Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Lupines and Aspens, FR 610

Monsoon season in Arizona can be a photographer’s dream with clouds and thunderstorms and this year we started early, skipping the dry heat we talk so much about.  June was wet, too.  The other side of that coin is the humidity, with dew points in the upper 60s, mosquitoes, and no evaporation to speak of.  Seriously, why sweat if it doesn’t cool you?

The remedy, when my attitude reaches its limit, is altitude.  Last weekend I cobbled together a road trip, partly with friends and sometimes alone.

I met Greg at the V Bar V Heritage site on Friday.  It was his idea and it was a good one.  I don’t know how many times I’ve driven by this place; it was certainly worth a stop, with more than 1,000 Sinagua petroglyphs.  The image above depicts a solar planting calendar.  The rocks were modified to cast a specific beam of light on the wall (which we were fortunate to witness; it lasts just a few minutes each day.)  The light’s intersection with the zig-zag line at lower left is thought have guided the Sinagua about when to plant.

Last Light on the Grand Falls
Then we bounced (literally) along dirt roads to the Grand Falls of the Little Colorado River.  This 185-foot cascade is on Navajo Nation land. Flows fluctuate a great deal, sometimes to nothing (this is an intermediate flow) but the water is always brown. It is sometimes called chocolate falls or mud falls.  I’d seen the falls several times from the air, but this was my first view from the ground.

One of my favorite things about Arizona forests is that there are lots of places to “dispersed camp,” which is essentially pulling off the road (in places that have already been disturbed) and making camp.  I appreciated this and my Four Wheel Camper as is was good and dark by the time I found a spot that night.

Saturday Morning I met Jeff on his way up from Tucson, and we caravanned to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We stopped at the backcountry permit office to learn about road conditions and make a plan.  We felt fortunate to get last-minute camping permits for two overlooks.

We were advised to take the “easy way” to Point Sublime, which was about 3 hours travel from the office.  Now, I know the rangers know all about this, but we met a young couple in a rented minivan who went the “hard way” and said it was quite straightforward.  Oh well, we saw some lovely country and splashed in innumerable mud holes, one of Jeff’s favorite things.
Sunrise, Point Sublime.  The Colorado River is visible at the center.
Point Sublime was, indeed, sublime.  The river was visible and the sunset sky was impressive.  We even had a pit toilet and picnic bench.

We retraced our steps partially and ended up at Fire Point.  The wildflower (especially lupine) bloom is impressive this year and I had almost as much fun in the forest as at the spectacular viewpoint.

Lupines in the Forest, near FR 223
Monday morning Jeff had to hit the road back to Tucson and I reverted to my disorganized, somewhat spontaneous travel rhythm, puttering around in the forest and changing my mind repeatedly about the day’s destination.

Clearing Storm Near Saddle Mountain, Grand Canyon
I ended up at the Saddle Mountain Trail head, hiking, watching the light, and shooting some old favorite spots along the road which were also resplendent with flowers.  The sunset sky cooperated as a thunderstorm cleared.  I was a happy camper indeed, even though the weather when I got back to the desert was still abysmal.

Thanks for taking this little journey with me.  More images from this road trip are in the summer 2015 Gallery on the website.

No comments:

Post a Comment