Remnants of the Past
~Thursday, February 10, 2022~
Instead of a hike TO 20,000 acre Tucson Mountain Park (which is one of the hikes we did on February 6th), we drove about 20 minutes to another trail in the park called Camino de Oeste trailhead to investigate the Bowen Stone House. The 2.6 mile out/back hike is noted as one of the coolest, easiest one’s in the park and one for all skill levels. And it’s well-signed. We met a few other hikers along the way, but not the heavy flow of traffic All Trails described. Actually, it’s a good thing we didn’t attempt this on a weekend since the parking lot only accommodates up to 14 cars.
As we approached the stone ruin, the first thing that came to mind were the challenges of living in such an isolated area. But then again, if you took a look around their chosen spot, you can see why the Bowen family selected it.
While their stone house was being constructed in the early 1930’s, Sherry and Ruby lived in a modest cabin next door. They decided to move out west, transplants from Rockford, Illinois in hopes it would improve Sherry’s heart condition. Sherry, at the time, was a city editor for the Arizona Daily Star.
Eventually they would expand their land to some 2,000 acres. Though the interior walls and roof succumbed to fire in the 70’s, there was no hint of it on the exterior stone walls. It was amazing to see how intact they were withstanding the many years of desert winds, heat and storms. You could also see remnants of old fireplaces and what were windows to their amazing world of desert landscape and animals that would drop by on occasion while grazing on their land. Just a short distance from the home, Jeff and I stumbled on a well (with a grate over it) that would have been their water source perfectly situated near a “wash”. It was definitely a rugged existence during the time of the Great Depression and WWII. On a side note, their daughter Gloria would grow up to become an acclaimed ballerina.
After our brief stop at the Bowen home, we decided to go back to the junction of the Camino de Oeste Trail/Bowen Trail and head further east on the 2-mile Hidden Canyon/ Bowen Loop Trail. This was not part of our plan, but we were intrigued by it on the map and wanted to extend our hiking time anyway. And we’re glad we did. The canyon hike was beautiful, with a greater elevation gain to get that heart pumping. We knew from the map that once we arrived on the other side of the canyon we’d have a brief hike on a paved road to connect back on the loop trail. But little did we know we’d be transported to a different world as the Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort and Spa
is in between the 2 trails. We decided to investigate (oh, we fit right in with our hiking boots and backpack attire). The views were stunning from the moment we walked in, but must say it was a bit jarring to go from a remote, peaceful surrounding to valet service, well manicured lawns, golf courses and poolside amenities.
Within 5 minutes we were back on the loop trail which dropped us back on the Camino de Oeste trail to get to our car. All in all, it was about 4-½ miles of unobstructed beauty. Cliffs, cactus, stone and big sky were all we saw. In fact, I fall more in love with the Sonoran desert with each hike.
When we arrived back home we took Sadie on a gentle walk on the trails behind our park. The dry climate is definitely taking a toll on her paws, so I’m now on a mission to find some Bag Balm to get things healing. As we headed back to our campsite, we stopped several times to hear those coyote yips in the background. Very cool!