Friday, March 25, 2011

Madera Canyon

View from 6,000 feet up
Yesterday we drove about two hours to get to this beautiful canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains, just south of Tucson. From I-10 to I-19 S, then exit 63 Continental Rd to Whitehouse Canyon Rd. to the Madera Canyon Recreational Area. Five dollars to get in, but once again, free if you have the senior pass. The Santa Rita Mountains are part of the Coronado National Forest. There are many habitats between the desert floor and the tops of the mountains there....the variety of climates is similar to if you drove from Arizona to Canada...all in one place, here at Madera Canyon.

There are exceptional and varied hiking trails at the canyon...also three places of lodging--the Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Kubo B & B, and Chuparosa Inn. During the spring and summer birding season, the area is known for its variety of hummingbirds and songbirds, over 250 species of birds. There is also a campground there called Bog Springs, but it only has 13 sites for tents or RVs and no hookups. We did not check that part out yesterday.

There is a paved loop trail with occasional benches following a creek (which had just about dried up when we were there yesterday). There are trails leading up to Mt. Wrightson where experienced hikers can climb to about 9,000 feet.

interesting footprint!
We hiked for FIVE HOURS straight yesterday...and not on purpose. Being relatively newbies, we didn't really know how long it would take us to hike these trails!..We followed the recommendation of some hikers at the beginning of a trail, who advised us to take the Old Baldy trail for 2.2 miles..they said it was shady and interesting...WELL! Shady it was, interesting, it was....level, it was NOT! It was straight up for 2.2 miles, VERY steep, never leveled out once...we climbed in elevation from  starting at 5300 feet at the bottom of the trailhead and went to 7080 feet...we were panting with exertion and had to take many rest breaks. BUT, it was worth it! The views of Tucson were incredible from those heights, and so was the view of Mt. Wrightson, (9000 ft. plus) which was always in our sights. There were a lot of hikers on the trail today..MANY of them were much older than us! That gave me inspiration to know that if they could do it, WE could do it! And it's never too late to start getting in shape to be able to do that in your seventies and eighties, right, Eldy? (Yes, dear!) It took us two and a half hours to get up the 2.2 mile trail. Then, we decided to take the Super Tail down, as the aforementioned experienced hikers said it was a little longer, but more level. HA!  A little more level, yes...what we ASSUMED would be a little easier coming down was much more rocky and pebbly than we expected. And this trail was 3.7 miles back down.....So we hiked 5.9 miles calves are screaming, my Achilles tendons are sore, but it was an exhilarating hike! The temperatures were in the low 60's at that height, so it was very very comfortable being out in the mountainside today.....

We  didn't get to see any hummingbirds at the many feeders near the inns as we drove towards the exit of the was too late and too cool in the day, I expect, but it looks to be a wonderful birding spot as well....We did see a small herd of deer running alongside the canyon road on our way out...these two stopped to look at us as we went by!
This is what full timing is all about...seeing God's due dates, no pressures to be anywhere at a certain time, see what you want to see when you want to see it...we love that we can do it now, while we are healthy. We are REALLY glad we didn't wait.....

If gas/diesel continues to climb to a ridiculous amount, we'll just stay put longer in one place...

Tomorrow, we are going to take it easy.....we've got a steak dinner dance lined up for the evening, so we'll need to take our Aleve,  hit the hot tub, and then hit the dance floor! Not necessarily in that order, Eldo! (I don't know if these tired legs can dance! says E.) I'll get him out there on the dance floor, says Sparky....see you later!

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