Hiking with John and Pam – Tucson, AZ

With most of Betsy’s maintenance items out of the way, it was time to have some fun.  At our happy hour Pam recited a list of trails to enjoy around Tucson, and we were geared up to go hiking with them again.  Many of you know John and Pam of Oh the places they go are avid hikers whose boots have passed over hundreds (probably thousands) of miles of trails.  We hiked with them last summer in Colorado and were looking forward to trekking with them again here in Tucson.

We initially chose two trails – Seven Falls Trail in Sabino/Bear Canyon, and the scenic Mt. Wasson Peak Trail at Saguaro National Park.

Seven Falls Trail, Sabino Canyon

The Seven Falls Trail is accessed via Bear Canyon Trail.  The hike begins at the parking lot of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in the eastern foothills of the Santa Catalina mountain range, northeast of Tucson.  As the name implies, the reward at the end of this trail is Seven Falls where the water cascades down a steep ravine creating an enchanting sequence of falls and pools.  We followed Bear Canyon Trail for about 2 miles and then continued a little more than 2 more miles to reach the falls.

Seven Falls Trail

The leaders conferring

When we settled on this hike we hadn’t considered the recent rain and snow.  The trail crisscrossed over Sabino Creek seven times and the water was high, making our crossings quite challenging.  At the first two we removed our boots and socks to wade across the frigid water.  Fortunately John was prepared and brought a towel for everyone to dry their feet with – thanks, John!

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Doing this seven times in each direction was not an option!

John was our leader and he searched for drier crossings several times, but alas there were none.  So after the second crossing we just gave up and our boots and socks were soaked the rest of the hike.

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Yikes my boot’s under water and it’s freezing!

Other than the abundance of cacti and other Sonoran Desert plants, it felt like we were not in the desert as we enjoyed the sound of rushing water during most of the hike.  After crossing the frigid water several times the trail rose up the side of Bear Canyon, then came back down to Seven Falls.

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Desert Marigold

The only bloom we saw on the trail, a Desert Marigold

The exposed granitic rocks were quite a sight, crossed by mineral veins but slippery when wet.

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Seven Falls, Bear Canyon

A large pool at the falls

At the end of the trail we were rewarded with the sights and sounds of the falls, and we relaxed for lunch next to one of the pools.  Off came the boots and socks as we exposed our legs to the sun to warm them back up.

Seven Falls Trail

The foursome enjoying a respite from wet boots and socks

The return trip was much shorter as we gave up on trying to stay dry and just plowed across the water crossings.  Our legs were double-tired after 8+ miles of hiking with heavy, wet boots.   But despite the minor inconvenience it was a great day!

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Hurry up and dry, our next hike is fast approaching!

Mt. Wasson Peak, Saguaro National Park

The second hike John and Pam led us on was to the top of Wasson Peak.  Mt. Wasson is located 15 miles west of the city in the Tucson Mountain Range, and is the highest point in the west unit of Saguaro National Park.  They had hiked this trail before, and due to the excellent views at the top they were happy to repeat the trek with us.    It’s a great way to experience Saguaro National Park and the Sonoran Desert.

King Canyon Trail

There are several trails leading to the summit, and we chose to follow the King Canyon, Hugh Norris and Sendero Esperanza trails, then we looped back around to the Gould Mine Trail to give us a 7.8 mile workout.  The trails are all within the Saguaro National Park, and we walked amidst the Sonoran Desert ecosystem with full displays of giant Saguaro, Prickly Pear, Barrel Cactus and Cholla, to name just a few.

Pam has great interest in Crested Saguaros and she tries to see as many as she can when in Arizona.  If you don’t know, a Crested Saguaro is one where the growing tip produces a fan-like form referred to a crest or cristate.  They are very rare, but Pam spotted one with her eagle-eyes on this hike.  If you’d like to see more of her Crested Saguaro photos click here.

King Canyon Trail

Looking at some black liquid coming out of a fallen cactus

This trail is moderate with some rocky and steep sections, and we followed several switchbacks as we approached the peak.

Wasson Peak

Our destination – Wasson Peak 4,687 ft

A history tidbit: Wasson Peak is named in honor of John Wasson, the first editor of the Tucson Citizen newspaper in the late 1800’s.

King Canyon Trail

Looking back at the switchbacks we just hiked

Wasson Peak

The foursome at Wasson Peak – John, Pam, ML and Steve

This hike is definitely worth doing.  The view of the valley, surrounding mountains and Tucson is spectacular from the peak.  Because of its accessibility and outstanding views we met several other hikers on this trail.

Wasson Peak

Can you see the airport way out there?

Picacho Peak

Picacho Peak – we’ve all scaled that tough mountain, but not together

Hugh Norris Trail

Hugh Norris Trail follows the ridge top with great views on both sides

Norris Trail

That formation looks like a man reading a book, no?

We also came across some desert blooms:

Skeletal Saguaro

A skeletal Saguaro is still a beauty

Fishhook cactus

Hugh Norris Trail

On our way down the Hugh Norris Trail

Sendero Esperanza Trail

Let’s do a final map check

What do you do after a long and rewarding hike?  Have mexican food!  Dave and Sue joined us that evening for dinner at El Charro, one of the oldest Mexican restaurants in Tucson.

Yum!

Yum!  Three kinds of tamales

Great People

Great food, great company! – Dave, Steve, ML, John, Pam and Sue

 

Next Up:  What we missed the first time…