I heard about this slot canyon hidden behind an impenetrable “bamboo” forest at the end of a three mile bushwhack down the Indian Spring Wash off the Bartlett Dam road through overgrown thickets of catclaw and hackberry, requiring crawls under and over innumerable downed trees and flood piles with the intermittent necessity of fighting off herds of flying javelinas unused to sharing their little paradise with humans, so, of course I had to see it. Two words of caution: 1) wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, 2) If you wear hearing aids, leave them at home or have them insured. I came back, minus one hearing aid, a bloody left ear, and with some imbedded cholla spines in my arms that found their way through my sleeves. The javelina were upset, to say the least, but when we kept coming through their grunts and growls, they were, thankfully, more afraid of us than vice-versa. Did you know they can run about 25 mph and jump pretty well too? Of course, they probably knew the territory. Still, it’s a bit unnerving to see 50-75 pound animals with tusks flying off a ledge not that far in front of you.
Despite the brambles, this is not a difficult hike, although there is a fair amount of backing out of “dead ends” and finding a different way, one stays in the wash all the way to the canyon. It’s a nice downhill slope and all the branches are running away from you. Coming back out is a bit harder for the same reason. There are many large specimens of Fremont Cottonwood, willow and what may have been velvet ash, providing shade and shadows. Until I’m corrected, I’m calling the “bamboo,” Giant Reed (arundo donax), which the Government says, “is a bamboo-like grass with stems that grow over 20 feet tall” which pretty much fits what we saw. The February inch plus of rain in Cave Creek sent a cascade of rocks, trees and boulders downstream, which penetrated this “bamboo” forest, and actually made this hike quite a bit easier, according to a Spur Cross docent, who led us down the wash to the canyon.
There are quite a few springs in the lower reaches of the wash, which is where we found the javelinas. The sun has a bit of a problem reaching the floor of the wash where it narrows and consequently, flowers were not abundant. Hikes of this nature do not reveal themselves to the importunings of $5 cameras so although I’ll include a photoset, this little jewel needs to be seen in person. We actually did some downstream exploring after seeing the slot canyon but got stopped by the brush and cliffs.
The slot canyon itself winds a few hundred feet to the NE(the entrance can be missed) and involves some minor scrambling to get all the way back to where a 75 foot(approx) waterfall would splash down into your cave during a rain. See photoset. The cave itself is sufficiently sized to house a large family.