Hiking Club Diary

2023 Trailblazer Award

Ruth Caldwell earns the SaddleBrooke Hiking Club 2023 Trailblazer Award. (Photo by Bruce Landeck)

Bruce Landeck

Annually, the SaddleBrooke Hiking Club, through its board, determines a recipient for the prestigious Trailblazer Award. This recognition goes to a member “For meritorious service above and beyond simply being a member of the Hiking Club, for performing duties greater than expected, and for exhibiting leadership that we all admire.”

At its Jan. 25 meeting, the board unanimously agreed that Ruth Caldwell should be honored as this year’s Trailblazer. Ruth’s contributions to the club over many years epitomize the award’s definition. In addition to her other club work, Ruth has been Associate Chief Guide, Chief Guide, one of our most popular everyday guides, an instructor in the annual guide first aid class, a trip organizer, a mentor to guides and hikers, a blazer of new hiking trails, and she currently serves as club vice president. Per our bylaws, Ruth will become president of the club next month.

Ruth’s name was added to the Trailblazer plaque, which is located at the bottom of the stairs next to the SaddleBrooke One Pro Shop. Anyone can stop by and look at the names on the plaque. These names represent the past and current leadership of our great club. And when you next see Ruth, please congratulate her for her meritorious service and the 2023 Trailblazer Award.

Robert Stieve Addresses Hiking Club and Friends

Robert Stieve accepts Honorary Hiking Club Membership from President Bruce Landeck. (Photo by Bruce Hale)

Bruce Hale

On Feb. 16, Arizona Highways editor Robert Stieve was the featured speaker at the SaddleBrooke Hiking Club’s program at the DesertView Performing Arts Center. His slide presentation was titled “Arizona Highways and Hiking the Grand Canyon State.”

Informative, entertaining, and humorous, Stieve discussed the history of the popular magazine from its humble beginning in 1925 to the present—the total monthly circulation worldwide exceeds 200,000 copies. He regaled the 375-plus audience with stories of some past editors, including Raymond Carlson, who served 33 years and was Stieve’s mentor, and some of the magazine’s more famous photographers and artists, such as Ansel Adams, Barry Goldwater, Jeff Maltzman, Jack Dykinga, Esther Henderson, Josef Muench, and Ted DeGrazia. Starting at the magazine in 2007, Stieve has the second longest tenure as editor after Carlson.

After recounting the magazine’s colorful history and showing some of its famous covers, Stieve presented slides depicting some of his favorite Arizona hikes. Many of these hikes have appeared in Stieve’s “Hike of the Month” column found in each monthly edition. From hiking trails in and near the Grand Canyon, to covering portions of the Arizona Trail, to exploring areas in the Chiricahua and White Mountains, Stieve has seen on foot what most have seen only in the beautiful photographs he showed.

The SaddleBrooke Hiking Club and our community warmly responded to Stieve’s appearance and took home a better understanding of how Arizona Highways has played such an important role in telling our state’s story and promoting its tourism. At the conclusion of the program, the featured speaker was presented with a plaque that read, “The SaddleBrooke Hiking Club Hereby Grants Honorary Life Membership to Robert Stieve, Arizona Highways, in Recognition and Appreciation for Your Presentation to Our Community, February 16, 2023.” Thank you, Robert, for a wonderful afternoon and for visiting SaddleBrooke!

Boot Prints—Michael Reale

Michael and Jeanne in Bryce Canyon (photo by Linda Martin)

Michael Reale in Antarctica (photo by Jeanne Reale)

Diana Smith

Eighteen years ago, when his wife’s health necessitated a change of climate, Michael and Jeanne Reale moved from Connecticut to SaddleBrooke on the recommendation of a friend in Rancho Vistoso. Michael soon joined the SaddleBrooke Hiking Club (SBHC) after hiking with neighbors on the Baby Jesus/Deer Camp trail. A club trip to the Grand Canyon with overnights at Phantom Ranch inspired him to become a hiking guide. “Overjoyed” at the experience, Michael has returned to the Grand Canyon eight times since then, completing rim-to-rim-to-rim hikes.

Michael is still an active SBHC guide but leads few hikes since he and his wife started RVing and spending too much time away from SaddleBrooke. He maintained the hiking database for many years, stepping down in December 2022. Until recently, he was a leader and communications manager for the fitness walkers for about 15 years.

In addition to the Grand Canyon, Michael has accomplished many other memorable hikes: the Queen Charlotte Trek in New Zealand with friends, covering 46.5 miles in four days, hiking inn to inn while enjoying magnificent views; Cinque Terre in Italy; backpacking in Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Superstition Mountains; the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina; Michigan and Ohio; and an Arizona Highways photography trip to Bryce Canyon last January.

In 2005 and 2006, Michael and Jeanne traveled to Wuhan, China, as volunteers teaching conversational English to university students. They visited Beijing, the Great Wall, Xian, and Hainan Island and took a boat trip on the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges Dam. Most recently, Michael and Jeanne embarked on a 12-day cruise to Antarctica, walking amongst the penguins and taking the polar plunge, complete with video to prove it! His hiking and traveling partner, wife Jeanne, says her favorite expression is, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Michael completed his undergraduate studies at St. Peter’s College in New Jersey and received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Fordham University in New York. After a long career in health and safety, Michael continued to work as a consultant until just a few years ago.

Michael has four children and four grandchildren in Ohio and North Carolina. His favorite local hikes include Mount Wrightson and trails in Dove Mountain and Golder Ranch. A weekly recreational golfer, he enjoys wildlife and landscape photography and is an avid reader of murder mysteries.

Michael has been in nearly 50 countries on all seven continents and hopes to visit Iceland and Eastern Europe soon. Michael has been to 48 states, lacking only Oregon and North Dakota. He is hoping to check Oregon off the list this summer during a month-long RV trip through the Canadian Rockies. Given his amazing “can-do” attitude, North Dakota doesn’t stand a chance!

A Diamond in the Desert

Hikers pose by a crested saguaro. (Photo by Ruth Caldwell)

Pool created by Garwood Dam (photo by Ruth Caldwell)

Mary Kopp

Water was important to the Garwood family cattle ranchers in 1948, so much that they built their own dam in Wild Horse Canyon. A Feb. 20 trek to old Garwood Dam and Wild Horse Tank pools emphasized to SaddleBrooke hikers the importance that water was to the Garwood ranchers.

The dam itself was built in 1948, before the land was established as an eastern section of Saguaro National Park. The loop trail is a fun yet rugged hike in a saguaro cacti forest. The trail sports an awesome crested saguaro, worthy of a photo opportunity. Led by guide Ruth Caldwell from the end of Speedway in the farthest east side of Tucson, the path proceeded through the three points of interest: the old Garwood Dam, the Wild Horse trail, and, finally and truly most vividly, the outstanding “pools.” Due in part to the winter snow melt, the group found multiple cascading waterfalls.

The six-mile hike culminated with a delicious lunch at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, which is across the road from the Garwood Dam trailhead. This turn-of-the-century ranch-style food hall comes complete with period furnishing, fireplace, and comfortable sitting and dining. The foodies were not disappointed at the ranch house, as the salads, soups, and full menu were delectable. They even left with an almond chocolate-dipped cookie recipe.

The day’s travels crossed paths with both horseback, foot, and foodie trekking adventurers. It was a fabulous day in the high desert.