The first day of Summer last year, 6/21/2020, brought me back to a place that I had first explored on 3/29/2015, Parsons Trail in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area…which is located just north and east of Clarkdale, Arizona…which is a bit south and west of Sedona.
I left the canyon with almost six hundred photos after my first exploration…
…and brought home a bit under four hundred this last time.
So after browsing and examining the recent cache, I was able to whittle-down the presentable images to a few dozen…
…some of which I have already presented, here, and the remainder of which will appear in following posts.
Given that there were so many photos that I thought were “share-worthy,” I have separated them into the general categories of…
…trails, fauna, water, grass seed-heads…
…and one set of two images that will present the Sycamore Canyon version of Kermit….
It took roughly two hours to make it to the trailhead, some eleven or so miles beyond Clarkdale, from my house in the far northwest corner of Metropolitan Phoenix.
The very first image in this post was from the cliff edge where the trail drops from the trail-head parking lot into the canyon, at just shy of 7:00 am…so the sun was already up and well enough over the horizon to remove the shadows for a good portion of the canyon, but as you can see, was not sufficiently high to do so entirely…there was still a softness to the light in the canyon and a strong remainder of shadow to effect the images with a broader view.
In the eighth and ninth images above, to the right side of each, you can see raspberry bushes…a nice surprise for a high-desert, canyon hike.
Incredibly diverse plant life…just wonderful stuff.
The “focus” of this post is supposed to be the actual trail itself…a general subject of which I am quite fond…whether they’re winding through a mountain forest, through a “typical” desert range or flatlands, I find something very alluring about them; compelling, drawing, inviting…. In the below photo, you may notice that the trail is actually on the lowest level of the tiered rock just above the waterline…leading us back into the greenery…
…and this bit of trail takes us to the right of the fallen, sharp edged blocks, and skirting the cliff wall. By the way, the sand that you can see in the foreground was finer than beach sand…almost dusty at that location…making for awkward and struggling foot steps.
Now going beneath aged cedar trees….
…and now pass along the flattened rock, again, taking us beyond another larger pond that has formed in the length of stream.
On the way back, now, in the below photo, with the sun full overhead…
…and welcoming the shade again, of the branching mesquite and other canyon trees…at just after 11:00 am.
And below…the price one pays for going north to hike on a weekend day…the drive back to the Phoenix valley…..
The wrecked juju or Zen aside, it was well worth the drive to hike in Sycamore Canyon again. Thank you for joining me.
This was my destination when I was on the road and spotted the fire on the desert morning mountains in an earlier post…Parsons Trail in Sycamore Canyon. You might remember that I visited here in March of 2015…before Spring had sprung…that’s over five years ago, already.
More images will follow, of course, but I hope you’ll enjoy these three…all taken from the same spot, more or less, accounting for shifting feet…
…starting with a closer look down the stream beneath the canopy of overhanging trees…
…and then slowly widening the view to encompass more of the surroundings.
Yes, this is Arizona…just north of Cottonwood…which is north and east of Prescott…and a bit south and west of Sedona…if you’re familiar with those places.
It’s been close to two months since I made the almost 190 mile trek north to flee the city and its trappings and find a bit of solitude and soul restoration in the wilderness of the Kaibab National Forest (Williams District) located just south and west of Flagstaff.
These lenticular clouds were an added treat as I found the silhouette of the San Francisco peaks in the distance…looking east. Humphrey’s Peak is at the far left of the ridge, the highest point in Arizona. You might remember my hike to the top in this post.
The weather forecast for the day said it was going to be partly cloudy up here…and those clouds in the first image were the only ones I saw for the entire six hours on the trail… No cloud cover, but excellent canopy cover in the forest….
The day’s hike is actually the Sycamore Canyon Rim Trail…an 11-12 mile loop that starts in the Ponderosa pine forest, crosses some meadows, meanders up into an oak and cedar forest that covers KA Hill…goes back down into the Ponderosa, and then skirts the Canyon.
The view above is entering that oak forest…and the view below is from atop KA Hill, looking east again at the San Francisco Peaks. That lighter area along the road is where I stopped to make the photo for my recent post “yellow…along the way…”
Coming out of the oak forest and making a fast descent from KA Hill through a mature Ponderosa forest quickly leads to this open area that looks like a lava field that is slowly being covered with wild grasses and less mature pines. I don’t know if this area has been burned in the last century, but the majority of the trees were much smaller than the surrounding forest. Maybe it’s because they’re growing in a lava field….
The drainage from the above field leads down into the natural pond/cistern in the below photo….
…and continues down into this stream bed that leads back into another forested area….
….and probably less than a mile later, leads to this surprise….
….a lava-wall-bordered pond with lily-pads…actual lily-pads…in a pond…in the high desert of Arizona….. Wow….!
Two of the three people I saw on the trail all day….and their two dogs….
Another of the “Pomeroy Tanks” that are important water sources for the wildlife in the area.
Heading back into the forest proper…crossing a dry stream-bed with more lava rocks….beautiful green….
The loop eventually comes to what are referred to as the Sycamore Falls…behind me and to the right in the below image…which was not flowing…and which is a favorite spot for rock-climbers to practice their skills.
You can easily see the two guys in the below photo…but how about the guy in the one above….?
I stopped to have a snack at the below location…on the eastern ridge of the canyon (looking west) with the falls to the right…where you can see a man in white above where the other two guys were climbing….
I think the stream-bed would be an excellent place to explore…for hours and hours…maybe even days or months…..
I made a wrong turn…or took the path less-traveled that took me to the cliff-edge of the canyon…and had to turn-around, retrace my steps…find the real trail…back to the loop, but it was a beautiful diversion…with lots of compelling green.
The trail eventually led up toward more of a plateau again…forest covered…with strong breezes and winds whipping and almost roaring through the tree-tops. With the lack of cloud-cover that I thought I would have for the day, the winds were welcome in keeping things from getting too warm when walking outside of the cover of the forest. Almost as surprising as finding the lily-pad pond shared above was the discovery of these Century Plants with their bright yellow bouquets…and attendant butterfly and humming bird.
Another view of the actual canyon rim…provoking thoughts of what the place must have looked like when it was forming in the aftermath of the San Francisco Peaks‘ volcanic eruptions in those 200-and-some millions of years ago….
Thank you for visiting….I hope you enjoyed going with me along the Sycamore Canyon Rim Trail…amid the green, forested north of Arizona….
PS….and for what it’s worth, this is my 1,000th post on WordPress….. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey, as well. I’ve met a bunch of wonderful people here and a solid couple of handfuls of very special friends over the past seven years. 🙂
It feels like ages since I’ve been here…..
….here on the blog, that is.
The weather has been rather extreme for hiking down here in the desert valley…I heard that four or five people died because of the heat a few weeks ago….not a good thing…oppressive, nasty, raunchy heat…..
So last weekend I headed north…waaaay north…twenty five miles west of Flagstaff…the high was only 85 degrees…spent six hours hiking a sweet loop-trail that skirted the northern parts of Sycamore Canyon. With about an hour of the hike remaining, I came across a section of the forest that had six or eight of these Century Plants…Agave americana…just kind of hanging-out, real bright and everything in the middle of the otherwise dark green forest….the blossoms on this particular plant were easily eight feet above the ground.
Coming after the last post where I revisited a sun-drenched mountainside of Wasatch wildflowers, it’s only fitting that I come back to reality and the desert of my current home and share some images that are more recent and represent the local beauty as I have found it in Sycamore Canyon….
It doesn’t do it justice, of course, but this is a tiny representation of the almost six-hundred images that I made during my six hours in the canyon about a month ago. Following the pictures in their presentation, we’re essentially going from the beginning to the end…and anyone who’s taken a four to five mile hike in one direction, knows that things can often look so different on the way back to the starting place…lighting, moisture in the morning air, and even the tiredness and level of attention paid by the hiker/photographer can determine how and what things are seen. I also made several photos of the multitude of wildflowers that I encountered on the trail, but will include them in yet another post of the area.
Please remember that you can click on any photo in the gallery to be taken to a slide show that presents each image in a larger format.
The last eleven miles of the trip to Sycamore Canyon were on a dirt road that started out good and ended up bad…clouds of dust rolled up behind me in the morning light, making a hazy contrail that faded and ran in the rear-view mirror…eight miles to go and I almost didn’t stop….seven miles to go and I couldn’t not-stop. They stretched that far, first thin and then full. I got out of the truck and was surprised at the coolness of the air…and the light perfume that rode on its tiniest breezes. There was a fresh sweetness everywhere…literally surrounding me on this high-desert plain.