After somewhat ruefully leaving the arch canyon,but hoping to return one day using the big side canyon on the west as my point of entry next time, I set out towards the canyon just to the east of the Vista Village parking area. It seemed like the biggest of the the five I had decided had the most potential. So I trudged on, crossing the back over the two canyons I had ignored earlier, and once again they failed to catch my interest, for better or worse. When I come out again, I'll give them a shot. I made it back to my original mesa, and found a way down into the canyon on the east, unfortunately, we hadn't made it very far when we were blocked from descending any further by another waterfall. What I didn't know at the time was that I was actually in a side drainage of the bigger canyon- which will work out to be a good thing later.
For now, though, it was back up on top looking for a way down that would bypass the waterfall. I did a very long, slow walk down a hill of gravel and bare rock only to be cliffed out. A few other even more sketchy alternatives presented themselves to me, but luckily I had the presence of mind to just say no. At one point, I was at a mental crossroads: to either climb further up the mountain and approach this canyon from the head, or go back to the car and find way a way to walk up from where they go under the highway. So we sat down and ate lunch sitting in the pale dry grass under the shade of a juniper. Now, no longer in the heat of the moment, the not going uphill option won out for obvious reasons.
Back at the car we drove the short distance to a canyon further east just before the turn-off to Mesa Campground. We only walked upstream a short ways in that one before being blocked by a twenty five foot waterfall. It was easy enough to climb around, but up on top the canyon didn't seem all that appealing .
After that we drove back a little further west to the very next canyon. This one had large Arizona Cypresses, and ponderosa pines in the bottom, so at least it was shady. Shortly in,we went up a side canyon on the west, that seemed promising as it closed in quickly, and then I realized as I came to a waterfall, I was at the spot where I had been stopped about an hour before. Now, I backtracked to the main canyon and stomped along in the boulders and sand until finally coming upon bedrock and the water flowing in it. This was nice little canyon, with twists and turns and pools of clear water. The going was pretty easy, with a few climbs through narrow passages. One falls above a foot deep pool looked a little daunting, until I noticed a perfect foot hold about half-way up which made it easy as could be. It was a happy little jaunt compared to the walkabout on the hot uplands. The rough walls of conglomerate were never more 40 or so feet high and not particularly tight, so if it was slot, it was minor one. Nevertheless, it was a satisfying way to end the day after the several doses of frustration we had given earlier.