Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ahh…The Last Hike of the Winter Season in Tucson

I sure am going to miss the weekly hikes!   Blue skies-wonderful. Surrounding desert and mountain landscapes-beautiful. Fresh air with sunshine and exercise-fantastic.  Meeting and getting to know great fellow hikers-priceless.  All of the hiking group had some great fun this year and most will be returning next season.  We hope to do the same.  The last hike took us across the street from the park and the Robles Pass Camaro Loop Trail took us on a 5 mile hike through some low mountains.  We hiked the trail but hiked back to the park down the paved road rather than go back the way we came because the trail was really rocky and that loose small rock can be very slippery going down. There were only 7 in our group because a larger group went on a strenuous overnight hike.  I am not quite up to that yet! 

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There were still some nice views since the trail was so close to town and neighborhoods. 

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Part of our trail brought us out by this old Camaro, hence the name Camaro Loop Trail, which is where we came out on an earlier hike.  The property used to be a ranch so I guess that is one way to get rid of a car. Guess the city decided to leave the car there to give the trail some character! 

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On this hike, we were very fortunate to see a Saguaro Cactus and spindly cactus bush with blooms on them.  A bloom on the Saguaro Cactus only opens for several hours at night or one day, then dies but not all the blooms open at the same time.  So in all our travels through the desert, I finally got to see a Saguaro bloom. 

Robles Pass Camero Loop Trail 032  Robles Pass Camero Loop Trail 025

So the fanny pack is put away, and the hiking shoes have been washed and polished for another time.   Our time is at a close and we leave on Monday for Mesa, AZ.  We have said our goodbyes to some great people we have met, made new friends and exchanged emails, etc.  We have really enjoyed this winter and will have fond memories of our winter season in Tucson, AZ. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Second Visit to Madera Canyon

Sunday, March 23rd, was such a pretty day that Doug suggested we pack lunch and head up into Madera Canyon, where I hiked on Wednesday.  I told him how nice it was there and he was interested in seeing it.  So we packed the old picnic basket with a few items, then stopped in Green Valley, at guess where?  You bet! Wal-Mart! We bought one of their cooked chickens, potato salad, etc., to make ourselves a nice lunch.  It was hot in the valley and in just a very short distance as we started driving up, the temperature went from 75 degrees to 65 degrees! It felt so good and there was a nice breeze.  It really is a pretty place in the canyon and very popular on the weekends.

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At the top of the canyon, we parked and took a short hike just for some exercise and to be in the fresh air.  There are all sorts of trails and many are really steep.  The parking lot was full of hikers!

Madera Canyon with Doug 037 crop for blog  Madera Canyon with Doug 041 crop for blogBHA_CampTrip_Embell_Boots

There were no empty picnic tables at the top, so we headed further back down and found a nice spot in the shade.  We always enjoy a picnic! Food always tastes better outside! 

Madera Canyon with Doug 044 crop for blog Picnic table Stock Images

On the way out of the canyon, we stopped at the popular birding spot and watched the hummingbirds and finches.  Then a large group of Arizona wild turkeys showed up!  They were after all the bird seed that the other birds had knocked from the feeders. It was a treat to see these wild turkeys.

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It was a nice Sunday drive and we hated to leave the coolness of the canyon and go back to the heat of the desert.  So we can add this to our list of places to revisit if in the area again. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Hike in a Cool Forest of a Canyon

Wednesday’s hike took the hiking group south of Tucson to Green Valley where we headed up into the Coronado National Forest in some mountains.  The main road takes you up into a canyon to a camping and picnic area at the end and then back out again, so there are no scenic loop drives in this canyon.  There are several parking areas at several trail heads.  The trails can range in elevation but one group chose the 650’ elevation, and the other chose the 850’ elevation trail.  You can hike much higher but these were the hikes the group chose for this week.

  Madera Canyon Mar 19 005 Madera Canyon Mar 19 009

What a beautiful area!  It was 10 degrees cooler so the hike was just very easy and pleasant.  We were up out of the desert, so the landscape was totally different.  We thought we were in the mountains of Yellowstone! So drastically different from the desert! There were mostly tress and rock formations plus openings along the trail as we went up that gave us fantastic views of the valley below.  Everything was so nice and green.

  1 pan  Madera Canyon Mar 19 023

Of course we stopped half way on the hike and had our break, then we hiked the road back down to the parking lot.  I think that was the hard part! Constantly going down an incline for 1 1/2 miles is rough on the backs of the legs and the knees.  The path on our first part of the hike was along the side of the mountains in the picture below.

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Along the road down are a few bed and breakfast places plus cabins and areas for birding.  We even saw a deer down in a gully.  One of the birding areas is set up by the local Audubon Society with lots of feeders and even a covered shaded area where people can sit and watch the birds.  Fun to watch! So I got a few pictures of hummingbirds, finches, woodpecker, and even a squirrel (he was picking up the fallen bird seed!) We all had a good time on such a nice hike in such a pretty area near  Tucson.   Only one more hike left for the season…..

Madera Canyon Mar 19 046redo  Madera Canyon Mar 19 051redo Madera Canyon Mar 19 050 redo

Madera Canyon Mar 19 040 redoMadera Canyon Mar 19 030 redo

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Men Collect BIG TOYS-Like Model Jets!

The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys! Yesterday, Friday, March 14, we drove west out of Tucson, away from the mountains, and out into the flat desert to a city sponsored event area.  This particular event was the flying of model jet airplanes.  Amazing!  They had a nice runway and even the noises on take off and in the air sounded just like real jets!  These models are about 2-5 feet long, built to scale, with unbelievable detail and paint.  It was so much fun watching them take off and land and even do aerial loops, etc.  The men flying these jets certainly have an expensive hobby!  The planes can cost many thousands of dollars, then you need a utility trailer to haul the planes, tools, gas, and spare parts in.  These small jets were flying so fast that it was really hard to take pictures of them, but I did manage a few.  Some of the larger events for flying model jets and other airplanes draw people from all over the world and some even have a large money prizes.  When in the air they look so real! It was a beautiful day for flying and we really enjoyed watching these planes. 

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Back to the Saguaro West National Park

Another Wednesday, another 3.5 mile hike!  Yesterday, March 12, the hike was nearby since the national park is on the west side of Tucson near our park.  We started early, as usual.  The mornings are really heating up fast now, so most of us even started out in short sleeves at 8:30 in the morning.  It didn’t take long to feel that old heat on us as the trail took us on a constant uphill climb for 1.75 miles.  Those water breaks were really necessary this time.  Off we go! We split into 2 groups because the national park only allows 18 people in each hiking group. 

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We stopped at the upper saddle on the trail and took a nice water and snack break.  It was another clear blue sky day and the breeze near the top was so refreshing.  Then we just headed back down the way we came up.  Funny how things look different when you see them again from the opposite direction.  Even more desert flowers were blooming than they were on last week’s hike.  It sure is great to be outdoors in all that fresh air.  Another great day for a pleasant hike.

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March 12 hike Saguaro West 045 Going down…….!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Our Fourth Drive Up Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, AZ

One of our favorite things to do anytime we are in Tucson, AZ, is to take the scenic drive up Mt. Lemmon.  So Friday, March, 7th, we headed up.  This is the fourth time we have been up there.  It is so interesting to see the changes in the landscape.  You go from the desert and hillsides covered in Saguaro Cacti to unusual barren rock formations to Ponderosa Pines to Aspen and other trees at the top.  The temperature from the desert to the top can vary as much as 30 degrees.  The overlooks provide pretty views of the valley.  This time of year much of the foliage was starting to bloom and was very green. 

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The first photo below was taken at the same spot and same pose we did back in 2012!  You can see that picture in the first posting on my blog.  We always pack a picnic lunch and stop on our way back down at our favorite picnic area.  AH..being out in nature is just so refreshing and serene.  We both looked forward to the drive and enjoyed it just as much as the first time we took the drive. 

Mt. Lemmon March 049Mt. Lemmon March 039

Mt.Lemmon and Saquaro 038  Cactus in desert Royalty Free Stock Photos

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hiking Among the Desert Flowers

Wednesday, Feb. 5th, the hiking group went to Catalina State Park on the northwest corner of Tucson.   The morning warmed up very quickly as we headed out for our 5 and a half mile hike.  It was a bit of a longer hike and there was some climbing up and back down but the views from up in that area were spectacular.  Starting out along the trail we noticed little orange and white buds everywhere along with blue stalk flowers.  Then on the way back, after the sun was on us, all the orange Desert Poppies had opened up along with the Cream Cup white flowers!  It was so beautiful! The poppies and other yellow flowers covered the ground and hillsides.  Even nestled everywhere among the cacti, it gave everything a pretty yellow hue. 

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The hike was just one way in and one way out so that was how we got to see the flowers and different views on the way back.  Catalina State Park offers all kinds of trails and even camping.  We stopped near the rock I am on to take a long break to eat and drink plenty of water.  Plus the view was great!  So another pretty hike added to my list of favorite hikes. 

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