Two Links, One Finish Line

4

April 26, 2021, Sedona- I could have sworn that the destination of today’s hike was not the same place where I ended up, eight years ago. I could have sworn that the Chuckwagon Trail went around to a point east of Devil’s Bridge, a wildly popular hiking destination-even by Sedona standards. Alas, the sole difference between then and now is that today, hiking buddy and I trudged along a road of rocks and sand, whereas “the Chuck” is more hard-packed dirt, and winds around through canyon country. Looking back at my post on the first trek to the area near Devil’s Bridge, I see that the last 7/10 mile is the same.

Oh, well; it would at least be easier on HB’s knees. Hiking with another person is good for my real world connection. I had been getting a bit disconnected, in that regard, going any which way I felt like going-even bushwhacking on occasion. We stopped about 1/4 mile from the actual arch. It was merely a different vantage point from the granite bench where I halted, eight years ago.

There were several awesome sights along the way, though. Here we go.

Lizard Head, visible from Dry Creek Road
Second Lizard Head, just east of Dry Creek Road
All the news that’s fit to paste!
Upper Dry Creek Canyon, with Capitol Butte as its bulwark
West view of Capitol Butte’s Balancing Rock
The road hard taken
One of several cairn piles. There were some larger ones, each of which had a line of selfie-takers waiting their turn.
Eastern view of Capitol Butte’s Balancing Rock
The granite bench, where i stopped eight years ago. Capitol Butte rises above.
Devil’s Bridge, with what looks like a small cave underneath.
West face of Brins Mesa
My PlantSnap app identifies this as a Sweet Cherry tree. Brins Mesa rises, across the canyon.

Thus went a cool weather hike. Devil’s Bridge Trail would not have been a good fit for a warm weather trek, though thousands do such a hike, every year.

Limekiln Trail

2

October 21, 2019, Cottonwood-

Being a sucker for distance trails which can be hiked easily in segments, I’ve managed to complete the Prescott Circle and Black Canyon National Recreation Trails, over the past five years.  Limekiln Trail, which stretches from Deadhorse Ranch State Park, here in Cottonwood to Red Rock State Park, in Sedona is the latest undertaking.

It is a fifteen-miler, one way.  So, this morning, I headed out on a whim, and parked at the Middle Lagoon, of Deadhorse.  Up past the actual Lime Kiln, a defunct lime quarry, I bid a good day to a couple who were inspecting it from a distance and headed towards my goal of what I thought would be the 6.5 mile post. (I ended up at the 4.5 mark, before heading back,  due to sunset and park closure concerns, but no matter).

Here is a view of the kiln.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The first 1/2 mile or so, is the only real climb, on this segment of the trail.  I spy a rock face, looking me over, from the rim of Rattlesnake Wash Ravine.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This granite outcropping resembles a dinosaur rib cage.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Heart-shaped objects would be abundant, today.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here are a couple of views, from the north side of Rattlesnake Wash Ravine.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Yes, central Arizona has its fall foliage.  These ocotillo are putting on their mini-show.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Yuccas also send their wishes skyward.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Limekiln is a very well-marked trail, especially with other Forest Service trails, intersecting, towards the 2-mile mark.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Around the 4.5 mile mark, Highway 89-A is visible in the distance, and long ago volcanic activity is evident.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I took a rest break, snacking on beef jerky and baklava, whilst sitting next to this welcoming lichen.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Igneous rocks, of course, also extend their welcome.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Carefully-maintained cairns keep the visitor on the right path.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Lastly, more ocotillos bade me farewell.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The rest of Limekiln will be hiked in two segments, sometime during the next five weeks:  Mile 9, alongside Highway 89-A to the bench where the heart-shaped lichen is found (Mile 4.5) and Red Rock State Park (Mile 15) to Hwy 89-A.

 

On Juniper Mesa

10

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Juniper Mesa, from George Wood Canyon

September 4, 2016, Walnut Creek, AZ-  This settlement is only intermittently populated, when researchers from Arizona’s public universities, and Prescott College, show up to conduct their monitoring of the high desert’s overall health, in an area far from any permanent, sizable human community.  A few ranches break the landscape and, indeed, one of those ranches, just west of Juniper Mesa’s main trailhead, is sealed off from anyone not associated with its operation.

I came out here, in mid-afternoon, to explore the sky island known as Juniper Mesa.  The place was, in the 1870’s and 80’s, a military encampment, an extension of Prescott’s Fort Whipple.  It was, to the cavalrymen of the time, the perfect spot for a railway station, with the route commencing in Prescott, going through Del Rio (now Chino Valley) and pushing clear to the Colorado River, at Hardyville (now Bullhead City) and, from there, to San Pedro, one of the ports serving Los Angeles.  The railroad was built, but it went north, to Ash Fork, then to Seligman and Kingman, connecting with a much larger, transcontinental track, the Santa Fe.

 

So, Juniper Mesa has reverted to a lonesomeness.  I was the only person on the trail today.  Fortunately, I have come to expect that, even in areas closer to Prescott.  The large pack, with an ample water supply, a first aid kit, two knives, a detailed topographic map and a sturdy flashlight, along with one of my trusty walking sticks, has been an integral part of my communes with nature.  What has occasionally caused chuckles, from the smug hipsters doing lakeside botanical and entomological research in Prescott’s city parks, is, to me, a must on any hike lasting more than an hour.  Besides, it wasn’t too long ago, that one of those individuals had to be rescued from Watson Lake Park, a ten-minute walk from a North Prescott business district, because she was dehydrated and delirious.

I saw fairly fresh horse-hoof prints, along the way and smelled fresh bobcat urine, trail side, closer to evening, but it was the insects and I who had the place to ourselves, from all outward seeming.  Juniper Mesa could be for lovers, but so far, it is for the soloists.

I used three trails, in the course of my loop hike:  Oaks and Willows; Juniper Mesa (rim)  and the steep Bull Spring Trail.  Oaks and Willows meets Walnut Creek Road (County Road 125), proceeds through the lush George Wood Canyon to the top of Juniper Mesa, then branches off to the northeast.

Here are some scenes of Oaks and Willows.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Broad trail, along the Oaks and Willows, Juniper Mesa

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Thick scrub, George Wood Canyon, Juniper Mesa Wilderness

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

View across George Wood Canyon

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Sign, gnawed by black bears, over several years

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Heart of George Wood Canyon, Juniper Mesa Wilderness

Once atop the mesa, I basically followed Juniper Mesa Rim Trail, though finding it rather sparse, in several places.  Horse trails, though, are easy to identify by their indentation into the ground.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Alligator Juniper, top of Juniper Mesa.  I almost see a parrot’s face, in the branch stump.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Bear image, small sandstone, Juniper Mesa Rim Trail

Bears are reported to be common here, but I saw no sign of them- not even old scat.  They are probably further north, or in areas more sheltered from the lightning that hits Juniper Mesa frequently, during the monsoon season, that is in hiatus for several days.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Lightning-struck tree, Juniper Mesa Rim Trail

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Lightning-struck piece of limestone, and heart rock, Juniper Mesa Rim Trail

The rock above was given a fierce countenance, by a recent lightning strike.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Cairn, Juniper Mesa Rim Trail

Large cairns mark Juniper Mesa Rim Trail, at several points, especially after Oaks and Willows Trail branches off to the north.  A half-mile further east, I bid farewell to the benign rout along the rim, and began the descent, on steep Bull Springs Trail.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

View of Walnut Creek settlement and the Santa Maria Range, from Bull Spring Trail

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Hazy view of Walnut Creek settlement, from Bull Spring Trail

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Limestone cliff, east end of Juniper Mesa

The cliffs seen above, and in the next photo, were redoubts for Yavapai and Hualapai warriors, who resisted the U.S. Cavalry in the 1870’s.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Limestone cliffs, east end of Juniper Mesa

After climbing down from the mesa top, I followed Bull Spring Trail, into the darkness.  Although it was along this trail, that I smelled the bobcat’s markings, the animal itself stayed out of sight, and only small insects, attracted by the flashlight’s beam, showed me any interest.  It took careful attention for me to find the last trail sign, returning to the nub of Oaks and Willows Trail that led me to the car, but I enjoyed a very deep sleep tonight- far from Juniper Mesa.

This is one of several places, in the middle of Arizona’s “nowhere”, that have been on my hiker’s list, in the wake of having completed Prescott Circle.  Stay tuned for others.