It’s Sunday night, my legs are sore, my backs hurting & I’m just about asleep at the switch here. And, I’m just starting the blog & haven’t even made a start on today’s photo editing of 184 photos.
RAMSEY CANYON PEAK IN THE HUACHUCA MOUNTAINS & THAT IS WHERE WE ARE HEADED
Today we hiked Ramsey Canyon & a short half mile steep climb kinda beat us up a bit. Tonight my legs are feeling very rubbery.
THERE ARE SOME VERY LARGE SYCAMORE TREES HERE
The day dawned with clear blue skies & for sure I did not want to just sit around reading all day again. A plan was quickly formulated & by 10:45 we were in the Jeep headed west for the Huachuca Mountains.
We had heard of RAMSEY CANYON when we first came to this area back in early 2009. A birder’s paradise where butterflies abound & a beautiful hiking trail to boot. A year ago we drove over to this Canyon which is basically located just a few miles southwest of Sierra Vista. The road leading up the canyon dead ends at a Visitor’s Center & from there you pay five dollars to hike up the trail. I guess we were in one of our ‘Cheap-O’ moods that day & didn’t want to pay the money, & left. Well, today we uncheapoed ourselves & headed back to the canyon with money in hand.
From Elfrida we headed south down the Sulphur Springs Valley to a place called Double Adobe & made a right turn into the Mule Mountains. Slipped through the southern end of Bisbee & headed west across the wide San Pedro Valley with the Huachuca Mountains dead ahead. What a beautiful land this is.
High noon saw us at Ramsey Canyon’s Nature Conservancy Center talking to a nice lady about what we could expect to see on the hike. Minutes later we were out the door with our ‘out of shape legs’ moving us up the trail.
It was apparent right from the first few steps that this was going to be scenic hike. A spring fed stream tumbles out from somewhere high up in the mountain & makes it’s way down through green forests & creek bed rocks alongside the trail on it’s long journey to the San Pedro river in the valley below. The largest Sycamore trees I’ve ever seen shade the path & share the area with Oaks, Maples Junipers, tall Pines & many other kinds of flora & fauna.
Shuffling along the trail through fallen leaves reminded me of Autumn while the cooler air, sunshine & sounds of water in the trailside stream reminded me of an early April spring day back home in Canada.
It was easy to see why Ramsey Canyon is widely known as a birder’s paradise although aside from some Mexican Jays we did not see a lot of birds. We were just here at the wrong time of year for the feathered migrations. We had deer approach us & casually browse for food only 30 or 40 feet away. They did not appear too concerned about our presence.
This canyon was once home to early settlers & those who came after them. A mine was started, cabins built & at one time people came long distances to spend leisurely holidays during hot summer months in the canyons cooling forests. Remnants of that era are still evident. An old log cabin, stone walls, a cabin from the early 1900’s & a full stone fireplace standing alone beside a mountain stream. A huge Sycamore said to be about 260 years old spreads it’s long tentacle like branches over the stream & the trail. A guide told us this tree is only half way through it’s projected lifespan. Tree rings date this Sycamore to 1760.
THIS LARGE SYCAMORE DATES BACK TO 1760
The Ramsey Canyon Preserve trail is relatively short as far as trails go & from the Visitor’s Center to it’s farthest point at the Bledsoe Loop & back again is only one mile in total. It is an easy walk for anyone & not strenuous. Following alongside the mountain stream there is always the sound of babbling water tumbling it’s way over the rocky streambed. There are benches & rest areas for folks with interpretive markers along the way describing various flora & fauna. I would recommend this walk for anyone needing to get out for a little exercise & wanting to be at one with nature. Mix in a little bird watching with some of the canyons history & you are going to have yourself a fine outdoors afternoon.
Now, for the hard part!! Another trail runs off the Bledsoe Loop called the Hamburg Trail. It’s named after a man who first started mining operation in the mountain further up. I now figure it was named the Hamburg trail because that is what it makes of your legs. It is a short half mile trek up to an on overlook that tops out at 6,200 feet. Right from the time you set foot on this trail it just goes up & up & up. Every footstep you put down is higher than the one before. Kind of like climbing a slightly angled half mile ladder without putting your hands on the rungs. Within minutes it had us huffing & puffing. Keep in mind that at these higher altitude the air is thinner making breathing more difficult.
There are 9 benches along the way & we had to stop at every second bench to catch our wind. This has never happened before. We usually do trails head on with few stops until we reach the top. Not so this trail & I must say I have never huffed & puffed so much on a hike as I did on that short half mile climb today. I was sure regretting those 14,306 peanut butter & honey sandwiches I have eaten over the years. 1,473 donuts, 972 pieces of pie, 812 tarts, 765 pieces of cake & an untold number of hamburgers…..just to mention a few.
THE RAMSEY CANYON OVERLOOK
About two thirds of the way we encountered patches of snow on the path & that made for some slipping & sliding along the way but at 1:45 p.m. Arizona time we finally reached the Overlook. And, what an overlook it was. The wind nearly blew us back down into the San Pedro Valley as we clambered upon a rocky ridge overlooking a huge forested canyon below with Ramsey Peak towering high above the far canyon wall to the west. Just a beautiful sight to behold. A few other hikers came by & one fellow took a couple pics of Kelly & I on the rocky ridge. We stayed here nearly half an hour & were the last ones to finally depart the beauty surrounding us. We began the steep descent back down to the Bledsoe Loop. Kelly had asked me earlier what Bledsoe meant & I told her I figured it meant…..’Bledsoe bad my boots filled up.’ (ya might have to think about that one for a minute:))
SLIPPERY FOOTING COMING DOWN
The descent was obviously much easier than the ascent but it was tricky going on the trails hard packed ice & snow stretches. Shades of downhill skiing came back but we did OK & were soon below the snowline & back down to the much flatter & easily walkable main Ramsey Canyon Trail. It was only half a mile back to the Visitor’s Center as we quietly ambled along slowly trying get misaligned leg muscle groups back into some semblance of natural order.
THESE ARE THE REMAINS OF DR. BLEDSOE’S HOUSE
Sooooo happy to reach the Jeep in the parking lot, unlock the door & slowly slide into that oh so comfortable Jeep seat. Figured I would just sit there forever & never stand up or walk anywhere ever again. After gobbling down a couple cold pieces of pizza we had the Jeep rolling back down out of the canyon & headed for home. Had originally planned to stop in Bisbee for groceries on the way back but we were both so tired we just blew right on by the grocery store. Not sure if we could have lifted ourselves out of the Jeep at that point or not anyway.
Made it home shortly after 5 which brings me up to the point where I am right now 3 hours later tapping out tonight’s post. Ok, now to go see what I can salvage out of 183 photos. I feel like maybe I shou………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
MONDAY MORNING…… I actually did fall asleep last night & when I woke up I just shut the computer down & went to bed. I will have more Ramsey Canyon photos in tonight’s blog. Sorry about the long rambling post but sometimes the natural beauty of the day’s events just simply overwhelm me.
RAMSEY CANYON PRESERVE VISITOR’S CENTER…THE TRAIL STARTS HERE & HEADS UP TO THE LEFT
GROANER’S CORNER:)) A man rushed into a busy doctor's office and shouted "Doctor! I think I'm shrinking!!" The doctor calmly responded, "Now, settle down. You'll just have to be a little patient."