Happy Valley Waterfalls


It is always good to have a backup plan to assure nude friendly weather conditions. We had plans to visit the top of Mt. Lemmon, but monsoon thunder and lightning storms are predicted this weekend. Our alternative is to not campout, but we’ll do a day trip instead. The prediction in the Rincon Mountains is heavy showers, which may cause flooding after 11am and before 11pm. This generally means that the creeks will run. There will be this break in the morning, before more rain. We will also enjoy cooler temperatures.

We visited a new found waterfall a year ago. That story is here:


We hope to find the water falls running and that the pools are filled with fresh water for swimming.

Remember, you can enlarge and clarify any picture by left clicking on it.

At first light we arise. We’re off to Happy Valley, as the sun comes up over the Rincon Mountains to the east. There is an overcast with breaks of sunlight in a display of grayish hews. As we step out the door, the morning air is cool. After the harsh unseasonably hot temperatures the previous days, this wonderful spring time feel is inviting us into the day.

KXCI community radio starts its Saturday morning by broadcasting a show filled with Hawaiian music. It begins as we pull out of the driveway. It will serenade us all the way to our destination.

The humid weather encourages us to keep our skin bare, instead of being stuffed up in any of the excesses of clothing. It feels pretty darn good.

The Interstate Highway brings us to the Mescal exit and we are off into the desert grasslands with the tall Rincon Mountains ahead in the distance.

The road is in good condition. There have been no washouts, no grooves in mud and no washboards, but it has rained.

The freshly washed road surface has a message for us. As we approach the unpopulated rec area, there are just a few fresh tracks. This tells us that it didn’t rain hard and there are maybe four others out here. One is with a trailer, which is probably towing quads.

The Oahu sound shuts down with the motor. As we open the doors, the music is replaced by just the sounds of crickets.

I gobble a breakfast, as I walk around the campsite that we have pulled into.

We are hidden from the empty road.  I look out, watching the heavily clouded sky, as it is breaking up into a plethora of cloud shapes at various heights. They float in clear blue skies. Now that it is cleared from the rain, the air smells pure. A few birds call to each other. It is pleasant.

Onward and Upward:

We take only a water bottle each and our cameras. I have a small light water proof backpack, with snacks. We need nothing else. The morning sun is easy. We decide that there will be little possibility for encountering others. If by chance some do arrive, we will just take the old unwritten law of the wild and claim our “first here” rights. The others become an intrusion to our privacy.

We make our way up the short trail, soon noticing the top waterfalls in the distance. The water isn’t falling. Perhaps there will be a swimming hole left at each pool.

As we arrive, we are already speculating how to find a way further up from the first pond in this series of falls.

We climb a slippery slope smoothed by years of water flow and cleaned by the last night’s rains.

There is ponding in granite bowls, but when we reach the first spot, where we have been before, it is much the same as it was then. It is only more clear and reflective. It isn’t a place to swim and be rinsed by a waterfall.

It is a disappointment. We desert rats want cool refreshing water and we have made an effort to get up much earlier than usual on a Saturday.

While we contemplate making a better situation, I chance to see a light trail heading away and up.

It may wrap around the steep cliffs surrounding each stage of the waterfalls.

The exploration is a success and a beautiful cove is waiting. DF places her hand in the water and finds it wonderful.

This mini paradise has been trashed however. On the way up, I had found two filtered cigarette butts laying on the ground. Taking further notice, I saw that they were not even extinguished. Dry grasses are nearby.

This mess now, adds to that previous indignation.

DF has a plastic bag with her. She begins to pack what she can into it, compacting the litter as best as she can.

It becomes too much for the bag, but we are feeling better about our surroundings.

We explore, take photos and find more trash.

The vista is gorgeous, the plants are fun, some are in bloom.

Above, there is a smooth rock to sit and overlook the natural domain.

These watered spots tend to accumulate different species from the other areas. Just a few feet away there is a grassy high Arizonan desert with small trees. Here tucked into bare granite bedrock, vines cling and various different ferns grow. The grass species are different than the adjacent eco-neighborhood, a few dozen feet away.

Manzanita Berries

From range to range, these mountain ponds have different species in them, but many are similar. For example, a water bug from the Santa Rita Mountains might have a different color, or markings than one living here on the back of the Rincon Mountains.

We observe and we listen. A jet passenger plane travels high above in the distance on its way to Tucson. The rumble echoes through the rounded granite acoustics….

A large yellow butterfly with sharp black accents flutters on the same breeze that delights our bodies. It is quick and constantly moving. DF has attempted to grasp a photo of it, but to her dismay. We sit on that shelf and as she takes a shot down at the ripples in the pond, the butter fly again comes by. The illusive flying being nearly collides with her head. We both laugh. It is as if it is playing games with us.

Sitting on the Shelf

The search continues:

We have found a new adventure, in our further exploration of these waterfalls.

We see that there is at least one more waterfall level to get to. There must be a way around and up through this particularly rugged terrain.

We look for trails as a blue jay squawks its annoyance with us.

Watch Out for the Shin Daggers

There is one faint trail across a bed of exposed rock to the south, which is highlighted by moss-like growth. There is an arrow, which is a directional cairn, pointing back to the falls. Someone has been this way. We’ll try it. It may be how to get to the next tier.

Tree’s Roots Grip Raw Granite

We set the bag of garbage down under a bush and unencumbered, make our way.

Watching Clouds Pass Above Us

The vistas are wonderful. The air travels around us as a cooling treat. The trail is difficult to keep track of with so much of it crossing slabs of rock.

In between the slabs there is often a little tread worn path. Occasionally there is a cairn of odd rock piled up. We add a couple of cairns ourselves, so as to not lose our way back. We are still in hopes of traveling around and into the stream area above the falls.

A ridge waits for us. There, a good sized balancing boulder with a great deal of character, sits like a giant cairn itself.

Looking Back Toward Where We Drove In

We hope that we will get around and find a trail to the falls soon.

As our ascent gets steeper, I notice a smell that I can’t place. It may be a bear. It is something that I’m familiar with, not a cat, not a deer. We stop, look and listen, then continue on.

Further searching gives us only more rocks and fun plant life. There is no route to a riparian Eden, here.

We slip off our belongings and comfortably place our naked bodies in the shade of the balancing monument.

It is time for brunch.

Electric Clouds

After our peaceful interlude:

While dining on bean burritos, we decide that this is enough. The heat of the day will come to us soon. We have been out here several hours.

Yoda Cactus

We head back down, making new discoveries as we go.

DF finds a plant dripping with huge bean pods. She recognizes them and is thrilled. They are something that she discovered back in 1973 and has been fascinated to see them ever since in different locales and seasons. She takes several photos of the beans.

I bide my time taking photos of her.

When we have returned to the falls, we stop to look once more for an alternative trail.

Perhaps there is one on the north side of these falls.

Could a Path Be Found There?

DF swats an ant off of the top of my hat. As we ponder how it got up there, we still speculate how to get to the next waterfall. I do see a trail leading up the hill. She sees more evidence of trail. We’ll make another attempt, but on another day.

A Quiet Place to Relax:

The air-conditioning in my truck is wonderful. I adjust the air to flow directly at our hot bodies.

We meander further down this remote road, until we discover a campsite that would be suitable for a huge family get together. We follow the trees into it, happy with their shade. The creek, which runs next to this, is still dry. After being in the sun, it feels good to accept a cool breeze after pouring water on a body.

We explore on foot just to see what is here. There doesn’t appear to be many people out here today, so we decide to just take shoes and a camera for our short expedition.

This One has Grown Unusually Large

We have worked up the appetite for lunch. We pull out a couple of folding chairs and place them in the shade of the mesquite, which stands next to some half buried boulders. In the moist air, the difference between the sun and the shade makes all of the difference.

We are relatively close to the road. A couple of quads and a white pickup truck pass by. Our backs are to them.

We look up at the rugged beauty of the mountains.

We share that we are thrilled to have had such a great hike in the cool morning.

After eating, we are nearly falling asleep, as we sit in our chairs.

DF Showing Some Fatigue

After a short while, I suggest some photography. DF takes directions for several experimental poses in the comfortable shade of the tree. They are mostly shady dark and just experimentation. We’ll discuss the effectiveness later, when we get home in front of the computer and after a necessary nap.

Carnuding home, there is a road sign for A&W root beer floats.

It is something that we don’t usually do, but after drinking warmish water, we have a compulsion to revisit this treat. It hasn’t been tasted by us for decades. I find exit 269. We pull up, we cover our bodies enough and walk into memory lane.

A Surprise:

That evening, we find ourselves at a classical India music concert. Ty Burhoe and Steve Oda have been stopping into Tucson each year. They have been getting better and better with each other. They play together, unlike many India music stars. Without the egos, the completion of the performance is stunning. If you ever get the opportunity….

So, sitting in front of us, there happens to be an old friend. We tell of our adventure in Happy Valley. She tells us that she has been out there with our friend Bruce, who knows many places. She tells us that he too likes to hike nude.

I take note of that, and then who should come through the door, but Bruce! During intermission, six of us are standing outside, watching the lightning turn the surrounding mountains into silhouettes. We discuss Happy Valley and nude adventure. We all make an enthusiastic commitment, naked hike in Happy Valley, as soon as the weather chills down.

It is amazing how things just fall into place and unfold.

Butterfly and Flower Unfolding


Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Happy Valley Waterfalls

  1. Eric

    What a beautiful hike, and such a lovely co-adventurer. DF is stunning in img_7000t_1.jpg — she poses with such dignity and self-assurance. Thanks again to both of you for sharing your nude joy.


  2. I like that one, too. People don’t always feel comfortable, dignity and self-assurance without clothing, costume, or context. Perhaps, her example can help change that for someone.


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  4. Pingback: Water Falling! | The Free Range Naturist

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