I fell in love with Tucson when I visited last year, but my time was limited. I was on my own version of the Amazing Race to make it to Oregon in time for the spring Skinnie Winnie Rally, so I limited myself to three nights in both parks; Catalina and Gilbert Ray. I loved both of them equally for their different surroundings, so this year, I vowed to return and stay until I felt like I’d had my fill.
It didn’t take long to get my fill of Catalina. Last year, I had a nice big spot in the corner with the Catalina mountains in my face. This year, the park was full, and the only thing I had “in my face” was the awnings of Overflow. Once again, I was grateful to have a place to park at the end of a drive down from Phoenix along the International Speedway of I-10, but still it is maddening being crammed into such a small circle of the Ringtail Loop with two other huge, empty group sites adjacent to me.
My reason for wanting to return to Catalina was all about Sabino Canyon. I didn’t expect that I would be so lucky as to have another “Ladies of the Canyon” * encounter as last time. That was a serendipitous lesson in canyon living that I still think about a year later.
No, my reason for wanting to return was prompted by the same vanity that won’t allow a woman to bypass a scale tucked into a private corner after she has been following the latest diet craze. I wanted to see if I could hike the canyon “bottom up” this time. Last year, I couldn’t do it. I had to ride the tram to the top and walk the four miles back down. But someone told me in retirement, “You are now going to be the Director and CEO of YOU!” to which I replied, “And my first agenda item is going to be to get my fat a__ in shape!” So I needed to see if I was making progress by benchmarking against my baseline. 😉 (You can take the girl out of the corporation. Hopefully eventually you can take the corporate out of the girl!)
I am pleased to report not only did I make the 8 mile trek up and back, but I went a little further beyond the turning point. While at the top of the canyon, I met a man who told me there was a worthy spot another four miles up the trail called “Hutch’s Pools,” a beautiful spot to cool off with a dip in the pool. He recommends riding the tram up, and hiking in from the top of the last tram stop. Oh, well, there’s always next year. As Roseanna Danna would say, “It’s ahhhhlways sumpthin!”
I did have another interesting encounter in the canyon this year. A group of 14 “Christian students” on a field trip. Based on the long skirts worn by the teenaged girls, I took that to mean “Mormon.” They stopped for a sermon in the most scenic stop of the entire canyon, so I took that as my permission to eavesdrop. Their “Guide” was making reference to the prolific veins of red marble that ran through the hillside, comparing it to “the blood of Christ.”
As he was finishing his brainwashing of the malleable young minds, their sun hats ringed with wildflowers from the Canyon, he encouraged them, “As we leave here, if you see some white rock with a little vein of red that reminds you of The Blood of Christ, pick it up and put it in your pocket as a reminder of our time here today.” Too bad he is does not teach the message with as much reverence for the future of Mother Nature as he does for the past of Father Christ. “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.”