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Tonto Natural Bridge
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mini location map2016-05-28
6 by photographer avatarafrankie
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Tonto Natural BridgePayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar May 28 2016
Hiking1.50 Miles 500 AEG
Hiking1.50 Miles
500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We scooted up to Payson and figured we'd start out here as it was our first time in the area. We arrived at the turnoff from 87 around 12:30, and it was already slammed. We waited for 15min waiting for the parking lot to empty out and the friendly ranger waved us down hill to the park. We were greeted by a ranger at the paystation who was clearly having a bad day and offered some odd body language, and we continued on towards the hike to find many more bodies than I was expecting, with big ole family reunions and get togethers near the ramada. Looks like our entry fees could have improved the staffing capacity because these guys seemingly were duressed by the big crowds on MDW.

We did the Waterfall Trail first - very cool. Ranger told us the water isn't drinkable cuz of the javelinas upstream, but it would seem the aquifer is a natural filter for that....

We then did the Natural bridge loop, going over first, then scrambling underneath, and finally walking up the creekbed back to the upper parking lot. Lotta fun, but too crowded for our liking. After hiking down all I could think about was how pristine this pool of aquifer dripped water was and how refreshing a wade in the water would be. Despite no signage telling me not to, I was flagged down from afar by a ranger giving me the finger wag. He was at least better than some other Captain America rangers we ran into mid-way through their weekend power trips...

We walked up the creekbed to find isolated and allowable wells that we could wade into, and posted up for a good hour in the relative solitude other than the occasional passerby hikers and some friendly folks who joined us.

After we finally climbed out, we were on our way out of the park when my wife saw Charlie Brown's Apricot Tree, the saddest fruit bearing tree imaginable. It had about 3 twigs growing out of a mangled tree trunk, but they were bearing fruit, and it was ripe. Di (my wife) being herself we immediately had to flip a U'e and headback so she could appreciate the fruit's gifts rather than let them whither on the vine. Well wouldn't ya know, instantaneously a park ranger flies up on a golf cart (it would have been suiting if it was outfitted with sirens) to aggressively inform us that the apricots were not ripe for picking and to get off the tree (Meanwhile they were soft in her hand) :app: Frankly we just didn't feel like dealing with his apricot overprotectiveness and we were out of there soon afterwards with the taste of delicious fruits and salty rangers in our mouth
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.
Evan Hardin

Footloose adventures are documented instagram @afrankie8.
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