It is a long story but the long running trams were taken out of service at Sabino Canyon about a year ago. Last week, temporary buses were added while new, electric, open air trams are still a few weeks from being operational. The buses run every 30 minutes and the demand for the limited seating (about 24 per bus) is high. A hiking buddy and I arrived at 8:45am to get on the 9am bus. Not a chance. We were lucky to get the last tickets for the 9:30am bus.
The bus travels the 4 miles to the trailhead in about 25 minutes where we hop out to begin the hike to Hutch's Pool, a spectacular spot in the backcountry of the Santa Catalina Mountains. There is an initial, moderately steep climb out of the canyon, about .8 mile while gaining 500'. The switchbacking rewards......
…..us with fine views down canyon and once we reach the top are rewarded......
….with the sight and sound of roaring water as it thunders beneath us. We come to the first of two significant water crossings, remove socks and shoes and wade through knee deep water which is flowing at a good clip. The surface was rocky, edgy and the water, really cold! Thereafter, we kept our shoes and socks on as the surface was too uncomfortable for bare feet. I need to invest in a pair of sandals for this type of activity.
Above, I am wading through the 2nd crossing. I was wearing long pants which had to be rolled up so they too did not get soaked. The water is kind of swift but not so much that one would get swept away by the force of it. However, it is easy to imagine someone losing their balance and then the force of the water could topple you. A complete body soaking would ensue and who knows what body part would impact a boulder.
After the 2nd significant water crossing (there are others but hoppable on rocks) the West Fork Trail continues on to Cathedral Rock but I watch for a faint trail to the right, take it and find the famous beach that borders Hutch's Pool.
Debris is obvious to show how high the water ran following the system that deposited the 42" of snow on Mount Lemmon and soaked the surrounding area with rain. Debris could be seen 10' higher than where we stood.
Trees, long tortured by nature, have somehow survived but note the twisted roots and trunk. We walk parallel with the river a short distance to reach.....
…..where the water rushes through a cleft to keep the pool full. The force of the water and sound of it is awesome. Looking down stream.....
….a great view of the pool. In warmer months, people climb the cliffs and jump in. During this visit, a woman unseen by me as I was continuing to explore, undressed, jumped in the water, floated for a second, jumped out and redressed. How could I have missed a photo opportunity of a skinny dipper?!
Another tree clinging to cracks and crevices while drinking from the water.
Farther back from the pool again looking down stream.
After a snack, I see a neat camp site. Slightly down stream there was a broad boulder with 7 grinding holes so no doubt, this concave place has been used as partial shelter for a long time. After 8.7 miles round trip, the tram stop is reached and the slow bus ride descends the canyon. Total elevation for the distance was 965' so after that initial climb from the canyon, it is mostly flat to rolling and a hike manageable by all but maybe when the water flow is diminished.