Can A 4 Year Old Jump Rope With Both Feet The Seven Cataracts Adventure Hike: A Mountain Sliding, Canyoneering Exploration Into Willow Canyon

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The Seven Cataracts Adventure Hike: A Mountain Sliding, Canyoneering Exploration Into Willow Canyon

Arizona is an incredibly gorgeous state, very diverse with topography ranging from low-level desert landscapes, to high mountain peaks and alpine forest ranges. More than any other geological feature though, Arizona is widely renowned for its many beautiful and remote rock canyons, deep cracks, waterfalls and pools scattered throughout the state. However, what I find even more amazing, is that many of these backcountry desert canyons can be accessed by “non-technical” canyon hiking routes that do not require ropes and are literally a day trip from either Phoenix or Tucson. For an excellent trip from the end of summer to the beginning of fall and travel, if you want more of an exciting challenge and an extraordinary and scenic day trip, then take a mountain slide, canyoneering hiking adventure in seven cataracts, and explore Willow Canyon, Tucson, Arizona.

It was the Labor Day holiday and early Sunday morning that I left Phoenix, about 6am, headed out of town on I-10 East and arrived in Tucson by 7:30am. At the Ina Road exit, I waved off the highway and took a left, going east 8 miles, and met up with the TLC Hiking Group, led and organized by Eric Kinneman, at the Westin La Paloma Resort and they arrived at 8am. Because parking was said to be limited at the trailhead for this hike, we bundled it up and left for the hike and trip east on Sunrise Blvd. by 8:25am.

The beautiful drive on Sunrise Blvd through the northern parts of Tucson and into the foothills of the gorgeous Santa Catalina Mountains has always been a favorite of mine. The Santa Catalina Mountains are Tucson’s highest mountain range reaching up to 9157 feet in elevation at its summit, Mount Lemmon. To get there and reach the trailhead for our hike, we zigzag through Tucson, driving east on Sunrise Blvd to Swan Road, turn right (south), River Road, turn left (south) up), then right on Sabino Canyon. Road, leave on Tanque Verde Road and head east on Tanque Verde Road until you reach Catalina Highway, aka “Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway”, and then turn left again.

It’s about 4 miles or so after you turn left on Catalina Highway that you enter the Coronado National Forest and begin the winding climb up into the rugged Santa Catalina Mountains. Although it has been a long time since I was last there, I was always amazed at just how beautiful and gorgeous this drive really is. Even when you are climbing to elevations starting at 3000 feet, the views are absolutely breathtaking and every switchback and hairpin curve offers a new and amazing rock formation or the beautiful vista canyon off into the distance. If you like to stop and take a lot of pictures, as I always like to do, you have many opportunities to do so because this drive offers a number of vistas to enjoy along the way. However, at about mile 5, just past the Molino Canyon Overlook, there is a pay station where you must purchase a $5 Coronado National Forest recreation pass if you plan to stop anywhere further along the drive. We bought day passes, one for each car and hiked an additional three miles until we reached Seven Cataracts Vista Point, just past Thimble Peak Vista and about mile marker 8 and about 1/3 of the way up Mount. Lemon.

We pulled into the Seven Cataracts Vista point, and our trailhead, parked and began our day hike and canyoneering adventure at 9 am. The view looking down into Willow Canyon below was absolutely beautiful, but also incredibly steep! Right from the start, the drop in Willow Canyon on this “day use” trail was intense, to say the least. Estimated to be about a descent of 1000-1300 feet straight down with a grade of 60% on all loose dirt, gravel and rocks, each one of us had to literally drop down to the ground on our “butts” and from section by section, sliding it down for about a total of a ¼ of a mile until we got down to the bottom. What a site to see too, really interesting and a lot of fun! However, this “unofficial” trail, mostly used by experienced canyoneers, is considered very difficult, some even say treacherous or dangerous, so I would not recommend doing this hike alone unless you are a hiker. experienced or are an experienced hiker. Canyon hiking guide with you.

Once we all safely slid our way down to the bottom and after a quick group photo, Eric began leading our group on our canyoneering exploration further down into Willow Canyon, rock climbing, boulder hopping and grade 3 climbing. climb into partially flowing water. Really gorgeous and spectacular scenery all the way down too! We continued on for about ¼ mile where we came to a really nice fall run and enjoyed the opportunity to cool off, rest and enjoy the peace and beauty of this remote and lesser known desert canyon. Meanwhile, Eric, along with several other adventurous members, hiked another 1/3 to ¼ mile, and after more scrambling, boulder hopping and grade 3-4 climbing, reached a 100-foot waterfall. and a bigger swimming hole deep enough. he said that even with a jump on a 10-foot cliff, they could not hit the bottom! Amazing!

After about an hour or so of rest, we decided it was time to start making our way back. Now it was time for the hardest part of our canyoneering adventure, make it back! So we started our hike back to Willow Canyon the same way we came, climbing, boulder jumping, wading in the pools, then climbing it back up to the water fall. It only took a while though and in a few minutes we all made it safely back up and to the base of the side of the mountain we had originally “slid” down on earlier. It was here that we met back up with Eric then broke into two groups. You could decide either to climb in the same place you came down with 60% of the grade on all the loose dirt and gravel, where Eric said it was for every 3 steps up, a slide of one or two back. Or, my friend Dan decided it looked like if you took it a little further down on the left side, you could more easily ride it straight up the rocks and cliffs and up to the top. So I, along with several other members followed Dan’s lead hand in hand, we slowly and carefully climbed it, section by section until we safely reached it back up to the top. Wow, for me and someone who is afraid of heights, and has no rock climbing experience, it was tough but a lot of fun and an incredible workout too!

Once back at the top and at the Seven Cataracts Vista parking lot, we waited for the last members to return safely, then at 12:15pm we returned to our cars to drive the rest of the way up Mount Lemmon for dinner. noon there. Iron Door Restaurant. The views along the way were again, spectacular as you make your way from elevation 5000 feet on up to Mount Lemmon Sky Valley, elevation approximately 8200 feet. Although signs of the devastating 2003 Aspen fire were apparent, it was still very nice with the temperatures at this time of the day, low in the mid-80s and very cool and refreshing.

However, with a 2.5 hour wait at the restaurant, due to it being a weekend and also a holiday, we decided it was better to turn around and head back instead.

We got back to Tucson at about 2pm and after an excellent lunch at a little restaurant called Renee’s Organic Oven on Tanque Verde Road, we got back to the Westin La Paloma Resort at 4pm, where we just got off for the day. , headed back to Phoenix from there returning home again at about 6pm.

All in all, it was truly an extraordinary canyoneering exploration and waterfall hiking adventure with the TLC hiking group, carefully researched, well planned and thought through to the last detail by Eric Kinneman himself. Really had it all, surprisingly beautiful, exciting, but also very difficult. I think this hike is best summed up though in Eric Kinneman’s own words where he quotes, “Seven Cataracts Waterfall Adventure Hike is an amazing hike that I highly recommend people take. It will test your fears, give you an incredible workout and takes you through some beautiful canyons, with a 100 foot waterfall and swimming hole, rarely seen by anyone. What more could anyone ask for!”

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