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KGUN 9 Tucson News

From hiking to kayaking, monsoon impacts enjoying the outdoors

By Tina Giuliano,


Throughout Arizona, there's hundreds of different ways to enjoy the outdoors.

"Anywhere I can get away, throw a hammock up in the trees and just relax," Masumi Herota, hiker and runner, said.

He goes to Sabino Canyon nearly every day to hike and run. He created a website called Sabino Canyon Hike and Run where he organizes community outings.

"I'll do the whole Bear Canyon Loop and I'll use Sabino Canyon as a portal to get to all those places," he said.

For him, the outdoors is a strategy to relieve stress.

"It's the mental benefits that you reap from this," he said. "And I think the Tucson climate is pretty mild—we don't have hurricanes or tornadoes."

He said during the summer, it's his favorite time to go hiking. The heat adds an extra layer of excitement, but when the monsoon rains come, he makes sure to be careful.

"I look up into the sky and I look at what's over Mount Lemmon, I don't just look at what's going on at Sabino Canyon or any of those lower ranges," he said.

Because when the monsoon rains begin, the water has to go somewhere. It pools in canyons or washes in a flash, especially in the crossings for the Seven Falls hike.

"If you go up to Seven Falls, that's seven are crossings—or seven areas that you can get stuck on," he said.

Throughout his adventures, he said he hasn't been stuck in monsoon but he's seen others become stranded.

"I'm very cautious, I check to see what's in the mountains above me and I check the hour by hour," he said. "I mean last year we had the fire department out here sending ladders. They had people walk over the ladders in order to get across."

The Southern Arizona Rescue Association, or SARA, is a group of volunteers that are trained to help with the rescues, especially during monsoon. The sheriff's department requests the volunteers to come assist them on calls.

"We have a lot of swift water rescues," Amy McPherson, one of the volunteers for SARA, said.

She has seen many popular outdoor spots become dangerous, especially in the wash areas and deep canyons.

"Monsoon comes in, either where they are at or upstream like on top of Mount Lemmon, and that monsoon rain comes down and causes a wave of flash flood water," she said.

So she said the best thing to do is pay attention to the sky.

"'Turn around, don't drown' not only applies to drivers but to hikers as well," McPherson said.

Herota said it's important to bring enough water and a water filter, which helps in case the water runs out. With the filter, people are able to drink the surface water in the rivers or ponds.

"There's the rule of thumb if you are half-way done with your water, you might want to head back," he said.

Because in the end, the hiking trail or rock climbing wall will be there tomorrow.

"When you see the storms brewing up there, you might want to turn back," Herota said. "You can always come back here another day."

Tina Giuliano is a reporter for KGUN 9 . She is a native Arizonan and grew up in Scottsdale. Tina is passionate about storytelling and is excited to work telling Tucson's stories. Share your story ideas and important issues with Tina by emailing or by connecting on Facebook , Instagram , and Twitter .

Catch the KGUN 9 Special Presentation: CHANGING PATTERNS - MONSOON 2023 here on our site, or your favorite streaming device.

We take a look at dust storm dangers, tag along with storm chasers & a swift water rescue team, dive into keeping you and your family safe during a storm, and examine what we can expect for monsoon this year.

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