Tucson is the gateway to Nogales and was my launching pad to return to Connecticut. After my brief visit to Nogales, and a visit with a potential customer in Tucson, I spent the final night of my trip in Oro Valley, just north of the city. The rain had paused for the evening, so I checked out Catalina State Park.

My plan was to get up real early and go for a trail run. I had a meeting with a colleague mid-morning, then I had to catch my flight home. A 5:00 A.M. headlamp start to the run was part of the plan. In scouting the access road to the trail head, I had noticed a wash (drainage) at a low point in the road. There were several signs making it clear that you would be crossing at your own risk during the rainy season. Flooding is normal during the summertime Tucson monsoon. 

It was dry the night before my run, but it rained all night. When I got up early in the morning, it was still raining very hard, and a torrent was raging across the road. I put my $5 in the official envelope and stuffed it into the fee tube before noticing the ranger inside the toll-house. She came out and warned me about the wash and said she didn’t think that I could get across in the car. If I did make it, it was likely that I wouldn’t get back because the water was rising fast. I drove up to the wash. I got out of the car in the pouring rain and took a closer look. I waded in up to my ankles and realized that there was no way I could drive across, even in a rental! Silt was piling up and huge banks were evidence of the excavating that had followed the last heavy rain. I circled back and parked by the gatehouse. I was going to have to run on the access road to the trailhead. This meant, I would cross this seasonal creek on foot. I’ve done this many times and wasn’t concerned about it. I was confident that I could deal with the current.


Thankfully, I hadn’t attempted the car crossing. It was waste deep, moving swiftly, and very muddy. Too bad for the folks on the other side who needed to get back to civilization. They wouldn’t be crossing for several hours, and that was provided it stopped raining at some point. Well, the crossing and short road run that followed was well worth it. I was able to get 8 miles in running out and back on the Romero Canyon Trail. This trail heads deep into Coronado National Forest in the Santa Catalina Mountains. You can take the trail all the way up the back side of Mt. Lemmon, but I didn’t have time for that. The run did wet my appetite for a return some day. I had a few more creek crossings up near Romero Pools. It stopped raining about an hour into the run and the sunrise was very cool with low hanging clouds and mist. I had to cross the washed out road again on the return to the car. There was a line of vehicles parked. They had a while to wait. The water may have gone down later in the morning, but they were going to need a bulldozer to clear the road of all the mud, which was at least 24 inches deep.

I didn’t get lost in the mountains like a previous trip to Tucson. I was cleaned up in time for my meeting and had a decent trip home. The airports (especially in Atlanta) were still crowded. It was hard to tell that the airlines were struggling so bad. Out of six flights in four days, two flights were delayed, the San Diego-Tucson connection and the Atlanta-Hartford connection. That last one was the most frustrating because I was on my way home and it was a Friday midnight arrival anyway. All in all, the business dealings were the highlight of the trip, but the photographs from the runs are better than any images from inside a conference room.

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