We got a call from Denis on Sunday evening. He said that we weren’t going to Chivo Falls because it was too far to go. The trailhead is about 85 miles away and the trail takes about four hours to complete.
Instead, they were planning to do Charouleau Gap.
That is fine with me as Charouleau Gap is a fun trail and a lot closer. Even though the book says that it takes from 5 to 7 hours to complete.
Also, if we do Charouleau Gap we can go to the Red Lobster for supper afterword.
We decided that we would meet the rest of the group at the trailhead at 9:00 in the morning. That meant that I would have to get up at 6:00 am. and we would have to leave here before 8:00 to be sure to get to the trailhead by 9:00.
A Rough Start.
I looked at the clock in our bedroom and it read 5:00.
“Oh good I can stay in bed for another hour”.
The next time I looked at the clock ‘a couple of minutes later’ it read 6:30.
”Oh shit, I over slept!”
I crawled out of bed, showered and fixed my oatmeal breakfast.
By then, Patti was up and fixing our lunch.
I grabbed the lunch coolers, walki-talki, GPS and cameras and started loading the jeep.
When I went to start the jeep I found that my car keys were not in my pocket.
I know they were in my pocket earlier this morning. Where could they have gone.
I checked around the jeep to see if I had dropped them on the ground but they weren’t anywhere I looked around in the jeep but didn’t find them there. After searching for a while I decided to use the extra jeep key that we keep hanging in the RV and look for the other keys tomorrow when I had more time.
Off We Go.
We headed east on Coolidge Blvd. to Hwy. 79 where we turned south toward Tucson. At Oracle Junction we got onto Hwy 77 and drove to Catalina.
We stopped to get gas at a Circle K in Catalina.
After toping off the tank we drove south for about a mile and turned east on Golder Ranch Rd. to Lago del Oro Parkway where we turned north and drove a couple of miles to the trail head. Well actually we missed the trail head and had to turn around. We found the trail head and the rest of the group just starting to air down.
It was 9:05.
On The Trail.
The Charouleau Gap trail starts off rough and continues that way to the end.
As you leave the trail head you have to go into low range as you drop down a steep rutted dusty trail into the first valley.
Here you cross the first creek.
After crossing the creek the trail becomes a bit rougher.
There are large granite mounds covered with pulverized granite covering them which makes the traction interesting.
The first play spot is about a mile from the start. It is a series of granite domes like slick rock.
Here is Frank trying his luck on this step.
He made it after a couple of tries.
From here we get our first view of the Biosphere 2.
A little farther along the trail we encountered more slick rock.
Once we climbed the rocks we stopped for some photos with Tucson in the background.
Here are the ladies, L to R; Patti, Diane, Lise and Sue.
And of course the men and their machines. L to R; Johnie, me, Denis and Frank.
Along the trail we came upon this sign.
I am not sure why this sign was not at the beginning of the trail.
We took a moment to enjoy the scenery.
Then it was back to the business of driving into the next canyon.
The trail drops down for a while then starts back up on some switch backs.
At the summit we go across a cattle guard that I believe is the actual Charouleau Gap.
We head down again on the rutted trail.
And then up again over another hump.
We can see snow on Mount Lemon.
We can’t look to long as the trail gets a little bumpy.
Up over another hill…
and down into another canyon where we cross the creek in Canada Del Oro Wash.
The trail climbs out of the wash and over another hill.
We came across this sign and had to laugh.
As we were going down the other side of the hill we came to a stop.
Now you have to understand that half of our group are Canadians and Canadians tend to stop in the middle of the road to have lunch. I objected to this because every time they do this it isn’t long before some one comes along and we have to scramble to get out of the way.
They insisted that there wasn’t any one that would come by. So under protest I consented to have lunch here.
We were just finishing up eating and we could here the sound of an engine coming down the trail. It turned out to be a young couple on an Quad runner. They were polite and waited for us to gather our stuff and get the jeeps going down the trail.
(I told them so)
Crossing the Stream Again.
A little farther down the trail we crossed the stream again.
After we crossed the creek the young people on the quad was able to get by us.
A Plaque For Frank.
After the quad got by, Denis and Sue presented Frank with this commemorative plaque.
After the presentation of the plaque we continued along the trail; crossing the creek several times.
Eventually the stream became the trail and we drove in it for about a mile.
We left the stream for a while.
After a while we came to what is called Coronado Cabin. I am afraid I don’t know the history of this place.
After leaving the cabin we crossed the creek a couple more times.
Once again the creek became the trail.
A Tough Spot.
Eventually we came to this tough spot. There is a bypass on the right side.
When we got here the couple with the Quad was having some trouble. They tried the left side and couldn’t make it. They were trying to get their quad turned around but it was too steep.
Johnie and Denis gave them a hand and eventually got the quad back to the bottom of the hill.
The quad owner, after a couple of tries, was able to drive it up the bypass.
Denis, Frank and Johnie tried the hill and with their front lockers engaged they were able to make it up the hard way.
Last year I tried this obstacle several times and just couldn’t get enough traction to get to the top. This time I didn’t even try the hard side and still had some trouble getting up the bypass. After a couple of tries I finally made it. It is a little off camber.
We drive over another hill…
then back in the creek.
We came across the couple on the quad. They were heading back to their truck.
The trail gets a little rougher here.
We drove up one hill…
and down another.
It continued that way for the rest of the ride.
Soon we came to the last major obstacle called the Elevator.
It is steep and rocky but it looks worse than it is. As long as you stay on the rocks to the right side and go slow you can climb right up.
We continue to go up and down the hills. After a while we start coming to gates which Sue did a great job of opening and closing.
Close to the end we get another view of the Biosphere 2.
The trail goes on…
We begin to see signs of civilization.
Eventually we go through the final gate.
We aired up here and head for Oro Valley to the Red Lobster for supper.
Patti and I had the Lobster Lovers Dream.
Wow! What a Ride!
The trail is a lot of fun but it goes on forever.
The book says that the trail takes 5 to 7 hours to complete. We spent five and a half hours on the trail.
We were all spent by the time we got to the end.