I told Chad that this is one Hike that had to be on the List for my visit. It's been on my Wish List for a long time, and although many people do this as a Fall Foliage Hike, I really didn't care what time of year I got to see it....If it's got Water, I'll do it anytime.
Chad was more than happy to add it to the List as it's one of his favorites as well. We decided to do a Shuttle so we didn't have to walk 5 miles of rocky road to get back. Definitely gave the Escape a workout on this road and it did just great....
We also wanted to get back to meet another HAZer in time to do another quick hike.
On the way out, after leaving the highway, Chad stops in a couple of places that have great overlooks of the Gila River. It was very cool. The area is absolutely amazing. Hard to believe that you're in a Desert...
Got the vehicles situated and hiked down to the Creek. It was like walking into a different world. It was a beautiful Riparian area with great Water flow and green, green, green!!! Saw a couple of Zone-tailed Hawks in the air on the way down, but no decent pictures were possible. The Water was flowing pretty good and Chad was having a hard time finding places to cross and stay dry. He soon found out who he was hiking with...I had worn my old running shoes (now my permanent water shoes) and I just waded across....
It's amazing what people will resign themselves to, when they hike with me. Chad gave up on staying dry and broke those new hiking boots in right away.
No problem with crossing the Creek after that.
The Trail was fairly overgrown for about the first mile, so a little bushwacking was involved, but it wasn't too bad, and the views more than made up for it. Took lots of pics, of course, the Water and Flora was just too much to resist. Saw a few lizards, but they weren't in the mood for a Photoshoot.
The Canyon started to open up a little and all of the sudden, a huge Raptor flew across the Creek in front of Chad. I think he flushed it out of a tree nearby. It landed on the ground, on a hill, across the Creek. Seemed unusual for it to land on the ground, but I managed to get a couple of zoomed shots of it, although the pics didn't turn out very good. It looked too big to be a Red-tailed Hawk, and we were wondering if it could possibly be a Golden Eagle. Chad emailed my pics to G&F and they replied with huge excitement. They confirmed that it was a Golden Eagle and that they were studying 3 pairs that were in the Canyon. They suspected that this one might be nesting and wanted all of the information that we could possibly furnish. So not only was it cool to see my first Golden, but I'm also glad I went ahead and took pics, crummy as they were.
Continued on down the Creek, just really enjoying the day, the weather, the water, and the company. Didn't have to worry too much about stopping to take pictures and holding up Chad. I think he took more pictures than I did! Is that possible???
I found out, through my very informative Tour Guide, that the City of Safford uses Bonita Creek for it's water supply. So after traveling about 3/4 of the Hike, we arrived at an area where the Creek is diverted underground and then piped down the Canyon through big pipes anchored to the Canyon walls. After this point, the path took us down a service road and we were away from the Water for a bit, but the Cottonwoods and Sycamores continued to line the road and creekbed providing both shade and a scenic walk. Chad was hoping that the local Coatimundis would be out, but Murphy's Law prevailed once again....
The Creek started flowing again, but to follow the Creek at this point would be a complete nightmare of a bushwack, so we stayed on the road and just enjoyed the Creek when it crossed the road. 13 times to be exact...
Chased some fish at the crossings and Chad managed to catch a frog.
We stopped along the way at a very cool picnic area and took a bit of a rest among the huge Cottonwood and Sycamore trees. By this time, the breeze that we had enjoyed was really turning into a gale force wind and you could hear the trees starting to really groan and complain. I know these types of trees are not the strongest when it comes to a wind, but this was blatantly confirmed as we started to leave the area. Chad was a little ways in front of me and all of the sudden I heard a huge crack and crashing, but couldn't see where it was. I finally spot a huge branch tumbling down a large Cottonwood to my right about 10 yards away. Before it even hits the ground, Chad and I are beating cheeks to get our pumpkins away from the trees....
The Gale continued, but luckily we were only hit once with some small flying branches the rest of the trip.
Continuing down along the road, Chad shows me a very neat old Ranch site. It's so great going with someone that knows this area so well! I might have just walked by the old fence, not knowing that if you went through the narrow fenced chute, that it would open up to a very historic looking little area. I took some pics and got a little creative with it. There was even a water tank, but I don't think I would have filtered the water in it, the Creek water looked much better. Explored and took more pics and continued on our way.
We arrived at the point where we hike back up out of the Canyon to the vehicles, but Chad wasn't done showing me the cool stuff beyond the road. We hiked a little further to a diversion dam, built to keep native trout in place. Just before we got there, we ran into a couple of "non-scaredy" cows. I guess they weren't scared because they were both Bulls.
They actually let me get really close, but finally one of them was starting to look annoyed, since my approach made him get up.
Too bad, I was thinking about the "bull slapping" scene in "Wild Hogs".
The Diversion Dam was pretty cool and we spent some time there before going back out and hiking up the road back to the cars. The wind is still howling and now we're going uphill, into the wind.
The Scenery never quit though, even on the Hike out. Arrived at Chad's car without incident and went to go get mine so we could hustle into town and get ready for another Hike.
Took one more pic on the way out, of the Gila, as it was too scenic to pass up.
Thanks Chad for showing me this wonderful area. It was great to finally see and experience it in person and without your "expert guidance", I would have probably missed alot of the cool, little out of way places, that made this Hike even better. Will definitely be keeping this one on my list as a repeater.