Monday, March 14, 2011

Shortcuts...

I wanted to do at least one more "Tucson" thing before I headed back home. Dustin and I agreed to go on a hike. We thought that visiting Sabino Canyon and exploring the Seven Falls would be a nice last adventure. I loved it the last time I visited with the Capturing the Moment class and was excited to see the falls.

Our walk began innocently enough and with a roadrunner sighting. I found a pocketful of petrified wood chunks and rough quartz crystals along the way.

When we planned our trip (rather quickly) we couldn't find a map of Seven Falls. Of course, it could have been that we were looking in the wrong area. Instead, we went on hearsay. That it could be located at "the end of the tram line". Unfortunately, there was no mention of there being TWO tram lines.

So, Dustin and I walked to the end of Sabino Canyon. This, in itself, is an approximately 4 mile walk. Once we got there, we couldn't find any signs of Seven Falls. Logically, it could not be that far away... right? Wrong.

Snaking higher and higher, we walked onwards. We overlooked the valley below and could see everything... everything, that is, except for Seven Falls. Seven Falls lay beyond that humpback-shaped ridge in the photo above, aptly called Saddleback Ridge.

We kept walking, thinking that we could soon relax by the cool water's edge. I kept saying, "It must be around this bend." Or, "It can't be too far." All the while, we went higher and higher. The trail became rougher and rougher, as we unknowingly headed into the Pusch Ridge Wilderness.

Above is a picture of a bloom, taken on our descent down the canyon. I had suggested that we take a shortcut back, that following the creek would probably be an easier hike back. This, of course, as we would find would be incorrect.

Above is a picture of Dustin overlooking what we thought was a dried out version of the falls. Making our way down to the creek wasn't easy. I wasn't wearing hiking boots and blisters were already starting to threaten. The way down was littered with loose boulders and spiky cacti. I had thought that once we got to the creek, we could make fast progress back in time to catch a shuttle.

At the creek, we were greeted by white frogs. We jested that you had to lick the frogs in order to see the many splendors of the Seven Falls. (It is more likely that we were at one of the creeks that feed into Hutch's Pool about two and half miles past the end of the tram line.)

As we made our way through the tumble of stones, placed by the high waters of monsoon season, we reached an impasse. The walls of the canyon became dangerously steep and smooth and there was a drop down to a pool of water. Me with my expensive camera, did not want to jump into the freezing (questionable) water and potentially damage my said expensive camera. Nor did I really want to walk back in soggy sneakers.

So we doubled back and tried to find an easier way back up to the trail. This is where things got dangerous. At one point I lost my footing on some loose gravel and grass, painfully banging my shins into a sharp drop, skidding down a few feet to stop abruptly on a lip and badly bruise my bottom. (My camera was fine if you were wondering.) I probably scared Dustin to death. I definitely scared myself.

There was no turning back and we had to scale the ridge to make it back to the trail. I won't lie. There were some really scary parts, where I had to climb a sheer rock face without a harness. I worried that where I stuck my hands (and could not see) to grip, a rattlesnake might be sunning itself or I might find the burrow of a scorpion or happen to come across a mountain lion when I pulled myself up.

Luckily, we made it back to the trail and we began our slow descent, back to the end of the tram line and then back to the trailhead where the truck was parked. My feet had blisters on top of blisters, my thighs ached and I had managed to twist my ankle. I told Dustin that if I ever suggest a shortcut again, to feel free to thwack me upside the head as a reminder of our hiking adventure and my near-death experience.

Our walk was not without some reward. The views were amazing and we managed to catch the sunset, painting the canyon walls pink and burnt orange. Blocked by the ridge, cool, blue-green shadows arched. The stones that made up the creek bed became luminescent, shining white in the pale moonlight. The trees became vivid green in the coolness; the saguaro cactuses loomed like sentinels in the dark. Bats swam through the air, diving and twirling, as owls called and unknown creatures scuttled in the underbrush. The stars came out, speckling the sky with hundreds of points of light, and a ring circled the moon.

6 comments:

Dragonfodder Jewellery Diary said...

Hi Andrew, your walk sounded fun and scary. Makes me want to go to one of our National Parks and just walk and walk. The tale of your hike has made me feel peaceful and lucky to be alive.

Thanks so much for leaving a comment regarding the jewellery book. I'll let you know if I manage to get one.

beadsofcolour said...

you lived this weeks word. Lucky, Happy you are both safe. debi

kate mckinnon said...

As a person who knows where they got stuck, can I just say, "oh. my. god." That they didn't fall further, or disturb a rattlesnake, or a mountain lion... amazing.

I can't believe they got out of there with just a few bruises. Debi is so right, they lived this week's word.

somethingunique said...

Hi Andrew, WOW!! what an adventure,you are a wonderful writer, i was sitting on the edge of my seat with my face pressed up against the computer screen,as i read further and further .i am so glad u and Dustin made it back safe & sound.Sounds like you were both very "Lucky" ttfn:)

Xmichra said...

wow... that is lucky indeed! And yes, thwacks are warranted for further suggestion of shortcuts!

Shaiha said...

Thank goodness that you lived to tell about it. And it's a good thing that you have Dustin to twack you when you decide to try that again.