Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cottonwood Canyon road

I went out for a drive again on Sunday. I got an earlier start than on Saturday but the monsoon rains were already well underway. I drove through a heavy shower near Superior and then doubled back to drive Mineral Mountain road again. Mineral Mountain road was dry. Shortly after I got on it, I could see some dust being kicked up far to the west.

A haboob that looks like it's headed for Queen Creek. It's about 20 miles away from me.

I drove around Dromedary Peak for a while hoping to get some good cloud or mountain pictures but the clouds were too thick, so I headed south. The road was in pretty good shape most of the way with just the occasional rough spot. I came to a fork in the road and sat there for about 5 minutes trying to decide which way to go. I probably could have saved a lot of time by flipping a coin.

I took the fork that went west, which happens to be Cottonwood Canyon road. It isn't real impressive with regards to the canyon. It had been graded recently and was in very good shape. Before too long I came to a trail register and some plaques. There was a fancy trail out in the middle of nowhere. The register was unusable. I think a kid had been hanging on the open lid and had bent the hinges. It wouldn't close and enough rain had gotten in there to mess up the paper.

An official trail.

It turns out that there are some petroglyphs there. The very short trail goes down to where they are. I felt a little silly with my big backpack on that little trail but I was the only one there. Hey, I needed it to carry water and the PN-40. I drank a lot of water on that short hike, too. It was only about 90 (very cool for July), but remember all that rain? It was humid. Sweating doesn't cool you off, so your body sweats more to try to cool off, and pretty soon you are hot and soaking wet.

I had to walk along some slick rock at the bottom. On a downhill slope, I slipped. Every time I've done that before, I landed on my butt. Somehow, I managed to fall forward this time. As I watched the rocks below me accelerating towards my face I wondered if my camera would get smashed, if I would break a wrist, or if I might even smack my head on the big rock a little further ahead (after breaking my wrist and smashing the camera). I put my hands out and stopped easily. No damage to anything. Not a bruise, not a ding. All that worry for nothing. I was pleased. I also made a mental note to be more careful on slippery rocks.

Some petroglyphs.

From down in the stream bed, I saw a bright orange rock perched on top of a boulder up the opposite bank. Somebody had put it there, so I had to go see why. From the orange rock, a faint trail went downstream, above the petroglyphs. I don't know why. I didn't see any petroglyphs up there, or anything else that looked terribly interesting. I did see a Harris's Antelope Squirrel, though, and it stayed on a rock eating while I took pictures.

Harris's Antelope Squirrel

The rest of the drive out to 79 was uneventful. It looks like that vicinity is very very popular with ATV and dirt bike riders. Large areas on both sides of the road were completely bare of vegetation. Click below for all of the pictures.


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