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Verde Headwaters, AZ
mini location map2020-11-21
16 by photographer avatarchumley
photographer avatar
page 1   2
 
Verde Headwaters, AZ 
Verde Headwaters, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 21 2020
chumley
Hiking7.74 Miles 500 AEG
Hiking7.74 Miles   3 Hrs   48 Mns   2.04 mph
500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This one started on the plane this summer. Looking out the window while flying over Yavapai County, I followed the path of the upper Verde River, and realized I had not explored the area much. Being at an elevation that makes summer temperatures a bit out of my preferred zone, I put it on the back burner for cooler days ahead. And then it took two extra months for cooler days to arrive! Because, 2020.

As is often the case, Google doesn't know ranching roads, and I got dead-ended by a locked gate that resulted in an extra hour of driving in search of a good access point. Actually, the gate was NOT locked, the lock was just hanging on the chain -- and I considered taking advantage of that fact but was glad I didn't as while backtracking I met the rancher who was going to solve the problem and asked me if I knew if it was locked or not. Apparently I look like I reside in the Chino Valley metroplex (or at least not the kind of person the gate is locked to prevent!)

So somewhere around noon-thirty, I finally found a spot wedged between private ranches and open roads where I would feel ok leaving my truck and beginning my overland journey to what is seemingly a rarely visited part of the Verde watershed.

Fall colors were a little bit past prime, but there's something special about Arizona's riparian waterways as they transition the seasons. I should have worn pants. And gaiters. The cockle burrs were on their game, and the frequent flooding along this stream left a mess of deadfall and new overgrowth along the shores. Beavers had done their part to block passage, though they had not been successful in creating any pools that could withstand the flow, and I was not lucky enough to encounter any.

There were a few piles of bear scat, but it seems this area (like many in our state) was best habitat for deer. Hawks screeched overhead and blue skies contrasted with yellow cottonwoods, and reddish cliffs as I pushed my way around new corners. I crossed the river countless times, here just a small stream running in the upper 20s-- amazingly a couple of cfs above normal in this very dry year. Steps away from the strip of riparian life, the plants transitioned quickly to typical desert fare. Catsclaw teared at my skin, and prickly pear required a steady eye on foot placement.

Not really my thing, I glanced at surrounding cliffs in search of past habitation. There are a few dots on the older maps, so I figured there might also be a few dots that aren't. As is always the case, I didn't discover anything that hadn't been discovered by somebody before me. But discovery should be an individual endeavor, and for me today, it was. I look forward to searching here some more. For one of our state's largest waterways, it seems few choose to explore her early miles.

As I made my way back toward my truck, I spotted a family car-camping at the end of a dirt road. The first sign of people on the day, I waded across the river adjacent to them and made sure to announce my presence without startling them. They were puzzled at where I had come from. A short chat revealed it was their ranch I had just entered. I apologized for the error and they pointed me in the right direction and gave instructions on how to exit their gate. I opted not to stop for food in Paulden on the drive home. :)
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