More Arizona Wandering

Our quest to circumnavigate Arizona, well sort of, anyway brings us to Roper Lake State Park, north and east of Tucson.  Click here for a map.  This tidy, smallish park is known for having a natural hot spring.  Yippee, we thought, envisioning ourselves perched on rocks in a huge natural pool.  Not quite……it’s more of a Clampett-style ce-ment pond, about six feet across.  Water was a fairly tepid 95 degrees.  Another dream smashed.  20150115_161647But, we’ve got a big campsite near the Lake.  It’s pretty nice.  There are lots of birds lurking about, even if most of them are red winged black birds.  20150115_150816Day 1 is a bike ride into the nearby town of Safford.  Our objective was lunch at Casa Manana, with a secondary task of finding the US Forest Service Office to pick up some hiking information.  We scored on both points, although my fish tacos were disappointing.  Great chips and salsa though.

Fortified and wanting to explore, we noticed a bike path, and decided to follow it.  Good decision!  It led us to Discovery Park, a (county?) park built in association with Eastern AZ University.  There’s a 20″ telescope there, with a astronomy museum and a dark sky park.  Just our luck, most of that was not open.20150116_130103  20150116_130815 It was nowhere near 100 degrees outside.  Maybe 60.20150116_15052720150116_130546The Park is also home to the Graham County Historical Museum.  Weirdly, we were the only people there (the whole park!).  We wandered the museum, watched space videos, and listened to space sounds.  The property also features an old ranch, an a few trails.  20150116_124528John obligingly turned himself into Thor of the Desert for this photo.20150116_12512520150116_125158It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.  Once again, we were happy to be on our bikes, as we probably never would have stumbled over to this area had we been driving.

Saturday was hike day.  We decided to drive up toward Mt. Graham, and take one of the hikes that leads off from Ladybug Saddle, about 17 miles up the road.  Once we passed the snow line (about 6000 feet), we found patches of black ice, especially treacherous on the narrow switchbacks.  At one point, John just looked over at me an said, “Nope”.  It was pure ice, with sharp dropoffs at the edge.  The next four miles to the Saddle just weren’t going to happen for us.  We got turned around, found a spot to park off the road, grabbed our pack, leashed Jezzy up, and headed off into the woods.  Eventually, we wandered into the Group Camp area, and found the Arcadia Trail. 20150117_12081520150117_13345320150117_121330 We trudged up and down, passing through the snow, out into the sunlight, and back into the snow again for about four hours, finding a lunch spot with a great view. Total solitude – no airplanes overhead, no bird noises, no wind.  Nothing.  What more would you want from a hike?  Oh, in addition, we got a great workout.

So, now it’s early Sunday morning.  We’re packing up and moving on.


6 thoughts on “More Arizona Wandering

  1. You found both ice and trees in Arizona, I didn’t know that they had either. ;)

    One thing that I’ve learned from your blog is that one of these days, I need to purchase a bike. You two find so many great places while cycling, and I imagine that you’re able to cover more ground than I can on foot.


    • Hey, it’s not all sunshine and cactus here! We are now camped above the snow line at about 6300′, it’s in the mid 20s here this morning. Crusty old patches of snow, but nothing new.

      We would have a diminished camping experience without our bikes, for sure. There’s no way we would explore as we do if we had to drive around. Walking works, but we’re less inclined to do that in town. It’s reserved for the woods! Think you would find it fun to chase birds via bike!

      Thanks for checking in, Jerry.


  2. Judy, do you have Yak Trax to put on your shoes for icy spots. Easy on; easy off, and easy to carry in your back pack. Those might help when you hit a limited icy spot. Again your photos make me amazed at the beauty and diversity of nature and the human spirit. That last picture startled me as I thought I saw a bear standing tall just right of center. That would have been an exciting story for sure. Can’t wait for the next installment. Oh, and John makes a great Thor.


    • We were worried about the truck sliding off the road, not us! We do have yax trax, but rarely carry them. I have used them many times in Michigan tho. Could have used a giant set for the Firetruck!

      It is very diverse here. We are headed out today to a campground much higher than we’ve been. Hope it’s sunny up there – we won’t mind the cold so much that way!

      We had mountain lion warnings at the park in Patagonia. Apparently there was one wandering around nthe campground a few weeks ago. Not sure if we need that kind of excitement or not!


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