Sparky's brother, Charlie, came for a quick visit this week, just before we were to leave for Texas. Charlie is a VERY fit guy, seven years younger than Sparky. He hikes, he bikes, he is training for the Ironman competition next year. He's handsome and very witty guy, too! Charlie doesn't do anything half a**, so he's a great challenge to keep up with, or at least push yourself to stay in sight of him if you are biking or hiking.
Sparky had to pick a GOOD hike, challenging enough for Charlie, but not too hard for Sparky, somewhere under 5 miles if possible. Sparky searched and searched and came up with Sabino Canyon Recreational Area near Tucson, not that far from the RV park. Sabino Canyon has an 8.00 entry fee, but free with a senior pass. There were several hikes in the canyon, and the #1 hike listed in All Trails, (a great hiking app) was Bear Canyon to Seven Falls, a distance of 8.3 miles and considered moderate.
(There are continuation hikes from the end of the trail further into the Coronado Forest, but most people loop the trail to the falls and back). The trail gets 4.5 out of 5 stars and has waterfalls! Sounds great--BUT--Too many miles? Sparky wasn't sure until she saw that you can take a shuttle to the trailhead and shave off about 2.3 miles. The shuttle costs 6.00 a person and the number of people is limited, so you have to get there early in the morning to get a seat on the little open air bus/van to get an early start on the trail. Shuttles leave at 15 minutes after the hour, and return 25 min. after the hour to pick you back up. Sparky and Charlie got the last two seats for the 10:15 shuttle and off we went! We went on a Thursday morning and when we first started around 10:30, trail traffic was light.
The trail was FANTASTIC! Yes, the trail was heavily trafficked as the day went on, but the people were spread out. Sparky sort of liked the idea that the trail had traffic, if she were hiking by herself, it would be nice to know that people were around in case of difficulty. But, she had her super athletic brother with her this time.
The trail climbs gradually through saguaro cacti, cholla, prickly pear, and steep canyon walls and ends up at Seven Falls, which is about 200 feet in elevation. We were lucky it had rained quite a bit the day before, so there was a decent amount of water volume, which made for beautiful tiered falls and a couple of pools below. The falls have decent water flowing from October to May. We think they dry up in the summer.
The rocks around the pools were SUPER slippery! (Ask Charlie how Sparky knows that!) She was so busy watching her feet, she didn't see him fall on his butt! But he bounced right back up.
|Charlie blends right into the landscape!|
It felt really great to make it all the way to the falls.
We hiked to the falls and back, and got to where we thought the tram stop was. Except it wasn't the tram stop--it was a trailhead to an adjacent trail and there was no tram coming. We sat for 20 minutes past the pickup time, chatting with a group of women hiker buddies, and then we all realized that the group of us had all stopped off the trail at the wrong point. It would be another 45 minutes until another tram came. Charlie and Sparky decided to walk back to the visitor's center, an ADDITIONAL 2 miles. At this point, Sparky's feet were screaming--"HEY! These are the WRONG hiking shoes, Sparky!" But she hobbled alongside Charlie and we got back to the visitor's center before the tram did. A total of 6 miles plus, and Sparky's body definitely knew this was one of the longest hikes she had done in a very long time. Boy, when your feet hurt, the whole body hurts! Time for new and different hiking shoes!
But we made it and it was wonderful to do it with a brother by your side. This is Sparky's favorite photo (below) from the whole hike, because she felt pure joy at being able to share it with her brother.
The next day, Sparky and Charlie went for a 16 mile ride on the Loop Trail to top off a wonderful family visit together. Oh, yeah. We also found a terrific Mexican restaurant in Tucson called Rancho Rustico for dinner, we highly recommend it!
Thank you, Charlie, for driving all that way to come see us. Eldo, Sparky, and Charlie all had a wonderful time chatting and reminiscing about family, AND--hiking and biking just iced the cake. Love you, Charlie!