several times we would check the ravine, looking for pools where, on our return, we could take a break. We also marveled at a pattern found on some house sized boulders. We couldn't guess as to how the unusual pattern was formed.
We were headed for a notch in a canyon wall where the canyon narrowed and the granite soared above us. Bill was setting a murderous pace and so every time I paused to take a picture, I had to run to catch up. While the gang was checking out another possible pool stop.....
....I kept going so I could get ahead and have the luxury of not taking a rushed image. I heard my name being called and after walking back to the group, discovered Bill had stumbled at a creek crossing, instinctively reached out, grabbing a handful of Bear Grass. The razor edged grass left a deep cut in a finger. Observing the blood loss, I said it appeared he might bleed out, ha, ha. Bill wanted nothing to do with turning around so wrapped the finger with a paper towel and we......
....climbed higher. The climbing portion of the trail is about 2.75 miles with an average grade of 9% so not steep but steep enough.
There were many examples of balancing boulders and as usual, you wonder how it is possible they maintain their perch. Note the one, upper right in the above image.
We passed the remains of an old building just before the trail levels and we start paralleling a ridge above us.
The views to the southwest are great. At about the 3.75 miles we....
......don't actually reach the mine but the remains of a wooden chute down which the ore would have tumbled. As we refueled, I poked around a little and discovered what appeared to be a way to the ridge but our plans did not include this additional climb. Later, I read a couple of hike reports and confirmed this was a way to reach the ridge where there is a forest road and the mine opening along the way up. We began our descent.
Bill was in front, reached down to remove the stalk from I think a Century Plant and in so doing, surprised a black tail rattlesnake that was laying beneath it. After getting over the shock of the discovery which yes, was accompanied by the distinct buzzing, there ensued a discussion about the strike radius of a snake. I had read a rattlesnake could strike about 1/2 of its body length but I was overruled by my 3 hiking buddies who insisted the snake could launch itself and strike at a much greater distance. One of our group, who shall remain nameless, insisted she had seen video of a rattlesnake even standing on its tail! Each of us then sprinted past the snake which was about 5' away and shoulder high after slithering up an embankment. Later, I read I was correct, 1/3 to 1/2 of its body length.
Flowering plants were in abundance as we continued our descent. It really was like walking in an arboretum of flowering plants. We found a large pool.....
....descended to its edge where I was happy to sit in the shade and take pics. Lorna and Bill removed their shoes and socks and waded in, eventually reaching a spot where the water was chin high. Once the refreshing break ended, we resumed our hike, finishing with 7.5 miles and 1700' of climbing. Fun and beautiful day for sure.
I got in 3, 40+ mile rides last week so that's good but usually, during a ride, I don't like to stop and take pics so nothing to report but how about the continued rain! It's fun to watch storms build over the mountains and then shift into Oro Valley.
I went to Catalina State Park where the road was closed but walked toward the wash where.....
....Jack enjoyed running around and chasing a stick. Unfortunately, the water is almost black so after returning home, Jack needed a bath.
Jack's not big on baths so I had to drag him into the bathroom where his body language indicated his displeasure. Well, nice hike to report, soon.