A couple of weekends ago Jeff and I went camping and exploring. We started out in Scottsdale, AZ and headed east along the Apache Trail which goes through the beautiful Superstition mountains, past 2 lakes made from damming the Salt River, and by the privately owned tourist trap town of Tortilla Flats (where I watched a shoot out and got a Tortilla Flats pin- I collect pins). We cruised past most of these places to get to Tonto National Monument. TNM has 2 sets of cliff dwelling, one of which you have to have reservations and time to hike the 2 hours to them, and the second is a short half mile up to the cliff face were the ruins are built into an alcove. Along the trail we spotted a diamond back, after we heard his rattle. We stood and watched the big guy for 10 minutes as he slowly meandered around some rocks and shrubs. No one that passed us noticed him even though he was only a few feet off the trail. Its important to be observant in rattlesnake country, even on well traveled trails. After he hid himself under a bush we climbed up to the ruins which used to be much more of a site before years of people trampled them. They are never-the-less impressive with a great few of the surrounding desert. I always love cliff dwellings, seems like a neat place to live.
After we got back to the car and got around Lake Roosevelt we got serious about finding a camping spot for the night. Heading north on Highway 288 we climbed in elevation from saguaros to pine trees and snow. I saw a waterfall marked on our map so we decided to head off on a forest service road to find a campsite near it. We made it to a campground that was in the process of being cleared of down trees leaving quite a mess behind so it was difficult finding a spot to park for the night, but we squeezed past the logs and got to a nice enough spot by Workman creek. To work up an appetite we took a walk up the road to find the waterfall. A fifteen minute walk up a closed road led us to a beautiful, tall water fall, a rarity in this state. We found a closed uranium mine on our way back to camp...I might have gotten slight radiation :/ We got back to camp and I made delicious burritos for dinner, we watched a movie, and I slept like a baby.
The next morning we did some more exploring/hiking around the area then headed back out and started north again. We past through the small and spread out town of Young, known for a historical feud between 2 local families. Didn't stop, just drove on through headed to a cave I saw on the map. (We often see things on maps and set out to find them) A half a kilometer off a forest service road and bordering the Apache Reservation we found Redman cave. We like to see who can spot things first so I had the GPS out looking for the coordinates while Jeff was getting to look at the landscape. He won this one, but I'm the one who got us to the right area. The cave's opening is a small hole in the ground. We climbed down into the opening and headed along a passage way about 15 feet where a small slit in the wall takes you deeper into the cave. We explored all the off shoots all the way to a back wall where the cave goes in 2 directions. One way led to a small room then ended, the other went deeper underground where we had to stop our exploration. At this point you need ropes in order to be safe and Jeff makes me be safe. The cave is full of formations, although in there early stages, like stalactites, drapery, and popcorn. It was a beautiful little cave! I came back out into daylight covered in mud and happy as a clam. We looked around the area and found lots of openings going underground, none as good as the first, but we still crawled through them. One opening I wiggled through had big beautiful ice formations in the opening. It went into a room about 3 feet high and 10 feet across and out another hole. After we felt like the area had been sufficiently explored we headed back to the car for our final stretch of driving before arriving back in Payson for work the next day. It was a lovely weekend full of exactly what I love to do most.