Southwest Vacation: Day Ten

Today we went and hiked around Sabino Canyon. Like Mount Lemmon, Sabino Canyon is part of the Santa Catalina Mountains and is located in the Coronado National Forest. In fact, if you look at the map of the Catalina Highway that I posted a few days ago, you can see Sabino Canyon (located several miles south and a little west of Mount Lemmon/Summerhaven). Instead of hiking up to the top of the canyon, we decided to buy tickets for the tram which takes you up the 4.5 mile road to the “end” of the canyon. The tram ride takes about twenty minutes; on the way, a guide tells you a little bit about the history of Sabino canyon, as well as the flora/fauna you could potentially encounter (mountain lions!). Once you get to the top, you can either hike out or stay on the tram for a return trip back to the entrance. We opted to just hike back out (despite the fact that we were accompanied by Stephanie’s five and eight year old nephews – it did all work out, though).

Sabino canyon 1Thumbs up for cacti and fairly bleak landscapes.

The views are pretty severe (lots of cactus and rocks and small shrubs), except right along the creek bed, which has a surprising abundance of life (Sabino Canyon is designated as a “natural desert oasis”). In addition to the flora, there are also lots of interesting geological features. Sabino creek has flowing water ~10-11 months of the year and has eroded away large portions of the canyon. About two-thirds of the way up, there are a series of natural waterfalls/pools that are highlights of the hike. We (slowly) made our way down the canyon. The kids dragged their feet a little and stopped and splashed around in some of the pools, but they were real troopers about making the hike back towards the trailhead. It was pretty hot and I was impressed by their (relative) resilience.

Sabino canyon gneiss 2Sabino Canyon cliff face

Veins of gneiss are prevalent in the canyon (left). Also, that cliff face (right) is ~500′ tall. Perspective!

Once we made it back to the car, after hiking/walking around in the sun for ~three hours, everyone was thirsty and hungry so we drove over to El Charro for some iced tea/soda and Mexican food. I got (surprise!) a chile relleno. It was delicious! Their verde sauce was amazing. I think I liked the relleno I had at La Parrilla Suiza a teensy bit better, but they were both SO good. If I lived in Tucson, I would eat these all the time and get so fat. But it would be worth it.

Later that evening, instead of going out again to watch basketball, we decided to just stay at Stephanie’s. The University of Arizona was playing tonight, so it was A Big Deal. (Tucson is very much a basketball town.) One of Stephanie’s friends came over, as did several of her family members, and we all watched the game together. There were lots of chips and guacamole and vegan chili cheese dip and popcorn and vegan chicken tenders… I was also drinking some moderately fancy hard cider from Fox Barrel (Pacific pear and blackberry pear). When you think about it, the joy of watching sports is at least 50% related to eating delicious snacks and drinking tasty drinks. Arizona lead for the whole game and ended up winning by a lot, so the evening was very enjoyable.

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Miles run in 2014: 96.4
Books read in 2014: 22

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