Sunday, August 21, 2011

Armer Gulch and Cottonwood Wash

I haven't taken any Photo Point pictures for a while. I decided to try to get out to a couple of them early Saturday, before it got too hot. It's a long drive, though, so I didn't get there very early. I was heading for Armer Gulch and Cottonwood Wash, just east of Roosevelt Lake. Another reason I wanted to go to that area was to get a look at Parker Canyon from the east.

Every time I've crossed the Salt River before, I've thought that I should stop and take a picture. Can't remember if I ever did, but it would have been nice for comparison. I don't think I've ever seen it so muddy.

I stopped to take some pictures at the Salt River. It was about 92 then and felt pretty good. I was thinking it might be pleasant as I took pictures at the photo points. Silly me.

There were puffy clouds to the east when I arrived.

I got to the side "road" that went to the first photo point and was supposed to follow it for half a mile. I remembered to look at the tripmeter. 82.1. There were lots of mesquite and cat claw branches intruding into the path. I dodged this way and that trying to avoid them, but was not very successful. After going through dozens and dozens of branches I checked the tripmeter to see if I was almost there. 82.1. I parked and started walking.

I had to climb a little to get into position for the first pictures. I had reference pictures with me that I had to match. A rock ledge lined up with distant mountains in one picture and a saguaro lined up with a road in the other showed me exactly where I needed to stand. I needed to stand in a place that, if I was out hiking just for fun, I would not have gone. It was at the top of a steep slope of loose dirt. If I slipped, I would probably go all the way to the bottom. At least there was a bottom. The dirt was very soft, so each time I put a foot down, I carefully let it sink into the dirt and made sure it couldn't slide downhill. I was wondering why that spot was picked and remembered that it was picked 20 years ago. I probably would have thought it was a good spot 20 years ago, too. I was still pretty much invincible then.

The climb and descent got me warmed up. There wasn't much of a breeze, especially once I was back down in the mesquites. I trudged back to the truck and started looking for the second photo point. Turns out I parked about 50 feet from it. A cottonwood in a reference picture was still there, but it was dead and will be gone soon.

I decided to trim some branches before driving out. I didn't cut very many, and my saw worked quickly, but the exertion and being in trees too thick to let a breeze through but too thin to block the sun just about fried me. I was able to drive to the third photo point.

Armer Gulch; a river of green flowing to Roosevelt Lake

After getting the last Armer Gulch pictures, I decided I needed to do some serious cooling off. I didn't know if I would even try to get any more photo point pictures. I wandered around (in the truck) trying to find a way to Parker Canyon and eating food bars and drinking water and drinking water. No, I didn't stutter.

I came across this while cooling off. The inside is about 4 feet by 5 feet. I can't imagine what it was for. It looks like it had a sturdy door, but that's been destroyed.

This narrow canyon is formed by Parker Creek. I'll get some pictures from the bottom when it's cooler and less likely to rain.

There were clouds building to the east as I drove around. I could see some rain and heard a little thunder. If it started to rain near where I was, I would just have to sit in the truck and wait. I'm sure there would be lots of water going across the roads. I wasn't going to worry about it, though. I'd cross that bridge when I came to it. Ha ha. Groan.

The road I was following toward Parker Canyon got worse the further I went, but I was able to keep going, so go I did. I came to a spot with several tall cottonwoods. A side road off the side road went into the middle of lush greenery. The ground on the sides of the side side road was solid berry vines. It was like a dark jungle in there.

A dense jungle in the desert.

There was a convenient place to park near the side road (which, strangely, was covered in a think layer of ash), so I parked and headed into the jungle. It was eerie. The eeriest part was a chain link fence at the end of the road. There were no tracks, no trail, just plants on the other side of the fence. Suddenly I heard "Hotel California" playing in my mind. It was just too creepy. I left.

You can check in, but you can't check out. I made like a ballerina and split.

After driving around for a while, I was cooled off and feeling pretty good. The clouds were also providing some shade so I decided to take pictures for the Cottonwood Wash photo points.

Cottonwood Wash, with Parker Canyon in sunlight in the background.

I walked up and down Cottonwood Wash several times looking for the first photo point. The reference pictures had no distinguishing reference points. No mountains in the backgrounds, no huge boulders, no steep banks. I couldn't find anything that looked as plain as the reference pictures. I was getting hot again, too. The clouds were dissipating. I was also getting tired since I hadn't had much of a lunch. My documentation has coordinates so I resorted to putting those in my GPS receiver. They took me to a spot that looked a little like the reference pictures; a rocky wash. Actually, the coordinates took me out of the wash, far beyond what typical GPS error would have done. I got close to the coordinates but stayed in the wash and took pictures. The next photo point was like that, too. If I hadn't had coordinates for the third, I would not have found it for weeks from the description. There were large cottonwoods there that matched the reference photos, so I knew I had found the right spot.

At one of the Cottonwood Wash photo points, I had taken my sunglasses off to take pictures and never picked them back up. At least I think that's what happened to them. I guess they could still be in the truck somewhere, but I can't find them. I'm glad I buy really cheap sunglasses. That pair had already lasted longer than most.

Several times while I was out there I searched for the tiniest bit of shade and stood there panting in the heat. It was very uncomfortable. Part of the problem is that I wear bluejeans. Very blue jeans. They soak up heat. Several times I've gone to stores planning to buy some thin, light colored pants. All the stores I've been to only have light colored pants for short, fat guys. What's up with that? Do the short fat guys run all the light colored pants factories or something? Well, I may have been uncomfortable, but I still had fun. I saw lots of cool stuff, too. I'd do it again. I will do it again. Click below to see most of the pictures.


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