Another August trip here with my son, Nick... this time he brought his girlfriend, Alex. A recent transplant from Michigan, she was suffering through her first summer here and jumped at the chance to join our water adventure. I love playing tour guide to those who are new to AZ. Experiencing their first-timer awe and excitement gives me the opportunity to see old places through new eyes and it helps to remind me never to take this incredible landscape for granted. She was so impressed simply from the 2+ hour drive to get there, the trip was a success before the hike even began. "WOW!" would be the word of the day.
With all of the recent rain, I was afraid the creek water would be muddy like last year. When the Salt River came into view as we drove in, it looked like melted chocolate. There was so much mud in the water that it was creating new islands as it settled out. Although I knew this was no indication of the creek conditions, I mentally prepared for the worst just in case. But, the Universe smiled on us and as we neared the end of the dirt road, I could see clear water merging into the muddy Salt - the exact opposite of the situation last time. In spite of the Salt River looking like a fast moving mudslide, the creek was fairly clear and completely inviting. We wasted no time getting our feet wet.
The banks were muddy (as always, I suspect)
and there was only one other set of human footprints, along with those of his obviously large dog. There were a lot of animal tracks - raccoon, coyote, black bear, cow (what?!)
. Several cow pies later, I was thinking how hilarious it would be to see a cow walking around in here. The only way in or out of the creek was via the road we came in on and it seemed like an odd place for a cow to be. There were lots of deep pools filled with small fish that would nibble our legs if we stood still too long (creepy).
When we reached the falls, we discovered that it was already occupied by a group of four - ducks.
They were 'playing' - racing back and forth in the frothy water in front of the thundering falls. We watched with much amusement for 15 minutes until they tired of our scrutiny and sped off down the creek, skimming the water in a half run/half fly that was even funnier.
On our hike back out was when I spied the bear tracks that were heading toward the falls. I'm glad I didn't see them earlier on our way in, as I would have been compelled to spend the entire hike on orange alert instead of having fun.
Aside from the two suspicious looking men we saw sitting in a parked truck near the turn off from the highway on our drive in, we saw no other people or vehicles all day.