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. But, 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. Day 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. It was nowhere near 100 degrees outside. Maybe 60.The 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. John obligingly turned himself into Thor of the Desert for this photo.It 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. 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.