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Sabino Canyon Adventure
Haps and Mishaps in Sabino Canyon
All about my haps and mishaps in this wonderful canyon.
Sabino Canyon is a gorgeous area located in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of the older part of Tucson, Arizona. It is closed to vehicular traffic, so for a person who cannot hike long distances, it can be an interesting experience trying to access what you want to see. My momentary limit is 2 miles total in a day.
I hadn't been to Sabino Canyon in a number of years, so I decided recently to pay a visit. These days, I can take the tram ($8) up to the top and walk down. It's about 3.7 miles total one way. Unfortunately, being a serious night person, I have trouble making it there in time to get the last tram back after I have hiked 2 miles. But I do my best. As a result of this limitation, I ended up making a total of three trips in the recent past.
The first trip was in April or May, if I recall correctly. I went up to see the wildflowers, and whatever birds I could find. That was the occasion that cost me a lot more than $8, as I shall explain.
Then I went up twice less than a week apart, because the first time, I only walked 1.4 miles before I had to stop to get the last tram. The next time, I got off where I had left off, and walked the rest of the way to bus stop 1, because I wasn't going to walk UPHILL another mile to get back to the parking lot. Fortunately, I did have enough energy left to walk part of the way around a loop trail nearby, and will also show something of that little walk.
The third time I went up there, I had a totally uncalled-for adventure because the 2 year old in the people's house is throwing a temper tantrum, and it had a personal impact on me.
All photos are mine. The one on the left shows two saguaros. The shorter one is a crestate saguaro. A genetic defect causes the crown of the cactus to take on a bizarre shape.
In my other lens about Sabino Canyon, I described how I ran into problems, starting with losing my cell phone. You can read about that here:
That was adventure enough to last me awhile. But as I said before, adventures never stop. An adventure is whenever things don't go according to plan, and you end up having to think on your feet, get out of tight situations, and so forth.
But the "best" was yet to come. In September, I made one trip up into Sabino Canyon, and since I didn't get finished, I went back a second time in October.
The first gallery is photos from my late September trip. Then I talk about the October trip, and present a gallery of shots from that trip.
In late September, I decided to go see what I could find while there was still water in the canyon, well, at least flowing water. Some pools may last until the next rainy season, but you never know. The tram driver on one of my trips made note of the fact that the Gila Chub (Gila intermedia), a type of minnow, rarely grow beyond 4 to 6" because the pools dry up. They are able to reproduce because the eggs will endure dry conditions until there is water again. In having this trait, they join with certain toads that live in the desert. This year, she said, they grew larger because some of the pools didn't dry up. It is said the only place they can find to live year round in water is in Cienega Creek.
This time, because it was so late, I started out at Bus Stop 8 and walked down to Bus Stop 6, where I picked up the tram to return to the parking lot.
On my last trip, I was able to photograph the Gila Chub, though none of my pictures are anything to write home about. They like to hide in shady spots where getting a good picture is difficult. So you will be prepared for the photos later on, take a look at the video below.
Yep, that's what they looked like. But this video is better than my photos.
September Photos in Sabino Canyon, ArizonaClick thumbnail to view full-size
My Latest Adventure
On October 1, I decided if I wanted to go into Sabino Canyon (and I did), one more time before the government shut down, I better do it that day. So I went.
I'll show you some of the photos I got.
I called to make sure the tram was running and they said it was, so I went on down and bought a ticket, and got on the tram, and rode it up to Bus Stop 6, where I had ended my hike last time, and I started to walk down. Very quickly, I heard what I think was a Northern Waterthrush (and I think I caught a glimpse of him). The Northern Waterthrush is a rare bird around here, so that makes me evey more anxious to get a good look at one. I've been trying to get a picture, so I slowed down and spent some time sitting and looking, to no avail. I went down a bit further. The tram driver said all the restrooms were locked. Thank goodness I never needed to use one! I saw that indeed they were closed, and there was a sign in front of one of them, saying it was locked. I'll show you the sign. Hmmm. Why did they have these signs ready in the first place? I smell a conspiracy!
So I wandered on down, and got down to stop 4, I think, and the tram was coming again, and since it was early, I decided to ride it to the end of the loop and back down, which was very enjoyable, and got off at stop 4 again. The tram driver talked about the chub in the pools, and I saw some, and got some pictures, though none were great. And I got a few other pictures. I didn't see a huge bunch of birds. I did hear another Northern Waterthrush (or was it the same one?) and got a little better picture, but still not good enough. I had to be satisfied with that.
On my way down, I saw a woman with a camera, and asked her what she was photographing. I couldn't see from a distance. She had a tiny lizard. I don't think she got but one photo of him. I asked her if she had seen any interesting birds. She hadn't been paying attention. She said she photographs lizards for a living. After that, she left, and I saw the Ornate Tree Lizard I will show you. I wouldn't be surprised if I saw more lizards that day than she did. I photographed three.
And I hiked own down to Bus Stop 1, and hung around there, just enjoying and taking pictures. I caught the tram again to finish the day, and on the way asked about the little side trail where they said there was a crestate saguaro, and I decided I would go on and find that, because I still felt energetic.
We got to the end of the line, and there was a fellow standing there with a camera and tripod (it absolutely amazes me how SMALL these commercial video cameras have become!) and so I asked him what he was taping, and he said he was doing a story about the shutdown. So I told him I saw the restrooms were locked, and he asked me for an interview, so I agreed, and gave him one. And then I went and found the crestate saguaro, and went home. As I was going through the gate, I saw they had yellow police tape across the entrance. That means either tear down the tape, go across and get your tires punctured on the exit, or don't go in.
I went on home, and at the proper time, I went to the web site to see the news report. We don't have TV. And I never did find it, but later, a friend told one of our sons that she had seen me on TV.
Here's an idea for ya:
Why don't we turn the management of our national park system over to the Nature Conservancy? I think they'd do a much better job of managing it than the government does!
The people who work at the Nature Conservancy work there because they love their work. And if I ask one of them, where have people been seeing the Neck-throated Thingama-birdie, they can tell me, or if I show them a picture, they can say, Oh yes! That is a Neck-throated Thingama-birdie!
I only know of one instance where they closed down one of their preserves for a few days. There was a mountain lion loose in the area, and they didn't want anybody encountering him. Makes sense to me.
On the other hand, keeping people who spent who knows how much money to travel from some distant country from going into the Grand Canyon, now come on! Most of these facilities don't cost anything to manage. You can close down the gift shops, and just let the people drive or walk through. The outhouses are unattended. It cost them MORE money to go through and lock them than it would have cost them to leave them alone.
This government shutdown is the kind of adventure I do NOT need, and do NOT welcome! It's ridiculous.
To get what you want, you inconvenience as many people as possible. You commit extortion. How very big of you, sir! Who died and made you king?
Managing the National Parks of the United States
Who should manage the National Parks?
Latest Adventure PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
More about Sabino Canyon
Amphibians, Reptiles, and Their Habitats at Sabino Canyon (The Southwest Center Series)
by David W. Lazaroff, Philip C. Rosen, Charles H. Jr. Lowe
Sabino Canyon, Field Guide to: Pocket Naturalist Guide (Pocket Naturalist Guide Series)
by James Kavanagh
Sabino Canyon: The Life of a Southwestern Oasis
by David Wentworth Lazaroff
A Guide to the Geology of Sabino Canyon and the Catalina Highway: Coronado National Forest
by John V. Bezy