Zen On Dirt

Playing in Madera Canyon

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We had one goal on our mind when we rolled out of Tucson: Escape the heat.

Really, if it wasn’t for a handful of Tucson-based commitments that we had in the following weeks, we probably would have abandoned the ship called Tucson and headed north. We’re discovering that anything above mid-80’s gets hot in the Scamp unless we park in the shade, and then our solar doesn’t really do us much good. #scamptrampproblems

Luckily, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in the highlands of Southern Arizona, and a certain Mt Wrightson had been sitting on the Tucson horizon all winter just begging to be run. So Madera Canyon it was. We found ourselves a less-than-perfect-but-workable campsite in the camping area.

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It was an added bonus that it’s getting to be high birding season down here with migrant birds galore. It also means that there are birders galore, and birder-watching is almost as good as bird watching.

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The Arizona Woodpecker is always a fan favorite.

It’s the hummingbirds that are the big thing in the canyon, the various lodges and B&B’s set up feeders and chairs to watch the feeders. Chairs that seem to be fully occupied every time we strolled by. The claim is that birding brings in more tourism money to Tucson than golf.

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But me? I like the big and questionably ugly birds. This dude was strutting his stuff for the ladies all afternoon.

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And the woodpeckers. I really love the cartoon Acorn Woodpeckers.

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With the elevation and the shade, our campsite was the perfect place to nap away an afternoon, listening to Mexican Jays and White Breasted nuthatches cause a racket right up until the sun set.

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The run in the morning was as stunning as I remember. It was neat to be up a year after my last run up it and to have so much better of a grasp of Arizona geography. Red Mountain is there. Patagonia is there. Those are the Catalinas, and those are the Rincons. And I’m in the Santa Ritas with Mt Hopkins right next to me. And that’s the ridge that goes down to Florida Canyon where the Elegant Trogons live.

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By the end of the run, my shins were sore, my foot was ouchy, and I figured that I’d probably overdone it on the running front. This is typical Ez behavior, and maybe someday I’ll learn. But probably not.

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We briefly pondered staying another night, and if we’d had one of the better camp spots, we probably would have, but decided on pointing even farther south to Patagonia, where the birds are plentiful, the coffee shop exceptional, and the camping is free.

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