The water is snowmelt from high in the Santa Catalina Mountains and is quite cold in late March. However an air temperature of over 80 degrees Fahrenheit makes the cold water feel very pleasant. Most of the year the stream can be crossed by rock hopping, but the heavy snow this winter, at the 7000-9000 ft level, has raised the creek to knee deep wading in places. No worries. Feet and shoes dry.
The wildflowers are late this year, due to the same El Nino conditions that produced so much moisture. Several annual flowers were in bloom today, and the fat waterlogged cactus promises a spectacular bloom in April through June.
This is one of the busiest trails near Tucson, and long lines of hikers met us on the descent; high school kids on dates, families, college students and we mature hikers were all out to be immersed in the glory of spring.
Clear cold running water is a treat for those of us who love the desert, all the more appreciated because we know months of dry creek beds awaiting us until the monsoon rains descend from the thunderheads of July and August. That is when the real running water comes in flash floods of unimagined fury.
Sudden flash floods can come at this time of year also. Recently some young people were swimming in the pool at the second or third level of the falls, when a wall of water roared down the seven falls, caught them and carried them over one more fall and down the creek. The were lucky to survive. My thought is that an ice dam near the top of the mountain had suddenly breached, unleashing the flood. Life in the Sonoran desert can harbor surprises.
This is one of my favorite times of the year in the desert, flowing water, many colored blossoms, green foliage, cactus looking fat and happy, beginning to bud, and the Arizona sycamores and cottonwoods bursting with green. Soon our exercise days will begin at 5am and we will hibernate in the shade by early afternoon, working on computers or maybe even a cooler aided nap. Then we’ll be out to see the sunset and twilight, enjoying the perfect temperatures of Tucson’s spring evenings.
We won’t be here for monsoon this summer, since we plan to vagabond through the Southwest into the Northwest and on to Alaska, our first visit here.
But for now we luxuriate in the warm sunshine and wonder at the beauty of it all.