Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sutherlin Trail Hike in Catalina State Park– Last Hike of the Season

Ahh…the hiking is over for now and I miss it already!  Such a great hikes this season!  The group left at the early time of 6:30 AM to avoid the heat from hotter Spring temperatures.  Wow! We had 19 die-hard hikers that managed the earlier hour as we greeted a gorgeous morning for our final scheduled hike.  It was about a 30 minute drive north to Catalina State Park with still just a little chill in the air.  Sutherlin Trail Catalina St Pk 001Sutherlin Trail Catalina St Pk 003Sutherlin Trail Catalina St Pk 023 The nice open flat trail started out through small trees and desert grass but quickly had us crossing a wash, and led us up towards higher open rocky areas.  The area is lush and beautiful anyway, but at this time of year, as the sun rose above the mountains, we were treated to the magnificent explosion of colorful desert flowers in bloom.  Colors of yellow, white, orange, pink, red, and purple showed us that Mother Nature had Her paint brush out!  Sutherlin Trail Catalina St Pk 067Sutherlin Trail Catalina St Pk 020Sutherlin Trail Catalina St Pk 090Sutherlin Trail Catalina St Pk 085Sutherlin Trail Catalina St Pk 113Sutherlin Trail Catalina St Pk 076 A little climbing took us to a rocky area with a small waterfall, where we stopped for our snack time.  This spot gave us more views of the distant valley and mountain ranges as we rested beneath the tall cacti.  The first picture of me is taken at the same spot and pose as last season, only different clothes.  This is one of my favorite hikes. 
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We headed back along the trail that follows the base of the Catalina Mountains, and many of us just couldn't help but take our time just to take more pictures of the flowers and soak in the natural beauty of such colorful scenery. 
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Pretty day, great hike, with friends-priceless!

The Sonoran Desert Museum with Friends

March 24, Tuesday.  We visited this museum last season and Steve and Kitty wanted us to go again this season with them.  With the warmer temperatures earlier this year, we knew the desert flowers and cacti would be blooming.  So colorful!  Steve, behind Doug in the 3rd picture, is a bad as I am, always go that camera out!  We were in the Digital Imaging Class together so were constantly comparing notes and pictures.  Kitty was just so amazed at all the color and thoroughly enjoyed herself. 

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Our main goal was to be in the park in time to watch the Raptor Birds in Flight show.  Further out in the open is the main viewing area and the different birds fly right over your head within mere inches.  Beautiful creatures and fun to see them flying and landing up close.  We were a little disappointed because last season we saw a lot more birds.  This season we only saw three.   The birds are certainly well trained and they do have an antenna attached to then so the handlers know where they are at all times.  The handlers would put food on branches and then stoop down out of the way so the birds would land close to the crowd for pictures.

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After the show, we walked over to part of the zoo area.  I had to be sure and see the Prairie Dogs.  There were very few and no little ones like last season.  I did get a picture of the Ocelot.  Most of the other animals were sleeping and some exhibits were closed.

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We also had time to visit the Hummingbird house.  They are so colorful, fast and cute!  Several were building nests and the one nest had one baby in it. 

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It was a short visit and we stopped for lunch on the way back at a Mexican restaurant.  Steve and Kitty are good company and we will miss them next season but sure hope to meet up with them in their travels. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Visit to Sabino Canyon With Friends

Nestled in the foothills of Arizona's southern Catalina Mountains 12 miles from downtown Tucson, the oasis of Catalina Canyon is one of the most scenic spectacles in Arizona. A paved road runs 3.8 miles into the canyon, crossing 9 stone bridges over Sabino Creek. It begins at an altitude of 2,800 feet and rises to 3,300 feet at its end, a popular drop-off in summer because of the swimming holes at Hutch's Pool and The Crack.  Winding through the canyon, visitors who follow the road have views of the creek, the riparian vegetation, magnificent Saguaros on the canyon walls, and towering rock formations.  The only motorized vehicles allowed on the 3.8-mile paved road that leads through the canyon are the Sabino Canyon/Bear Canyon shuttles and Park Service vehicles.
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Archaic nomads used the Sabino Canyon area for thousands of years who hunted small game in the canyon. The earliest visitors were probably of the Clovis culture 12,500 years ago, and later, as the climate changed, the Cochise culture became dominant about 8,000 years ago. About 1500 ago, farmers of the of the Hohokam culture occupied the canyon and archeological excavations of their culture continues in the canyon to this day. They disappeared about 1500 and were replaced by the Pima and Tohono O'odham Indians, who still inhabit the Tucson area today.  Spanish explorers traversed the area from the 16th to the 18th century, and Father Eusebio Francisco Kino named the village of San Cosme de Tucson and the Santa Catalina Mountains when he visited the area at the end of the 17th century.
It was hot and, also, Spring Break for schools and colleges.  Oh, boy!  What a zoo!!  The place was packed and we must have driven around the parking lot 4 times before we found a parking spot.  Then our friends, Steve and Kitty (from our RV park), and Doug and I bought our tickets to ride the shuttle up through the canyon.  $8.00 a person!  We have been to the canyon before and I sure don’t remember it being that expensive.
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U.S. Congress established the Catalina Forest Reserve in 1902, which included Sabino Canyon, and in 1908, it came under the control of the newly created Coronado National Forest. Various attempts to dam the canyon failed until the 1930s, when improvements like bridges, roads, picnic tables, and toilets were made by the WPA and Civilian Conservation Corp.  Sabino Canyon continued to grow in popularity over the next decades as Tucson's population grew. The Forest Service constructed the road into Lower Bear Canyon in 1960, and a Visitor's Center in 1963.  A shuttlebus service began in 1978 to replace private cars. Today, Sabino Canyon has over 1 million visitors every year.
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it is a pleasant and pretty ride up through the canyon walls that are lined with Saguaro cacti everywhere.  We took the shuttle all the way to the end of the canyon and got off to hike just a small part of the canyon. 
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The desert poppies and other flowers where blooming so it was really colorful.  Kitty couldn’t help but sit among the flowers.  We only hiked a short distance because of the heat then waited for the shuttle to pick us up for the ride back out.  There were people and kids all along the road hiking between the different shuttle stops up and down the canyon.  Too hot for me!  I’ll take the shade of the shuttle bus! 
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Once back at the bottom, we found a picnic table to have a late lunch.  Somebody else was hungry, too!!  I just couldn’t resist feeding them.  I probably shouldn’t have given it to him, but one little guy really seemed to enjoy his M&M!  So cute. Sebino Canyon 095Sebino Canyon 086 croppedSebino Canyon 091 cropped
It was fun visiting the canyon with our friends.  They both lived in Tucson many years ago and wanted to see how much the canyon had changed.  They couldn’t get over the changes.  One thing Kitty remembered was a Geleto Ice Cream shop , so that was where we headed for our dessert.  Any day is a good day for ice cream!  A nice ending to our day.