January 24, 2016, Black Canyon City- I returned to the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, this afternoon, with a long-time family friend and her dog in tow. This hike was 5.5 miles round trip, not as intense as last week’s jaunt, but exactly what I had in mind.
We parked in the spacious Trailhead Lot, just north of Black Canyon City, and were treated to a taste of the lushness this section of the Sonora Desert offers.
We headed out, up a 1.1 section of trail called Horseshoe Bend, being on the south side of the feature of the same name, which was my stopping point last week. It is not a strenuous trail section, and offers a few anomalies, such as the Pharaoh’s Face. At the 1.1 mile point, Horseshoe Bend meets two other segments: K-Mine and Skyline. We took the K-Mine Trail, which took us close to the spot where I stopped last week.
The K-Mine Trail features mild switchbacks, down into a vast valley, outside Black Canyon (the natural feature). The cacti and succulents here take full advantage of the water wealth proferred by the Agua Fria and its tributary streams.
The K-Mine Trail offered striking vistas, before taking us down to the Agua Fria, southwest of last week’s fording spot.
We explored a bit along the Agua Fria, but my intuition said it would be best for the three of us, that we turn back. This did not happen, though, before we checked out a small cataract, a bit upstream from the K-Mine Trail.
We met three young ladies, riding a quad and a small motorcycle, and watched as they gingerly negotiated the river. After returning to the trail proper, we found yet another crossing place, but again I had a feeling in my gut to turn back. So, up the K-Mine Trail we went again. The short section of trail to my last stopping place can wait for another day. Everyone’s well-being mattered more.
On the way up, we spotted a couple of cactus wren nests. One was wedged in between the arms of a sahuaro.
With such confirmations as these, and several heart-shaped rocks along the way, we called the day a success. More exploration of the Black Canyon Trail, and other such routes in Arizona, await, over the next several months.