I had an opportunity to head to Aravaipa for a couple of days and having never been to the east end, jumped at the chance. I now know I prefer this side and will come back for sure. At 3 hrs, it's really not a bad drive to get there and the benefits outweigh a little extra time on the road.
Thursday night was the coldest of the season statewide, but we were prepared so it turned out to be no problem despite dropping into the 20s. Friday was an exceptional day exploring a couple of miles down Aravaipa and up the geologic wonder of Hell Hole Canyon. It was a real treat. I'd love to see this one with a little bit more water flowing in it.
After seeing a bighorn up on the cliffs earlier in the day, we spotted some deer as darkness fell. The next two hours proved to be very entertaining!
We wouldn't have noticed the next critter if not for its glowing eyes as we approached on the opposite bank, wondering what it was. Once we were perpendicular across the creek we shone our headlamps to get a better view. At this point it realized we would not just walk by without noticing it was there and it subsequently repositioned. When that happened both Jon and I caught a glimpse of its silhouette and both had the same reaction simultaneously: tarzan swing! That's a big cat!
It seemed nervous at our presence as we shined our lights directly into its glowing green eyes 25 yards across the river. As is common on our hikes, Jon and I each complimented each other on how large and strong we were -- loudly and repeatedly --
while once again heading upstream. Jon noted that our hurried 3mph pace in the dark had suddenly increased to about 4mph!
Shortly thereafter a new set of eyes was watching our passage, but these were yellow. Though they sat high above us along the creek, as we got closer we could see it was just a curious raccoon (my first ever az wild sighting!). As we neared the trailhead, a skunk waddled across our path and seemed to be in no hurry to let us by. At this point we were trying to figure out what animal we wouldn't
see tonight! Of course we weren't done yet. Next we spotted a gray fox that thought it was hidden and didn't run until it was obvious we knew it was there. Not much later we spooked a herd of javelina, and enjoyed watching the babies fight the current while swimming across the creek their parents had simply walked across.
At this point we were happy we would be sleeping indoors for the night and headed back to TNC cabin to meet up with the others and share our stories over a warm fire and some wild fermentation in the coolship.
The next couple of days included more wildlife sightings including coatimundi, turkey, and bobcat. Apparently there are cool birds here too!
I'm a fan of wildernesses. Some are more wilderness-y than others. I've only been to Aravaipa three times, but I think it's one of Arizona's truly wild
wildernesses and a wildlife gem. FWIW, we did not see a bear.
Maybe next time! Foliage
A little dull. Sycamores were solid rust. Some cottonwoods still had a lot of green, others had some nice yellows, and some were mostly bare. Walnuts were prime yellow. Ash hadn't started yet.