The month started off on a bad note, we had to find Keaton a new home. In one of those bizarre and unfortunate occurrences we had adopted a highly allergenic cat. Lance has one known allergy but I’ve never been allergic to an animal. Ever. I’ve been around animals my whole life. I grew up on a small farm where we had cats, dogs, cows, horses, pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, fish, tortoises, and even a parrot. Something about Keaton made us both miserable. It was so bad that Lance walked around the house with a tissue stuck up his nose. It was a difficult and sad decision to have to make.
That same week work commenced on our final porch project. We were excited to think that it would be finished by the weekend. After all, the other two porch projects went relatively well and we were using the same crew so what could go wrong? Imagine my consternation when I returned home the afternoon of the pour and found cracks running throughout the freshly poured concrete. I was not amused.
I called our contractor. He called the concrete crew. The concrete crew called the concrete company. All of them said they’d never seen anything like it and none of them knew what went wrong. And then the finger pointing began. I gritted my teeth and tried to remain calm though inside my head panic alarms were ringing (I’ve heard so many contractor horror stories). We braced ourselves for the worst—being stuck with cracked concrete and out our deposit.
I’ve been thinking about this one particular canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains for 15–20 years. Wondering what mysteries and beauty were held high up in the headwaters of the Cañada del Oro (often shortened to just CDO), a major watershed in the northwest Tucson basin.
About time to go tackle it, eh? Turns out it was also high on the list for good friend and fellow outdoor adventurer Charles.
Starting high in the Ponderosa pines.
Looking southwest to Cathedral Rock, Window Rock, and Mount Kimball.
Looking north-northwest down the west fork of the CDO drainage.
Blue is for … adventure.
Pretty tall, 4-5′, maybe Bracken (Pteridium equilinum).
One of hundreds of stream crossings.
Amazingly wet canyon.
Cattle fence near the junction with FR 736.
We set out very early Saturday morning and hiked about 9 hours: 7am to 4pm, covering almost 21 miles down from atop Mt Lemmon to the end of Lago del Oro near Saddlebrooke. (Huge thanks to our ladies for the dropoff and pickup.)
It was wonderful! Water, water, water. Did I mention water? We were both blown away by how wet the canyon was; it continued to flow on its northward bend even after we joined the Charouleau Gap road.
For all the beautiful evidence see Charles’s great set of 26 photos from our adventure and his full route profile via GPS (elevation, mileage, etc).
Hat tip to Sirena Dufault for her thorough report about this exact route—very helpful in our planning.
The fascinating story of the missing “Sandy Island” in Pacific Ocean.
The island that everyone thought was there, but no one actually bothered to check. Crazy. (Via NPR.)
Sit down and hang on because this is a roller coaster of a tale. It begins innocently enough. On September 13th, 1924 Charles E. Manier was out for a Sunday drive with his wife Bessie, daughter Ethel, and father J.E. Manier. As they tooled along Silverbell Road north of Tucson (coincidentally, not far from where we live) they espied an old limekiln in the hillside. Curious, they stopped to investigate. While snooping around Charles noticed a metal object sticking out of the hillside. Charles and his father set upon the caliche (a soil layer of calcium carbonate, similar to concrete, that occurs naturally here) and were rewarded with a lead cross, 18 inches long and weighing 64 pounds.
The Maniers took the cross home, cleaned it up, and found a Latin inscription that was shortly thereafter translated by Frank Fowler, a University of Arizona professor, as “Calalus, the unknown land.” While at the University the cross was handled by multiple professors in several departments.
Speculation about the object’s origin ran wild. Could there have been a Roman presence in southern Arizona? Was this evidence of a lost tribe of Israel? Could this be the great find that finally put sleepy Tucson on the world map? We may laugh at those ideas now, but keep in mind this was the era of astonishing discoveries; the richly fabulous tomb of Tutankhamen was uncovered just two years earlier.