I apologize for another location I am not able to reveal because of land access issues. The story is as follows---
Brian and I bump along down the steep road toward the ranch house. The Red Jeep is noisy and I am sure we are heard from a long ways. I am nervous because Brian's interaction with this rancher the previous weekend was a tense one; and while he and his friend were allowed access to the public land beyond to hike, it was not a pleasant exchange. The rancher had some problems with vandelism and gates being torn down and was not pleased to have strangers show up. And now here we were coming again.
Brian had sent me two pictures. That is all it took to get me excited. We went through the posted but unlocked gate, parked near the corrals and approached the house to ask permission to cross his land. We had a nice chat with his wife, and soon we saw him headed down the steep hill on horseback driving some stock down to the corrals. This ranch has a nice old west flavor, the old corrals, the mish mash of buildings, the huge white sycamores, and green grasses off set by the stark ocotillo covered hills.
The rancher was stern. We had brought forest service and BLM maps, but didn't need them for this. He seemed to be terse in his answers, but Brian said he was much more forthcoming than before. We thanked him for allowing us to go on.
I think the ice breaker was the old Red Jeep, much like what his wife drove, my vehicle older and more beat up.
We continued on into a road that ran into a wash, the walls rising and narrowing, and we were driving in a stream courtesy of a spring.
At the parking spot near some massive sycamores, Brian wanted to check out a road that went up steeply that he did not think he could make in his 2wd truck. We drove up, rough but I didn't even bother to unhook my front swaybar. Beautiful views and hoodoos among the volcanic rock. Small areas had gathered windblown soil and were grassy and filled with little white flowers, a few tanks for the stock scraped out here and there. On the way up an annoying squealing started in the Jeep. Brian determined I had an idler bearing going bad, not good news out here. I certainly didn't want to break down and have to go to the rancher for help. Brian sprayed on some lubricant, the bearing is sealed but we hoped due to the heat and maybe some would be absorbed on the serpentine belt to delay the bearing crapping out on us and stranding us up here.
We drove on; the noise intermittant now. On top we drove out onto a point to incredible views. Looking down off the sides of some pretty severe cliffs. Looked like some breaks would allow one down though.
Running short on time we drove back down and parked near the little stream. Our hike was down the canyon, and we needed to move on.
The cows gathered to inspect the Jeep; I suspect we had parked in a shady lay up place they used. We took off down the drainage, it being easiest to just walk in the little stream, not long rock started to show up, sculpted by the water, and little pools and small falls. Walls started rising and making for a narrow passage, it was stunning, piercing beauty. The light reddish tan walls, the green of the new leaves, the glimmer of water, the dance of the butterflies, splashes of the frogs. More heaven on earth.
Soon we got to the "narrows", Brian very pleased to show me this beautiful passage with towering walls, the wall varnished and shiny in the light about 20-25 feet up due to rushing water. We had started rock hopping a little but the hiking was easy to this point. I pointed the camera skyward to get the heights of the narrow cliff walls. So gorgeous. We kept at it, wonderful walk on rock in the creek bed, and little tiny fish.
Pinnacles kept showing up and now saquaros, one very tall one I used Brian for scale. The canyon opened up a bit, and now the rock mostly gone and a bit of bushwacking. Suddenly Brian stopped and motioned to me. In the sun dappled stream bed a troop of coatimundi approached. I saw movement everywhere, he estimated probably 30, and some babies. I slowly drew my camera out, the wind gusted and carried our scent. They rushed up the trees, then came down again. They started to go back upstream and I got a few poor photos, tough shooting in the light and through brush and tree branches. We stalked them walking in the water, but they soon went up a sidecanyon and we saw them no more.
We continued on our hike, the rock walls back but a different rock, darker, more like basalt, trying to form the joints and columns but not quite succeeding. Then we came to an area of weird conglomerate rock almost travertine like, the canyon widening, the walls very tall now. We found some very old dam remnants here, and a very curious structure about 150 feet off the canyon bottom built in a slit of the rock. We didn't have time to climb up to it, plus we were short of our goal, but we were running out of daylight. We had both left our headlamps in the Jeep. We wanted to be out before dark as to not bother the rancher in case he locked his gate for the night.
We reversed, I enjoyed the later light but hiking with Brian necessitates taking photos almost on the run. We got to the Jeep, and drove on out, and the vehicle made it to Globe. We found a part the next day and Brian showed me how to change out the pully, release and tension the serpentine belt properly. I'll get another bearing and keep it as a spare.
This is a spectacular place, and I hope to return, if I get any good pics will print them out and make it as a gift to the rancher and his wife. Hey, I'll do whatever it takes. It is that special.