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Sacred Ground 2 2: A bedeviled Canyon


Silas_Sancona

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Onto part 2... A Saturday trip to yet another hidden gem in Arizona's scenic crown, which also faces an uncertain future..

While Oak Flat itself is, ..er, ..rather flat, can't say the same thing once you venture away from the Campground / adjacent " table top " area directly south of the campground.  Hike in far enough and you will likely end up taking in awe inspiring views of massive rock formations, many referred to as " Hoodoos" silently standing guard over a narrow but deeply cut canyon that traces the eastern boundary of Oak Flat.


Devil's Canyon is one of those " surprise " spots in the state which might be known to some, but not necessarily to all.  It is also an extremely popular climbing location which, if you viewed the video included in the link in part 1, was part of the biggest annual climbing competition, held in Oak Flat for 15 years, in the world..  That tells you something about the location.. 

Like the flat, Devil's Canyon also faces being destroyed by the same potential mining development, though perhaps to a lesser extent ( not that less damage is any less significant ).. Regardless, access to the area will be permanently cut off ( at least ) Can see numerous spots where " exploratory " drilling / road cutting is already taking place as you hike out to the canyon itself.

While there essentially 3 access points to the canyon rim from Oak Flat, the best area, for viewing the largest concentration of rock formations, is the lower section, and was where i headed Saturday.  From the flat, the hike is approx 6 miles one way.. 

From another spot, where i started Saturday's hike, via Hackberry Creek.. which is accessed by driving a mile or two further southwest along the main ( paved ) road from Oak Flat ( Park where the pond is located on Google Earth / Maps, at a pull off at the hairpin in the road.. ).  From there, hiking distance to the lower portion of the canyon is roughly cut in half.. Terrain, as mentioned, is still a workout though ..made more of a workout by June's Telegraph Fire / rest of this summer's rains.. Do your homework because trails are not marked and one or two wrong trails taken will take you many miles off track..  I myself noted where i'd see the most shoe prints, etc marks of frequent trail use.. and took lots of pictures for future reference.

There is also a side trail somewhere near the beginning  along Hackberry Creek that, if followed, will take you west directly up a canyon to the top of Apache Leap ( Supposedly a roughly 2 or 3 mile hike, by google earth measurements anyway < could be off by a bit obviously > ). Fire might make locating it a bit difficult.. Wasn't obvious to me, though i have an idea of where it might start... Anyway..

Access to the upper ( more east / north along it than higher in elevation ) parts of the canyon are easier / less hiking time from the flat.  Can camp at any of the access points. Bet views of sunset / sunrise / the stars are spectacular. 


Hike in, Starting from the pond at Hackberry Creek ( would you call it Hackberry Pond? / Lake? ) An ATV / ORV or really tough truck could probably get further in compared to most vehicles.. Note the effects ..and resilience of the landscape post fire along the way ( Torched a much wider area of the landscape out here compared to the Flat ). Was also told by someone i talked with out there the pond? was dry in June.

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Views of Pinal Peak, to the east of the Flat/ Devil's Canyon.. Telegraph Fire went up and over the peak as well..
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Stock pond / long abandoned windmill / Cattle Corral in the Valley below the last big hill...  Getting closer.. Head left, not right..
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Final leg of the trail..
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Just about there....
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Welcome to:  Stunning Views.. Among ancient guardians.. 

Along the final leg of the trail, there is access to another section of the Canyon, though you'd have to hike the wash below and believe there is a pretty large drop off near where it intersects the canyon itself..

There is also another trail that heads left up and over the hill in view to another section of this area of the Canyon. On google earth, appears one may be able to access the canyon bottom here also. Can do so from the " upper " section of the Canyon too.


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The Saint..
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Headed back..
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But,  before i go....

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Edited by Silas_Sancona
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Parting shots from the trail...

Nice Autumn colors..  for the desert anyway.. While the countless drying " masses " of Morning Glory ( Trans- Pecos, and < most likely > Ivy Leaved ) contribute to the reddish / brownish tones on the hillside in pictures 2 & 3 ( and in many other areas.. ), there were extensive patches of one of our native Copperleafs ( Genus Acalypha ) present as well adding a lot of unexpected color to some slopes.  Considering the entire area in view was torched just a few months ago, extant of post- fire vegetation goes to show what this summers rains did to kick the process of regeneration into high gear.

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Surprised to see running water in the wash so late in the season
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Parting shot of that old windmill.
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Fingers..
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Excellent Cloud-scapes on the way out
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Parting shots from the pond at the end of the days journey.. Yellow " Daisy "  in view is likely Showy Goldeneye ( Heliomeris multiflora ) though trying to nail down an ID on many Composites ( stuff in the Sunflower family ) can be tricky since several things in different Genus can resemble each other.. Nice late summer/ fall annual color though.
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>>> Onto plants observed..  Some interesting finds out here.

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