Isn't this a gorgeous canyon? These photos are by my hubby and father, so I haven't seen it myself, but I was impressed with just how BIG the country is. On the last day of our Christmas trip, Dad and James decided to hike a 12.3 mile loop in the mountains just outside Tucson.
The starting point point and ending point didn't quite make a full circle, and they didn't want to leave a vehicle there all day, so the plan was for my mom to drive them to one side then come pick them up at the end of the day on the other side. The hike had a lot of elevation change, taking them up into the mountains, across a saddle and back down; when they chose which side to start at, they chose the uphill side, knowing there would be plenty of up and down to complete the hike. Also, since the days were short, they knew they needed to start early and keep moving to make it back by dark.
When my mom dropped them off at the trailhead, there were a few law enforcement people around but they didn't realize until after she was gone that the trail was closed due to a tracking operation they had going. Dad and James quickly realized that they weren't going to get on the trail anytime soon, so my mom went back and picked them up and took them to the other end of the route. It was a later start than they intended but off they went.
By the time they were close to the saddle, it was already 3pm. The last little bit before the saddle was the most elevation change and the route down the other side was unfamiliar to both of them. They had started from the opposite end from what they intended, making the elevations even more challenging. So... they turned around. They had to almost-jog to make it down before dark and it took the last bit of the light to get back to the trailhead. It was over 11 miles - still a great hike!
The pictures are so beautiful that it makes me want to go too. We're thinking about a hiking challenge to have all of the family that feels up to it make the 12.3 mile loop next Christmas. Considering there were 13 of us (yes, all staying in my sister's house) this year, we could really have a fun hiking contingent next year!