Today (Saturday), our plans are to explore the mountains just northeast of Tucson. Our first stop is the Sabino Canyon, and in the afternoon, we will drive up to Mount Lemmon. A complete brochure about the canyon will tell you all about it.

    At the visitor center, we had a terrible time finding a place to park our bright orange rented car -- mainly because the vast majority of persons visiting here were taking the tram to the head of the canyon as we planned to do. We almost had to wait until the next tram deposited their passengers who would collect their cars and empty the lot. We lucked out and found one. We had a comfortable wait at the visitor center pictured right.

I tried to take pictures from our tram, but finding the perpendicular proved to be difficult.
Thimble peak, elevation 5232, highest in the mountain range.
We are nowhere near the top of the mountain as you see above.
After a bit, we came to a deep gorge on the right side of the highway with some energetic tourists that you can barely see above.  Best of all, there was a restroom nearby. Needed that!
We boarded our tram and we were off.
It seemed that may of these Saguaros were growing right out of the rock.
We had to snap fast, but we planned to take a slow walk back on the road, and would have plenty of time to photograph.
Flowers at the end of our tram ride. 
We are at the top, and we all de-trammed.
We now started down the valley on foot. The distance was 3.8 miles, but it's all downhill.  Most people rode down on the tram.
OK, So I'm bragging about my 8X optical telephoto lens on the Nikon Coolpix 5700.

TEXT RIGHT:  "Take a moment to look where the giant saguaro cacti grow on the opposite canyon wall. Lip-canyon, to your left, you see many saguaros, but down-canyon, to your right, relatively few. Why is this?
       On clear winter afternoons the sun shines directly up Sabino Canyon, heating the rocks on slopes lacing down the canyon. These rocks in turn keep young saguaros warm through chill winter nights, while elsewhere the tiny plants freeze and die. To your left you see slopes that are warmed by the winter afternoon sun; to your right you see slopes that are not.
        Freezing sets the limits for many plants here at the cool upper edge of the Sonoran Desert. The cactus-rich plant community where saguaros grow is called Sonoran desert scrub. The cactus-poor community on the cooler slopes is called semidesert grassland. It is beyond the desert's edge."

Scene looking left -- many saguaro. (read text above)
The road we walked on crosses the river in many places.
A person seeing me take this told me it was a disguised  cell phone tower. 
Above, another view looking back at Thimble Peak. 
TEXT LEFT:  "As you walk along the trail beginning at the foot of the stairs to your right, look for cup-shaped holes worn into the rocks. These grindstones, or mortars, remind us that Sabino Canyon was visited by other people long ago.

Beginning more than a thousand years ago Hohokam Indians came to Sabino Canyon to hunt rabbits and deer, gather cactus fruits and the hearts of agaves, and follow trails to higher elevations. They used the mortars here to grind hard seeds, such as pods from mesquite trees. Perhaps they paused now and then to rest in the shade of the sycamores, cool their feet in the stream and enjoy the beauty of the canyon, just as we do today.
The Hohokam vanished for unknown reasons about six hundred years ago. Now there are little more than scattered pottery fragments and grindstones to show they were ever in Sabino Canyon. Six hundred years from now, what signs will remain of our own presence here?"
Scene looking right: -- no saguaro;
No shortage of saguaro here.
The lazy folk that rode down.  They missed the fun but had dry feet.

After we got back, dried out our feet and socks after walking through the water at least three times, we found our car and decided there was just enough time to drive up to the top of the Mount Lemmon ski lift.  Not to ride it, but to see the scenery.

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