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