Okay, I was getting a little stir crazy being cooped up after my surgery and decided I needed some good old fashioned nature healing. I am so blessed and thankful to God, my surgeon Dr. Brian Rizzo, the nurses, and the hospital staff for my recovery. Also to my friends, family and blogging friends for sending me well wishes and prayers. It came out that they only had to remove half my thyroid so I am super relieved. Please, please, anyone of you out there reading this, make sure you get your thyroids checked every now and then. Didn’t realize something so small in your neck had such an important part in keeping our bodies running well. To all my blogging friends that have any kind of health issue they are dealing with, know that we are all here for you and we all hope your health improves as well. I will keep you all in my prayers.
Okay, now on to the fun day I had planned. Well it was about two weeks after my surgery and like I just wrote, I was getting crazy stuck inside. My whole family needed to get out to get some Vitamin D. Depending on what type of surgery you have had, it doesn’t hurt to get up and walk a little, after your doctor of course gives you the okay. Well it was time for me to walk out in my favorite place, out surrounded by nature.
So I headed in to tell my grown kids that we were having a family fun day, to put on some good hiking shoes and we have to leave early because were we were headed tends to get very crowded after a rain storm here in our city. Oh, I forgot to mention that we were hit hard again with a left over hurricane from Mexico. There was flooding around our state but nothing really bad.
When I walked into my daughters room to tell her to get ready, her cat Salina gave me a mean look. It was almost like her body language was saying to me “Why are you going hiking, when you can lay around in bed listening to music all day” Salina has been giving me strange looks when I talk now since my voice has changed a bit from the surgery. It is like she knows me but she is wondering who that person talking in my body is. My daughter and I laugh and laugh when her cat gives me “ The look” now.
I packed some sandwiches, fruit, coloring books, markers I got for Christmas, and books to read and we all got into our truck to head out to the White Tank Mountains.
On the drive to the White Tanks there are acres and acres of roses. Miles and miles of every color rose you can think of, it is just breathtaking. The clouds, the fresh air, and the early morning light was just what we all needed.
Imagine driving through thousands and thousands of roses. I have to say my favorite colors were the pinks. The yellow roses reminded me of my Nana, she loved yellow roses. These photos do not even touch how beautiful it is driving through a rose farm with the White Tank Mountains covered in clouds off in the distance.
Uh oh, I have a feeling this is going to be a long post. There is just too much to share with you all on this tiny day adventure of ours. I couldn’t leave out the roses. You have been warned, but do read on, we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet…the waterfall. Which is a rare thing in an Arizona Sonoran desert.
I was worried we did not get up early enough in the morning for this hike and the lines would be crazy when we got to the Tanks but we were very lucky when we drove up and saw there was only one car ahead of us. It cost $7 for an all day pass into the park and it is well worth it. They hand you maps of the area plus let you know of any things to watch out for.
Once when we came up and the kids were little the park had signs out warning everyone to keep the kids close because a mountain lion was spotted in the area. Nothing new to anyone living in Arizona, just some of the wildlife we have to watch out for.
(photo of a poster in park’s nature center at entrance to park)
When we got to waterfall trail we actually found a parking spot next to the trail. This trail is by far the most popular and if it has rained the day before then get here early. The line can become a Disneyland line of waiting to get to the waterfall. When it is busy, then it isn’t a hike, it’s a nightmare.
First let me explain this trail, it really isn’t a hike, it is a nice leisurely walk. It is paved people, I mean, it really is.
This is the perfect hike/walk for anyone who wants to take baby steps into getting out there in our desert to see what hiking and walking in a Sonoran desert is like.
All ages, all handicaps, even dogs love and can do this trail. It is the easiest hike we have taken in our family…ever.
They even have several stone benches through out the trail in case you need to sit down for a bit. So this is the perfect walk/hike to take after recovery from surgery. Mine was not a big deal, it was in my neck. There have been many times I have been on this trail and seen people struggling walking with the help of canes and all I can think is, good for them because it is so nice to get out in the world enjoying how beautiful it is.
Okay, that is the easy part of the trail but there is a hard part and in order to get to the waterfall you have to be able to get through the rough part of the trail, which I wasn’t sure yet if I could or not. I still could not do any type of strenuous activities and I still had stitches healing so I had to be very careful not to over do it.
(higher up on the trail you can see the valley below)
There was water down in the wash (dry Arizona river bed) so I knew the waterfall would be running, in fact, the closer we got to it the louder it got.
The paved part of the trail eventually ends and then you hit dirt. This is where anyone with a handicap will have to turn around. There was a documentary on channel 8 a couple months ago my husband and I watched where a man in a wheelchair goes hiking on Arizona/New Mexico trails in his wheelchair. When ever he got to a place where the wheelchair wouldn’t go he would get out and drag the wheelchair behind him. It was amazing. I loved that and told my husband how cool would that be if we ever ran into him some day. He is just out there and nothing is stopping him.
(where the pavement ends the hike can get pretty rough)
The closer to the waterfall the more pools of water you will run into. This one reminds me of when I was a kid and lived on a desert mountain. When the storms would come in I would get so excited because as soon as they were over I would run out there towards that mountain. Sometimes I didn’t even put shoes on. I knew the mountain rocks would be filled with pools of swimming holes everywhere and waterfalls all through those rocks. I couldn’t wait to jump into the pools and swim. I loved our desert rainstorms growing up. Must have driven my family nuts back as a kid, I can almost here them saying “ Where’s Cheri?” but my father would always know that if there was a storm, then afterwards I was out on the mountain exploring and most of the time he would be right there with me. He loved jumping into those pools too.
This park has most of the pool areas closed off and the rangers will remind you to stay on the trails. When my husband and I were kids the park was empty and there were no barriers around. It was also free to get into. Now that it has become very popular and they have fixed it up you are not allowed to go to certain areas. This is a good thing though, since we need to protect this area so future generations can also enjoy it.
Oh, almost forgot…there are petroglyphs all over this trail. I still wonder what the natives were trying to tell us with their drawings. Very cool to see art from such a long time ago.
As soon as we got to the area where the waterfall was I could see I was not going to be able to see it on this trip. It was just too slippery and too dangerous for me to take that chance.
With my luck I could see me slipping and falling on my neck area trying to get to the waterfall. I have gone so many times, so I knew what it looked like, so I handed off the camera to my husband and told him to get me some shots.
When you get to the steps to the Falls they are covered in water, which is very slippery.
You have to first test your steps.
Then make sure you have good footing.
And slowly get up the steps that lead to another area that you will have to cross, which is also very slippery and wet.
Then you will see the waterfall.
There is a back way that my husband used to walk to as a kid, which is at the very top of the fall but I think that might be closed off now, for safety reasons of course. Maybe it is closed permanently, I don’t know. It has been years since my husband and I used to be able to walk the park freely and there was no one around. This was before cell phones, so two kids out in the middle of no where although can be a lot of fun, you still should tell someone where you are going just in case.
Here it is, the top of the Fall.
And here is the bottom. Notice that the water is like a chocolate lake, well that is an Arizona desert pond and waterfall for you. The rainstorms cause flooding and the desert is covered in dry dirt of course, so the two combinations create a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory kind of environment.
This hike is easy in the beginning then hard towards the end, especially when wet, so please wear the right shoes and make sure you have the confidence and know how to get to the Falls. Our mountains come with a lot of jagged and hard boulders that can cause a lot of damage if you fall onto them. There have been many out state visitors and even locals who have lost their lives taking chances on our trails, so please don’t.
After the hike we all decided to head off to drive around the park to see what other trails to explore, easy baby step kind of trails though. I will post that part tomorrow. If any of you are ever here in Arizona, hope you get a chance to explore our desert, For more information on the park click here (https://www.alltrails.com/lists/white-tank-mountain-regional-park) they also do overnight camping at the park.