Apache Trail


On Monday I planned to ride to Show Low, AZ and if the weather was cooperative, then ride down AZ191 along the easter border of the state. However, just north of Globe I ran into rain, snow and the promise of worse weather to the north, so I turned back.

I took Hwy 188 up to Roosevelt Lake so that I could take the dirt road (Apache Trail, aka AZ88) back to Tortilla Flat and on to Apache Junction. This route was originally used by the Apache people, thus the name.

My trusty R1200GS at a scenic overlook along Hwy 188, looking up at Tonto National Monument. I shot this with my Nikon Coolpix P2 in landscape mode with "option 1" (which brightens the colors). However, it doesn't have a viewfinder (only a large LCD) so it's a bit hard to compose shots in bright sunlight. I took most of the rest of these with my Canon Digital SLR (Rebel XT).

Those are two Saguaro cactus behind the bike, and the green bushes are, I believe, Honey Mesquite. Lots of Teddy Bear Cholo cactus too, though not visible in this shot.

Just a mile or two down the road I took the turnoff to Tonto N.M. and discovered this Salado people cliff dwelling (abandoned about 1400AD) which I hiked up to. I apologize to my photographer mentors, Terry and Phil, who have both coached me several times about using a polarizing filter, which I obviously didn't use here. I even had one in the Pelican case on the back of the bike. Maybe I'll photoshop some blue sky and clouds into it someday.

There's a paved path up to this unattended site that really gets your heart rate going. A much larger cliff dwelling is found over the ridge from this one, but it is a once-a-day, by reservation only, guided tour, limited to 15 people, and it's a 1.5 mile hike up the creekbed. I'm hoping Gary and Jeanne will want to take the hike this weekend, so I can see it too.

Here, looking logically southwest with the Superstition Mountains 20 miles off in the distance, you can see Apache Trail running through the hills.

A view of Roosevelt Lake from along Apache Trail. I had to hike down the hillside to get this shot without some huge powerlines which ruined the shot from the road. [If you need proof of just how small the world is, or how the Internet has decreased time and distance -- a few hours after I put the URL to this page on a couple mailing lists, I got email from a guy named Harry, who was the guy who strung those very powerlines there via helicopter in the 1960's!]

Big cliffs everywhere. Lots of the rock here has green or orange lichens growing on it. The lichens' secretions are what disolves the rock, and creates topsoil. At a rate of about 1" per thousand years.

This is my favorite shot, it really did look just like this. Just around the corner was Fish Creek, and the start of the grade to the summit above.

A one-lane bridge crosses Fish Creek and then the road hugs the cliff as it climbs the canyon wall. The road was built with great difficulty in 1903 to support the movement of supplies to build Roosevelt Dam.

This shot looks northeast down from the top of the hill and shows upper part of the road climbing up from Fish Creek. The really steep part is just over the ridge in the center of the shot. Above that, off in the distance, you can just make out the road as it snakes up towards Roosevelt Lake.

This shot was taken from the same spot as the previous shot, only looking west instead of northeast.

Yours truly, at the overlook at the top of Fish Creek grade (same as the previous shot). Some friends of Gary and Jeanne said this was called the "little grand canyon" by the locals. From here, in person, you can see why.

Copyright © 2006, by H. Marc Lewis. All rights reserved.