Monday, April 20, 2015

Catalina Crawling

Saturday, April 18, 2015
Sycamore Reservoir Trail & Beyond!

It was the perfect day for a hike in the Catalinas. The temperature in Tucson was 82, but at 4000-5000 feet elevation it was cooler and breezy. We met up with our friends Mitch, Julianna, and puppy Max early in the morning and took off on the Catalina Highway. This time, we went only as far as the Gordon Hirabayashi campground, and began hiking there.

There had been a lot of debate over what hike we should do this weekend. We're training for the "next big thing," as usual, but even with that approaching quickly, we weren't feeling pressured to do anything long and strenuous. It's getting to be too late in the hiking season for long peak hikes that would be mostly in the sun. We've really done all the prominent peaks that we felt we needed to do before leaving Tucson. There were other hikes that were farther away, but going for a longer drive before a long hike didn't sound appealing. In the end, we decided to do hiking in the Catalinas on a trail that would be dog-friendly, because it's always more fun to have our babies come too. ;)

We started off on the Sycamore Reservoir Trail. Curtis, Mitch, and I had done this hike together before in November of 2013. It was the first hike that I really enjoyed when I moved down here. I really highly recommend it to anyone wanting to do a short, enjoyable hike in Tucson. It's only 4 miles round trip, and the uphill and downhill hiking is evenly distributed. The trail takes you up to a ridge and a trail intersection with the Arizona Trail, then down into the valley and to the Reservoir. So for the first mile you're hiking uphill, the second downhill, then back up and finally down to the parking lot.

The area is just gorgeous - today, there was so much green, and the valley was so lush. There were wildflowers all over the place. When we did it in the fall, we enjoyed seeing all the trees with their leaves changing colors. I forgot to bring my camera today, and so all of these pictures were taken with the GoPro. I like the perspective it gives, however it doesn't always capture the bright colors. Oh well. :) 

There is also a lot of history here. The Gordon Hirabayashi Recreational Area is where they kept the Japanese American prisoners of war while they were helping build the Catalina Highway. They also built the dam and reservoir area. 

Nearing the reservoir, and entering the lush green valley!

We made it! We stopped here for a while to enjoy the area.

From here, the water goes on down Bear Canyon and is what fills Seven Falls.

Even Charlotte stopped to enjoy the dam. :)

Charlotte and Max took this time to catch up and play together. :)

They both also really enjoy drinking from Curtis' Camelback. Here they are, begging for more!

After spending time at the reservoir, we continued on the East Fork Trail. Our original intention was to hike 4 more miles to Hutch's Pools. The trail followed a ridge along the hills and started descending more into the valley.

It was around this point where poor little Max had a run in with a prickly pear. Mitch & Julianna did the best they could to remove the thorns, but he wasn't up for walking as much after that. He also had a few other off-trail ventures that resulted in more pricklies in his beautiful golden hair. He really seemed to enjoy being carried by Mitch though!

Because of this though, we were slowed down quite a bit. For the next couple miles, we hiked downhill and then through the valley. We passed the fork with Sabino Canyon and continued just a bit before stopping for a break. It was at this time when Max stepped on yet another cactus, and we made the decision to turn back rather than continuing the last mile to Hutch's Pools. We had reached the lowest part of the trail, and the reason why we were doing this was to train for hiking down, then up rather than the usual opposite. We thought it'd be better for the dogs too - and we weren't completely positive that dogs were allowed in that area. 

We weren't too terribly disappointed though, it was still a gorgeous hike on a perfect day, and we know that we are in shape for anything right now. We still managed to hike 10 miles today, which isn't bad at all! We hiked back up the trail and returned to the reservoir to have lunch.

While we were there, Charlotte and Max continued playing and being silly, and I think at some point she hurt her foot. I noticed her limping as we were finishing the last 2 miles, and so Curtis carried her back the rest of the way just in case. (She is fine now!) Now she may look smaller than Max, but she is actually twice his weight. Carrying her 2 miles is no easy feat! She's also an awkward dog to carry, and after a while she got tired of it. No, neither of these sweet dogs are invited on our next adventure. Sorry kids, we still love you! ;)

We made it back to the Jeep, then drove back down the mountain. At the beginning of the mountain drive, we saw several cop cars blocking off the other lane, not allowing anyone to drive up. I looked it up online later and learned that there was a small fire up past Summerhaven, the town at the top. They were calling it the "Miami Fire," and it burned 6 acres, mostly in Carter Canyon and on private property. We didn't see anything, but we are glad it was contained and no person or building was affected!

And that was our adventure - 10 beautiful miles in the Catalinas. As I mentioned, the hike to Sycamore has been a favorite of mine since we started hiking, and if you're looking for a hike in Tucson you should definitely check it out!

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