Monday, April 12, 2010

Grant Creek- Coronado National Forest, Arizona

I fished in Grant Creek for a couple of hours on the last day of our trip. This was the Grant Creek in the Pinaleno Mountains(Mount Graham) near Safford, not the Grant Creek that is a tributary to the Blue River( I've fished there as well).It's similar to Three Rivers Creek here in New Mexico in that it doesn't so much flow,as fall, from the great heights of a rain and snow capturing mountain. There's been plenty of snow this year,so it was flowing out into the flat desert scrub that surrounds these "sky island" ranges.There was still plenty of snowpack on the upper reaches, so I was fishing down in the junipers, oaks and bare sycamores around 4,500 to 5,000 feet elevation. I caught a couple of trout. One 8 or 9 incher that looked like an Apache/rainbow hybrid, and one heavy 14 or 15 incher that looked mostly like a rainbow. The water was high(inundating the lower few feet of the trees at some pools,)a bit murky, and very cold. Both fish were caught deep,but it would be blast to come back when the water was bit lower and try some dry fly fishing. The stream may be more popular than one would imagine given it's remote location. There's a minimum security prison along it's lower reaches with resident employees who appear to be fishing it from time to time.Plus, except for the last 1/2 mile to 2 miles or so on the rough forest road the approach to the lower stretch of the creek is all on paved roads,if you are coming out from Safford or from I-10.Looking upstream before leaving, at the staircase of waterfalls and deep pools that continued up the mountain, I wished there had been more time to really explore this place. Oh well,I guess there's always next year.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Four Mile Campground, Arizona

We stayed at the BLM Four Mile Campground near Klondyke, Arizona. A group of off road enthusiasts had set up a compound commandeering half the place with numerous trailers and vehicles. Things didn't look good. I don't know if there are limits for people and vehicles per campsite here,but situations like this are why limits end up being set at other campgrounds. I reluctantly paid our fee for this poorly laid out( the campsites are all crowded within 50 feet of each other), cattle accessible parcel of desert. As night fell, the compound turned into an outdoor night club with metal music and drunken shouts and guffaws that went on for hours. Why people feel comfortable behaving in such a manner out at a campground that would probably get them arrested in their own front yard is beyond me. Of course, we were in the middle of nowhere with the nearest law enforcement probably a good 30 miles away. Common courtesy and common sense should have been enough to prevent this kind of idiocy,but many people don't know what these are, that's why we have to have so many rules.Precisely the thing these types fight against their whole lives. Ah,well try to make sure you're far from the crowds,or at a campground with a host, on Friday night.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

We visited Chiricahua National Monument more than 10 years ago.We camped at the Pinery Campground in the National Forest nearby. The Bonita Campground at the Monument spaces being a little too closely packed for us. It was winter,but the weather was pleasant(although a little cold at the Pinery's 7'000' elevation). At the monument, we found out that our little dog was only allowed on the Faraway Ranch trail- the only trail that doesn't feature Chiricahua's well known rock formations(called "hoodoos" by some). We did the hike and the scenic drive to Massai Point,which were both nice enough, and then went on our way, a little disappointed. We finally returned over our recent spring break. This time we stayed at Bonita: it's still a litte too close for comfort,but we were worried the Pinery Campground was likely under snow. We did the Natural Bridge Trail the first day.It was good hike,but nothing really spectacular.The next day we did the the Big Loop starting from the visitor center and going counter clockwise( I highly recommend this direction). It's absolutely a classic hike of our National Park system. It's also very popular. Well,more correctly,sections of it are very popular-even on a Thursday in the usually very windy month of March.Other parts such as the first several miles on the Rhyolite and Sarah Deming trails were devoid of other hikers.You'll probably get tired of taking pictures before the scenery runs out. It's really that good. Your legs will probably get tired too as it's about 12 miles or so from start to finish. Slow down and enjoy. If time is limited,your best bet is the Echo Canyon Trail.