Jack tries going on an adventure, takes a nap instead

It finally happened: After a month or so of scouting for our deer hunt with Curry, it felt like time for a family hike. This means you are in for a lot of Jack pictures. You’re welcome.

Despite the fact that Momma Bear is a really good sport about hiking, taking the family along does limit our options a little bit. We wanted something easy, but fun, preferably with good views. The Cabin Loop is currently on fire, so Houston Brothers was out. We did Horton Creek the last time we went on a family hike. The absurd heatwave we’ve been stuck in made Deer Creek, Sycamore Canyon, and West Fork of Oak Creek too warm for my blood. After a couple of hours frantically looking over all my maps, I settled on a part of the state I’d never really visited: Ramsey Canyon.

Nestled in far (far, far) southern Arizona, Ramsey Canyon is a small preserve tucked into the unbelievably rough mountains of the Arizona/Mexico boarder. Operated by The Nature Conservancy, the area is famous for its bird watching and has picturesque desert stream. Best of all, the trails within the preserve are easy and guided nature walks are offered for those interested. So in summary: water, wildlife, and easy walking. Perfect family hike.

Tucson is right on the way to Ramsey Canyon, we gave our friend Katy a call to see if she wanted to tag along. She’s new to Arizona, and with the weather cooling down it seemed time to show here that the entire state isn’t an oven. We rolled into the parking lot right around 8:30.

The trail was nice and wide, with a slight uphill grade. We tried out the guided walk, but it was a little too slow for a toddler. Regardless, Jack started out impressed.


But soon he decided that walking uphill was hard and he kept trying to run back downhill. This required constant attention from Momma Bear.


Eventually we got sick of running back and forth to catch Jack, so he was transported into the baby carrier. Continuing up the hill, Ramsey really came into its own. First, with a couple of rutting coues deer.




And a little further with a doe and yearling.


About half a mile in the main trail diverges from the creek and begins climbing.


Really, really, really climbing. Immediately I could see the sweat on Momma Bear’s face and knew things did not bode well.


There were a couple of nice views near the top, but probably not worth the effort with the family in tow. All this adventuring proved to be too much for the Jackamundi.


On our way back down we saw even more wildlife, including a big group of turkeys.


And the views were spectacular.



Jack continued to find all this exhausting.


But back down at the visitors’ center, he finally woke back up and discovered his new favorite thing: bridges.






After twenty minutes or so, it was time to head home. I pulled him away from the bridge, and he threw a fit so loud that no deer will visit Ramsey Canyon for decades. Sorry, every future visitor.

Still, it was a near perfect day. Grad school, especially the end of grad school, can take a lot out of you. It’s a grind that’s hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. A few hours on a small stream, with my wife, my son, and our friend was just enough to make it all disappear for a little while. Sure, it wasn’t my biggest adventure, but sometimes you don’t need big. Sometimes you need quiet and slow. It was just what the doctor ordered.

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Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. He writes here at Lesser Places, occasionally for Backpacker.com, and even more occasionally for scientific journals. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.

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