First, I need to mention that "trails" around here are not particularly "civilized". Most have been carved out, initially, by animals (coyotes, deer, wild burros, and who knows what else?!) and then they are kept somewhat clear by the footsteps of pedestrian hikers. Most are only wide enough to walk single file and they are not always human user friendly. Indigenous animals can walk just about anywhere on any kind of terrain! There are no signs or markings as to where you're going...and often the trails become non-existent in areas as far as actually being able to see them....it's all very rudimentary and completely natural.
HIKE #1 - Sunday, October 5th
The destination of Sunday's trek was a natural water "well" that is hidden in a canyon. At 6:30am, just as the sun was rising, we drove about 1.5 miles to the start of the trail....nothing of real interest to see between home and there so we figured we might as well cut off a little walking distance and time. So let's get hikin'!
The early morning light was a refreshing way to start the day's adventure....
About a mile or so into the hike we came upon three pet grave sites. (Bet you thought I was finished with all the cemetery stuff!) :-) Anyway, some sad RVers/campers laid their beloved pets here to cross the Rainbow Bridge. I'm sure they had very happy memories of their best friends joining them on all their travels. The large rock piles keep scavengers from digging into the sites. There's also one very near my place...."Fluffy". :-(
Fairly soon, the scenery migrates from the relative flat desert-y terrain to rocky inclines/declines of the peaks and valleys of hills and knolls. At the bottoms of many of the knolls are the "washes" where, when it rains, the water forms little streams...sometimes big streams! No water in them now, tho'. Most of the plant life is desert shrubs and some mesquite and ironwood trees here and there. No saguaro cactus...just the little pancake cactus. In my way of viewing things, tho', the plants' simplicity makes them noteworthy.
Walking through the canyons on this particular hike wasn't too "hard", but it wasn't easy, either. You must watch each step at all times. Loose rocks are your pathways and they can often feel like marbles under your feet. But, the beauty of the landscape makes each step an exciting journey into the unknown natural world. There are flat areas that crop up between the hills and as we came around a curved path, we were greeted by these braying rascals...with a baby in tow. Don't you just want to take this little tike home with you?
Up, down and around the canyons for an hour or so.....
we arrive at "the well".....
We could sit on the rim and look down about 12' to the water reservoir. It's not large...maybe 15'x20' and the water level was low. But, what makes this site interesting is...when it does rain, there's a waterfall across from where we were sitting, that pours into the well. The drop is probably 25'. That would be great to see! We sat on the rim for about 30 minutes or so and a enjoyed a snack, then headed back....almost the same route as coming in, but with a few variations. This was a good first hike near my winter home!
HIKE #2 - Thursday, October 9th
The second hike, yesterday, was a lot further and alot more arduous. There's a "short" route (which is still pretty long) and a "longer" route. We opted for the longer route. Ultimately, it was five hours round trip, starting at 7:15am. The destination for this hike was the Colorado River overlook. Sounds great! So off we went. We drove a little less than two miles over to Squaw Lake to start the journey...again, just to minimize a little walking and time. The "arduous" adjective includes much steeper inclines/declines, more hills/knolls, lots of large rocks to navigate, some actual rock "climbing", and very narrow pathways, where there were some, that is! But all worth it! Here is some of what we encountered along the way.... even some bamboo walk through canopies, which I never would have expected!
These water areas are extensions of Squaw Lake and little tributaries eventually take you out to the Colorado River. Even though we started at Squaw Lake, the "long" route took us away from the water here and there, so I wasn't sure if/when we would actually see it again.....but we did!
A lazy day on the water for two.....or five! Boat envy!
Walking along, minding my own business and enjoying my surroundings, I looked to my right about 8' and was thrilled to see....
a tarantula! Happy Halloween a little early!
He wasn't moving along very quickly and seemingly, wasn't posing a threat, but thank goodness for zoom lenses. He was about 5" long! I got about three feet from him and got a couple of good shots. That was a great nature find! But I'll be happiest if they stay WAY out in the desert!
On we went. Chatting and making noise, we climbed up a hillside and just as we reached the top, running up the next knoll in front of us was a coyote....very well camouflaged against the rocky slope. Luckily, the right camera was "on" and already in "zoom" mode and not all tangled up with my other camera like it usually is! He had obviously heard us, so he wanted to get the heck outta Dodge! I got one shot as he got to the top of the ridge before he raced down the other side.
Very cool! Often they are scrawny and don't look very healthy, but he must have been a good hunter...he was in good shape! It's survival of the fittest out here....lots don't make it....
Okay --- are they ever going to get to the overlook??? Yes! It's just past this odd desert terrain area (see the trails...that's mostly what they look like)....and up a semi-steep, very rocky, embankment....
Ahhhhhhhhh......finally.......at the top! The Colorado River! Amazing view! All of your cares float away as you gaze out over this beautiful vista!
The pictures say it all! No words except to say every tenuous step and wild animal encounter was worth it! A long break was in order now...the longer the better with this fantastic view! Out came the health bars, bananas, peanut butter sandwiches and beef jerky! The river was was surprisingly clear and a couple of boaters came by....boat envy #2! Perfect day to be on the river! A good kayaking day, too, as the water was quite smooth.
Fantastic! I could do this hike again! After a leisurely hour, it was time to head back. We decided on a shorter route as it was getting pretty warm by now and running low on water is always a concern. But, it was still a pretty long way back! I was really feeling it by the time we were about 30 minutes away from our starting point. Once back at the Squaw Lake parking area, I was hot and my feet and back were starting to feel the morning's exercise. I walked down to the water, took my shoes off and stood in the water, splashing my arms and legs. It felt good and put a little energy back into me! Then back home feeling quite accomplished and anxious to review all my photos! It was a great morning!
I hope you have enjoyed hiking with me. There will be many more hikes to come! And hopefully more wildlife surprises! Wherever you are, enjoy your weekend! I am missing the pretty fall foliage, but the burros, tarantula and coyote, plus the tremendous views and landscape are making up for it!
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