Prescott‘s Mail Trail
West Clear Creek Magic
Conquer Fear at an Outdoors Camp for Women
A U G U S T 2 0 0 7
Land of Cochise
contents august 2007
Need some help when it comes to Arizona
history? Allow it to repeat itself this month
with some of the top-rated trips in our “10
Great History Trips Guide.” Go online for this
and more at www.arizonahighways.com.
HUMOR Our writer explores his own personal
history as he recalls his first father-and-son chat.
WEEKEND GETAWAY Explore some real "hot
spots" in Tombstone and the Dragoon Mountains.
EXPERIENCE ARIZONA Plan your Arizona
getaway with our events calendar.
Photographic Prints Available
n Prints of some photographs are available
for purchase, as designated in captions. To
order, call toll-free (866) 962-1191 or visit
2 DEAR EDITOR
3 EDITOR'S LETTER
Photo ops in your own back yard.
5 TAKING THE OFF-RAMP
Arizona oddities, attractions and pleasures.
42 ALONG THE WAY
Life lessons at the edge of a yip.
44 HIKE OF THE MONTH
Easy Veit Springs Trail leads to a San
Francisco Peaks fall color showcase.
46 BACK ROAD ADVENTURE
Hannagan Meadow to Black River
route offers relief and recollection.
WORTH THE WORK The West Clear Creek
Wilderness offers cool shade and secluded wildlife
viewing to hikers willing to swim or wade to its more
remote reaches. See story, page 22. steve bruno
FRONT COVER Monsoon clouds billow over blooming
soaptree yuccas framing craggy buttes in the Dragoon
Mountains. See story, page 8. randy prentice
n To order a print, see information on this page.
BACK COVER Like a dewy jewel, a lone harebell
in Hannagan Meadow presents a study in
simplicity. See story, page 46. edward mccain
n To order a print, see information on this page.
8 Chasing Cochise
History lingers among the rocks in the search for the
Dragoon Mountains campsites of the great Apache chief.
by peter aleshire photographs by randy prentice
16 Why Are They
Trying to Kill Me?
Writer rides Prescott's historic Mail Trail.
by roger naylor photographs by
don b. and ryan b. stevenson
22 Wet Wizard
Water makes magic in West Clear Creek.
by steve bruno
32 ‘Profitless’ Splendor
Lt. Ives' epic journey upriver to the Grand Canyon
yielded stirring adventure and a foolish prediction.
by gregory mcnamee
36 Troubadours of Summer
Cicadas inspire myths and mischief.
by carrie m. miner photographs by marty cordano
38 Learning to Lean Back
Outdoors woman camp in the Bradshaw
Mountains reveals the benefits of fear.
by lori k. baker photographs by richard maack
For more letters, see arizonahighways.com online (click on “Dear Editor”).
2 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 3
editor’s letter by Robert Stieve
Arizona Highways magazine has inspired an
independent weekly television series, hosted by
former Phoenix TV news anchor Robin Sewell.
For channels and show times, log on to
arizonahighways.com; click on “DISCOVER
ARIZONA”; then click on the “Arizona Highways
goes to television!” link on the right-hand side.
highways on tv
Produced in the USA
Arizona Highways® (ISSN 0004-1521) is published monthly by the
Arizona Department of Transportation. Subscription price: $24 a
year in the U.S., $44 outside the U.S. Single copy: $3.99 U.S. Send
and change of address information
to Arizona Highways,
2039 W. Lewis Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85009. Peri-odical
postage paid at Phoenix, AZ and at additional mailing office.
CANADA POST INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATIONS MAIL PROD-UCT
DISTRIBUTION) SALES AGREEMENT NO.
41220511. SEND RETURNS TO QUEBECOR WORLD, P.O. BOX 875,
WINDSOR, ON N9A 6P2. POSTMASTER:
Send address changes to
2039 W. Lewis Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85009. Copyright
© 2007 by the Arizona
Department of Transportation.
in whole or in part without
permission is prohibited. The
magazine does not accept and is not responsible for unsolicited
now I know how Katie Couric must
have felt. Regardless of where she’d
been or what she’d accomplished in her
career, there was no way she could have
anticipated the magnitude of sitting in a
seat once occupied by Walter Cronkite.
She might have imagined, but she
couldn’t have known. I can relate. I’m
not Katie Couric, and I’m certainly not Walter Cronkite, but
Arizona Highways is the state’s equivalent of the CBS Evening
News, and as I take my seat in the editor’s chair, I’m in awe of
what came before me.
Even my desk is impressive. On eBay, it wouldn’t fetch
much — maybe as much as a vintage Farrah Fawcett
poster — but from a historical perspective, it’s the magazine’s
version of the Round Table. At least I think it is. So far, no
one has been able to confirm it, but I’ve been told my desk is
the same desk that was used by Raymond Carlson. Yes, that
Raymond Carlson. For those of you who don’t remember or
weren’t around, Mr. Carlson is regarded as the editorial
godfather of Arizona Highways. He edited the magazine from
1938 to 1972, and during that time, he transformed it from a
bland collection of black-and-white pages into the spectacular,
award-winning publication you see today.
Of course, he had some help along the way. Photographers
named Ansel Adams, Josef Muench and Barry Goldwater
showcased their work on the pages
of Arizona Highways. Likewise, the
magazine featured some of the best
writers in the Southwest. The same
is true today. Gifted photographers
like Jack Dykinga and Gary Ladd, and
superb writers like Chuck Bowden are
frequent contributors. Their work, and
the excellent work of dozens of others,
helps make this magazine the best and
most respected magazine in the state and
Whether you’re looking for a fly-fishing hole in the White
Mountains, a dose of Old West history or a sunset stroll
through the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona Highways is the place
to turn. It’s been that way for more than 80 years, and this
month, the tradition continues. As always, we feature a photo
portfolio that’ll take your breath away. This time, it’s West
Clear Creek, which, according to photographer Steve Bruno,
is “nature’s version of the Emerald City.” As you’ll see, he’s
right. His photos are going to make you want to test the water,
and even though West Clear Creek isn’t easy to get to, it’s an
adventure that’s well worth the effort.
Adventure can also be found in places like the Bradshaw
Mountains. That’s where writer Lori K. Baker headed when
she wanted to jump off a cliff. No, it’s not what you think. Lori
was one of several women who signed up for a weekend camp
to learn the nerve-wracking skill of rappelling. There are more
than 80 of these camps held around the country every year,
and each one focuses on teaching women how to survive in the
Lori’s rappelling lesson took place at Friendly Pines Camp
just outside of Prescott, and as she writes in “Learning to Lean
Back,” “Rappelling is the ultimate metaphor — a complete
education on trust, self-confidence and taking the plunge.”
Needless to say, Lori lives to tell her story, and so do all of
our other writers, who write about everything from a historic
military expedition to the Grand Canyon to a scenic drive
through Hannagan Meadow. Like every issue of Arizona
Highways, this one is filled with stories that are enjoyable
and informative, credible and reliable. In the words of Walter
Cronkite, that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it’ll always be.
— Robert Stieve
Sky Island Brilliance
I am both thankful for and amazed by the
brilliant pictures and inspiring writing
in “Wild Eden” (May 2007). I hiked
up to Atascosa Lookout in November
2006, and I knew right away that the
Tumacacori Highlands are a special place.
Jack Dykinga’s photos captured the natural
beauty I trust Congress will act to preserve.
I look forward to bringing my family
to walk that wild ground and see that
amazing place. For my friends who wink
and nod at my tales of the splendor of
southern Arizona, I now have “Wild Eden”
Mike Jarrell, Newark, DE
We agree. Douglas Kreutz’s story and Dykinga’s
photographs made one of our best packages of the
We have a new subscription to Arizona
Highways magazine and would like
to know how we can obtain a digital
subscription as we do have a computer.
Mr. and Mrs. Benhamou Albert, Périgny, France
You can subscribe to our digital edition by going to
our Web site at arizonahighways.com and clicking on
“Digital Edition.” It’s an awesome new technology.
Back to Greenlee County
I grew up in Morenci, and have the
February 1967 issue of Arizona Highways,
which is devoted to Greenlee County. I
assume that subsequent issues have dealt
with the changes in this fascinating area
since then (including the death and rebirth
of Morenci). If so, is it possible to secure
back issues that deal with the county?
Joseph H. Fairbanks Jr., Los Angeles
Funny you should ask. The team of Kreutz and
Dykinga (mentioned above) collaborated in the
June 2005 issue to produce “Greenlee County, High
Frontier.” Back issues may be obtained online at
arizonahighways.com (click on “Subscriptions,” then
“Back Issues”), or by calling customer service toll-free at
(800) 543-5432; in Phoenix or from outside the U.S.,
call (602) 712-2000.
Although it’s not easy to get
to, West Clear Creek is well
worth the effort. To see more
of “nature’s version of the
Emerald City,” turn to page 22.
The Beauty of Language
I was introduced to the beautiful pictures in Arizona
Highways in 1953 and have been a subscriber for many
years. Although I always enjoy your magazine and read it
from cover to cover, I do not always have the luxury of
reading it when it arrives. Things in my life have a way of
getting a wee bit out of hand, and I often get a wee bit
behind in my reading. So it is that in May 2007, I am having
the pleasure of reading the May 2006 issue! What a treat!
I just finished your All Who Wander column, “My
Goofball Dog and Me.” One of my greatest pleasures is
seeing or hearing the English language used well. I cannot
tell you how much I enjoy your use of the language. You
seem to choose the perfect words: for example, “his spring-loaded legs,” “with the joy
of a heartbeat” and “run free, all stretch and leap and nose and tail.” One can see him
running with such a stride!
Then there is “a coyote chorus is a primal yip into the sublime and crazed
subconscious of the wild, which invariably triggers a psychedelic flashback in my
reptilian brain.” How delicious!
Then, most beautiful of all, “the brilliant orange sliver of the sun breaks through the
Earth at the horizon, immolating the clouds.” What a picture!
As a former teacher of English, I often cringe at the use (misuse) of our beautiful
language, but I rejoice in the proper display of its inherent beauty when used deftly and
with precision to paint word pictures.
Thank you so much for the joy you have brought to one poor old teacher’s heart. I
look forward to catching up with the rest of my Arizona Highways magazines with
particular anticipation of perusing the articles written by you.
I can hardly wait.
Theresa Mahoney, Brookhaven, PA
Thanks for your kind words for our former editor, Peter Aleshire, who left the magazine earlier this summer and
returned to what he loves most — writing. He knows how to put words together in a unique way. You’ll see
more of his stories in future issues.
AUGUST 2007 VOL. 83, NO. 8
Publisher WIN HOLDEN
Editor ROBERT STIEVE
Senior Editor RANDY SUMMERLIN
Managing Editor SALLY BENFORD
Book Division Editor BOB ALBANO
Books Associate Editor EVELYN HOWELL
Special Projects Editor JoBETH JAMISON
Editorial Administrator NIKKI KIMBEL
Editorial Assistant PAULY HELLER
Director of Photography PETER ENSENBERGER
Photography Editor JEFF KIDA
Art Director BARBARA GLYNN DENNEY
Deputy Art Director SONDA ANDERSSON PAPPAN
Art Assistant DIANA BENZEL-RICE
Map Designer KEVIN KIBSEY
Production Director MICHAEL BIANCHI
Promotions Art Director RONDA JOHNSON
Webmaster VICKY SNOW
Director of Sales & Marketing KELLY MERO
Circulation Director HOLLY CARNAHAN
Finance Director BOB ALLEN
Information Technology CINDY BORMANIS
Inquiries or orders Toll-free: (800) 543-5432
Phoenix area or outside the U.S. (602) 712-2000
Or visit arizonahighways.com
For Corporate or Trade Sales Dolores Field (602) 712-2045
Letters to the Editor email@example.com
2039 W. Lewis Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85009
Director, Department of Transportation
VICTOR M. MENDEZ
ARIZONA TRANSPORTATION BOARD
Chairman Joe Lane
Vice Chairman S.L. Schorr
Members Delbert Householder, Robert M. Montoya,
Felipe Andres Zubia, William J. Feldmeier,
Barbara Ann “Bobbie” Lundstrom
International Regional Magazine Association
2005, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000 Magazine of the Year
Western Publications Association
2006, 2004, 2002, 2001 Best Travel & In-transit Magazine
Society of American Travel Writers Foundation
2000, 1997 Gold Awards Best Monthly Travel Magazine
4 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 5
by Peter Ensenberger, director of photography, firstname.lastname@example.org viewfinder
hoop it up
arizona oddities, attractions and pleasures
exploring exotic cities and pristine
wilderness is part of the allure of being
a travel and nature photographer. We
spend the bulk of our careers traveling
and working in faraway places, building
stock files that reflect a worldly vision and
hoping our work will, in some small way,
influence larger issues. But the appetite for
global images leads some photographers to
neglect their own back yards.
When Arizona Highways needs stock photos to illustrate a
story, my search starts with calls to photographers who live
near the story’s location. Using the simple logic that those
residing close to the subject must have good coverage, I contact
them first. Too often the response is sheepish: “I’ve been
meaning to add that to my stock files for years, but I never got
around to it.”
Others, who consider anything within 100 miles of
their homes as their back yards, know well the lay of the
surrounding land. I happen to be one of them. My favorite
“backyard” locations can be quickly and easily accessed, and I
visit them often. The Superstition Mountains, Salt River, South
Mountain Park, even the little tree-lined park down the street
from my home. As a result, these places are well represented in
my stock files right next to my files on Japan, Scotland and Italy.
With a local approach to photography, it pays to do a little
reconnaissance. Know the fastest routes to familiar places
when dramatic skies or fiery sunsets suddenly appear. Living
in the city makes it difficult to take advantage of these fleeting
moments. Rooftops and power lines ruin a great skyscape
every time, so knowing where to find interesting foregrounds
in a hurry — parks, forests and lakes — will help you capture
saleable images on short notice.
Taking this backyard logic a step further, another world
awaits literally just outside your door. With a little bit of
planning and a small amount of landscaping, a natural
environment can be cultivated in an urban setting that
serves as an outdoor “studio” for
photographing wildlife, flowers
Planning a backyard landscape
for nature photography requires
some research. Find out which
plants and trees will attract birds
and animals, and know when
they blossom and bear fruit. By
choosing a variety of timely
bloomers, a profusion of color is
always in season. Plants native to your region will attract local
wildlife that looks naturally at home when photographed in
I designed the layout of my own back yard with a
photographic strategy in mind. By selecting native desert
plants and trees, I created a microcosm of the Sonoran Desert
that surrounds my home. The cool, shady canopy of mesquite,
palo brea and ironwood trees dominates my yard, creating
a riparian area around my house. A small water fountain
completes the effect. The lilting melody of flowing water
among the trees, shrubs and cacti invites migratory and local
birds into my minioasis, and the blooms attract hummingbirds
Right outside your door or just beyond the city limits, get
to know your “back yard.” Your photography may not help
preserve tropical rainforests or solve global warming, but it
could pay off in strong nature images that aid a photo editor’s
stock search. No one needs to know that your journey to
capture them didn’t take you to the ends of the Earth.
What, No Siren? No Flashing Lights?
believe it or not, this contraption, known as a mule litter, was a
prefabricated, government-issued conveyance copied from the French
cacolet during the Civil War for transporting wounded soldiers from
the battlefield. If you think it looks impractical and ungainly, well, it
was. But the surgeon general’s office purchased hundreds of them
and Assistant Surgeon Edgar Mearns, a post physician at Fort Verde
from 1884 to 1888, documented the elevated stretcher’s use (at least
once). Though a vast improvement over a bone-jarring trip in a travois
(a sling between two poles dragged behind a horse), the mule litter
required specially trained mules and was no joy ride, and definitely not
for the acrophobic.
No thanks. I’ll walk to the hospital.
Find expert photography advice and information at arizonahighways.com
(click on “Photography”).
BRING IT ON HOME A variety
of bountiful bloomers attracts
wildlife and provides colorful
subjects for nature
photography in all seasons.
Claret cup hedgehog cacti (top),
vinca (above, right) and
verbena (above, left) are just a
few of the vibrant attractors in
my backyard “studio.”
of photo ops,
right in your own
COURTESY OF CAMP VERDE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Belting Out the Blues in Flagstaff
delta blues in dryland arizona? Though that might sound
like an oxymoron to some, it’s here and it’s the real thing. It
comes in the person of Tommy Dukes and his Blues Band. Dukes,
a member of the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, has been wailing
the blues on his guitar for more than 40 years.
Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Tommy sang gospel, went
to local “juke joints” and listened to blues on the radio. The
experiences of his youth, especially hearing blues legend Jimmy
Reed on the radio, put Tommy on his way.
At age 10, he moved to the little town of Winslow by the
Santa Fe Railroad tracks, where he still lives. He taught himself to
play on his brother’s acoustic “box” guitar. By the ripe age of 14,
says Tommy, laughing, “I was playing Jimmy Reed. I had it down
to a ‘T.’”
For a few years, he played bass guitar in clubs in Pinetop and
McNary, then headed for the big time in Phoenix. By then, he
was playing lead guitar. “I bought me a Silvertone, an electric
guitar, then another one from the Sears catalog.”
Now Tommy’s favorite guitar is a Fender “Strat.” What he
plays depends on where he’s performing, and it’s not always
straight blues. Some soul, some R&B — “I like to mix it up,” says
Tommy. But it’s the blues that move him. “I just love the blues . . .
it’s like a part of me. I couldn’t change if I wanted to.”
Tommy plays regularly in Flagstaff at the Hotel Weatherford
and San Felipes Cantina.
residents of the town of moccasin in Mohave County on the Arizona
Strip have to drive 360 miles and travel into three states just to reach the
county seat in Kingman. State Route 389 heads from Moccasin north into
Utah, then over into Nevada. From there, the most direct route crosses
back into Arizona at Hoover Dam and then travels southeast a hundred
miles to Kingman. As the crow flies, it’s only about 140 miles, but the
crow takes the scenic route over the Grand Canyon.
—Marshall Trimble, Arizona State Historian
These Boots are Made
his handmade boots are almost too fine for
walking, but have appeared on well-heeled
celebrities like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings,
Clint Eastwood, Ralph Lauren and Paul
Newman. Legendary bootmaker Paul Bond, 91,
has been creating handmade leather cowboy
boots for almost six decades. Still involved in
design, Bond says the most important point in
fine bootmaking is “fit, fit and fit.”
Paul Bond boots are made from exotic
leathers like tanned ostrich, kangaroo and
alligator skins. Custom craftsmanship means
hand-stitched trim and multiple choices of
heels and toes. The Paul Bond brand is sold
worldwide with prices ranging from $459 to
Still riding at the head of the herd, the
15,000-square-foot Paul Bond Boot Co. factory
and retail barn houses a large selection of
custom boots at 915 W. Paul Bond Drive, just
off Interstate 19 in Nogales.
Information: (520) 281-0512;
6 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 7
(ABOVE) ISTOCK; (BELOW) PAUL BOND BOOT CO. THIS PAGE CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: LINDA LONGMIRE; COURTESY OF TOMMY DUKES; PETER ENSENBERGER
Saguaros’ Desert Reign
arizona’s giant saguaro cactus reaches an average height of 50 feet
and a weight of 10 tons. That’s a lot of cactus no matter how you measure
it. Yet, when you realize that this desert wonder begins life as a seed
the size of a pinhead so fragile that it needs a nurse tree to shield it from
harsh desert elements, it’s almost heartwarming. But wait. Before you get
all tender-hearted about the struggling little saguaro seedling, consider
scientists’ suspicions about the fate of all those sheltering nannies. As
time marches on and the cactus seedling grows by inches over decades,
it eventually kills the tree that shelters it by robbing the surrounding soil
of water and nutrients, thereby clearing the way for its own slow march
skyward. A full-grown saguaro has another characteristic that many other
plants can’t claim—after soaking up the moisture from a good desert rain,
saguaros can survive more than a year without another drop of water.
—Carrie M. Miner
during old west
cattle drives, the heart
of a cowboy’s home
on the range was the
would rise long before
daybreak and make
coffee, fry bacon and stir
up sourdough biscuits for
the Dutch oven. As soon
as breakfast was over,
the wagon chef rode
ahead of the rest of the
outfit, making sure there
was a hot meal waiting
when they arrived at the
next camp. The cook
had a lot of responsibility
and commanded respect.
knew how important
it was to keep Cookie
in good humor, they
followed these rules of
8 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 9
By Peter Aleshire Photographs by Randy Prentice
Dawn creeps over the rugged
granite spires of Cochise Stronghold
in southeastern Arizona’s Dragoon
Mountains. The mountain range’s
chasms provided the perfect hiding
spots for Cochise and his people.
n To order a print of this photograph,
see inside front cover.
10 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 11
I busy myself for my hike through the heart of the Dragoon Mountains to the place where
the United States yielded, finally, to this old man with a fierce power and a wary will. I
feel Cochise hovering, as he must have felt the spirits that inhabited every crook of the
stream and odd scatter of rocks.
The stream coming down off the 7,500-foot-high peaks of the Dragoons runs lightly
through Cochise Stronghold, the beautiful Forest Service campground on the east side of
the mountains where Cochise also sometimes camped. Many of the springs and streams
that sustained Cochise and his Chiricahua Apaches have turned to ghosts in the past
century due to ecological changes and a decade of drought. I am reminded of an Apache
story, recounted in Myths and Tales of the Chiricahua Apache Indians by Morris Edward
Opler, about the end of the world:
The old people used to tell us that when the end of the Earth is coming, all the water
will begin to dry up. For a long time there will be no rain. There will be only a few places,
about three places, where there will be springs. At those three places the water will be
dammed up and all the people will come in to those places and start fighting over the
water. They said that in this way most of the people will kill each other off. Maybe there
will be a few good people left. When the new world comes after that the white people will
be Indians and the Indians will be white people.
I stand in the place Cochise loved best, the Dragoon Mountains, with its extrava-gance
of limestone and granite. The limestone was laid down on a sea bottom just as the
dinosaurs got going and granite was forged 75 million years ago, before the mammals
displaced the dinosaurs. The peaks of the Dragoons rear up above the scrubby brushland
and high desert on either side. The Sulphur Springs Valley lies to the east, between the
Dragoon and Chiricahua mountain ranges. The San Pedro River meanders to the west.
This north-south striping of towering mountains separated by low grasslands all arose
from the same stretching and lifting of the Earth’s crust that created the Sea of Cortes,
the San Andreas Fault and much of the topography of the western United States.
In the case of the Dragoons, the lifting created an ecological storehouse for the hunter-gatherer
Apache people. The Apaches moved with the seasons around these mountain
ranges, which rise from a sea of desert. This terrain has blessed southeast Arizona with
a great diversity of plants and animals.
The Dragoons also provided a ready-made fortress. From its high places, Apache
rise with the purple-pink dawn, brisk
among the oaks and sycamores that once
sheltered and shaded the Apache leader
Cochise, in the long years of his doomed
war against the end of the world.
An Arizona white oak
tree stretches over a
streambed lined with
massive granite boulders
at the eastern end of
n To order a print of this
photograph, see inside
12 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 13
sentries could spot approaching wagons or soldiers from 50
miles away in any direction. When pursued, they could move
along the north-south mountain chains into Mexico.
Today, I will hike 7 miles through the heart of that history,
starting from Cochise Stronghold at 5,000 feet on the east side
of the range, up and over a 5,900-foot saddle between peaks that
rise to more than 7,000 feet, then on switchbacks down to the
west side of the range to where Cochise negotiated his decade-long
war that cost thousands of lives.
The trail rises steadily through an extrusion of granite that
glimmers with quartz and mica crystallized deep beneath the
earth’s surface. Granite erodes and chips and resists and rears up,
at once malleable and indestructible, ancient and fresh-minted.
In the Dragoons, granite runs riot — taking strange, soothing,
ominous shapes, inspiring myths. The Apaches believe a spirit
runs through all things, especially rocks. Cochise said that as
the warriors he led dwindled from 1,000 to 100, it sometimes
seemed these rocks were his only friends. As I toil years later
on up the steepening trail through this profusion of boulders, I
attempt to feel their animate spirits.
The trail levels out in a riotous wonderland of tumbled boul-ders
in the broad pass between two high points. Seeing the
peaks rising to each side reminds me of the story from Keith H.
Basso’s wonderful book, Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and
Language Among the Western Apache, which tells the stories
the White Mountain Apaches attached to every small feature of
their landscape. The story that went with Gizhyaa’itine (“Trail
Goes Down Between Two Hills”) said that two beautiful sisters
saw the lustful, powerful and foolish Old Man Owl coming up
that trail and decided to play a trick on him. The girls each went
to the top of a different hill. When Old Man Owl was just
between them, one sister stood on her hill and called out
ardently to Owl. Excited, he ran up the hill toward her. But
when he was halfway up that hill, she disappeared and her sister
stood up on top of the hill across the way. She called out to him
in her most seductive way, so the foolish old man turned and
ran back toward her. But when he was halfway up the other side,
the other sister reappeared on her hill and called out to him. So
the old man without wisdom ran back and forth, back and forth,
four times — the sacred number. Seeing he was exhausted, the
beautiful young girls went on their way, laughing.
I pause to catch my breath on the high saddle. I can imagine
Cochise all around in the rocks that sheltered him so faithfully.
EAST MEETS WEST A sign marks the division between the East and
West Strongholds along the Cochise Trail (above) in the Dragoon Mountains.
GRINDING GRANITE Water pools in the ancient grinding holes (above,
left) that litter the boulders at Council Rocks in the western end of the
Stronghold, near the spot where Cochise brokered peace with Gen. Oliver
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
CATCHING A DRINK Long-leaf morning glory (left) flourishes in the
cracked granite rocks after a summer monsoon storm.
The Apaches believe a spirit runs through
all things, especially rocks.
14 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 15
This very pass provided an easy way for war parties to move
through the mountains. The soldiers chasing Cochise made the
mistake of pursuing him into the rocks just a few times before
they learned their bloody and arduous lesson. After that, the
soldiers usually gave up the chase when the warriors reached
I come finally to the crest of the saddle, which offers a sweep-ing
view of the San Pedro River Valley. Perhaps 40 miles out
on the valley floor, a vehicle trundles along a dirt road, raising
a tracery of dust. Cochise’s lookouts had no doubt stood in
this very spot and watched the dust raised by the Butterfield
Overland Stage as they planned their ambush.
I follow a steep trail on the west side of the range down the moun-tain,
rejoining a spring-fed creek that threads through the pastel
boulders Cochise knew by name. The Apaches believe you gain
wisdom only by sitting in those places and letting them smooth
your mind as the wind, rain and ice had smoothed even stone.
Down off the mountain, the trail winds along the front face
of the Dragoons. The pines of the saddle give way to sycamores
along the now-dry creek bed. The accounts of the soldiers who
hunted Cochise describe a vigorous stream, but now it is a
sandy ghost winding among giant trees that were sprouts when
Cochise made his peace. I recall the Apache tale of the end of
the world, when the few remaining whites and the Indians
would trade places.
Along the thread of a side trail I search for Council Rocks,
where Cochise made peace with the one-armed general and
Civil War hero, Oliver Otis Howard. Cochise stubbornly refused
Howard’s offer of a reservation in New Mexico with other bands,
unwilling to let go of the boulders of the Dragoons and the
“I am getting old and would like to live in peace from this
time on,” Cochise said. “But if the white man will not let me do
it, I will go away from here and fight again. . . . My people have
killed Americans and Mexicans and taken their property. Their
losses have been greater than mine. I have killed ten white men
for every Indian slain, but I know that the whites are many and
the Indians are few. So why shut me up on a reservation? We
will make peace. We will keep it faithful. But let us go around
free as Americans do.”
In the end, it was Howard who yielded — giving Cochise
the mountains he loved. That made Cochise the only Apache
Indian leader to win his war against the U.S. Army, although
the government took it all away again after Cochise died of
what might have been stomach cancer. Cochise was buried
with his horse, his dog and his rifle in some still-hidden place
in the Dragoon range.
I sit on Council Rocks at the end of my trek through myth
and history. Some of the rocks are marked by 1,000-year-old
petroglyphs, offerings from the people who came before the
Apaches. I gaze out on this still achingly empty space and
remember another story the Apache people tell about foolish
Coyote and clever Turkey:
Coyote saw Turkey in some pine trees. It was high up there
in a tree. We don’t know where he got the ax, but he got an ax,
and he began to chop on that tree. Just about the time the tree
started to fall, Turkey flew to another one. Coyote went to that
tree and tried to chop it down. He just kept doing that all day
long until he was tired out. He kept chopping and Turkey kept
flying to the next tree until Coyote was worn out.
Similarly, the soldiers grew tired of “chopping,” and let
Cochise have this one “tree” that he loved best.
Dusk gathers on the pink glitter of granite as I sit where
Cochise might have sat, pondering the strange ways of fate. At
first, I feel inexpressibly sad, wondering whether these rocks
feel the absence of the people who thought of them as living
things. But then I smile to remember the stories of foolish Old
Man Owl running from hill to hill, and Coyote with his ax
running from tree to tree.
As the rocks catch the lengthening light and hold it as it
turns from yellow to pink to red, I feel oddly comforted. We
frail humans must come and go — warriors, one-armed gen-erals
and weary writers — clinging to our little time. But the
rocks remain, still willing to impart wisdom to those who
linger to listen.
Peter Aleshire of Phoenix says the Dragoons and the Chiricahua Mountains
inspire him spiritually.
Photographer Randy Prentice of Tucson rates the Dragoon Mountains as one
of the most beautiful and interesting ranges in the state.
‘I am getting old and would like to live in peace
from this time on,’ Cochise said.
ROCK REFUGE Discovered in a shallow cave near Council Rocks,
grinding holes (above) offer a clue about the Mogollon culture that
inhabited this area 1,000 years ago.
DESERT REFUGE Early morning light casts shadows on the rock
formations that harbored the Chiricahua Apache Indians, when Cochise
ruled the tribe and the landscape.
n To order a print of this photograph, see inside front cover.
Experience more of Cochise country by clicking on our “Weekend
Getaway” or visit other historic sites with our “10 Great History Trips Guide”
Location: Cochise Stronghold is just west of Pearce/
Sunsites on the east side of the Dragoon Mountains in
the Coronado National Forest in southeast Arizona.
Getting There: From Tucson, drive east 70 miles on
Interstate 10 to State Route 191 at Exit 331. Drive south
on State 191 to Sunsites. From Sunsites, drive west on
Ironwood Road 9.1 miles to the campground entrance.
When inside the national forest, Ironwood Road
becomes Forest Service Road 84, a rough, rocky dirt road, requiring five
stream crossings. Cochise Stronghold West: A good, high-clearance road
comes off Middle March Road just outside of Tombstone and threads along
the west face of the Dragoon Mountains. It leads past Council Rocks and
ends at the trailhead leading back over the pass to Cochise Stronghold.
Travel Advisory: A high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended.
Wear good hiking shoes that you don’t mind getting wet.
Warning: Don’t cross the stream during heavy rains in the summer monsoon
Lodging: Campsites are available at Cochise Stronghold, (520) 388-8300;
www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/contact/contact.shtml. Nearby Tombstone
and Benson offer lodging at area guest ranches, hotels or bed and
Information: Benson Chamber of Commerce, (520) 586-2842;
www.bensonchamberaz.com; Tombstone Chamber of Commerce, toll free,
(888) 457-3929; www.tombstone.org.
Things to Do:
Tombstone Near Cochise Stronghold, Tombstone, “the town too tough to
die,” is alive and well thanks to its historic character.
Toll free, (888) 457-3929; www.cityoftombstone.com.
Holy Trinity Monastery After Tombstone’s wild and woolly Old West ways,
retreat to this monastery at St. David and enjoy the museum, art gallery,
conservatory and library run by Benedictine monks.
(520) 720-4016; www.personal.riverusers.com/~trinitylib.
Kartchner Caverns State Park A few miles to the southwest, this state park
offers tours of one of the world’s top 10 caves.
(520) 586-2283; www.pr.state.az.us/Parks/parkhtml/kartchner.html.
Additional Information: Coronado National Forest, Douglas Ranger District,
(520) 364-3468; www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado.
A chorus of car horns followed us as we clomped down Camp Verde’s
main drag in a slashing rain. I realize now the people honking were simply excited by
the blast-from-the-past sight of slicker-clad horseback riders moving through town. At
the time, I thought they were trying to kill me.
b y R o g e r N a y l o r • p h o t o g r a p h s b y D o n B . a nd R y a n B . S t e v e n s o n
We were navigating storm-slick pavement
perched atop 1,200-pound beasts apt to go
wall-eyed spooky at the drop of a Stetson, and
they honked? What’s next, firecrackers and
starter pistols? I desperately wanted to shush
them, but since the other riders just waved and
smiled, I kept my yap shut.
I was participating in a ceremonial ride to
celebrate the reopening of the historic Mail
Trail, stretching from Camp Verde to Payson.
Assorted officials, members of the Camp Verde
Cavalry, volunteers who worked on the trail
and plain old horse-loving folk formed our lit-tle
group. Everyone rode with an easy slouch,
like they had sprung from their mama’s womb,
spurs a-jingling. With one notable exception.
The only bronc I ever straddled pastured out
front of a department store. My dad shoveled
nickels into the coin slot and I clutched the
hard plastic mane as it rocked to and fro. Even
then, I struggled to stay in the saddle. Roy
Rogers, I’m not.
Before the ride, outfitter Scott Oshier gave
me a thorough tutorial and paired me with
Pisco, a sweet-natured buckskin. I mounted
up and promptly forgot all Oshier had said.
Through the speeches, Pisco pranced sideways
as I white-knuckled the reins and begged her
for the love of everything holy to stand still. I
realize now she wanted to move out with high-stepping
pride. At the time, I thought she
was trying to kill me.
16 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7
A horseback writer bumps along the historic Prescott Mail Trail
HANDLE WITH CARE An original leather mail pouch
holds letters specially designed and stamped for the
Camp Verde to Payson Mail Trail dedication.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 17
18 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7
In 1884, the small frontier community known as Union Park
received its first post office accompanied by a new name, Payson,
after U.S. Rep. Louis Payson of Chicago. This meant extending
mail service an additional 50-plus miles east from Camp Verde,
with drops along the way at Rutherford, Strawberry, Pine and
For the next 30 years, men on horseback carried the mail in
canvas sacks across their saddles, as well as medicine, dry goods
and whiskey, to these far-flung Arizona settlements, swimming
the Verde River, crossing numerous creeks and scrambling up and
down the long humped spine of the state, the Mogollon Rim.
Unlike the short-lived Pony Express, this was no team effort.
One man, spending up to 18 hours in the saddle, made the 104-
mile round-trip, three times a week. The first mail rider was Ash
Nebeker, who put the route together, from Camp Verde to Mud
Tanks Mesa across Fossil Creek Canyon and Strawberry Valley
into Pine, then along Sycamore Creek to Payson. The last was a
bandy-legged teenager named Tuffy Peach, who rode from 1910
to 1914, earning the whopping sum of a dollar a day.
Peach fudged his age so he could start toting the mail while
still 15. He set out at 2 a.m. from the general store, used for many
years as the Camp Verde post office. He changed horses twice
along the route and used pack mules for heavy or bulky loads,
like when the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogs arrived.
Peach also grumbled through each Easter season because so
many ladies ordered new bonnets, and the round boxes were
difficult to keep tied to the animals.
New roads, horse-drawn vehicles and, later, automobiles
horned in on the mail-delivery service. The trail fell into dis-repair
and eventually vanished. Then in 1998, horse rancher
Howard Parrish, a charter member of the Camp Verde Cavalry,
hatched a notion to rebuild the thing.
“I just felt like this was something I should go do. I knew three
of the mail riders real well,” said Parrish. “One was my wife’s
great uncle. He taught Marty Robbins to play the fiddle when
he was a kid growing up. F
TOUGH TRAVEL Tuffy Peach (above) was the last of 60 mail carriers to ride
the Mail Trail that ran for 30 years between 1884 and 1914. Peach delivered
the mail from 1910 to 1914, six days a week with the exception of Mondays,
which were reserved for tack repair.
courtesy of the verde valley historical society
TRAILING ALONG Mail Trail organizer Howard Parrish (right) stands on
the original trail near Camp Verde.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 19
“I wanted this trail to be someplace where people can see what
this country was like 100 years ago. They can ride across wide-open
spaces and camp under a pine tree. I’ve taken that sort of
thing for granted, but it doesn’t mean it will always be that way.
I knew building the trail was going to be hard work, but I didn’t
know it was going to be eight years of work.”
Fortunately, Parrish landed an ally at the Forest Service. Bill
Stafford, recreation staff officer for the Red Rock Ranger District,
already had an interest in the historic significance of the trail.
He instigated the lengthy proceedings, which included environ-mental
analysis and archaeological surveys. Wherever possible,
the trail follows the original route. Elsewhere, especially in the
Tonto National Forest, it overlaps existing trails and roads. A
trailhead, complete with expansive parking suitable for horse
trailers, was built, signs posted and rock cairns erected.
“The trail stretches through four life-zones with beautiful
vistas,” said Stafford. “There are places where you can see all
the way to the San Francisco Peaks and Bill Williams Mountain.
You can see down into wild canyons as the land falls away from
the Rim, and it just seems to go on forever.
“One afternoon I was in the Forest Service truck taking pic-tures
between Pine and Payson, and as the sun was setting, I’m
looking across this tremendous distance and I thought, How
could they do this? How could they travel this far in one day, just to
deliver the mail? This trail should be here just as a testament to
these incredible frontier people.”
Intrigued by this slice of Arizona history, I decided to par-ticipate
in the reopening of the Mail Trail on September 9, 2006.
Nobody said anything about rain, car horns or the fact that
horses sometimes become skittish with a novice in the saddle.
Somehow I survived, with a wet animal between my knees and
a soggy lump of terror caught in my throat, like I had bitten
into a waffle of doom. Fortunately, we only gestured at the rug-ged
length of the Mail Trail. We rode a couple of miles out of
town, then dismounted and loaded the horses into trailers. We
caravanned into Pine to dedicate a plaque at the site of the old
post office and, perhaps more importantly, visit a local watering
hole called Sidewinder’s.
After the festivities in Pine, we ended the day in Payson. The
final plaque dedication took place in a town park, which stands
ever-so-conveniently across the street from yet another tavern,
the Ox Bow Saloon. I was beginning to understand how these
wily cowpokes operated.
We didn’t show up in Payson empty-handed. Parrish and fellow
cavalryman Joe Butner had been sworn in by the Camp Verde post-master
and entrusted with a sack of specially chosen mail. All letters
were cradled in commemorative, hand-stamped envelopes, each
adorned with a photograph of Tuffy Peach. Following the speeches,
Butner and his horse clip-clopped up the street and handed over
the goods just like the mail riders of a bygone era did for their dollar-a-
day wage. Afterward, with everyone glad-handing and swapping
stories, I cleared my throat. Then again, louder. Yet no one reached
for a wallet.
Despite risking life and limb from the dizzying heights of
horseback, despite a successful mail delivery, nobody offered to
pay me my hard-earned dollar. Suddenly, the horses weren’t the
only ones sporting long faces.
I moseyed back to the Ox Bow. I may be ill at ease perched
atop a noble steed, but I’ve never yet been bucked off a barstool.
Fast-forward a couple of months to a heartbreakingly per-fect
November morning. A low slant of sun ignited the bunch
grasses in a shimmering sweep across Mud Tanks Mesa. A full
moon lingered, still, pale and haunting like ghost pie. Scott
Oshier and I rode toward the Rim.
Yes, rode. Even though I swore off the beasts following the
dedication, Oshier persuaded me to mount up again. It was
probably for the best since footing proved rocky and unreliable
along this section of the trail. Hiking it would be akin to walk-ing
on croquet balls.
We ambled under a hard-squint sky for the better part of the
morning. Oshier fielded several calls on his cell phone because
communication has tentacled into every cranny of our lives.
We’re a long way from the time a high-trotting, loud-singing
teenager daintily holding a hatbox provided the only link to the
outside world for entire communities.
Where the trail took a screamingly steep plunge off the mesa
into Fossil Creek Canyon, I voted to stop. By this point, Tuffy
Peach would have already swum the Verde River, crossed Clear
Creek, changed horses, eaten breakfast, watched the sun come
up and still have had nearly 40 miles of hard riding in front of
him. But for my desk chair-molded posterior, this small sample
On the return, Oshier described his plans to ride the entire 52-
mile trail. He would take two long days while camping one night
under the stars. “You’re welcome to come along,” he told me.
Instead, we compromised. He would ride the trail from Camp
Verde and as he neared Payson, would call me on his cell. I would
drive over. We’d meet at the saloon and maybe drop a Marty
Robbins tune in the jukebox. Then, with the sun lazy and warm on
the windows, he could describe it all, like a letter from the past.
Take an easier ride through the state — on a train. Visit
arizonahighways.com and click on our “Arizona Train Travel Guide.”
Location: Camp Verde, 89 miles north of Phoenix.
Getting There: From Phoenix, drive north 85 miles
on Interstate 17 to Exit 285 and State Route 260, also
known as the General Crook Highway. Follow State
260 4 miles to 564 Main St., where a historical plaque
listing all 60 mail carriers marks the beginning of
the trail outside Wingfield Plaza. To reach the first
trailhead on Mud Tanks Mesa, continue east on 260, heading out of
Camp Verde. Just past Milepost 239, turn right onto unpaved Forest
Service Road 9247B. The parking lot is immediately visible on the left.
Travel Advisory: The Mail Trail is a lengthy route, incorporating several
trails and roads, and can be accessed at many points. Contact the Forest
Service to find a section of trail suitable to your recreational needs. The
portion that received most of the restoration work stretches from Mud
Tanks Mesa through the Fossil Creek Wilderness area. From the trailhead
on FR 9247B, follow the rock cairns west for .7 of a mile before turning
south and continuing 5.3 miles to a signed junction with the existing
Mail Trail. This trail, part of the Forest Service trail system since 1990,
drops 1,200 feet in elevation in 2.3 miles where it crosses Fossil Creek.
The trail then meets Fossil Springs Trail, which climbs out of the canyon
and ends 2.5 miles later at a parking lot on Forest Service Road 708.
Lodging: Between Payson and Camp Verde, campsites are available
at the Upper Tonto Creek Campground, which offers access to
hiking trails and fishing along Tonto Creek; (928) 474-7900;
www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto/home.shtml. The historic towns of Pine and
SPECIAL DELIVERY Camp Verde resident Joe Butner and his horse Buddy
(top) proudly cart hand-stamped letters during the Mail Trail dedication.
MAIL CALL In the 1880s (above), horse riders collected the mail at Sutler’s
Store in Camp Verde around 2 a.m. for the 52-mile ride to Payson.
photo courtesy of the verde valley historical society
20 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 21 F
Strawberry also offer lodging. Rim Country Regional Chamber of
Commerce, (928) 474-4515; www.rimcountrychamber.com/.
Things To Do:
Montezuma Castle National Monument Five miles north of Camp
Verde lies Montezuma Castle, an ancient 20-room cliff dwelling. The
historic site tells the story of the Sinagua Indians, who built the pueblo
more than 1,000 years ago; (928) 567-3322; www.nps.gov/moca/.
Pine/Strawberry Museum Originally built as a dedication to the hardships
endured by Pine’s first settlers, the museum now displays domestic
artifacts found in the Strawberry and Pine area; (928) 476-3547;
Mogollon Rim Hike, bike or drive to the top of the Mogollon Rim for
scenic views that stretch all the way to Four Peaks in the Mazatzal
Mountains, northeast of Phoenix. Pick up a hiking trails map at the Tonto
National Forest’s Payson Ranger Station, located east of Payson on State
Route 260; (928) 474-7900; www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park Within a rugged and almost inaccessible
ravine of the Mogollon Rim, a mineral-rich stream eroded a passageway,
leaving a natural bridge carved into the rock. Although potentially
hazardous to explore, visitors can view the bridge from various overlooks
throughout the park; (928) 476-4202;
Additional Information: Coconino National Forest, Red Rock Ranger
District, (928) 282-4119; www.redrockcountry.org; Tonto National Forest,
Payson Ranger District, (928) 474-7900; www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto.
Cottonwood resident Roger Naylor believes if he had been contracted to
deliver mail during the frontier era, ladies would be lucky to don their Easter
bonnets by Christmas.
Traveling portions of the original Mail Trail, photographers Don B. and Ryan
B. Stevenson envied the early mail carriers for the scenic wonderland during
the summer and autumn months. But the father-son team readily admit they
avoided the harsh winter conditions that blanket this part of Arizona.
YOU’VE GOT MAIL Howard Parrish makes the official hand-off
(opposite page) to Payson’s Tina Bruess, executive director of the
Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 23
Wr i t t en and photogr aphed by S t e v e Bruno
22 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7
Soaring temperatures on the desert floor inevitably
turn my thoughts to the West Clear Creek Wilderness. For
summer is the only season when this canyon offers a welcome
mat to the robust souls willing to take on its challenges. The
successful will see nature’s version of an Emerald City that no
Hollywood studio could possibly create. The wizard here, of
course, being water. There’s no denying its handiwork in all fac-ets
of the continuous cycle of creation taking place from the rim
to the canyon bottom. Capturing the intricacies of this riparian
treasure on the nonclairvoyant properties of film seems fal-lible.
Those who’ve been fortunate to witness West Clear Creek
Canyon’s seasonal uncloaking will have to agree.
Water makes magic
in West Clear Creek
“In an alcove just
above West Clear Creek, I observed intricate patterns
[opposite page] created by years of erosion. Transported
through rainfall and snowmelt, colorful minerals have been
deposited into the rocks, leaving behind an image that, to
me, resembles a watercolor painting. West Clear Creek [this
page] slowly and steadily descends on its journey toward
the Verde Valley, exposing different layers along the way.
This transition captured my attention because it is one of
the few places where the bed is almost solid rock ‘islands.’ ”
24 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 25
“Because of its proximity to an
access route, I crossed this pool many times to reach the
canyon beyond. It’s a deep pool for this stretch of the
canyon, fed by springs seeping through the wall at the far
end. The inner walls are unusually low, allowing a glimpse
of the pine-covered slope and the towering upper walls.
These elements combine for an interesting reflection.”
26 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7
“West Clear Creek makes numerous bends, and photographing from the
rim presents more challenges than from below. I spent many nights camped on the rim, and
one morning, noticed the light on the canyon’s opposite side [below]. Inspired by the sight, I
made my way across the canyon. This new perspective revealed how the canyon blends from
rocky open slopes into pine trees battling for space among the protruding sandstone spires.”
“The creek leaves a wide-open section and heads into the chill of its deepest
box canyon [left]. Sunlight rarely touches the waters within, leaving temperatures frigid
even in late summer. Temperature contrast is a difficult feeling to portray on film, but by
composing this image from within the cavernous walls looking toward the reflected sunlight
beyond, one can see the cool-to-warm-color shift that illustrates the air temperature change.”
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 27
28 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 29
“Reflections of the jagged cliffs above blend into
the still clarity of the creek, distorting the line between vision and
illusion. This photograph was a result of the clouds that day, allowing
me to make several exposures as the sunlight was being filtered in
various degrees. The resulting image is my favorite of the canyon.”
30 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 31
“Sunlight reflects the green
of the tall creekside pines onto one of West Clear Creek’s
pools [right] before the creek changes character once
again into a boulder-strewn box canyon.”
“This is a unique spot because the water’s energy has
been funneled into a very tight channel [below] and then slammed
into an almost 90-degree turn. The progression of the water’s
cutting power over time is etched into the sandstone walls.”
32 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 33
Lt. Ives’ epic journey upriver to the Grand Canyon yielded stirring
adventure and a foolish prediction. y by Gregory McNamee
n the early spring of 1858, a young U.S. Army officer
stood on the brink of the Grand Canyon and gazed into Lower
Granite Gorge. He was impressed by the spectacle, but mindful of
his important reason for being there, an actor in what historians
have come to call the Great Reconnaissance of the American
West. His later report fully acknowledged the desert’s beauty but
also concluded, “The region is, of course, altogether valueless. It
can be approached only from the south, and after entering it there
is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first, and will doubt-less
be the last party of whites to visit this profitless locality.”
Just shy of 30 years old, Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives had good rea-son
to think that the country would stay unexplored. It had been
half a century since the Lewis and Clark expedition had returned
from its overland voyage to the Pacific, and still the interior
West was only partly mapped. The origins of the Colorado River,
for one, were unknown, and now Ives was undertaking the difficult
mission of traveling not down from the source somewhere in
the Nebraska Territory, but up from the river’s end in Mexico
to learn what he could of the possibilities of making the river a
water route into the uncharted country.
Ives’ superiors in Washington had another reason for sending
him upriver. Years of conflict between the U.S. government and
the residents of Utah had erupted into open warfare, so Ives’
journey was meant to answer an eminently practical question:
Could supplies for the U.S. Army garrisons in southern Utah and
elsewhere in the great desert be transported on the river?
To answer that question, Ives first had to locate a
suitable boat. In Philadelphia, he ordered a custom-built, 54-foot-long
steam-powered stern-wheeler he dubbed Explorer. After a
shakedown cruise on the Delaware River, the ship was care-fully
disassembled, crated and sent off by sea to San Francisco.
There, Ives and his men transferred Explorer to a schooner
called Monterey. On November 1, 1857, they started a four-week
sea journey that eventually brought them to the mouth of the
Colorado River in the Sea of Cortes.
Today, scarcely a trickle of water flows into the sea across the
broad, sandy delta, but in Ives’ time, the Colorado flowed ener-getically.
The tidal bore at the confluence challenged even a ship
as large as the obliging Monterey, to say nothing of the smaller
craft. Liking what he saw of the passing countryside, Ives noted
in his elegant “Report Upon the Colorado River of the West,” “It
FULL STEAM AHEAD In an 1858 engraving by Ives expedition artist
Heinrich Balduin Möllhausen, the paddle-wheel steamboat Explorer (above)
plods along the uncharted Colorado River. Because of its flat-bottomed
construction, the steamboat was ideal for shallow-water river travel. Big
Canyon (right), known today as the Grand Canyon, looms at the mouth of the
Diamond River (now Diamond Creek) in an engraving by Möllhausen.
ENGRAVINGS COURTESY OF GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK MUSEUM COLLECTION
34 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 35
would be hard to say whether the dazzling radiance of the day
or the sparkling clearness of the night was the more beautiful
and brilliant.” Still, after he had watched the incoming tide drag
the mother ship a mile up the river’s overflowing channel before
calming down, Ives determined to get his vessel and crew away
from the sea as soon as he could.
It took weeks to assemble Explorer, which had been damaged
in transit. Moreover, Ives wanted to reinforce the ship to keep its
3-ton boiler from breaking through the hull. In the meantime,
other members of the crew scoured the delta for driftwood to
fuel the steamship. In December, they set out for Yuma to meet
the rest of the expedition in the face of the blustering winds and
cold rain they scarcely expected in this tropical desert.
Ives found that part of the journey tedious indeed; in two days,
Explorer made only 31 miles, for the river was full of sandbars
and snags, jamming the rudder and grounding the ship. Ives
grumbled that he was so frozen to the bone and was so impatient
to get to the American military post that he left Explorer 15
miles later and found a nearby ranch, where he spent the night
“between the dirtiest pair of blankets and, meaning no disparage-ment,
with the dirtiest looking man I ever saw in my life.” The
ranch hand may have been unwashed, but he had a way with
horses, and soon Ives was mounted on a semiwild stallion that
took him through the desert to the fort.
Explorer followed a few days later, gladdening Ives, who
remarked of the rough-and-tumble post, “Fort Yuma is not a
place to inspire one with regret at leaving.” He had his full party
now, made up of men who would have done the captain of HMS
Beagle proud. One was a 34-year-old German baron named
Frederick von Egloffstein, an able explorer who also possessed
great skills as an artist, and who drew beautiful relief maps of
the lower Colorado River, as well as some gloomy paintings
of the river canyons. Another German, the artist and novelist
Heinrich Balduin Möllhausen, drew extraordinary panora-mas
of the landscape and detailed ethnographic portraits of
the native people. American geologist and paleontologist John
Strong Newberry made a careful accounting of the landscape.
It was a brilliant crew, but there was one small fly in the oint-ment.
A civilian entrepreneur named Alonzo Johnson had also
been at work on the river, with an eye to establishing a steamship
line between the delta and the place that would become Fort
Mojave near present-day Bullhead City. When Congress refused
to fund his efforts, Johnson pressed on anyway, making an
inaugural run as far north as The Needles. Möllhausen was
bitterly disappointed, later remarking, “The prospect of being
able to think during the journey that we were following along
a route that had never been previously explored by a European
lost its attraction.” But if Ives was troubled, he did not let on. He
ignored Johnson altogether and went about his work.
Off they went, leaving Fort Yuma on January 11, 1858. They
did not get far; Explorer ran aground on a sandbar about 2 miles
upstream. “We were in plain sight of the fort,” Ives recalled,
“and knew that this sudden check to our progress was affording
an evening of great entertainment to those in and out of the gar-rison.”
Ives had a sense of humor, his report makes clear, and he
gamely rolled up his shirtsleeves with the rest of the men. Hours
later, and free of the sandbar, Explorer was off again.
It would not be the first pesky sandbar the little steamship
would encounter, but Ives and his crew learned by trial and
error how to predict such troubles. One indicator, they soon
realized, was groups of Indian women and children along the
riverside. “The coincidence between their presence and a bad
bar is so unfailing,” Ives reported, “that the man at the helm
quickly learned to slow the engine whenever he spotted them,
lest he afford onlookers still more entertainment.”
The country through which they passed was rugged and little
populated. Ives delighted in the valleys and ranges as Explorer
passed by: the Chocolate Mountains, the Black Mountains,
Explorers Pass, Sleepers Bend, the Monument Mountains,
Sand Island. The snags, he allowed, were inconvenient but not
dangerous, the sandbars products of seasonal changes on
the river, which was now at a wintry low. The cold made
Möllhausen’s efforts at collecting insects and reptiles difficult,
even as it brought visitors to their campfire, native people of sev-eral
tribes. One, Ives wrote, was a “notorious rogue” who tried
to cheat him in trading, but who “was highly amused at being
fairly caught.” Others were generous, others curious — and
almost all, Ives recorded, were apprehensive about what such
strange people were doing in their country. “I can scarcely
blame him for his disgust,” Ives wrote of one unhappy Mojave
Indian, “for he must suspect that this is the first step towards
an encroachment upon the territory of his tribe.”
February 1 found Explorer at the mouth of the Bill Williams
River, between present-day Parker and Lake Havasu City, then
as now one of the most beautiful spots along the lower river,
with its dramatic rock formations and flocks of waterfowl.
“New and surprising effects of coloring added to the beauty of
the vista,” Ives wrote of the river canyon. “In the foreground,
light and delicate tints predominated, and broad surface of
lilac, pearl color, pink and white contrasted strongly with the
somber masses piled up behind.” Traveling up a “fairy-like pass,”
the party entered the Chemehuevi Valley, passed through what
Ives called Mohave Canyon, and came into the Mohave Valley
proper, a place “clothed in spring attire” that, Ives recorded, the
whole crew found so beautiful that they applauded.
They would not be so pleased with the country that followed,
though. Fortunately, they were now guided by a Mojave man
named Ireteba, who later helped Joseph Walker explore the
country around Prescott. Ireteba was used to white people, but
most of his compatriots, Ives recorded, seemed to “think us their
inferiors,” particularly when he produced a mariner’s compass
to impress them with modern technology. It did not have the
desired effect: “They soon learned its use, and thought we must
be very stupid to be obliged to have recourse to artificial aid in
order to find our way.”
Conditions on the river worsened. A steady wind beat against
the ship, whipping down tall, narrow Pyramid Canyon, fol-lowed
by a great sandstorm that blinded the crew and forced
them to pull into a cove for shelter. The storm subsided after a
day, even as the rock walls grew steeper and the rapids stronger.
Explorer struggled and heaved against the fierce river. Finally,
on March 12, near the site of present-day Hoover Dam, Ives
“determined not to try to ascend the Colorado any further.”
Ives divided the party, sending half back to Fort Yuma with
the ship while taking Möllhausen, Newberry and Egloffstein
inland, crossing over the mountains eastward at the spot where
the little town of Oatman now stands, climbing into the Cerbat
By early April, Ives had descended to the floor of what he
named “the Big Canyon” along Diamond Creek. “Big Canyon”
would stand on a few maps for another decade, until John Wesley
Powell renamed the place Grand Canyon once and for all. Spring
snow squalls and lightning storms marked Ives’ passage over-land,
past Bill Williams Mountain and the San Francisco Peaks,
to the Hopi Mesas and the waterless lands of the Navajo until,
finally, the land party reached Fort Defiance on May 22, 1858.
The Ives expedition took nearly six months and covered more
than a thousand miles — as the crow flies — and many more as
the steamship chuffs and the mule plods. Ives was clearly taken
by the country he and his comrades had covered, but even so,
he concluded, “It seems intended by nature that the Colorado
River, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way,
shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.”
Ives’ report was also little visited once the Utah War ended.
He neither courted nor received the fame of contemporary
travelers such as John Charles Fremont, but went to work with
his customary diligence, helping to design and engineer the
great monument to George Washington that would soon begin
to rise over the nation’s capital.
When the Civil War came, though a native of New York City,
Ives joined the Confederate cause and served as an aide-de-camp
to President Jefferson Davis. He moved to New York at the
end of the war and died just three years later, at the age of 40,
having helped change the course of American history.
Gregory McNamee writes about Arizona history, culture and geography
for the Encyclopaedia Britannica and several European publications
as well as for Arizona Highways. He lives in Tucson.
SCENES FROM AN EXPEDITION Möllhausen’s engravings of the
expedition depict (left to right) rustic camping on the Colorado Plateau, the
crew observing the river’s deep rapids and the steamboat Explorer navigating
the Colorado River through Mohave Canyon. can scarcely blame him for his disgust,’
Ives wrote of one unhappy Mojave Indian . . . ‘I
36 m a y 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 37
O“How lovely you play your flute! Pray,
teach me your song so I can sing it for my
children,” said Coyote.
Flattered, Locust agreed and sang his
song again and again — a shrill piping.
Finally Coyote headed for home, repeat-ing
the song until he tripped head over tail
on Gopher’s hole. Startled, Coyote forgot
Locust’s song, so he headed back to have
Locust sing it for him again.
Although annoyed at the interruption,
Locust sang his song once more. After
Coyote trotted off, Locust decided that the
foolish Coyote would continue to plague him,
and so Locust decided to play a trick. He
split his skin, placed a piece of white quartz
in the hollow shell and sealed it up with a
little bit of pitch before flying off in search
of another sunny tree limb from which he
could play his flute without interruption.
Soon, Coyote lost the song once again.
But when he returned to visit Locust, he
found the tree strangely silent. Four times
Coyote demanded the song until in anger
he snapped at the empty skin and broke
his teeth on the hard stone hidden within.
Coyote’s descendants inherited this broken
grin, and to this day Locust’s descendants
still avoid attention by shedding their skins,
leaving the counterfeits in their place.
— Zuni Indian folk tale
This charming Zuni tale represents
just one of the many stories told about
Arizona’s loudest insect — more commonly
known as the cicada. Cicadas appear
throughout history in many cultures.
While they have often been labeled
as locusts or grasshoppers, these noisy
troubadours of summer are actually
more closely related to aphids, stink
bugs and leaf hoppers — all members of
the order Hemiptera. Labeled as the “true
bugs” of the insect world, cicadas sport
“half wings,” composed of a pair of thick
front wings paired with a thinner set of
back wings, and piercing and sucking
mouthparts used to feed on fluids from
either plants or animals.
Humans have revered cicadas for
thousands of years because of their unin-hibited
vocalization, mysterious feeding
habits and sudden appearance in the hot-test
days of summer. Immortalized in
myth as a symbol of rebirth, the cicada
has sung, piped and drummed its way
into the human imagination.
A Navajo story credits the valiant cicada
with burrowing from a “lower world” into
this one to provide an escape from rising
The archetypal First Man and First
Woman asked Hawk and a succession
of birds to break through the hard blue
dome overhead. Finally, they turned to
Locust, who flew up and worked at the
crack made by the birds’ earlier attempts.
He finally broke through the dome and
made a tunnel through the soft mud of
the next world, creating a shaft in the
mud much like cicadas make today.
These shafts are a common sight when
cicadas emerge in July, raising a din in
the heat of summer that has garnered
the attention of many cultures. Cicadas
take their cue from the “dog days” of
summer — the 20 days before and after
the conjunction of the sun and Sirius, the
Nearly 2,000 species of cicadas sing
in summer in the warmly temperate and
tropical habitats of the world, includ-ing
180 species in North America. That
includes the magicicada, perhaps the
longest-lived insect in the world, which
emerges from the earth in 13- or 17-year
Arizona’s 22 species include the
common, low-elevation Apache cicada
(Diceroprocta apache), with its wide,
blunt head, protruding eyes and two
pairs of membranous wings. The 2-inch-long
insect spends most of its life as an
underground nymph sucking fluids out
of plant roots. The juvenile nymphs
molt periodically as they grow, burrow-ing
deeper and deeper underground in
search of larger and juicer roots. After
three years, the Apache cicada starts
working its way back up to the earth’s
Generally around Father’s Day, the
nymphs emerge and climb trees, fences
and buildings to complete their final molt.
Adult cicadas leave behind dry husks.
Within minutes, their skin changes from
creamy white to a dark brown and the
wings dry and unfold. For the next few
weeks, the male insects lure females by
bombarding sultry afternoons with their
frenetic, high-pitched chorus, produced
with muscles called tymbals — drumlike
membranes found on the abdomens of
the loquacious lotharios. Unlike the
pulsing call of other species, Apache
cicadas produce a continuous droning
buzz that rattles the air at 107 decibels,
making them among the loudest insects
in the world.
The males die soon after mating, and
that’s when their ladyloves take over.
Using a serrated abdominal appendage
called an ovipositor, the females cut
nests into twigs where they deposit as
many as 600 eggs in up to 50 separate
nests. Days later, the newborn nymphs
drop to the ground and burrow deeply
into the soil where they will live until it’s
time for them to emerge as adults.
Apache and Hopi stories dwell on the
link between the cicada’s “fluting” and the
art of seduction. In fact, the Hopi image
of Kokopelli — the humpbacked flute
player — connects to both cicadas and
fertility, according to folklorist Ekkehart
Malotki. The humped back of Kokopelli,
which is also occasionally portrayed with
antennae, carries the world’s seeds.
Taoist, Italian and Hindu cultures
preserve tales of the cicada. The insect
shows up in the mosaics of doomed
Pompeii, in jade carvings found inside
3,000-year-old Chinese tombs, and on
kites at Japanese New Year festivals.
Sometimes, the cicada provokes envy.
As the ancient Greek writer Xenophon
mused, “Blessed are the cicadas, for they
have voiceless wives.”
Wasp Watch When cicadas emerge as adults,
leaving crispy nymph skins behind (above), they
are prey to cicada-killer wasps that paralyze them
with a sting and then carry them by one wing
back to their burrows.
One bright summer day, Locust burrowed out of his home deep in the ground and crawled up the
sunny branches of a nearby piñon pine tree, where he began to sing and play his flute. Out making
mischief, wandering Coyote stopped to listen to the haunting melody.
Cicadas inspire myths
[ b y C a r r i e m . M i n e r d p h o t o g r a p h s b y M a r t y C o r d a n o [
Predictable Cicadas The majority of
Arizona’s adult cicadas (left) appear on
cue each summer, unlike magicicada, a
periodical cicada that makes one dramatic
appearance at 13- or 17-year intervals.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 39
OUTDOORS WOMAN CAMP IN
THE BRADSHAWS REVEALS
THE BENEFITS OF FEAR
by lori k. baker
It took all my nerve to stand backward on a ledge that
dropped off a sheer granite rock face deep within the nearly
8,000-foot-high Bradshaw Mountains, my heels teetering
over the edge. ❧ “You’ve got to lean back, take a step back,”
my rappelling instructor, Jeff Sorensen, coaxed like a patient
mule handler. ❧ I listened to his words as my legs quivered
and my mind raced: How did I ever wind up here? I’ve always
been terrified of heights — I even hate ladders! Why did
I ever sign up for a Becoming an Outdoors Woman camp?
Eighty of these weekend-long camps, called BOW
for short, are held across North America each year, including this
one at Friendly Pines Camp outside Prescott in central Arizona.
BOW teaches women outdoors skills — and a heady sense of
self-confidence in the process. Beneath cobalt-blue skies, the air
heavy with the fragrance of ponderosa pine, BOW seemed like
an easy entrée into the excitement of rugged outdoor adven-ture
— even for a woman like me, who’s never pitched a tent,
cooked by campfire, caught a fish or rappelled.
Then came the literal cliffhanger. How would I summon the
courage to take my first bold step backward — into the thin air?
Rappelling was the ultimate metaphor — a complete education
in trust, bravery and taking the plunge.
My only hope for making it through this SWAT-team stunt
without broken bones, a concussion, dying or — even worse —
permanent disfigurement, came from a harness cinched like a
19th-century corset around my waist that left me struggling to
breathe. Or maybe it was just panic that clamped my diaphragm
like a vice. My leather-gloved hands formed a death grip on the
static line — my lifeline — I would use to rappel down this cliff.
In theory, there was really nothing to it.
At least that’s what Sorensen told me. He’d rappelled for the
last 25 years despite his own fear of heights, and he was mighty
confident that he’d be able to talk me off this ledge. After all,
that’s one skill all rappelling instructors must master to stay
in business. And so far, Sorensen told me, he had a 99 percent
success rate in his eight years at BOW. Only one of his students
decided rappelling just wasn’t for her. Talk about peer pressure.
“But I don’t want to push you,” Sorensen said with a smile beneath
his broad-brimmed black cowboy hat. “No pun intended.”
After what seemed like hours, I finally gave in and reluctantly
leaned back into space, my baptism into fearlessness. I felt the
thrill of the static line slipping through my guiding hand — I was
actually moving now — and took one reluctant step backward,
as wobbly and tentative as a baby taking a first step. My belay
team member below, holding a static line so I wouldn’t fall,
shouted instructions: “Don’t look down, only look where your
foot will be stepping.”
As I rappelled down
the cliff face, stepping
wide and trying to keep my body perpendicular to the rock, my
emotions shifted —from feeling utterly inadequate to exhilarated
and powerful, like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. After I reached the
bottom, I squealed, “I made it!”
After this exhausting afternoon of rappelling, nighttime
seemed like a welcome reprieve. But that’s only because I had
never actually tried to fall asleep in a rustic cabin deep in the
As I lay in the pitch blackness in my tiny bunk with a 2-inch-thick
mattress atop plywood, I tossed and turned, my nylon sleep-ing
bag forever slipping and sliding. Then I spotted her — my cabin
mate sleeping soundly on her billowy air mattress. Oh, the nerve.
Somehow, I managed to slip in and out of sleep, which made the
whole night dreamlike: At 11 p.m. I woke up with an icy-cold foot
stuck out of my sleeping bag. Tucking my foot back into my sleep-ing
bag, I dozed off. At midnight I woke up with a headache. As I
fumbled around in the darkness, lit only by starlight streaming
in from the window, I managed to swill three Advils and a swig
of water without waking my three cabin mates, who were lost to
their night stupors, one snoring soundly. At last, I could sleep —
until 4 a.m., when my eyes flew open after a startling sound. A
coyote’s howl pierced the night’s stillness (other than the snoring),
and a choir of dozens more coyotes joined in, in Dolby Surroundsound.
Now jolted wide awake, I started obsessing about the day
ahead, namely my afternoon class on the ropes challenge course,
which looked like a cross between an obstacle course and a
circus high-wire act. With towering utility poles or trees strung
together with wire rope up to 50 feet in the air and attached to
belay cables, caribiners and harnesses for safety, these courses
are loads of fun — for U.S. military commandos. According to
one estimate, there are 7,500 ropes challenge courses in the
United States — and one of them was awaiting me right there at
Friendly Pines Camp.
The morning brought an idyllic day — and the aroma of break-fast
— scrambled eggs, thick French toast, bacon and sau-sage
— sizzling on the dining hall’s grill. After breakfast, 78 of
my fellow campers, ranging in age from 18 to 69, ventured off to
classes — archery, kayaking, rifle marksmanship, fishing, back-packing,
horsemanship, outdoor photography or Global
Positioning System (GPS) navigation, to name a few — with a
KNOT TO WORRY Wearing leather
gloves provided by the BOW staff, Lori K.
Baker secures her belay rope to a figure-eight
ring and prepares for her initiation
OVER THE EDGE Becoming an Outdoors
Woman camp participant Sheryl Freed entrusts
life and possibly scraped limbs to the capable
hands of rappelling instructor Jeff Sorensen.
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 41
Author Lori K. Baker discovered a newly found sense
of courage and adventure after her BOW experience.
She lives in Mesa.
Richard Maack found the wilderness activities at the
outdoors woman camp not only a great photographic
subject, but an inspiring example of what people can
do when they challenge both their physical and
Location: Friendly Pines Camp, 105 miles
northwest of Phoenix.
Getting There: From Phoenix, drive north
50 miles on Interstate 17 to State Route 69
at Exit 262. Turn left (northwest) onto State
69 and drive 40 miles to Prescott. Turn left
onto Mt. Vernon Street and follow the road
for 5 miles to Marapai Road. Turn right onto
Marapai and drive one-half mile to Peter
Macklin Drive, which turns into Friendly
Pines Road, and turn left. Follow posted
signs from there.
Dates: August 17-19, 2007.
Fees: $235 to $270 per person.
Travel Advisory: Pack an air mattress for
Additional Information: (480) 644-0077.
renewed sense of adventure.
But that afternoon, I felt like a condemned
woman, even as I headed to the ropes chal-lenge
course on a beautiful nature trail shaded
by soaring ponderosa pines and strewn with
the rich texture of Gambel oaks, Emory oaks,
lichen-covered granite and basalt boulders and
a dusting of yellow primroses and red penste-mons.
A pair of pygmy nuthatches perched
on a water spigot, a western bluebird fluttered
between pine branches. And a tassel-eared
Abert’s squirrel barreled straight up a ponder-osa’s
trunk and then leaped from branch to
branch in the canopy like an acrobat.
If only that furry trapeze artist could teach me
a lesson or two for the ropes challenge course, I
thought. The course began with a stunt called
“Tarzan’s Traverse.” It was simple, really — if you
happened to be Tarzan. First you had to scram-ble
20 feet up a utility pole using heavy metal
staples as handholds and footholds. Next, the
tricky part: walking 45 feet across a wire like
a circus high-wire performer as you struggle
to reach overhead for dangling ropes to sta-bilize
you, while your legs shake like Jell-O.
Granted, you’re securely fastened to a harness
and belay rope held by instructor Cherie Geyer
and another classmate so you won’t actually
fall. But when was the last time you entrusted
your life to total strangers? My entire class of
brave souls made it. For me, it took two tries.
On that second try, pride overcame fear — I
wasn’t about to be the only one who didn’t get
across that wire.
Having my feet once again planted on terra
firma was a celebration, albeit a brief one as my
class quickly headed off to our next adventure:
riding a 300-foot zip line (called “zipping”) sus-pended
high above a grassy meadow.
One by one, we clambered up a pine tree
pierced with metal footholds and handholds
that zigzagged up to a wooden platform. There,
Geyer sat ready to attach the nylon seat harness
I was wearing to the zip line. As I sat beside her,
she checked my straps, adjusted my helmet and
assured me in a motherly kind of way, “You’ve
been very brave today.” As I eyed the height of
the zip line and expansiveness of the meadow,
it nearly took my breath — and courage — away.
“I don’t want to wait,” I urged her. “Just give me a
push off the platform on the count of three.”
“Okay,” Geyer said, then called out: “One . . .
two . . . three!”
First came the shock of suddenly being air-borne
— then the exhilaration of adrenaline
surging through my body as I soared free and
unencumbered through the air. I was flying!
In this moment of gliding high above the
ground, I viewed life itself from a higher per-spective.
I realized how my fears and cautious-ness
were like pedaling through life with a
clunky set of training wheels that needlessly
slowed me down.
From now on, I vowed silently, I would no
longer rob myself of the exhilaration of taking
risks, going fast or, best of all, zipping.
IT WAS SIMPLE,
LEAP OF FAITH Jennifer Savage leaps from
the relative security of a platform 55 feet off
the ground to swat a suspended bellpull,
signaling the sweet sound of her success.
ZIP TRIP Coaxed by Friendly Pines ropes
course instructor Cherie Geyer (top, left),
program participants like Peggy Abbs deny
their fears at the zip line (top) and the
Tarzan Traverse (above).
PADDLE POWER During paddle class,
soon-to-be outdoors woman Baker (left)
maneuvers a whitewater-quality inflatable
kayak, also known as an IK, while other
participants try their hands at an open
canoe and a hard-shell kayak.
along the way
my heart lifted when I spotted the female coyote
trot around the far edge of the buttes that surrounded our
houseboat moored at Castle Cove on Lake Mohave in west-central
Arizona. She moved toward me along an invisible
ledge halfway up the buttes in a loose-limbed, confident
manner that proclaimed this was her domain, these paths
winding in and out and around gray sandstone-layered
buttes. Her long black shadow from the evening sun pulsed
large-small-large against the rock face, not unlike my own
pulsing, now large, now small, insecure thoughts. I reflected,
Should I give up my job or continue to suffer abuse? I worried, no
job, or abasement?
I paused near a tamarisk tree to study the coyote, her
flashing legs, her darting eyes, her sense of serenity in the
middle of the desert. I admired the simplicity of her life.
Tonight, I knew, she would sit in the hills and howl, her muzzle
raised, and others far away would answer, and once again I
would feel chills race up and down my back. My spine. Or
what was left of it. I sighed.
Just then she stopped and lifted her muzzle to the air, her
whiskers quivering. I thought she was going to howl, but she
sniffed the air. I thought maybe she’d gotten a whiff of me, as
I’d just returned from a strenuous 2-mile walk into the sand-bottom
coulee and up into the hills among geckos, birds, rocks
and creosote bushes, trying to sort out my thoughts. Should
I quit my monthly gig with my best-paying magazine market,
or continue to endure my editor’s slings and arrows? I sighed.
Regular gigs for a freelancer were not easy to come by. Then
the coyote surprised me: She stepped off the path. In the years
we’ve shared our little inlet, she had never stepped off the path.
Half-crouching, the coyote made her way down a great angled
slab of rock toward the calm water. Thirsty, I thought.
Then I saw the seagull on the shore of the inlet — a giant bird
with a great hooked beak and webbed toes spread possessively
across the side of a fish, a prize find. The coyote sauntered
toward the gull, tossing her muzzle as she sniffed the air. The
gull raised its white head, fixed the coyote with a glare and
lifted its wings, ready to fly, I figured, intimidated by the bared
teeth of the advancing coyote.
Instead, it rushed at the coyote, but stopped 10 feet short and
jabbed its beak repeatedly, while croaking a warning. The gull
was not going to give up its treasured find without a fight. It
would not be bullied. The coyote sniffed the air nonchalantly,
then moved closer. The gull rushed again, squawking angrily.
The coyote leaped back, crinkled her eyes and lay on her
stomach, eyes fixed on the carp. The gull stared with cold
eyes, then lowered its wings and sidled down the slant to its
booty. It pecked and tore and swallowed, one eye on the
coyote, which acted unconcerned. At one point the coyote
stood, but the bird quickly got its dander up again. With a
sigh, the coyote settled down to enjoy her meager slice of
victory — the odor on the breeze.
After salving her ego for the required time, the coyote
turned back up toward the path, and continued her journey.
The battle was over.
Somewhere, unseen, she passed above me, and moments
later appeared on the far side of the inlet, silhouetted against
the dark sky. Beyond her, white pinpoints of stars began to
appear. Then she slipped away into the darkness.
I released my pent-up breath, and stared where the coyote
had disappeared. I felt different. My mental skies had cracked
open, thanks to the gift of the coyote, gull and carp.
The drama seemed specifically performed for me. The little
encounter made it clear: I must step off my old path and seek
new adventures. I must not be bullied. I must stick up for
myself, if I hoped to keep my self-respect, loss of job or not.
I sat on the ground as the air cooled and the bright moon
rose, my arms wrapped about my knees. I felt like singing.
Just then, I heard faint yips that rose into full-throated
howls, and then the distant answers. I shivered as chills ran up
and down my back. Up and down my spine.
Life lessons at the edge of a yip
by Bill Vossler illustration by Joseph Daniel Fiedler
42 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7
Subscribe for an entire year (12 issues) at $24.
Log on to arizonahighways.com/digital.html
to learn more.
• Search for and find topics of interest instantly
• Quick links to Web content
• Access to archived issues
• Immediate delivery that’s safe and secure
• Share articles with family and friends
Now you can enjoy all the great stories and spectacular photographs that
appear each month in Arizona Highways magazine — on your computer!
5 Great Reasons to Subscribe!
44 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7 A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 45
hike of the month
autumn will soon engulf
the San Francisco Peaks with
jumbled gray basalt, purple
Wheeler thistle and red-leafed
creeping barberry spreading
under golden aspens.
Veit Springs Trail, an easy
1.5-mile walk, makes a
great hike for families and
showcases the high country’s
most colorful season.
Veit Springs Trail follows
an old jeep road uphill into
the Lamar Haines Memorial
Wildlife Area, a small
preserve covering 160 acres at
8,600 feet elevation. Elk and
mule deer are plentiful in the
early morning, and squirrels
and birds can be found
midday. The route also may
be used for mountain bikes
and cross-country skiing.
The road soon narrows to a
well-marked path and heads
downhill to a fork at .2 of a by Janet Webb Farnsworth photograph by Tony Trupp
Looping Veit Springs Trail Yields a San Francisco Peaks Showcase mile. The route makes a loop,
and I follow the left trail. The
mass of lava rock testifies to
the San Francisco Peaks’
Following the first frost,
trailside ferns will weave
a gaudy mat of variegated
dark green and gold colors
under the Douglas fir and
ponderosa pine trees. The
trail rambles gently in and
out of small arroyos for three-quarters
of a mile to where
a small spur trail leads left
about 100 feet to Ludwig
Veit’s cabin. The maroon-colored,
rusted tin roof is
splashed with aspen leaves.
Veit homesteaded there in
1892, his one-room cabin
surrounded on three sides
by enormous lava boulders.
For safety, the home has been
cut down to 5 feet tall, but
peering through the doorway,
I see weathered floorboards.
Just beyond the house, an
arrow carved into an aspen
tree points to Veit’s name
carved into a large boulder.
Two small rock buildings
house the springs that once
attracted Veit. In spite of all
the moisture that falls on the
peaks, there are surprisingly
few springs. The porous
ground allows moisture to
sink into underground rivers.
Past the springs, the spur
trail leads left along the
basalt cliff, where a small
seep trickles out of the
ground and a cave cuts into
the rock. To the left of the
cave opening, look for three
red handprints, pictographs
from early Indians, and high
on the rock face to the right,
you’ll see another pictograph
of two human figures, one
with horns. Between the
figures is a long pole with
three dangling zigzags.
Archaeologists estimate the
figures are more than 1,000
years old, so their meaning
After backtracking to the
main trail, it’s a short walk to
a plaque commemorating
Lamar Haines. The wildlife
area is named for Haines, a
Flagstaff educator who helped
establish an environmental
education curriculum. Near
the plaque, a clearing is all
that remains of the cabin of
Randolph and Julia Jenks,
who owned the Deerwater
Ranch. In 1948, they sold the
land to the Arizona Game and
Fish Department for just $1.
From this point, the route
loops back to the trailhead.
Eventually, snow will cover
Veit’s little cabin amid the
boulders, and the enigmatic
pictographs will witness the
silence of another winter. But
for now, I’m content to enjoy a
Amble in the Aspens
ALONG THE TRAIL Built into the
side of a cliff, these rock
springhouses held piping systems
that collected spring water for
Ludwig Veit, who homesteaded
160 acres here in 1892.
Length: 1.5 miles round-trip.
Elevation Gain: 60 feet.
Payoff: Pictographs, an abandoned cabin and wildlife.
Location: Snowbowl at Flagstaff.
Getting There: From Flagstaff, drive for 7 miles on U.S. Route 180 to Forest
Service Road 516 (paved Snowbowl Road) and turn right. Travel 4.5 miles and
watch for a small parking area on the right side. The information sign is just
inside the fence; Veit Springs Trail veers to the right immediately past the sign.
Additional Information: Arizona Game and Fish Department, (928) 774-5045;
SA N FRANCI SCO P EAK S
Mem. Wildlife Area
17 Before you go on this hike, visit arizonahighways.com for other things
to do and places to see in this area. You’ll also find more hikes in our archive.
46 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7
A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S . C O M 47
back road adventure
Meadow in the predawn light,
I think back to old Robert
Hannagan, the Nevada miner
who gave his name to the
meadow and the lodge that
graces its edge. What went
through Hannagan’s head
when he stumbled upon this
mountain paradise? Did he
share my feelings of wonder?
What about those rattled
bone-weary travelers who
climbed from their Model-
Ts on the bumpy, two-day
journey from Springerville to
I recall being 16 or 17
years old and watching my
coonhound bound through
the swampy spring in the
meadow’s center, with her
long ears flapping, running
for the sheer joy of it.
Today, as I start south
on U.S. Route 191 from
Hannagan Meadow, dawn
slowly seeps over the eastern
edge of the trees, barely
penetrating the dense pine
canopy. The road becomes
enveloped in fog. Aspen
leaves create a yellow shower
in the gentle breeze, their
Day-Glo foliage contrasting
with the green- and blue-tinted
spruce. At a cool 47
degrees, this day, high in the
mountains of east-central
Arizona, starts perfectly.
Five miles south of
Hannagan Meadow Lodge,
I turn off U.S. 191 and
immediately enter wolf
country, a terrain so remote,
wild and bountiful that
biologists chose the area to
release Mexican gray wolves
in an attempt to re-establish
this ecological keystone
predator in Arizona. Every
dirt road in the wolf recovery
Black River Route Offers Relief and Recollection
area offers signs that explain
the reintroduction process.
Though I’m not likely to see
any of the 50 wolves now
roaming eastern Arizona
and western New Mexico,
their very presence here
makes the drive exciting. The
reintroduction turns back
the clock to when wolves and
grizzly bears last shared these
woods in the early 1900s.
Before the reintroduction
effort began in 1998, wolves
had been missing from their
post at the top of the food
chain since the early 1970s.
Grizzlies have had a longer
and, most likely, permanent
exodus from Arizona. The last
reported grizzly bear was shot
just south of here in 1935 in
With wolves and grizzlies
filling my thoughts, I relish
this time on a back-country
road. I relax and soak up
the nice weather and the
beautiful surroundings. I
forget, for a time, the 165
seventh graders that I am
Although I enjoy teaching
them about the blood of
Antietam, the stone wall at
Fredericksburg, and Picket’s
Charge, I savor this time
away, concerned only with
the chirping of birds, the
girth of blue spruce and the
occasional bubbling stream.
The drive runs along
Corduroy Creek and its
headwaters that travel by
an unmarked trail. Aspens
stand upon the ridges, acting
as forest sentinels. The white-barked
trees have taken on a
skeletal look, dressing up for
Halloween. Soon, I pass over
Fish Creek and a small valley
that cuts a beautiful swath
through the forest. Running
stronger than Corduroy, Fish
Creek offers a tranquil spot to
pause and take in the ambience.
I breathe deeply, inhaling the
sweet and fresh forest air that
lacks my accustomed dose of
Soon the forest opens
up with ponderosa pines
replacing the thick spruce
trees. A doe and her fawn
spring from one side of
the road and vanish down
the other side with a grace
unattainable by bipeds.
Gambel oaks mix with the
pines as Fish Creek wanders
off to the west through a
larger canyon. Bypassing a
crossroad that leads back
toward Hannagan Meadow, I
continue straight toward the
East Fork of the Black River.
At the right time of the day
in the right month, this path
yields frequent wildlife
sightings. Just last August, I
encountered two giant bull
elk, but on this trip I see only
deer. The reason becomes
more apparent as several
Meadows of Memory
DUDE RANCH DELIGHT Day breaks
over horses grazing at the
Sprucedale Ranch (above), a family
run haven where visitors can ride
horses along trails with glistening
mountain streams and grassy
meadows. edward mccain
DEER CROSSING Mule deer
(below) cross a road in the Apache-
Sitgreaves National Forests. Other
wildlife sightings in the area include
elk, bighorn sheep, wild turkeys,
bald eagles and black bears.
RETURN OF THE PACK Signs
indicate Mexican gray wolf
territory, where reintroduction
efforts began in 1998. A biologist
team tracks the wolves’ collars
to monitor their movements
and well-being. tom bean
by Brian Minnick
48 a u g u s t 2 0 0 7
pickups with gun racks
driven by men in camouflage
lumber slowly by. An older
Ford carries a buck strapped
to the roof.
I want to see the river, so I
continue along a large open
meadow dotted with cattle.
After 24 miles since my start,
I reach the East Fork of the
Black River. The slow ebb of
water meandering from its
mountain home fills me with
a sense of calm. Satisfied, I
retrace my steps to Forest
Service Road 26 and drive the
remaining 10 miles to 191.
Some 37 miles from my
start, I stare again at the
pavement and the end of my
drive. A left turn allows me to
head to Alpine and eat lunch
at the Bear Wallow Cafe; if I
make a right turn I can spend
the rest of the afternoon
reading on the porch of
Hannagan Meadow Lodge.
Decisions, decisions — lunch
or a good book? After a few
wasted minutes burning
precious brain cells, I realize I
can do both.
I know old Robert
Hannagan would have
approved of the beer and
burgers after a 37-mile trip. I
wonder if he liked to read?
MYSTERY IN THE MEADOW
Built in 1926, Hannagan Meadow
Lodge (right) has kept its charm
alive with odd ghost stories
and the unanswered mystery of
whether John Wayne’s signature is
scribbled behind the sitting room’s
fireplace mantel. tom bean
Note: Mileages are approximate.
> Start at Hannagan Meadow Lodge, 22.5 miles south of Alpine on U.S.
> Turn right (south) onto U.S. Route 191; drive 4.9 miles to Forest Service
Road 25, located between mileposts 227 and 226. A directional sign at the
turnoff lists Reno Lookout and the Black River.
> Turn right (west) onto FR 25; drive 0.4 of a mile to signed junction with
Forest Service Road 24.
> Turn right (north) onto FR 24; drive 18.6 miles to the East Fork of the
Black River, where FR 24A leads off to the right (east) to Buffalo Crossing
Campground, about a mile away.
> Enroute to the East Fork, FR 24 comes to several junctions: at 1.3 miles,
with Forest Service Road 8315 on the left; at 6.5 miles, with Forest Service
Road 576 on the right leading to Hannagan Meadow in 4 miles; at 10.9
miles, with an unsigned road on the left. At 13.7 miles, with an unsigned
road on the left adjacent to log stock pens (the road leading to a camping
area less than a half-mile away); and at 15.6 miles, with FR 26 leading off
to the right and U.S. 191 in 10 miles.
> Leaving the East Fork, backtrack on FR 24 for 3 miles to FR 26; turn left
for a 10-mile drive to 191.
> Turn right for an 8.4-mile drive to Hannagan Meadow; turn left for a
14-mile drive to Alpine.
TEEMING WITH TROUT Storm
clouds drift over the East Fork of the
Black River (right), forming water
droplets that cling to bedstraw and
sedge plants lining the riverbank. In
the summer months, the river is
stocked weekly with rainbow trout.
back road adventure
Vehicle Requirements: High-clearance,
Warning: Back-road travel can
be hazardous. Be aware of
weather and road conditions.
Carry plenty of water. Don’t
travel alone, and let someone
know where you’re going and
when you plan to return.
Hannagan Meadow Lodge,
Forests, Alpine Ranger District,
A DEVIL OF A ROAD Formerly
numbered 666, the winding U. S.
Route 191 (left) stretches from Clifton
on the southern end to Springerville
on the northern end and passes
through some of Arizona’s most
scenic landscapes. morey k. milbradt
E. Fork Black River
W. Fork Black River
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.