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February 19: Cottonwood and Sycamore Canyon

I must admit, I worried a little the whole time we hiked in Sycamore Canyon whether we would be able to drive the car back out on the rough, rugged dirt roads I drove in on with sweaty palms. In spite of that niggling worry, I will say that this has been my second favorite adventure, second only to Gila Box.

What a beautiful approach to Sycamore Canyon from Cottonwood, AZ. I could live out here!


Thanks to Terry Stone for suggesting again that we hike in Sycamore Canyon, a U.S. Forest Service property. We did so three years ago at his suggestion and it was so worth the rough drive out to the canyon.


Red rocks began to reveal themselves as we drove out of Cottonwood on Sycamore Canyon Road. The color palette - Mother Nature really outdid herself with these reds and pale greens and golds. I always say she is the best artist.

The view from the trailhead includes a glimpse of Sycamore Creek.


Once at the trailhead, overlooking the canyon, we paused to throw together a little lunch to bring along. Then we descended into the canyon, Glen stopping long enough to read the sign that told him all the unfortunate circumstances that might befall us: getting crushed to death (or at least maimed) by boulders crashing down the hill, having trees fall over on us, drowning in a flash flood, or dying a slow death due to organizisms in the creek.


The face of the canyon shown in the right hand photo reminds me somewhat of Oak Creek Canyon's majestic walls. Glen thinks the photo on the rigt shows sedimentary rock, capped by two layers of igneous material resulting from two separate volcanic episodes.


In the afternath of the 2021 Rafael fire, massive amounts of woody debris has been deposited in Sycamore Canyon, causing the Forest Service to intermitently close the trails into the canyon during periods of potential flash flooding.


The left hand photo shows one of the many places where we might have been crushed by rock - this cliff side was about 250 high.



The growths on this downed cottonwood (Populus fremontii) look like a cross between sea creature and dinosaur. I could not find out what purpose they serve, after a fairly brief search. Maybe one of my smarty-pants friends knows....


Other sights include the rare bunny-rabbit-eared cactus - and tracks made in downed wood by insects.



In the verdant area of the first spring along the creek, we spotted what we think was watercress and some sort of mint, along with a spotted water dog.



We did a little rock hunting toward the end of our hike, but all rocks remained in the canyon.


We made it back to the trailhead unscathed - and inspired by this rugged, spectacular place.


On the drive back from the canyon, Glen spotted this American pronghorn (Antilocapra americana). Glen reports this is the speediest animal in North America - able to run up to 60 mph.


We are now in our tent for the evening, listening to day two of a party going on in two adjoining campsites, a couple sites down from ours. Apparently we were not the only campers to complain this morning about the noise that went on until midnight - and we were assured the offending campers got a "talking to". Somehow we were not reassured, but there are no other places in the campground to move to, so we are stuck with this annoying situation. And to all a good night! : )


12 comentários


Tina Grosowsky
Tina Grosowsky
22 de fev. de 2023

Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing!


Curtir

I believe those spotted water dogs are extremely poisonous so don't get too close!! Beautiful area, great pics.


It's funny that you mentioned tracks made by insects as I'm sanding floor boards cut from the oak barn beams. Some are full of dust packed trails that I have to clean out with a dental pick and compressed air to eliminate white blotches when the urethane is applied. Lots of fun!

Curtir
Mary
Mary
21 de fev. de 2023
Respondendo a

Sounds like fun, John. I'm looking forward to seeing all the progress you've made when I return. 🩷

Curtir

Such beauty just waiting around each corner, to be exclaimed over by the hardy hikers!


Mary, was that ride in as exciting as our drive UP to the kayaking spot a few years ago?!😏

Curtir
Mary
Mary
21 de fev. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thanks for the laugh, Anne. It's hard to pick a winner - they were both doozies! 😁

Curtir

Tribal Scribal
Tribal Scribal
20 de fev. de 2023

Now we finally know what happened to the Easter Bunny. Obviously it didn't pay any attention to the sign. Must have been a combination of the organisms and flash flooding. Never seen anything like it. Sad.

Curtir
Mary
Mary
20 de fev. de 2023
Respondendo a

😁 Yes, sad but

Curtir

Your photos are amazing!

Curtir
Mary
Mary
20 de fev. de 2023
Respondendo a

I figured you'd tell us what is up w those spiky structures on the cottonwoods.

Curtir