Gold Canyon, Az

Gold Canyon, Az
New Years Day 2015, Gold Canyon, AZ

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sabino Canyon

I haven't been online for a few days as we have been either on the go or resting from being on the go.  Today, Saturday, its raining, 2nd day in the past month, so time to update my blog.
On Wednesday we decided to go to Sabino Canyon which we were told was a must see.  It certainly was all we were promised and if we were here longer I would certainly be going back to try out a few of the other trails.  They charge $5. to park for the day, $20. for the season, which is pretty reasonable given the selection of trails.   The trailhead is on the outskirts of Tucson and it looks like its well used by the native Tucsonians' as well as visitors like us.  The Canyon is in the Catalina Mountains and extends as far as Mount Lemmon which is the highest peak in the region and for a limited time each year provides some downhill skiing.  A tram ride provides a nice scenic ride up the canyon floor with some very picturesque views along the way.  The elevation change from the base to the end of the tram ride is 600 feet and stops well short of getting you to Mount Lemmon.  We got off the tram and followed a trail switchbacking up the side of the canyon for about 1/2 mile and, I'm sure, another couple hundred feet in elevation.  It was certainly an exhilarating view from the top and we would be treated to more of the same for the whole trek back.
The hike back was supposed to be 3.9 miles and take about 2 hours.  By the end it felt like 10 miles and took us 4 hours however a lot of that was my fault for stopping and taking over 200 pictures.  This blog's content will be picture heavy but don't worry I have pared back significantly for your viewing pleasure.
Once we got to the top of the trail, which was no where close to the top of the canyon, we walked along a rocky ledge with lots of ups and downs.  As we came out of the canyon we had a pretty steep trek down to the desert floor.
We met some great people along the trail and one fella near the end just wouldn't stop talking.  Well we had been drinking a lot of water along the way and really needed to get down to bottom, if you catch my drift.  I excused ourselves and left him still talking as we made a hasty trek down the trail.
Here are just a few shots of our experience.

The gift shop in a very tranquil setting.

Pictures from the Tram as we rode along the canyon floor.  The walls towering above us.  The striations in the rocks providing splashes of rust to contrast the normal desert colours.

As we began the climb up the trail everything was fine.  Notice the smile and relaxed composure.

Well that didn't last long.  Soon the trail became a narrow ledge which at times didn't provide much room for error.

Every switchback provided a surprise.  Exposure to the intense heat of the desert sun, a breathtaking view or some shade and a refreshing pool of water.

Some rocks were just the right size to sit and relax.

Others were were large enough to use as table top and so smooth it looked it had been polished. 


 Do these Saguaro make me look fat.

 On the left a Saguaro cactus.  On the right a Saguaro cactus.  The difference?  The one on the right is dead and the fleshy skin has long since weathered away leaving the skeletal woody remains.

 I love these little furry guys.  Actually not so furry but sure look good when the sun shines on them.  Almost look luminous.

 This shows the canyon, or at least part of it.  Way down at the end, where the walls slowly descend to the desert floor, is where we have to get to.

 Lori, trust me.  That rock has been there for a few hundred years.  Why would it fall now.

See the 2 guys, below left.  We heard them calling down to us long before we spotted them.  The second shot will give you a better idea where they were.  One is just above the cactus.  The second one is in the crevasse above and to the right of the cactus.  They were climbing the rock face in the picture above, just to the right of that large boulder but out of the picture.  They were close to the bottom and still had a ways to go.

Lori's efforts at mountain climbing.  I could hear her mumbling.  "Please God.  I am too young to die"
 Finally the end is in sight.  We start our downward trek.  There is a bathroom down there someplace as well as a vending machine with cold water.

When we left Winnipeg we agreed that this trip would be taking us out of our of comfort zone which would be a good thing.  I can usually tell when Lori is a out of her comfort zone cause I hear about it.  Well this trail took her so far out of our comfortable little box that there was no complaining, just 100% focus on the next footstep and trying to avoid a tumble down the side of the Canyon.  Once we got going there was really no choice but to keep going and hope the next switchback would provide a wider and smoother trail.  Alas that was not to be the case but the views were fantastic.
After 4 hours we made it back to the truck and we were so happy to have survived.  We had plans for another hike on Thursday but decided that some R&R would be in order to replenish our fluid levels and rest our aching muscles.