Thursday, February 18, 2010

A short hike to a nice view

I left the house Sunday afternoon thinking that I needed to get out of the house for a little while. After all, it was a beautiful day. My legs were tired from Saturday's hike, so I thought I would probably just drive around for a while. I decided to make another attempt at getting to Tortilla Flat. It was later in the day and traffic didn't seem as slow, though there were an awful lot of cars on the road. I made it to Tortilla Flat and slowed down enough there that no tourists had to dive out of the way to keep from being run over. There was still some water flowing over the road, but it was open. The asphalt that had just recently been repaired was all torn up again; it's a very rough crossing again.

Now that I had seen the creek, I was thinking about stopping somewhere and wandering around a little. I thought of several places I would like to see again but didn't think I had enough light or energy to go to those places. I drove along trying to think of places out there that I've wanted to explore and wondering if the guy in front of me was ever going to shift beyond second gear and get moving (sometimes I'm a little impatient) when I remembered a very old section of road near there that was no longer used (much). I drove too far on that stretch of old road once and had to back up for about .2 miles on twisty roller coaster road. I had to lower the tailgate so I could see the road whenever I topped a rise. Anyway, I decided to go down that road again, but not the part where I had to back up to get out.

After going about a quarter of a mile I got to a wide spot where I could park. I got out to listen to the quiet, but was still too close to Apache Trail and there were still lots of people out enjoying the sunny, warm weather. I got my camera and backpack and started to wander around a little. I looked up at a ridge to the southwest and wondered what was on the other side. I thought that maybe I would hike up there some day and see, but for now I would just wander in that direction a little.

So I wandered along, spotting rocks or cacti that needed closer inspection, all the while being drawn closer to the ridge. It didn't look very steep. My concept of steep has changed considerably in the past few years. Steep used to be anything that a car in neutral would roll down. Now, steep is when you knock a rock loose and it tumbles at least 8 feet before stopping, and round rocks don't count. Anyway, I decided what the heck, I'm already here and the curiosity is driving me nuts, I'm going up. It was steep enough that I had to stop several times to take pictures.

When I got to the top, I realized that I had discovered a cool place to go that hardly anybody else ever visited. The view was very nice. There was a creek below but I can't find its name on a map. It joins with other creeks and eventually crosses the road at Tortilla Flat. There was a decent amount of water flowing through it; the sound of rushing water carried up to the ridge. I could see a little bit of Canyon Lake, and the campground across the road from Tortilla Flat. Mostly what I saw was beautiful, rugged Arizona mountains.

First sighting of the creek below.

Canyon Lake in the distance.

The view to the north. I'm pretty sure I've walked along the base of that mesa in front of Four Peaks a few times.

I think I'm going to have to try to get up there some day.

I took a lot of pictures while I was up there. None convey how pretty it is. I guess if I was a real photographer, I would keep going up there until I found the right light to get the pictures I wanted. I'm sure I will be going up there again to enjoy the view.

I saw something strange out there, on the way back down. Some agaves didn't look quite right. I took a closer look and saw that something had been eating the edges of the leaves, in between the thorns. What ever did it was long gone.

Something ate between the thorns of agave leaves.

Click below to see all 45 pictures.


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