Once again meeting Sirena at the butt-crack of dawn, this time we headed to the swimming hole at the base of Lower Tanque Verde Falls. While she had been down to the creek at the base of the trailhead a number of times, neither of us had ever been all the way to the falls! Can you imagine! When we got to the bottom of the hill, it was obvious that a relatively recent flood had come through the creek and stripped the canyon bottom of nearly all vegetation. The majority of the bushes that were left were stripped of their leaves or crushed down to the ground by the power of water. We saw signs of flood debris 20' above the bottom of the creek in some places, and it still smelled of fresh lumber. Looking at the USGS Stream Data for the creek, it seems that there was a peak of nearly 800CFS flow on July 31st, which was the weekend the whole state got so much rain. While that's nowhere near the 6000CFS recorded during the 2006 flood, it is certainly a decent flow rate, and would have been amazing to see!
As we scrambled up the creek, I was impressed by the variety of the rocks in this particular canyon. It seemed that each boulder was completely unique, and each new bend in the canyon brought us into a whole new geology. It was fun!
There were millions of tadpoles in the pools, and a few of them were beginning to emerge onto the rocks with little tiny,tiny legs. It was SO cute, we spent a good amount of time trying to get a picture that communicated just how itty-bitty these little guys were.
Finally, we reached the scramble up to the big waterfall, and were both totally flabergasted. We'd seen the pictures, read the trip reports, but nothing can really prepare you for the glory of that amazing waterfall and acre-sized swimming hole. We drank in the scene, still in the shade from the morning sun, got our swim on and spent a luxury hour just floating around in the beautiful Catalina Tea. I wonder - do you think that it might dye your skin a little?? It would be a fantastic alternative to tanning
We had the place entirely to ourselves, with nothing but birdsong to interrupt the amazing peace and the lullaby of the waterfall.
Although the water was the perfect swimming temperature, we started to get a bit chilled because the canyon was still so shaded, so we got out and lazed about on the rocks for a bit. Waiting for the sun to hit the waterfall was just eternal, and we ended up giving up and packing up to head back down the canyon (but not before we threw our Wendy to celebrate this awesome spot).
Coming back, it wasn't more than about 10 minutes before we encountered a group of young men (I'm being generous here by not saying boys), shirtless, in flip-flops and board shorts, headed up. No doubt there would be much rock jumping, splashing about and shouting up at the falls once they arrived. Our timing had been flawless. We picked our way along the slick rocks and flood debris, and reached the bottom of the hill at around 9:30.
The climb back out was brutally hot already. I don't know what the exact temp was, but since it hit 103 in the Old Pueblo this afternoon, I'd assume that by then it was already in the mid-to-upper 90's. Way to hot to be hiking uphill in full sun. Smart Sirena brought an umbrella. Silly writelots only brought a baseball cap. I'll let you guess who was cursing their evil luck
All and all, a fantastic little morning jaunt, and the perfect way to spend my last free Thursday before starting my new job
. Also, the perfect way to enjoy Tucson before it's completely overrun once again by students and snowbirds!