A Peach of a Canyon

Earlier this year we hiked through the upper reaches of West Clear Creek canyon. After driving as far as possible on rough forest roads, we hiked the remainder of the distance to the Tramway trail head. From here, it was a steep descent from the canyon rim to the canyon floor.

The start of the steep descent into West Clear Creek.
The start of the steep descent into West Clear Creek.

We hiked downstream for a few hours then turned around and headed upstream, passing our original descent trail, and exiting the canyon using the Maxwell Trail.

One location in the canyon was especially wonderful. First, there was a short and narrow side canyon with vertical walls that lent a sense of isolation from the rest of the canyon and world. Second, we found a peach tree with small peaches. How this tree came to be in this canyon is unknown but the most likely explanation is someone ate a peach and tossed the pit—and it grew in this most unlikely of places.

On that trip I carried a small camera that was unable to do justice to the amazing side canyon. So on this return trip I carried a different camera along with a tripod so I could attempt to get some better images. And we were also interested in the peach tree.

A peach tree deep within West Clear Creek canyon.
A peach tree deep within West Clear Creek canyon.

The tree had many peaches and the branches were weighted down as a result. I grabbed a peach and bit into it—and was surprised that it was dry and hard. Not juicy at all. And no real taste or flavor. But, you know what? You can’t tell that from the photographs. They look wonderful, don’t they?

[Edit: 09/10/2014. We took one peach home with us and allowed it to ripen in a paper bag for several days. The result was juicy and delicious!]

A small stream trickles down the steep walls on the side canyon.
A small stream trickles down the steep walls on the side canyon.
Side canyon in West Clear Creek.
Side canyon in West Clear Creek.
Water splashes into a small pool in a side canyon in West Clear Creek.
Water splashes into a small pool in a side canyon in West Clear Creek.

When we visited the side canyon earlier this year it was dry. Now, however, an above normal rainfall this summer has produced a small stream of water that cascades over the edge and into a small pool of water. Here are some of the images taken that day.

Snow and crab apple blossoms

A late season storm brought several inches of snow to Flagstaff a few days ago. Our crab apple tree had just burst forth with blossoms earlier in the week. For just a few hours there was a delightful juxtaposition of colorful blossoms and new snow.

New fallen snow and crab apple blossoms.
New fallen snow and crab apple blossoms.

 

Such is spring in northern Arizona. Warm and sunny days with occasional reminders of the departing winter.

Harding Springs, Fall Colors, and the Full Moon

Continuing with the thread in the previous post we have more images of fall colors in the Oak Creek Canyon area. This time, we explored a small side canyon known as Harding Springs. Although there is a trail, we chose to walk up the dry wash since the best colors were on trees in and near the stream bed. And we actually found a small trickle of water in a single location.

Fall colors in Harding Springs.
Fall colors in Harding Springs.

 

A thin trickle of water in Harding Springs.
A thin trickle of water in Harding Springs.

 

Later that day we hiked to the top of a rock formation known as Napoleons Tomb in Sedona so that we could watch the (nearly) full moon rise in the gap of Cathedral Rock. To make the image even better, hikers fortuitously positioned themselves in front of the moon. I wish I could say that I orchestrated this but it was just chance!

Moon rise above Cathedral Rock.
Moon rise above Cathedral Rock.

 

Fall colors and mountain biking in Northern Arizona

Fall is arguably the best season in Flagstaff — although it is often too brief. Winds tend to be light, daytime temperatures are warm, it rarely rains or snows, and the sky is almost always a deep, rich blue. Add to that the changing colors of the leaves of the aspen trees and a mountain bike trip and it becomes a great day.

Mountain biking through the fallen aspen leaves on the Arizona Trail.
Mountain biking through the fallen aspen leaves on the Arizona Trail.
Hillside of color found along Forest Road 418.
Hillside of color found along Forest Road 418.

 

A few days ago, we biked our favorite section of the Arizona Trail between Forest Road 418 and Snowbowl Road. This is a gradual uphill climb between 8000 and 9000 feet and moves through ponderosa pine, aspen forests, and open meadows. There are even a few bristlecone pines to be found here. Many aspen leaves had already fallen leaving a carpet of color on the forest floor and the trail.

Mountain biking along the Waterline Road.
Mountain biking along the Waterline Road.

 

Having left the bikes behind it's time to walk through the forest.
Having left the bikes behind it’s time to walk through the forest.
The pumphouse located in the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks.
The pump house located in the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks.
Descending the switchbacks through the aspens on the Inner Basin Trail.
Descending the switchbacks through the aspens on the Inner Basin Trail.

 

A week earlier we found ourselves biking the Inner Basin Trail that leads up from Lockett Meadows on the east side of the San Francisco Peaks. The aspen along the Waterline Road were already in full color at this elevation. This section of Waterline Road was spared in the Schultz Fire that burned much of the eastern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks in June 2010. Once in the Inner Basin, we stashed the bikes and hiked up the old roads through many aspen groves.

 

 

 

Mountain biking through a fern forest

Rain has been plentiful across the higher elevations of northern Arizona during the month of July. In response, the forest is lush and green. This image was taken while mountain biking through a fern garden along the Arizona Trail north of Flagstaff. Simply amazing!

Riding through a fern garden.
Riding through a fern garden.