Nov 24, 2011
So much to be thankful for, especially for the natural beauty that Arizona lakes have to offer.
I headed out to Apache Lake for nice little Thanksgiving day adventure out at Apache Lake.
I left my house about 5:30, and was paddling by 8:00. The waters were calm as the sun was coming up, but I as I experienced many times before that the winds usually pick up out of the east as the earth comes to life. Today played right into my plan, as I road the winds down the lake to the west.
I had a few things on my list to explore and see today:
1) See some bighorn sheep - CHECK
2) Find the canyon/cave/grotto at the Alder Creek Wash - CHECK
3) Climb up to the waterfall - CHECK (Well mostly, the spring wasn't kicking out enough water)
4) Find the Hermit's Cave - CHECK
5) See a bald eagle or two - DENIED to
I headed immediately to the north shore and had my eyes peeled for the sheep roaming around the bluffs. Before I knew it, I was at Alder Creek Wash (party cove) and I didn't see one stinking bighorn. I still had my hopes up and my eyes were still peeled.
I left my kayak down in the wash, and set out to find the canyon/cave/grotto, and I found it almost immediately. I saw a youtube video a while back that these doods shot of the canyon, and I've been intrigue to find it ever since. It was really kewl when I stumbled upon it. I found the trees that obscured it and the entrance to the cave had a RV sized boulder laying on top of two equally sized boulders. I was super excited at this point. The first room led into a second through a narrow passage. I had a scramble up to the third room and beyond that. I was a little on edge, cuz this seemed like prime mountain lion habitat, so I had my pepper spray handy the whole time. Really neato exploring. I did spot a few beer cans, so I knew this was pretty popular destination. I could have continued farther up the canyon, but opted to do that another day, and I didn't want to get hurt while traveling alone. I must have topped out about 100' vf, near the big obelisk that you see from the wash. There is no way to capture this grotto in video of neato it was, but I tried...
I scramble back around the top of the canyon, and then started my hike up to the waterfall. There was a little bit of water in the creek bed, but when I got up to the waterfall, and I could hear it on my approach, but the water coming down was hidden by the boulders. When the water is flowing from the spring, it is really neato, but today I was denied.
On my 1 mile back down from the waterfall, I saw a ram way up bluffs above me. He certainly saw me before I saw him. He was probably about 300 or 400 yards away, and about 400' up. The saving grace about my situation was that I wasn't forced to capture him on video from my boat. I am amazed at how stable the footage turned out, I also wish I was a closer. I am also amazed at how agile this bad boy was. I did catch on video, him scramble and leaping on the rock face above. Neato! On my way back down the wash, I spotted a second ram on the opposing bluffs. I bet these two have had some serious rutting battles, and I wish I could be there for that.
Once I got back down to my boat, the clouds were setting in, so I decided to call it a day. I did have one more stop, and that was at the old Hermit's Cave on the south shore. It is a couple miles west of Crabtree Wash, where I started my trip. This was a pretty neat cave. Inside, it a bulkhead built up and backfilled, for a level platform.
The only disappointment was not seeing any eagles today, but I did see a small tarantula.
Lotsa things to be thankful for in my life, but being in the moment, in such a neato place rules. I literally heard about 1 minute total of boat noise on the water, and that was about a mile away. The other thing I was extremely thankful for, was that my car started back up, cuz the battery was on its last throws. (It actually died the very next day).
Here is a video of the day: