25 Dec 2019
Christmas Hike to Bridal Wreath Falls in the Rincon Mts
via the Douglas Spring Trail in Saguaro NP East
This driving across the basin to the Rincon Mountains is becoming a habit!
I was first introduced to the Rincons by my brother Bill (aka William). That was on January 29th of 2005 - almost 15 years ago. We hiked up to Little Wild Horse Tank and parked at the Broadway Ave trailhead which is just to the south of the Speedway trailhead for the Douglas Spring trail head. See the map above.
2005 was the year I took my very first solo road trip and was the genesis of the EpicRoadTrips.us.
Okay! Time to fire up the WayBack Machine!
Yours truly - January 29th of 2005
Brother Bill lounging at Wild Horse Tank beach - January 29th of 2005.
Now it is time to come back to 2019.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
On December 24th the temps had dropped and it rained on and off all day. More rain was predicted for Christmas day and our hiking group members were signing on and off as the rain waxed and waned. Funny to watch as people wondered: "What to do?!"
And on Christmas morning it was still cloudy with on and off showers. Putting our fate in the hands of NOAA we loaded up our packs and drove down the street to pick up neighbor Bob and then we were on our way across the basin to the Rincon Mountains.
We arrived at the trail head about 45 minutes before the hike start time so we sat in the car and watched the parking lot fill up. Betsy and Bob chatted about an upcoming trip they were planning along with two others and then before you know it it was show time.
Our group was also joined by members of The Tucson Hiking MeetUP Group and the 50plus Moderate to Easy Nature Hikes and Social Events group which bumped the number up to 18 - the legal limit for group sizes in Saguaro National Park.
Sunshine! By the time 10:00 rolled around it had cleared off nicely and there were lots of big puffy clouds and some low brooding ones as well which made for a dramatic landscape.
That's neighbor Bob out front. You may remember him from his rollicking Perch Parties and Glider flights.
The still unsettled weather made for continuously changing views of the Catalinas and the distant Tucson mountains. Gorgeous.
As we climbed, the terrain became rockier and we started to see some water in the canyons.
The beginning of the Douglas Spring trail starts out pretty mellow but then gets steep with a lot of steps. We took frequent short breaks to catch our collective breath.
This canyon floor was scoured down to the bedrock. I am sure a bit of poking about down there would have revealed some bedrock morteros.
The low hanging clouds over the Catalinas were hopefully producing some snow up on Mt Lemmon.
Here we see nearly the entire Tucson Mountain range. Barely visible on the left is Black Mountain and to the north just off camera are Panther and Safford Peaks. The first high peak on the left is Cat Mountain which is in our back yard. The last high peak on the right is Wasson Peak. At 4,688' it is the highest peak in the Tucson Mountains. Betsy and I will be leading a hike to the summit of Wasson on New Years Day.
On two previous hikes I completely missed this weird looking crested Saguaro.
Photo: Joan Chen
It has been estimated about 1 in 250,000 Saguaros will produce a crested form. These are usually upright specimens with terminal crest 15' or more up the stem. This one is doubley odd - one low growing crest and a bizarre multiple crest down lower. There are quite a few Crested Saguaro aficionados out here and even a Crested Saguaro Society.
Photo: Bob Reinecker
By now the Saguaros were starting to thin out - just like my hair. We would soon be in a burned over area devoid of most Saguaros which is now a scrubby grass land area.
Note the green on the left bank. The recent rains (2.25" in December alone) have been kind to us and the desert had been more gorgeous than usual.
We are not far from the falls now. Two years ago when I was up here the water was about a foot deep and moving fast.
One must pick their way carefully across these boulders to get to the base of the falls.
Even when you are being careful you may pick the wrong boulder to hop onto and then Down You Go! Fortunately this was not my phone.
Photo: Joan Chen
I wish I had taken this shot. Beautiful.
Here we are at Bridal Wreath Falls. Yes this is no Niagara but it is still nice to visit.
Bob wanted a Christmas photo to send to friends and Betsy obliged him by snapping one. That is Betsy's Christmas cap. I wish I had thought to get one of Betsy wearing it!
After a bit, those of us who were ready to depart headed back down the trail. Some hikers were planning to detour to nearby Ernie's Falls but that was aborted.
As we were heading out, some were just arriving. We passed more and more people as we descended. I am glad we decided to get an "early" start.
Photo: Chuck Ferrara
As we descended, the weather started to change. The clouds thickened and the wind picked up.
Photo: Chuck Ferrara
We knew the dark clouds were heading our way.
Then the rains came! And the wind it did blow! Invigorating!
As we continued on down the mountain there were comments from some of the group about not bringing rain gear. Bummer. We picked up the pace.
Are we having fun yet!?
If you click on the photo you will see water pouring off the billed caps and hoods.
Lucky for us after about 20 minutes the wind and rain subsided and all was well with the world.
See you next time...
Mike and Betsy
~~~~~~~~~ BONUS Photo ~~~~~~~~~
Christmas in Sabino Canyon - 2015