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Much of my blog (not really a blog) will relate to my love of travel with articles and pics. It will be an ongoing project.


On Saturday we headed north on Hwy 17 and in the Verde Valley turned east towards the Mongollon Rim area, the land that author Zane Grey loved so much that it became the background for some of the fictional westerns that he was famous for.  He lived in many locales but built a hunting lodge at the base of the rim near Payson.  As I love evergreen trees and rocky landscapes I understood his love for this area where nature abounds and civilization is sparse.
The temperature when we left Black Canyon City was 23 degrees C and as we drove east, steadily climbing to the top of the Rim, we watched the thermometer drop degree by degree to a cool 10 degrees C.   Cactuses that grow at 2,000 feet elevation were replaced with pine trees as far as the eye could see, dark green against a sapphire sky.  As we turned a corner we spotted many people tobogganing down a melting hill of snow.  Quite a contrast within a 60 minute drive!
The winding road led to the bottom of a valley and the temperature rose once again.  We passed through small hamlets called Strawberry and Pine and stopped at the Tonto Natural Bridge, the world’s largest travertine bridge that arches over Pine Creek’s clear waters.  Travertine is calcium carbonate deposited by underground springs and the bridge was a sight to behold.  It is 150 feet wide, 183 feet high and 400 feet long.  We viewed it from many vantage points, and hiked a rugged trail that led to the bottom of the gorge.  Above our heads we could see interesting rock formations and stalacites formed over millions of years.  The Park Ranger warned people not to walk under the bridge in the event that a stalacite breaks off causing harm to anyone beneath.  Water seeping through the vegetation on this natural bridge cascaded to the rocks below creating a colourful rainbow in the sunlight.  We hiked from one end of the gorge to the other, clambering over rocks and giant boulders that rested in the bottom of the creek.  A catwalk built into the side of the gorge led to a waterfall that spilled gently onto lush, green ferns below. 

On Sunday we took a 7 kilometer hike in the Cave Creek Preserve, only 40 ks southeast of the campground.  (I say only because in Arizona, due to the mountain ranges and wilderness, much driving is usually required in order to visit various points of interest).  The first leg of this trail went straight up a mountain and we wondered if the entire trail would be so strenuous.  Fred has asthma and doesn’t handle climbing well but as it turns out the rest of the trail was mostly hilly but rugged as it curved around the base of the mountains in a loop back to the parking lot.  The trail is for hikers, mountain bikers (though I can’t imagine riding a bike on this terrain) and horses.  Every so often a few bales of hay could be seen alongside the trail.  Since nearby ranches offer horseback rides along the trail we assumed it was the ranchers that had dropped off the bales.  The hike took 2 ½ hours and we were grateful that the sky was mostly cloudy as temps were about 23 C without the searing sun. 

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