My Arizona Trail Talk is coming to Phoenix- come hear stories and see pictures from my 800-mile hike across Arizona! I will be at the Tempe REI 1405 W Southern Ave at 6:30 Wednesday, March 24, and the Paradise Valley REI 12634 N Paradise Village Pkwy at 6:30 Thursday, March 25th.
After work, I joined a group from the Tucson Hiking Meetup for a night hike up the road in Sabino Canyon (7.4 miles/800 feet of elevation gain roundtrip). The road is closed to vehicles and only allows bikes at certain times. In the daytime, it is usually packed with people and has a tram tour that runs through it. But at night, the bustle of the place calms and the canyon takes on a completely different atmosphere. It is a wonderful place for a moonlit hike, as you can enjoy the canyon without having to worry about where you are putting your feet. During the day, it looked like it would be too overcast to see the moon, but the skies cleared as night came.
And a beautiful night it was with an almost-full moon and the sound of water rushing through the canyon. I had heard that the water was flowing over 8 out of the 9 bridge crossings, so I brought kitchen-size plastic bags to put over my feet for the crossings. They worked really well- I used one pair on the way up and one on the way down. The highest crossing was above the ankles and pretty swift. They were also good for comic effect, as we all looked pretty silly.
The hike was listed as a “Meditative Night Hike” and we were to try to keep the use of our headlamps to a minimum and turn off our cell phones. When we got to the top of the road everyone found a spot to sit or lay down and be silent for a while so that we could all enjoy the sights and sounds of the canyon without interruption. I spent some time reveling in the moonlight illuminating the walls of the canyon, watching the stars, and waiting for the moon to finally make its appearance over the ridge. The moon was so bright last night that when it finally peeked over the ridge, it lit up all the beautiful white rock in the stream and canyon walls. It was really something to see, all the water from the recent storms thundering over the moonlit rocks in the canyon, making one of the sweetest noises ever heard in the desert. One thing I didn’t get to do on this hike was go to my favorite spot, a sandy stretch next to the water where the mica in the sand sparkles like diamonds in the moonlight. It’s a spot best savored alone, I’ll be back another time.
I am usually a solo hiker, but I enjoy going on these meetup hikes from time to time. The people are always friendly and it is nice to be able to see something beautiful and have someone else there to appreciate it with you. On the way back I saw a deer cross the road and disappear into the desert. Several of our group saw two skunks, close to the parking lot, but I was only able to smell, not see them. I only got the one goofy picture of myself to turn out last night, so I will instead share some Sabino nighttime shots I have from last summer:
I included this shot from Sabino in my year-end wrap up entry but I like it so much here it is again-
I am hoping to start the Grand Enchantment Trail soon, but the weather has not been cooperating. We’ve had a lot of storms recently which have closed access roads to certain parts of the trail. And it seems that it has been storming exclusively on days that I have off of work. I can’t complain- we need the rain, and really, how often do I have to cancel my plans because of weather in Southern Arizona? So as soon as I am able to get out there, I will be back with stories and pictures from my new trail. Can’t wait! After I cancelled my plans last week, I was driving and saw this on the truck in front of me.
In the meantime, I am still volunteering at the Wildlife Rehab once a week, which brings me great joy. I got to take care of this guy, a Black-Crowned Night Heron who broke a wing. I had never seen one before- what a beautiful bird! We have some juvenile roadrunners at the Rehab that the heron is not too pleased with. Anytime the roadrunners get near the heron, he puffs up the crest on the top of his head! The heron also likes to eat small live fish, but he’s shy and won’t eat till he thinks you aren’t looking.
Lewis and Janet Miller pay for the feeding and housing of all the birds at their wildlife rehab out of their own pockets, at a cost of over $10,000 dollars a year. Your donation goes toward helping these wonderful birds and other animals found at the Miller’s Rehab.