The 7 Cataracts Journey Hike: A Mountain Sliding, Canyoneering Exploration Into Willow Canyon


Arizona is an extremely beautiful, wildly varied point out with topography ranging from small amount desert landscapes, to significant mountain peaks and alpine forest ranges. Far more than any other geologic function however, Arizona is widely renowned for its numerous attractive and remote rock canyons, deep slot gorges, water falls and swimming pools which are scattered in the course of the condition. Nevertheless, what I come across even a lot more incredible, is that a lot of of these backcountry wilderness canyons can be accessed by way of “non-technical” canyon mountaineering routes which you should not demand ropes and are basically within just a one day’s trip from both Phoenix or Tucson. For an fantastic late summer to early slide day trip and hike, if you’re up for additional of an enjoyable challenge and an remarkable and scenic day excursion, then acquire a mountain sliding, canyoneering hiking experience to 7 Cataracts, and investigate Willow Canyon, Tucson, Arizona.

It was the Labor Day holiday and early on Sunday morning that I still left Phoenix, about 6am, heading out of town on I-10 East and arrived in Tucson by 7:30am. At the Ina Street exit, I swung off the freeway and took a left, heading east 8 miles, and satisfied up with the TLC Climbing Team, led and organized by Eric Kinneman, at the Westin La Paloma Resort and arrived by 8am. For the reason that the parking was stated to be confined at the trailhead for this hike, we carpooled it alongside one another and established out for the day’s hike and journey heading east on Sunrise Blvd. by 8:25am.

The stunning travel on Sunrise Blvd across the northern stretches of Tucson and by means of the rolling foothills of the stunning Santa Catalina mountains has always been a preferred of mine. The Santa Catalina Mountains are Tucson’s highest mountain array achieving all the way up to 9157 feet in elevation at its quite top, Mount Lemmon. To get there and to get to the trailhead for our hike, we zig zagged it throughout Tucson, driving east on Dawn Blvd to Swan Road, turned right (south), to River Highway, turned still left (east), then a correct on to Sabino Canyon Street, left on to Tanque Verde Highway and headed east on Tanque Verde Road until we attained the Catalina Highway, aka the “Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway”, and then turned left all over again.

It was about 4 miles or so just after building the remaining turn on to the Catalina Highway that you enter the Coronado Nationwide Forest and start out the winding ascent up into the rugged Santa Catalina mountains. Whilst it’s been a very long time considering the fact that I was final there, I was continue to impressed at just how attractive and magnificent this travel definitely is. Straight away as you head on up in elevation commencing at 3000 feet, the views are definitely spectacular with every switchback and hairpin curve offering a new and incredible rock development or beautiful canyon vista off to the length. If you like to end and consider a whole lot of images, as I generally like to do, you have a great deal of opportunity to do so since this travel provides a quantity of vista details to take pleasure in together the way. Nonetheless, at about mile marker 5, just past the Molino Canyon Neglect, there is a shell out station where you will have to purchase a $5 Coronado National Forest working day use recreation move if you happen to be scheduling on halting anyplace further more together the generate. We obtained the working day use passes, just one every single per motor vehicle and journeyed on for a few a lot more miles until eventually we arrived at the 7 Cataracts Vista Point, just past Thimble Peak Vista and approximately at about mile marker 8 and about 1/3 of the way up to Mount Lemmon.

We pulled into the Seven Cataracts Vista level, and our trailhead, parked and started off out on our day’s climbing and canyoneering journey by 9am. The see looking down into Willow Canyon down below was definitely gorgeous, but also extremely steep as well! Instantly, correct from the commencing, the fall off into Willow Canyon on this “working day use” path was intense, to say the pretty the very least. Estimated to be about about a 1000-1300 feet descent straight down with a 60% grade on all loose dirt, gravel and rocks, each 1 of us experienced to basically fall down to the floor on our “butts” and from segment to section, slide it on down for about a complete of a ¼ of a mile until finally we experienced produced down to the base. What a web site it was to see too, seriously fascinating and a large amount of enjoyment! On the other hand, this “non-formal” trail, primarily used by expert canyoneers, is rated pretty difficult, some even say treacherous or harmful, so I would not suggest doing this hike on your personal until you are an knowledgeable canyon hiker or have an experienced canyon hiking tutorial with you.

Once we experienced all safely and securely slid our way down and achieved the bottom and after a quick team picture, Eric commenced foremost our team on our canyoneering exploration even further down into Willow Canyon, scrambling, boulder hopping and course 3 climbing as a result of partly running water falls. Truly lovely and breathtaking surroundings all the way down far too! We continued on for about a ¼ mile where by we experienced arrived at a seriously good jogging falls and enjoyed the prospect to interesting off, relaxation and take pleasure in the peaceful tranquility and splendor of this distant and lesser known wilderness canyon. Meanwhile, Eric, alongside with several other adventurous associates, journeyed on for a further 1/3 to ¼ mile, and right after more scrambling, boulder hopping and course 3-4 climbing, achieved a gorgeous 100 foot drinking water slide and a bigger swimming hole deep enough he reported that even with a bounce off a 10 foot cliff, they could not strike base! Wonderful!

Soon after about an hour or so break, we determined it was time to get started earning our way back. Now it was time for the most demanding component of our canyoneering experience, creating it back again! So we began our trek back as a result of Willow Canyon the identical way we arrived, scrambling, boulder hopping, wading by way of the pools, then climbing it back up via the h2o slide. It only took a small time though and in minutes we had all manufactured it properly again up and to the foundation of the aspect of the hill we had initially “slid” down on previously. It was listed here that we satisfied back again up with Eric then broke up into two teams. You could decide to either make the ascent in the identical area you arrived down with the 60% grade on all free dirt and gravel, exactly where Eric stated it was for just about every 3 techniques up, a slide of a person or two back again. Or my close friend Dan decided it seemed like if you took it up a very little even more down to the still left, you could additional very easily climb it straight up the rocks and cliff and up to the top. So myself, alongside with many other customers adopted Dan’s lead and hand in excess of foot, we slowly but surely and very carefully climbed it, section by section until we safely and securely arrived at it back up to the top rated. Wow, for me and another person who’s frightened of heights, and not knowledgeable at rock climbing, it was challenging but a whole lot of entertaining and amazing work out too!

As soon as back again at the top rated and at the 7 Cataracts Vista parking good deal, we waited for the ultimate customers to securely return, then by 12:15pm we obtained back into our cars and trucks to travel the rest of the way up to Mount Lemmon for lunch at the Iron Doorway Cafe. The views along the way ended up once more, magnificent as you make your way from elevation 5000 toes on up to the Mount Lemmon Sky Valley, elevation approximately about 8200 ft. Despite the fact that the signals of the devastating 2003 Aspen fireplace were noticeable, it was nevertheless very stunning and the temperatures by this time of day, low to mid 80’s and very cool and refreshing.

However, with the 2.5 hour hold out at the cafe, due to it getting a weekend and also a holiday break, we determined it was best to change around and head again as a substitute.

We arrived again in Tucson at about 2pm and right after an great lunch at a minimal cafe known as Renee’s Organic Oven on Tanque Verde Road, we arrived back again at the Westin La Paloma Resort by 4pm, exactly where individuals of us who experienced just came down for the working day, headed back to Phoenix from there to return home yet again by about 6pm.

In all, it was actually an incredible canyoneering exploration and waterfall mountaineering journey with the TLC Climbing Team, meticulously researched, properly prepared and assumed by way of to the last detail by Eric Kinneman himself. Really had it all, astonishingly lovely, thrilling, yet also extremely hard. I think that this hike is finest summed up however in Eric Kinneman’s possess words in which he prices, “The 7 Cataracts Waterfall Journey Hike is an astounding hike that I very advocate individuals having. It will take a look at your fears, give you an incredible exercise routine and choose you through some impressive canyons, and a 100 foot waterfall and swimming gap, rarely observed by anybody. What a lot more could any individual check with for!”

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