The first stop before the fun in Pine and Strawberry last Friday was the Tonto Natural Arch. Friends who've moved here from the Midwest recently hiked the trails there, and they inspired us to get back out and discover more of Arizona.
After parking the car, we finally located the trail that switchbacks into the canyon below the arch. The orange sign came with danger warnings for steep trail, loose gravel, slick rocks, etc.... I think that's just Arizona's way of protecting itself (but good luck to anyone who tries to shake the state of Arizona's pockets).
After a steep descent (we really should think about getting those hiking poles), we finally saw the arch from a distance! Kind of cool!
Soon we reached the bottom of the canyon and Tonto Creek. For us desert rats, a canyon with water at the bottom (as opposed to a dry stream bed) is quite the oddity.
From the view platform, we gazed at the slick rocks underneath the bridge trying to decide if we wanted to risk our limbs crawling over them to get through the arch to the trail on the other side. An older couple with white hair breezed past us, so we decided
Once under the bridge, I looked up. The natural bridge is composed of travertine! The rocks really were slick, and we reached a point where we'd have to sit on our butts, slide down a large rock, and wade through the stream to reach the trail on the other side. Even there, we'd have quite a distance left scrambling over slick rocks. Bag it! Having already done knee surgery once, some adventures aren't worth it to me.
The older couple in front forged on. You can see the man in the blue jacket on the other side of the stream.
Notice the slick moss growing on the rocks? For a moment we felt like we were back in Washington State.
(But the blue sky quickly reminded us we weren't in the Northwest anymore!)
We carefully picked our way back out of the area over the slick rocks. No harm, no foul! A double dose of Advil took care of my knees!
Back on the switchbacks, the vegetation turned to desert once again. Here's a blue agave. Craig and I vow to hit the trails this winter after we get back from Mexico!
A friend at dinner last night asked me how we're getting from Isla Mujeres to Akumal in a few weeks. I think she was shocked by my lackadaisical attitude. I've been totally unconcerned about the details of our trip. I booked a couple of condos and our flights months ago, but abandoned planning after that. We still have three free range nights with no lodging. I left them free because we weren't sure if we wanted to spend Thanksgiving on the island, or head somewhere else. We'll cross that beach when we come to it! : ) And I guess that's why I haven't booked transportation. I'm not sure what day we'll be leaving Isla Mujeres, or what direction we'll be headed. It'll all work out!
Now, today I MUST start thinking about washing clothes and packing!