Monday, September 22, 2014

Last Day in Cave Creek Canyon

Cave Creek Canyon above the South Fork confluence
(Photos by Narca)

Yesterday Alan and I hiked into Cave Creek Canyon before the closure was due to go into effect. He went a couple of miles up, as far as Diana's house, while I also hiked to Vista Point, to South Fork as far as the cabins and displaced creekbed, and to the Southwest Research Station. Everyone is concerned about conditions in the canyon we love, and I hope that these photos will answer some of your questions.

As we entered the canyon on Sunday morning, very quickly we found water from side canyons still flowing across the road, though much more sedately than three days earlier, by all reports.

Information pull off just above the Visitor Center, inundated

Damage to the canyon road between the Visitor Information Center and the South Fork confluence is extensive. Above the confluence, the road looks pretty much normal.

Here in particular, the road is severely undermined.

Extensive damage to the creekside pavement

Water flowing across the road above Idlewilde Campground

A large amount of debris is piled against the Stewart Bridge (the bridge at Stewart Campground), and one of the first orders of business is removing that stress to the bridge.

Still clinging to the bridge sign, about six feet up, are some possibly nervous invertebrates.

The next photo needs some explanation: I was standing toward the upstream end of the upper island of trees that the road used to go around on either side. Here the right hand side next to the creek has simply been carried off in the flood. From this point to the distant bend, the road is gone on this side of the island. The lefthand road remains intact.

Here this side of the road vanishes.

I took a side trip to Vista Point, curious whether it might be possible to see anything of the flood's aftermath, but only the usual canopy of green rises serenely above the flood.

Vista Point, looking up South Fork to the left of the prominence, and the main Cave Creek Canyon to the right.

Where South Fork meets the main canyon, the creek has demurely entered its channel again.

And now, come with me into South Fork.

Overall, the South Fork Road is in much better shape than the road through the main canyon, at least until a point above the two cabins, nearly a mile upstream from the gate. Geoff Bender made a pass through with a grader and improved the worst places.

The South Fork Road, showing evidence of the creek's rampage.

Both photos show the South Fork Road, a bit roughed up, but still in place.

This spot, to my untrained eye, looked to be the worst-damaged place on the South Fork Road.

A number of trees, like this Arizona Cypress, show scarring from the battering by debris carried in the floodwaters.

As in the main canyon, side canyons are still flowing. This one has been somewhat contained by the grader.

The South Fork Bridge appears to be in excellent shape, as do the cabins, from a quick glance.

Above the cabins, it's a different story. Here the creek jumped its channel to such a degree that the road now looks like a creekbed. I didn't go any further, but I'm told that the rocks continue for the next half-mile, to the old trailhead, where surprisingly the picnic ground and restroom are unscathed!

South Fork's new creek channel

I'll write a separate post on the Southwest Research Station. You'll be glad to see how fine it looks!

The cliff that I think of as the Easter Island Cliff towers tranquilly above the havoc.

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