May 10, 2011

Late Spring in Sycamore Canyon, Verde Valley, Arizona

For the past couple of weeks, the temperature was rising faster than an oven on broil. By late last week, temperatures were pushing 90 degrees in Sedona and it looked like summer was here in full force. But, then a big cold front rolled down from the north dropping temperatures back into the 50's and even bring snow to Flagstaff.

Linda's parents came down for a visit, so luckily for them the temperatures were just like what they left behind in the Pacific Northwest, so there was no shock to their system. Knowing this might be the last chance to hike down in the Verde Valley, I took them down to Sycamore Canyon on their first full day here to see the amazing riparian forest there.

I wrote up the exact trail description for this site some time back, which you can check out below. But, that was for a hike I did in October when the trees were in beautiful autumn foliage.

Mesquite bosque just above the riparian zone with golden grasses

Today, it was all about the green! The Arizona sycamores, Arizona ash, Arizona walnuts, Fremont cottonwoods, alder, soapberry, and hackberries were in lush, vibrant shades of green that provided an amazing contrast to the desert surrounding it.

The riverbed is full of colorful rocks from the many layers of the Mogollon Rim

Linda's parents dog Mo was in absolute heaven as he loves to swim and Sycamore Canyon provides lots of swimming holes. He could have swam around in there until his legs gave out and he drowned!

The cliffs are made of Redwall Limestone. This 250-million year old formation is actually gray in color, but is red because it is stained on the surface by the red shales of the Supai Group above it. Redwall limestone is also one of the most distinctive cliff-forming areas seen in the middle of the Grand Canyon.

Storm clouds brewing

But, after about 3 miles, the skies darkened and big clouds rolled through. Thus, we turned around and started back before the rain began to fall. May is usually one of the driest months of the year in Arizona, so it was a bit surprising to see. But, rain it did... Luckily we made it back to the vehicle before we got soaked.

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