Things We Left Behind

Another season of fun, fitness and general merriment has come to an end in Arizona. At least for us, although we know of several couples remaining in Canyon Vistas until at least the end of April. This surprisingly includes some Canadian couples, although they spent extended periods back in Canada over the winter, and still have some days left in their annual eligibility.

We finished off our time here with yet another traditional event as 4 couples had a final Mexican dinner at Los Gringos Locos in Apache Junction. This was actually a smaller gathering than usual, as far too many friends left early this year. We discussed all that is wrong with the world, and one of our topics certainly raised some eyebrows at surrounding tables. Since ‘What happens in Arizona Stays in Arizona’ my lips are sealed.

Among the things we left behind was this little guy.

I ran across this guy a few times over the past several days as he kept hiding under boxes and rocks I had placed under the trailer for safe keeping. I believe he was trying to hide from the Roadrunner that has been hunting in the park now that it had thinned out a bit. Every time I saw it scurrying around it had a gecko or something in it’s beak.

We also left behind a bunch of these.

There are a few of these Argentine Giants in the park, and they give a great display. Unfortunately they only flower for a single day, and today, just as we were driving away seemed to be the day this year.

Now that we have purchased a Park Model we were able to leave behind quite a bit of stuff that we will only need in Arizona. This includes a fair bit of clothing with Canyon Vistas logos stiched on it as well as some chairs, a printer and office furniture we won’t need in the RV any longer as it will no longer be our primary winter residence. This has left us with quite a bit of room in the RV as we head home, which is rather nice for a change. We usually have to deal with boxes of stuff we can only get in the US, but have been able to pack it all away this trip, with room to spare.

Until we left this morning we didn’t know which route we were going to take. As I have an aversion to taking the same route twice, we had a couple of options still available to us that we hadn’t done before. In the end we have decided to stay in the warm temperatures as long as possible and headed west to Desert Hot Springs. The fact that we’ve done this route in reverse doesn’t count, does it?

No matter which route we take it seems to take us four and a half days to get back to BC, and this time we’re heading to visit with Sylvia’s folks before heading home. It looks like we’ll arrive just in time for the weather to turn wet and cool. Now that will be different, but not necessarily welcome.

We Own a Second Home!

This revelation will come as no surprise to those of you who read my posts from Canyon Vistas, as it’s been an open secret for a while, but as of this afternoon we have signed the paperwork that transfers ownership of a Park Model here into our names.

We’ve purchased a home owned by our friends Bruce and Sonja and have been looking at it for a couple of years before finally getting serious about it this year. We’re actually kind of ambivalent about the whole process, as while we’re pleased that we are going to be owning the place, we’re just a bit sad to know that we won’t be visiting with Bruce and Sonja in their home any longer.

Our new home sits at the front of the park, and has a great view of the Superstition Mountains where we do most of our hiking. And, as it sits on a corner lot, there is an open view to the west so we can experience some of those spectacular Arizona sunsets unimpeded. Just about perfect, and definitely a drawing card for us.

We have plans to add on a Arizona Room, second bath complete with Laundry and a storage room while we’re back home, but are dealing with some issues regarding permits and contractors. Hopefully we’ll be able to get things sorted out over the summer and have things complete before we come back next fall.

We’re not planning on getting rid of our 5th Wheel anytime soon, and will likely still be using it to travel back and forth between BC and Arizona for at least a few more years. Right now we still can’t figure out any better way to get our frozen BC seafood down here with us, among other things.

Next year we’ll hopefully have the deck moved closer to the street,  and our new room built behind it. The new storage area is going behind where Bruce’s truck is presently parked. We’ll be sure to keep you informed.

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The 4th Annual Through Hike

Four years ago we were invited along on a small group hike from First Water to Canyon Lake. We’ve now done this hike every year since, and always enjoy it. There are more than a few great reasons to take this hike, and especially at this time of year.

-The flowers are quite  plentiful along the entire route in late March.

-It’s a challenging hike of about 8 miles that traverses a few different saddles and creek valleys. Very pretty terrain.

-The bonus of doing this as a one-way hike is that we can coerce someone (thank you Cheryl) into picking us up at the far end and driving us back to our truck, but not before stopping at a Lakeside Restaurant for Fish and Chips and maybe an adult beverage or two. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed due to some mechanical failure when we arrived but since we had a driver, we could head back to Apache Junction where we forced ourselves to settle for Mexican food.

The flowers are still going strong, and the Brittle Bush dominated huge portions of the various hillsides.

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Indian Paintbrush.

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Desert Marigold.

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Globe Mallow were everywhere.

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Ocotillo were also blooming all along the trail.

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There was a fair bit of wildlife visible. No, not these guys, although they were looking along the other side of a ravine at ground squirrels.

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Purple Paintbrush.

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Hedgehog Cactus are just starting to bust out.

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There was some discussion on whether or not this Saguaro was related to Darth Vader.

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Our Snack Break was at Boulder Creek. There was a bit of water in the creek, but not so much that we had any problems crossing the creek.

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Desert Chicory.

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Our second water crossing was Labarge Creek. Not too much water here either.

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For the first time ever we saw a Gila Monster. A few seconds before this was a far better picture, but as I was pulling my camera out of my pocket he (or she) turned tail and scampered into the underbrush. They’re pretty big lizards.

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One of the  stops on the trail is an old mine where red rock was mined for paint.

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California Poppy.

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They sell these decorative grasses in the local nursery back home for big bucks.

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The day was mostly high overcast, but the sun started to show quite a bit by the early afternoon. It was pretty warm heading towards Canyon Lake.

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About 5 miles in we finally caught a glimpse of the lake. Still quite a ways to go.

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Yes they were waiting for us, but that’s pretty normal as Debbie and I usually hang back to take pictures.

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Maricopa Lily. This trail is one of the few spots that we’ve ever seen these flowers.

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We also came across this little cousin of the Gila Monster all dressed up in his Easter duds.

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This is supposed to be a fairly rare plant, the Gila County Live Forever, but we saw many of them above Canyon Lake.

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And that was our day. 8+ miles and about 5.5 hours to make it to the lake. We’ll be back next year if we can!

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We didn’t do any hiking last week, as  somehow managed to pick up a chest cold in the 90F weather we were enjoying. It meant I missed some end of season parties, but Sylvia got a chance to play some Water Volleyball at the softball wrap-up. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to take any pictures.

We now have just over a week left before we head towards home. We’ll just have to see how much more trouble we can cause before we leave.

Haunted Canyon Hike

On Friday we decided to head to Haunted Canyon with 4 of our friends. The club actually did a version of this hike last Friday, but for various reasons none of us were able to make the hike last week. In fact, Al and Donna only arrived in Arizona last Friday night after finally figuring out that Winter in BC wasn’t so much fun after all.

In the past, our club has done this hike as an In and Out adventure from the top of the trail down to an old ranch called Toney’s Cabin. This involves climbing 900’ up to a saddle, and then 1100’ down to the creek and the cabin location. All of this in about 4 miles of hiking. The problem with this is on the way back that the 1100 feet of climbing the way out is all in the sunshine, and even with the slightly lower temperatures it can be a real slog. Last year a couple of our hikers ended up being in a bit of distress by the time we reached the summit due to the heat.

Last week when the club did the hike they figured they’d be a bit smarter and start at the lowest point of the trail and just walk along the creek up to the cabin and back to the starting point. This was fine, except you have to cross the creek about 30 times each way, and this became an issue for some hikers. One fella even decided that he’d head back the way we had gone in the past to stay dry, and made arrangements for some other hikers to pick him up at our historic starting point. Unfortunately he made a wrong turn, and missed the trail back to the road. People were out searching for him for several hours before he ran into some people heading out camping and they drove him back to where our hike leader could pick him up. By this time it was 9:00 and he was stumbling around in the dark. When he finally got home about 11:00 I think he might have been in a bit of bother with his wife.

For our hike we decided to try and have the best of both worlds. We took two trucks out to the trail, dropped one off at the lower end of the trail and piled into the other vehicle to head to the upper trailhead. This way we figured we could have a bit of a climb in the morning, walk down the sunny hillside before it got too warm, and spend the afternoon walking along the cooler section of the creek. It actually wasn’t a bad plan, although the 30 plus creek crossings meant that there were some wet feet (and in Rod’s case, pants, camera and phone) by the time we finished the day. Our total hike was somewhere between 9.5 and 11 miles depending upon who’s GPS readings you believed, and even though it was cooler in the creek, it meant for a long hot day.

The hills in the distance are above Roosevelt Lake, which supplies the Salt river with water and fills up the Saguaro, Canyon and Apache lakes we all enjoy.

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There’s nothing wrong with looking back sometimes. (or resting for that matter).

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Sycamore trees grow in strange ways.

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At the top of the 900’ climb we posed by the Old Man of the Mountain. That’s it next to Dana, the other Old Man. Sylvia and I both wore hiking club shirts. We soon discover that the resident bugs in the vicinity really like this colour, as we were covered in little black Gnats almost all day. Time to retire the shirts I think.

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Indian Paintbrush.

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LYF’s – Little Yellow Flowers, that we don’t know the name of. There were a lot of different LYF’s LOF’s and LPF’s all day.

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I think this was dammed up to provide water for cattle, but we didn’t see any livestock until we were almost finished our day.

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According to Rumour one of our hiking buddies ate one of the Cholla fruits a few years ago. He’s never done it again, and may still be pulling spikes out of his tongue for all I know.

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Our lunch spot was Toney’s Cabin, and Sylvia was looking through the sign in book to find our club’s entry from last week.

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As we still had almost 6 miles to hike, we headed out soon, but not before wondering if we could use this rather strange Cholla as a Christmas tree next year. All it was missing was the ornaments to be a Charlie Brown special.

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I don’t know for certain if there were 30 creek crossings, as I lost count around 18, but that number is pretty close. I fell in around number 10, and having wet squishy boots for the rest of the trip wasn’t ideal. The water was never deep, but certainly was cool and wet. The creek runs year round, so it must be spring fed.

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I know this one! California Poppies.

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This is the first Hedgehog we’ve seen in bloom. Many more to come I’m sure.

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There’s a story to this tree, I just don’t know what it is.

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The last 1.5 miles of the hike was along a jeep road that has been gated by the mining company that controls this stretch of wilderness. It would have been nice to drive this and not deal with the rather boring section, but at least it was flat. The water doesn’t come from the creek as much as from all the leaking pumps they have alongside of the road providing water to the Pinto Mine.

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And that was our day. A rather long hike in the heat, but certainly enjoyable. When we left the trailhead it was about 82F, and over 90 still when we got back to the RV. I’m certainly glad we didn’t get lost and have to stay up there any longer in the heat or the dark. As it was we didn’t get back until about 7:15 pm.

I Was Right About the Flowers

I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing me whine about the cool, wet weather we’ve had to endure this winter in Arizona. The only saving grace was I thought that the wet weather followed by some heat would bring out the flowers in droves.

Actually the median temperature this year has surprisingly been higher than normal, but certainly hasn’t felt like it. The only reason I can think of for this being the case is that we haven’t had more than a couple of nights below freezing, but we certainly haven’t had any days in the 90’s either…..until today.

This week has been warming up more and more each day. When I played in the softball tournament on Monday, the high temp was 67F. By Wednesday when we took the hike into the higher elevations, the temps were in the high 70’s. Yesterday, we were subjected to low 80’s as we spent several hours being referees at a Pickleball tournament in Mesa and standing in the full sun. It was a fun day, and by the time we were finished our duties, we both were thinking that we enjoy the referee duties more than we think we’d enjoy playing in a tournament.

That brings us to today. The hike that the club had planned was again in higher elevation where it would be cooler, but as we missed last Friday’s hike while I played softball we thought it might be nice to revisit this location as the flowers were starting to show in great numbers. I think we made the right choice, and convinced our friends Jim and Cheryl to come along.

As we were heading out on our own we decided to leave a bit later, and didn’t have to get up at Stupid O’clock like regular hiking days. It was also a strategy to give the flowers an extra hour of sunshine before we arrived so they would be on full display by the time we arrived at the Kelvin Trail. It turned out to be a good decision, as they were spectacular. It also meant that we would be hiking in the warmest part of the day, and by the time we left the trail just before 1:00 it was 83F and by the time we got back to the RV it was 90.

Now it’s time to let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Our club has been involved in some trail maintenance twice this winter. We had to bring along hand pruners and gloves, and kinda wish we’d had one of these babies along to assist us. The trail was a lot narrower and congested once we passed this Big Boys toy.

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I couldn’t resist.

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One last picture of the Ray Mine that dominates the skyline on the other side of the valley. I’m glad we have the wilderness to walk in.

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And so goes another week. We’re down to just over three weeks left here in the sunbelt. Spring can start showing up anytime it wants to in the Okanagan.

Barnhardt Trail Hike

Today we went with 31 members of the hiking club to see the waterfall at Barnhardt. This is a hike we’ve been on several times, but usually much earlier in the season. The elevation of the trailhead is almost 2000 feet above that of Gold Canyon so when the weather gets hot we usually head here to find cooler temperatures. The fact that we’re a month later than usual and can finally schedule this hike tells you all you need to know about how cool it’s been this winter.

The drive to the trailhead is 77 miles away from our park, but the trip is definitely worth it as the waterfall is usually full of water. At least it has been 3 of the 4 times we’ve been here, the first time it was barely a trickle and we were wondering if we’d been had, but we were convinced that was an anomaly.

The waterfall is 3 miles from the trailhead, and is 1650 feet in elevation higher. All but about 50 feet of the trail is a steady uphill grind and by the time we get there, we’re about ready to sit down.

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There was a fair bit of water all along the trail, more than we remember seeing in the past.

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Spots like these appeared all along the lower section of the trail, and proved that we’ve had a wet, mild winter. Yep, that’s moss mixed in there.

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Even the Hedgehog cactus look particularly thick and healthy. No flowers yet though.

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We didn’t see many flowers, but there were some Primroses (?) around.

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Before long, we were far above the level of the trailhead.

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And then suddenly we were at the waterfall pools.

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Somebody was happy to finally get here. Then I informed her that she had to climb up even higher to see the waterfall. The route into the cavern where the waterfall was visible was rather difficult to reach as there was quite a bit of water, and footing was rather precarious in spots.

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When she finally made it into the base of he waterfall it looked like she was pretty comfortable clinging onto the rocks with Bill and Kay.

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There actually was quite a bit of water running down the hillside, but not much more than we saw last February.

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I do have a video of the waterfall, but you’re going to have to see it on Facebook, as I can’t get it to display here. Youtube seems to have forgotten who I am. Here’s the LINK

After lunch it was time to head back. The temperatures were quite comfortable, about 50F next to the waterfall, and 70 or so in the sunshine. By the time we got back to the trailer at 4:30 it was 82F in Gold Canyon. We did pick a good day for this hike.

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It’s amazing how these cactus, succulents and ferns can all grow in the same spot, right out of the rock.

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One of the treats on this hike is the rock formations present in the ravine we walk up. I have forgotten what they’re called, and it’s too late to start looking them up, but surely somebody can remind me?

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And then we were done! None the worse for wear, and ready for a cold drink!

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Tomorrow is another day of Pickleball officiating at a tournament in Mesa. We seem to have earned ourselves a job. Oh well, if we can’t play we can at least be in charge of the matches.