Rim Country A land for all seasons
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JOURNIGAN HOUSE Fine Food & Spirits 202 W. MAIN STREET (928) 474-2900
Featuring Great Food and Drink Specials Daily from Breakfast to Dinner
Julian Journigan was born in Flagstaff in 1884. His mother died when he was just eleven days old. Julian’s grandparents, John and Louisa See took him in, raising him in Strawberry and the Tonto Basin. They soon found themselves also raising their grandson Charley See, seven years younger than Julian. The two boys grew to become fast friends and later business partners. As a young man, Julian worked as a cowboy and in 1906, at age 22, he joined the Forest Service. He was stationed at Roosevelt under Superintendent Roscoe Willson, but after two years left that service to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at San Carlos. In February 1910 he married Margaret (“Madge”) Solomon and they had two children, Jack and Delsie Dee. In 1921 Julian’s cousin Charley asked him to come to Globe and help operate the mail stage between Globe and Payson. The Stage was still horse drawn and for several years the two of them hauled mail and passengers through swollen creeks and over dirt roads. In 1923 Julian secured a Cadillac car and the mail stage became mechanized. Julian and his Cadillac quickly became an institution in the Tonto and Payson Basins. He not only delivered the mail, but carried packages and passengers. Folks along the way often asked him to buy this or that for them in Globe, which he cheerfully did. One lady had him take a piece of some material she was sewing so he could buy thread to match the color. One of his nieces, local author Marguerite Noble, says that Julian also brought the local gossip with him along the route. There were no newspapers, radio, or television so people had to get their news by word of mouth. She tells that Stella Frazier, the postmistress at Roosevelt, read all the post cards and filled Julian in on what others were doing so he could pass it on.
About 1924 Journigan’s partner and cousin, Charley See gave up the mail route and Julian enlarged the route on his own. Mail routes were done by contract with the Federal government and the person who won the contract would often sublet portions of the route to others. These rural routes were called “Star Routes” because the asterisks on the contract noting sublets were called stars. Journigan won the contract for the entire route between Globe and the Verde Valley, going by way of Fossil Creek and including all stops in between. By this time mail service was daily along the extended route and required a number of subcontractors. Since he was settled into a job that seemed substantial, in 1925 Julian and his family built their house on Main Street. It’s what now is considered the front one-third of the building at 202 W. Main. From Journigan’s house on Main Street to Globe was a day’s trip in the Cadillac Stage. The party would stop for lunch at the Angler’s Inn near Roosevelt Lake. The noon meal consisted of cowboy beans, jerky, gravy, and hot biscuits. The special treat was iced tea, made with ice that had been packed in from Globe. On the return trip to Payson the climb up Ox Bow Hill often required the passengers to get out of the Cadillac and help it up the hill by placing stones behind the wheels as it crept along. In 1932 Julian lost his bid for the mail route. While the family still lived on Main Street, he went to work on the Chilson-Tremaine cattle ranches around Rye and continued his favorite sport of mining. It was in April of 1941, after a trip to his claims near the headwaters of Slate Creek, that Julian Journigan suffered a heart attack at the Sunflower Store and died. He was 57 years old and is buried in the Payson Pioneer Cemetery.
Adventures for all seasons A writer and his faithful companion explore the mysterious thrill of fall
BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
I strain for the sound of dog feet through leaves on the banks of the East Verde River, looking anxiously after where Lobo disappeared amidst the drifts of cottonwood and sycamore leaves. “Lobo,” I call again. A moment later, Lobo bursts out of the forest, bounding through the drift of fall with joyful abandon. Lobo gets all worked up in the fall, even by his generous standards of physical expression. Of course, so do I, although I can’t quite account for the sensation. Maybe it’s the crisp air. Maybe it’s the shadow of winter’s visual austerity. But I kind of think it’s actually all the red and yellow. Now, I know the trees don’t care a whit. They’re busy minimizing the biological downside to winter. They seal off their frail solar panels on the brink of the onset of leaf-damaging frost. The green chlorophyll breaks down quickly, leaving behind an assortment of other longer-lasting compounds. Previously masked by the chlorophyll, those elements now dominate. Some turn the leaves of sycamores and cottonwoods yellow, mostly carotenoids. These anti-oxidants apparently prevent some of the byproducts of photosynthesis from damaging the leaves. The red color that dominates in maples comes from anthocyanins, which the leaves actually produce as the days grow shorter. Research suggests the red compounds protect aging leaves from sun damage, giving the trees a little more time to soak up sun and withdraw useful nutrients from the leaves. So, I understand why the trees get all shimmery and gorgeous as they batten down for winter. They’re adjusting their carotenoids without the slightest interest in my chromatic contact high. So why does fall get Lobo and me so jazzed? I’ve read lots of stuff about research on the impact of color on emotion. Supposedly, red colors get us emotionally charged up. They’re associated with dominance and strength. Now, I read where pure yellow makes us twitchy and uncomfortable. OK. I can buy that. But yellow-green is very, how did they put it — oh, yeah “arousing.” It’s a fine line between
twitchy and aroused. Lobo comes crashing through the leaves, clears a fallen sycamore trunk with a single bound and slides to an exuberant halt at my feet. He cocks his head and looks up at me, white accented eyebrows raised, tail curled in joy over his back, and pointy ears so alert I’m afraid they’re going to pop right off his furry head. He indulges me by coming when called, knowing I need intermittent reassurance that he hasn’t gotten into some pointless argument with a pack of javelinas. I look up across the creek to where a trembling Arizona walnut tree has gone luminous yellow. The leaves don’t flutter like the swiveling extravagance of cottonwood leaves, which are poplars related to the similarly fluttery quaking aspen.The walnut simply shimmers with drunken photons. Lobo follows my gaze alertly. Dogs do that. No small accomplishment. Some alert German researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology indulged their helplessly human curiosity and tested 20 chimps and 32 dogs on how well they could interpret human pointing gestures. The experimenter stood in front of a sequence of dogs and chimps and pointed at various objects. The dogs directed their attention at the object. The chimps showed no interest at all. Lobo looks at the walnut tree, then up to me, then
back to the walnut tree. Next thing I know, he launches himself into the creek, splashing happily into the chilly, belly-deep water. I would worry that he thought I wanted him to “fetch” the walnut tree, but Lobo doesn’t do “fetch.” Oh, he’ll go after a ball once or twice when he’s in a certain mood, but I don’t think he sees the point in it. Lobo and I have a voluntary association: I try not to presume on our relationship. He splashes through a swirl of mud until he converts to dog paddling across the center of the pool. He emerges on the other side, gives himself a good shake, then charges off into the fall foliage. He just gets so revved up in the fall: Can’t hardly help himself. But who can say what’s really going through his furry brain. Supposedly, dogs have fewer color receptors in their eyes — so fall must look muted to him. But then, his sense of smell is about 10,000 times better than mine — so maybe he’s totally high off some root fungus. Stanley Coren, a researcher from the University of British Columbia, recently published a summary of other studies that concluded the average dog ranks with a 2- or 3-year-old human on our human-tilted intelligence scale. Most dogs can learn about 150 words — although some brainy types have mastered as many as 250. This far exceeds my own dog vocabulary. I get lost after “hungry,” “time for a walk,” and “gotta pee.” Heck, Coren even demonstrated that dogs will lie with a perfectly straight face when trying to mislead other dogs as to the location of a hidden treat. I knew that. Lobo always acts exquisitely nonchalant when I’m about to leave the room, forgetting some tasty food item in the kitchen sink. The crashing recedes, as Lobo hurtles through the lilt of littered leaves. I settle myself on a grassy hummock with a clear view of the reflection of the conga-line of cottonwoods across the way, all crazy with carotenoids. I do wish I could smell the mushrooms that Lobo can. Maybe then I’d finally truly understand autumn.
Rim Country Hikes: Cure for Cabin Fever BY MICHELE NELSON ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
It had been a quiet weekend — clearly too quiet for my two girls. “Mom! Brooke took my book!” “No I didn’t.” “Mom! She’s being mean ...!” “What do you mean I’m being mean? You’re tattling ...!” The tension in our little house just about made me scream. “OK! That’s it — into the car with both of you.” They looked at me in surprise — eyes round with trepidation, because normally I’m a pretty laid back person. But when I’ve had it, I’ve had it. They opened their mouths and I cut them off before they could say anything. “No questions. I’ll get some snacks and water, put on a coat — it’s cold. Oh, and wear sturdy shoes.” Their eyebrows furrowed and they shot each other a look, but they followed my directions. We had recently moved to the Rim Country from California. Although we had visited my grandparents for years in Payson, none of us knew the area very well. I just knew I had to get the girls out and far away from the house to shake off the cabin fever that had settled like a pall over the house. In my mind I vaguely remembered where the fish hatchery sat on Tonto Creek off of Highway 260. My plan was to go there and find a trail. I figured there had to be one somewhere around there. So we bundled into the car and started driving down our street. Only then did they start in with the questions.
“What are we doing?” “Where are we going?” I waited for them to settle down. “It’s a surprise — trust me.” I’d asked them to trust me when we moved to Payson from my parents’ house in California. I’d asked them to trust me that I had to divorce their father. I had asked them to trust me when I put them in a new school in a completely different state. They had trusted me — and made friends in the new school, found teachers welcomed them and visited our neighbors, who knew four generations of the family. We all felt safe, happy and had a good life in our new adopted town. But the quiet fall weekend had been too much down time and I turned to my secret weapon — nature. Throughout their childhood, nature was my babysitter. When the girls got squirrely as toddlers, I would take them out to visit a stream, sit by a lake or the ocean or take them on a tromp through the woods. On those forays into nature the girls would relax and often have a ton of fun. When Brooke was in kindergarten, she would make friends with rocks, picking them up as she walked and whispering to them. Crystal loved to laugh and run without a care in the world. Sometimes that scared me, but she always did fine. Our drive to the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery was beautiful. The girls watched as the ponderosa pine forest got thicker and thicker. They did not remember visiting the hatchery when they were little girls, Crystal a baby and Brooke a 4-year old.
I turned and drove up the road to the parking lot by the bridge over Tonto Creek. “Are we hiking?” asked Brooke. “Mom, I don’t really want to hike ...” started Crystal. “We’re here now, just give it an hour and a snack,” I said. Crystal always liked her snacks. They stuffed any further comments. We found the trailhead to Horton Creek and started up. We hiked for about half an hour and then found a spot with rocks and a fallen tree that spanned the creek to sit on. I breathed a sigh of relief. I’d gotten them out of the house and into nature. Now I just needed to wait for the magic. It really didn’t take long. Brooke pulled out her camera and started snapping pictures. Crystal laid down on a rock and started dipping her hand into the water. “Hey Mom! Come sit on this log so I can take a picture,” said Brooke. I posed for her, trying to look like I didn’t know she was taking a picture. Then she turned to her sister. “Crystal, look at me.” Brooke snapped more photos. “Mom, can we have that snack now?” asked Crystal. “Sure.” We gathered around on the bank of Horton Creek to munch on apples and a sandwich. “It’s really pretty here,” Crystal said as she leaned against my shoulder sandwich in hand. “Thank you for bringing us.” I smiled and gave her a hug. “Glad you trusted me.” We spent the afternoon posing for
HORTON CREEK TRAIL Take Highway 260 east for 16 miles to Forest Road 289, also called Tonto Creek Road. Turn left. Go for about a mile to the Upper Tonto Creek campgrounds. Hiker parking is across from the campground on the opposite side of the bridge. A composite toilet is available. The Horton Creek Trailhead starts back across the bridge up the dirt road toward the campgrounds, but to the left. The beginning of the trail is a little tricky as it goes through a creek bed with lots of exposed river rock. DERRICK TRAIL The trailhead is down the road from the campground. Recently rerouted to make the entrance easier, hikers can now hike a loop from the Derrick Trail to the Horton Creek Trail. HIGHLINE TRAIL Head up the road toward the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery. The Highline Trail starts off the road. The trail hooks up to the Horton Creek Trail. The trail is dry until it reaches the spring.
more pictures, climbing the log, and jumping rocks until the sun started to disappear and it got too cold to stay, despite our jackets. On the drive home, Crystal dozed and Brooke looked at the pictures she had taken. “You know Mom, that was fun. I got some good pics.” “Glad to hear it.” When we got home, I made a simple soup dinner and we ate in contented peace. Then the girls drifted off to their rooms and slept soundly. As I fell into bed I felt satisfied that I’d averted cabin fever with a hike. Nature — my secret weapon for a peaceful family life.
Visitors boost the economy Pete Aleshire/Roundup
The lakes in Green Valley are stocked with trout all winter long (above), and the East Verde has holdover trout from summer stocking.
Visits to the nation’s 193 million acres of national forest land add $13 billion to the gross domestic product and sustain about 190,000 full- and part-time jobs, according to a justreleased survey by the Department of Agriculture. Forests in the Southwest account for about 10 percent of all visits. The findings underscore the importance of forest-based recreation to rural economies like that of Rim Country. The 3-million-acre Tonto National Forest ranks as one of the most heavily visited forests, with about 6 million visits annually. The national survey counted more than 160 million visitors to the vast expanses administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Visits typically last less than six
hours and the most common goal listed was “relaxing.” When asked to list their primary reason for visiting national forests, 19 percent said they wanted to hike, 13 percent come for the scenery and 14 percent went skiing. About 70 million used day-use facilities and only 17 million spent the night. Most sought out undeveloped sites. The nation’s forests include 150,000 miles of developed trails, 10,000 recreation sites, 57,000 miles of streams, 122 ski areas, 338,000 historic sites, 22 national recreation areas and seven national monuments, which in Rim Country includes Tonto National Monument overlooking Roosevelt Lake. The Tonto National Forest alone has about 2,600 miles of dirt roads
and has more off-road vehicle users than almost any other forest in the nation. The national study concluded that the Forest Service lands also provide about 20 percent of the nation’s water supply, with a value of about $7.2 billion. A related study that asked people to list the variety of things they do found that 47 percent want to “view natural features,” 40 percent hike or walk, 36 percent “relax,” 32 percent view wildlife, 24 percent “drive for pleasure,” 17 percent go skiing, 12 percent go fishing, 10 percent go to picnic, 9 percent camp, 7 percent hunt, 7 percent engage in “nature study,” 4 percent ride bikes, 4 percent want to ride off-road vehicles and another 4 percent engage in “motorized trail activity.”
Rim Country Museum & Zane Grey Cabin Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10am-4pm • Sunday 1pm-4pm
700 Green Valley Parkway • Payson, Arizona (928) 474-3483 www.rimcountrymuseums.com
NGCHS — Preserving Our Western Heritage
Fall Fishing Tips BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Summer gets all the glory when it comes to fishing holes and trout stream riffles. But fall has its own treasure trove of still waters and memorable moments. Granted, the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery has finished stocking 146,000 fish into Rim Country streams and lakes and turned its attention to growing more trout for next summer. The last batch of hatchery trout has gone into Woods Canyon Lake atop the Mogollon Rim, which this season received roughly 87,000 rainbows. However, plenty of fish remain in Rim Country lakes and streams — and fall fishermen are more likely to have a stretch of stream to themselves than the anglers of summer. Woods Canyon Lake remains a good bet right up until snow closes the road — and even then, ice fishermen can do well for themselves. Without the weekly infusion of hatchery trout, catch rates in Rim Country streams and lakes will dwindle with the temperatures in stretches of water that have gladdened hearts all summer — with no more fish stocked into the East Verde River or Haigler, Tonto and Christopher creeks. Fortunately, the competition from the hoards of Valley escapees has also dwindled — so local fishermen can still lower their blood pressure and savor the sound of running water, despite diminished, but inextinguishable hopes of hooking a straggler. The state’s roughly 255,000 fishermen spend an estimated $831 million on equipment and travel, according to a study by researchers from Arizona State University, based on figures from 2001. The study found that the state’s 135,000 hunters generate another $127
Roosevelt Lake draws bass and catfish anglers all winter long.
million. Combined, hunting and fishing generate $314 million in wages and $58 million in tax revenue annually, concluded the study. Fishing accounts for about 80 percent of the total. In Gila County, fishermen and hunters spent $39 million — which generated another $47 million in related economic activity. Fishing and hunting in the county produced 769 jobs and $1.8 million in taxes. The twice-weekly Tonto Hatchery stockings turned Tonto Creek and the East Verde and other smaller Rim Country streams into some of the top stream fishing stretches in the state. Some of those streams have now dwindled to a trickle and even the larger waterways — like Tonto and the East Verde — now harbor only wary trout that managed to avoid the thickets of lures, flies and baited hooks flung upon the waters by the summer
crowds. Some lunkers in those creeks actually make it through the winter, to face the gauntlet of summer hooks all over again. However, the Rim lakes — especially Woods Canyon — still have a lot of trout. Although the numbers have fallen from the peak stocking period, local anglers who head for the Rim lakes will face less competition for trout much more willing to bite as the cold weather reduces the amount of other food. Veteran Rim Country anglers recommend Woods Canyon, Blue Ridge, Knoll and Bear Canyon lakes. Stream fishermen can also go looking for trout that evaded the summer rush, especially on stream stretches that require a hike to reach. Such streams often have naturally reproducing populations. The lower reaches of Tonto Creek,
near Bear Flat, have a good supply of fish, long after the fair-weather fishermen have given up on the summerstocked reaches of the creek close by the highway. Moreover, fall brings the opening of the unique catch-and-release native fish season in Fossil Creek. The creek harbors so many Verde trout — actually two types of native chubs — that the Arizona Game and Fish Department supports a catch-and-release fishery there in the fall and winter. The fish abound in the crystal-clear pools and hit on almost everything trout like. For a remote and strenuous experience, hike down the Fossil Springs Trail outside of Strawberry, which drops 1,500 feet in two miles. Otherwise, you’ll need to drive around to the Fossil Creek Road that connects to the highway outside of Camp Verde. Meanwhile, the hatchery workers will start getting ready to grow another 150,000 fish for release next year, while nurturing the eggs that will produce the trout for the season after that. They’ll also be keeping a wary eye on bald eagles, raccoons and anyone else who might have plans involving the big fish-growing ponds — especially the pond that harbors about 2,000 fish carried over for an extra year. The hatchery doles out these 3- and sometimes 4-year-old fish in miserly fashion, but when caught, these monsters make the average angler holler and tremble and buy drinks for the house. But fishing just ahead of the first snowfall on Rim lakes and the more remote streams with their wild trout populations can yield reliable emotional soothing and the occasional thrill of hooking a big fish.
Quest for the perfect antique BY TERESA MCQUERREY
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday (usually)
ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Do you need just that one last piece to ﬁnish the look in your dream room? Are you looking for a place to start to create that perfect place to relax with family and friends? Maybe you have a collection of special pieces started and are looking for something more to expand on the theme. Or maybe you just want to ﬁnd something different for yourself or someone special in your life. The Rim Country affords both the hardcore and casual antique collector plenty of opportunities to scratch that itch. There are the classics, the Western-ﬂavored, the quirky and everything in between. Most shops in the area keep regular hours, but there are a few that require some perseverance to schedule a visit. The word from those who have had success at these few places is the wait is worth it. Here are some of our favorite places:
PAYSON Big Bear Antiques 422 S. Beeline Hwy., Payson (928) 474-5105
Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art 520 W. Main St., Payson (928) 472-4323 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday The Carpenter’s Wife 112 W. Wade Lane, Payson (928) 472-7343 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday
Pioneer Village Trading Post 1117 N. Beeline Hwy., Payson (928) 474-3911 Call for hours Sweet Nostalgia 512 S. Beeline Hwy., Payson (928) 595-1265 Call for hours Western Village 1104 S. Beeline Hwy., B, Payson (928) 474-3431 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily
Granny’s Attic Antiques 800 E. Hwy. 260, Payson (928) 474-3962 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily Main Street Mercantile 216 W. Main St., Payson (928) 468-0526 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., most days
Payson Galleria 108 E. Bonita St., Payson (928) 478-1003 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
PINE Auntie Gail’s Collectibles 3691 Hall Lane, Pine (928) 978-0469 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily
Coach House Antiques & Boutique 3824 N. Hwy. 87, Pine (928) 476-3641 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday noon to 4 p.m., Sunday Gingerbread House 3936 N. Highway 87, Pine (928) 476-3703 noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday Moose Mountain Gifts & Antiques 6264 Hardscrabble Rd., Pine (928) 476-3044 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday Pine Country Antiques 4078 N. Highway 87, Pine (928) 476-2219 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday Tymeless Antiques & Treasures 3716 N. Prince Dr., Pine (928) 476-4618 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday
Over 25 Years serving the Rim Country from Strawberry, Arizona on the corner of State Highway 87 and Fossil Creek Road
Under 3 miles north of Pine. Come on up, it’s worth the trip!
Rim Country Streams BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
The last golden leaves tremble on the cottonwoods, the night temperatures dip toward freezing and the waters of the streams carry the chill all day long. Time to hole up in front of the TV. Right? Nope. The abundant streams of Rim Country fascinate and attract me in every season — each with its unexpected charm. There is something special about being near creeks. The air is different — it is part of what makes the spots so refreshing. The sound of flowing water is revitalizing too. So perhaps you will need a coat and not a beach towel, but the streams of Rim Country still represent a great escape year-round.
Fossil Creek Fossil Creek remains one of the most remarkable streams in Arizona. It is accessible from Strawberry down a steep, challenging trail. The canyon bottom offers a treasure of fall color — and the water gushes from the spring at a constant 72 degrees year-round. The spring water seeps through fissures in ancient layers of limestone and picks up dissolved travertine, giving the water that unearthly blue-green color. The travertine also precipitates out of the water, forming dikes and dams of drip castle design. It has also become
the premier refuge for many native fish and birds. Facilities: No camping or fires along the creek, but great for day-use. Access: From Payson, take Highway 87 to Pine and turn on Fossil Creek Road. Continue past all homes to a dirt road. The turn off to the trailhead is to the right. The hike down takes about two hours. Come prepared for the trek with plenty of water, hats, lots of snacks and time. You can also access the creek on the Fossil Springs Road just outside of Camp Verde.
Tonto Creek Tonto Creek boasts great trout fishing in a succession of beautiful pools that are stocked all summer. Come winter, you fish for the holdovers — and the wild brown trout that persist in the deep pools and riffles year-round. This easily accessible stretch of river perfectly combines water and scenery. In the fall and winter, even on weekends you don’t have to contend with the crowds. The lower reaches of Tonto Creek in the Hellsgate wilderness area offer an unforgettable stint of canyoneering — although winter temperatures make the constant drenching dangerous. The creek returns to civilization, often nearly exhausted, at Gisela, where it waits at the end of Forest Road 417 off Highway 87. CONTINUED ON PAGE 9
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Tonto Creek continues into Roosevelt Lake. Facilities: USFS campground streamside along FR 289 and at the FR 269/260 junction, with another along Christopher Creek at FR 260. The historic Kohl’s Ranch rents cabins. Check for seasonal closures of the campgrounds. Access: From Payson, follow AZ 260 15 miles.
East Verde: Water Wheel This little-known treasure just outside of Payson offers one of the best all-around stream stretches in Arizona. The East Verde River emerges from a spring at the base of the Mogollon Rim and ﬂows down past Payson and to the Verde River. Houston Mesa Road and Flowing Springs Road offer ample access. Water Wheel offers the best single swimming hole, complete with a deep pool and 50-foot waterfall. The Forest Service has paved a parking area with a restroom alongside Houston Mesa Road. Park there and take the easy hike up the canyon to the waterfall. Facilities: Day-use picnic area at Water Wheel, campground at other locations along Houston Mesa Road. Access: Take Highway 87 north from Payson toward Pine and Strawberry. Just outside of Payson, take Houston Mesa Road. Water Wheel lies between the ﬁrst, bridged crossing and the second crossing, where the stream ﬂows across the road. Other Creeks Haigler Creek lies at the end of a long dirt road, has campgrounds, trails and relative solitude. Stocked regularly in the summer, you can try to hook holdovers in the winter. A popular hiking trail winds through the forest alongside the creek. To reach Haigler, turn off Highway 260 on the unpaved Forest Road 291, go three miles, then turn right onto Forest
Road 200. You’ll come to a trailhead in another ﬁve miles. From there, it’s a quarter-mile walk to the creek. Christopher Creek sometimes all but dries up in a drought, but the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks its small pools and rifﬂes for most of the summer. The creek offers lots of day-hike and picnic opportunities, popular for people who rent cabins in Christopher Creek or Kohl’s Ranch. To gain access, take the turnoff for Christopher Creek from Highway 260, then turn north onto Forest
4 0 0 E . H I G H W AY 2 6 0 • P AY S O N • 9 2 8 - 4 7 4 - 4 6 7 7
Western Village 1104 S. Beeline Highway • Payson
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Road 284 toward See Canyon. You’ll ﬁnd a campground and small pools full of wary ﬁsh, shaded by poplars and spruce. Horton Creek lies just one mile from Highway 260, just off the Tonto Creek Hatchery Road. Park at the Horton Trailhead and take the beautiful, two-mile hike through the trees to Horton Creek, which twists and turns through slots in the limestone beneath a forest canopy. The creek sometimes goes dry in its lower reaches, but push on upstream toward the spring to regain the splash of water.
The Payson Care Center Nursing Team invites the Community to attend
A Silent Art Auction Tuesday, November 12th 1:00 to 4:00 pm Payson Care Center 107 E. Lone Pine Dr., Payson, AZ 85541 Sparkling Wine and Hors d’oeuvres will be served Proceeds benefit the “Forget Me Nots” (Payson’s Alzheimer’s Support Group) Art and picture donations will be appreciated 928-951-2305
Favorite Fall Day BY TERESA MCQUERREY ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Photo by Guido Gerding
My actual favorite fall day was decades ago over the Thanksgiving holiday when I first went away to college. I didn’t drive until I had a full-time job, so I had been up at Northern Arizona University from the time I had started — during the summer session, right out of high school, so I could get some of the freshman requirements out of the way and start on my degree work sooner rather than later. It had been about four full months since I’d been home (from mid-June through late November). As much as I had looked forward to starting that new phase of my life, by that time I was getting a little homesick for my sisters and mother and my mother’s cooking. My parents were still married then, though a bigger paycheck had taken my father away to work on the Navajo Reservation. But it was a holiday and he was going to be home. I am not certain, but I think that may have been the Thanksgiving that both sets of grandparents and our paternal grandmother’s sister and her husband all came for the holiday. However, it is
possible I have mashed up about three different Thanksgiving holidays in my memory. At any rate, for some reason I was relegated to the sofa bed in the living room. Tucked under what seemed like several pounds of my maternal grandmother’s homemade quilts and afghans, I woke up with the first morning light. The house was quiet and warm — both in terms of temperature and for me emotionally, being back among my family after such an extended absence. In the distance I heard the Canada geese calling as they took flight from their winter resting grounds around the Payson Golf Course. To this day, with all those loving relatives gone, save for my mother and sisters, when I see the geese on the fall brown grass at the golf course or on the lakes or in flight, I remember that most perfect fall day all those decades ago and say a prayer for those who have died and those of us who remain. So as you are out and about this fall and winter in the Rim Country, if you come across those feathered flocks from up north, I hope you will take a moment to savor their simple beauty and incredible stamina they represent and find a bit of perfection for yourself.
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Rim Country Shopping Delights Rim Country’s got just about everything. Even quirky shopping opportunities. So we asked writers for the Payson Roundup to offer a selection of their favorite places to spend money — but still come out with a deal. Please don’t take this list as comprehensive — and we know we’ve left out lots of great, offbeat, unique shops. We just wanted to give you a sense of the range of stores — and the odd little nooks and crannies in which the locals delight.
Teresa McQuerrey Ah: The thrill of the bargain hunt. Here are a few suggestions. Beall’s Outlet, 305 S. Beeline Highway: Find a little bit of everything — clothes, shoes, accessories, home décor and linens, stuff for the kitchen and funky stationery. The outlet-priced products come from all over, with added discounts for all but invisible flaws. The clothing, shoes and accessories are easy to navigate, but sorting through the home décor items takes more time. Dollartree Store, 200 E. Hwy. 260 in the Bashas’ Shopping Center: This place is fun. Take in $20 and fill up one of their little green carts with fake flowers, kitchen stuff, candles, gift wrap and cards, and just about anything else you can imagine. Granny’s Attic Antiques, 800 E. Hwy. 260: A bargain hunter’s dream — packed to the rafters with tons of antiques and collectibles. You can spend hours just browsing. Moose Mountain Gifts & Antiques, 6624 W. Hardscrabble Mesa Rd., Pine: Another store stocked with a head-spinning assortment of wonders. This is my hands-down favorite for the best and most unique gifts and the place I would go if I had about $100 in expendable resources and wanted to wile away a cold autumn or winter afternoon. Tymeless Antiques & Treasures, 3716 N. Prince Dr., Pine: The name says it all. Check out this unique shop across the street from the Pine Strawberry Fire Department at 6198 W. Hardscrabble Mesa Rd. Alexis Bechman Senior Center Thrift Shop, 514 W. Main Street: Who knew shopping in an old post office could be so fun? The Payson Senior Center Thrift Shop has been delivering fun and inexpensive finds for two decades. It brims with clothing, furniture, sporting goods and house wares. Director Joanne Conlin said the shop started 20 years ago as the center’s primary fund-raising tool. With government funding cut more each year, the Senior Center relies on the thrift store to help fund the Meals on Wheels and ridership programs. Paper and Metal Scrappers, 201 W. Main St., Suite C, Sawmill Crossing: Paper and Metal Scrappers is the kind of store a woman like me can do damage in. With displays full of colorful paper, ribbons, trinkets, bling and everything else needed to trick out a scrapbook; it is easy to get carried away. Owner Barbara Wilembrecht says she offers merchandise for the scrapbooker, rubber stamper, card maker and mixed media artist. She also teaches customers how to use all that swag. “We offer classes and workshops featuring 14 different teachers for all levels of paper crafters,” according to the store’s Web site. “Our signature style is a funky, vintage look that appeals to all.”
Roundup file photos
Back to Basics has been specializing in fresh food, herbs and vitamins for 20 years.
products,” according to their Web site. The store’s blog, at www.herbstoponline.com/blogs, offers healthy recipes and health information.
Granny’s Attic Antique Mart is packed to the rafters with antiques and collectibles.
Herb Stop, 4004 N. Highway 87, Pine: Founded in 1992, The Herb Stop is the place to find unique tea blends, aromatherapy, homeopathic remedies, tinctures and spices. Founded by Leilah Breitler, an herbalist, in a 300-square-foot store, the Herb Stop has expanded into a larger location in Pine where products are manufactured and sold. In 2002, herbalist Natalie Hajdu joined Breitler and they continue to grow the store with an “emphasis placed on providing the public with the highest quality herbal
Michele Nelson Shopping is something done every week and often a drudgery, but in Payson I turn it into an event. Two local store runs fill my needs not only for supplies, but for connection and information. Back to Basics Health Food, 908 N. Beeline Highway: Back to Basics has been specializing in fresh food, herbs and vitamins for 20 years. Owners Gary and Cheri Cole have populated the store with bright, enthusiastic employees who have a passion for health food. As a regular, I always get a ‘Hello’ and a ‘How are you?’ Tara will walk anyone through the maze of vitamins, herbs, homeopathic, and essential oils to find the right combination. When I sought relief for indigestion, she introduce me to a German chocolateflavored deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). The fresh fruit juice bar carries wheat grass shots and will whip up a protein shake or imaginatively combined juiced concoction of fruits and veggies — a welcome pickme-up anytime. Payson Feed & Pet Supply, 101 W. Aero Drive off South Beeline Highway: My motto is, “Garbage in, garbage out.” I believe this applies to our furry friends as well as us. This feed store offers supplies for everything from ranch animals to home companions. Opened in 1998, the store carries premium pet foods, fish tanks, horse panels, stock tanks, buckets, wild bird feed, litter, horseshoes, saddles, tack, crickets and much more. Shopping in Payson — always an adventure with the friendly people of the community.
Tonto Natural Bridge: State park rebounds
Buoyed by a rise in visitation, the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park has again become an anchor for Rim Country’s thriving tourist trade. Fortunately, the park remains accessible and fascinating all winter long. The park is now open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but most of the 8,000 visitors a month come on Saturdays. One of the best-known tourist attractions in Rim Country, the park centers on a cavernous, 183-foot-high, 400-foot-long tunnel Pine Creek has dissolved through a massive wall of travertine. Visitors can visit the gift shop in a territorial style historic lodge, then hike down to the creek. Many visitors pick their way through the 150-foot-wide tunnel, savoring the cooler temperatures, waterfalls, deep, clear pools and steady drip of groundwater from the ceiling. The park has also completed work on a paved pathway and wheelchair ramps that connect the visitors center to several overlooks. George Randall donated most of the concrete and Four Corners Concrete in Payson did the work. The park will also shortly add a large, covered ramada with picnic tables that groups can reserve for gatherings. The full-time staffing in the park has declined from five to three, which makes the contributions of a core of about 30 volunteers crucial. Volunteers donate nearly 600 hours every month, which adds up to more
than 60,000 hours annually. After the state Legislature diverted the bulk of the operating funds for the 28-park system, the state parks board considered plans to close many sites — including Tonto Natural Bridge, which even in normal times costs more to operate than visitors pay in fees. Payson and Star Valley rallied to the park’s defense and contributed up to $30,000 annually to help offset operating costs. Volunteers also stepped up their efforts and formed Friends of Tonto Natural Bridge. The volunteers now contribute enough hours to compensate for three full-time positions. State Parks officials hope that Tonto Natural Bridge will end up becoming a model for partnerships with private firms. The master plan envisions opening the lodge to overnight visitors, adding a restaurant and perhaps building and renting cabins and campgrounds. State Parks officials hope that a private contractor will be willing to invest in such improvements, which would increase the revenue and the visitation. An economic study done when the bridge was attracting 90,000 annually concluded that visitors to the park inject about $26 million a year into the local economy. The massive, travertine arch has a rich history — both human and geologic. The arch formed from a fascinating process in just the last 5,000 years. That’s when springs began to gush
The world’s natural travertine bridge continues to draw people from all over the country to the region. Spring deposited travertine — dissolved limestone — built a great dike that Pine Creek eventually dissolved, creating a great cavern (top).Travertine continues to build strange formations on the walls of the cavern as calcium carbonate-laden water runs down the rockface.
from fractures in thick layers of limestone on one side of the small canyon carved by Pine Creek. The limestone layers formed from the skeletons of microscopic sea creatures that settled to the bottom of an ancient, vanished sea. The sea-bottom deposits were transformed into limestone after they were buried, heated, fused and then uplifted. Rainfall that fell on the uplands filtered through those buried layers of limestone and fed the springs. That
percolating groundwater picked up a heavy load of calcium carbonate from the limestone. This mineral then precipitated out of the water as it emerged into the sunlight. The travertine built up to form a massive wall, that blocked and diverted Pine Creek. The waters of the creek then went to work on the travertine dam, initially forming a meander to go around it, but eventually dissolving a tunnel right through it. A similar process formed Kartchner Caverns in southeast Arizona and is now building new formations in Fossil Creek. Various Native American groups took advantage of the bounty of Pine Creek for thousands of years. Whites did not discover the natural wonder until prospector David Gowan used the cavern to hide from a band of pursuing Apaches in 1877. He reportedly hid for three days in smaller caves connected to the central arch before he emerged and decided to homestead the nearby valley. He started a farm and ranch there and was joined by his nephew, David Goodfellow and family in 1893, who eventually took over the homestead.
Fall Hunting Tips BY DENNIS PIRCH SPECIAL TO THE ROUNDUP
Payson is the hub of Rim Country hunting, offering a great variety of game animals in a 30-mile radius. The general season for whitetail and mule deer is right around the corner for those hunters who are fortunate enough to secure a permit by the early summer lottery drawing. Preseason scouting trips greatly improve the odds of placing a tag on a trophy buck during the hunt. Early morning and late afternoons are the best times to see deer on the move from the bedding grounds to the areas of food and water. Get a vantage point with a view of many side hills and canyons, which often requires gaining elevation by hiking up one of the many mountains and rims in the area. This is no easy task unless there was also some kind of personal exercise program that has you in shape for the rigors of the many uphill hikes needed to find that perfect glassing spot. Improve leg and back strength with a simple three-times-per-week, 30minute program of walking the many hills within the city limits of Payson. Begin gradually by choosing level ground and have a target distance of 20 minutes for every mile covered. When this becomes easy, then
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increase the speed of the walk and the difficulty of the program by adding a few hills into the routine. Remember, a deer hunt usually means carrying a rifle, optics and other essentials for a day in the wilderness, which adds weight to the hike in pursuit of the game. Practice by carrying a weighted daypack after a few weeks of the exercise program. An established routine will create a healthier lifestyle. Being familiar with your rifle often means going to the range before the season and target shooting at various distances. That routine will prepare a hunter for that one special moment when the animal is seen within shooting distance. Obviously, practice at the distances you are comfortable with and know the rifle’s capabilities. There may not be too many opportunities in a seven-day season to have a deer or other big game in the crosshairs. Optics may count for just as much as good shooting. In the West’s wideopen spaces, a good pair of field glasses is a must and a spotting scope an extra benefit. Let your eyes do the walking by scanning and picking apart every canyon and hillside within a mile of your position. Once you spot the game, then devise a plan to get within shooting range
for the perfect shot. The first two days of most seasons yields the greatest number of tags being filled by successful hunters. In most cases, these are the deer in the canyons or ridges near the roads. By day three, most animals will go deeper into the wilderness to avoid humans. Success in the second half of the season usually involves longer hikes into the more remote areas of the unit. Walking in the dark can be tricky, so I would recommend a headlamp with strong candlepower over a conventional flashlight. This keeps your hands free for balance just in case you trip over the terrain while walking to the hunting area. If everything comes together and an animal is harvested, then the real work begins after the tag is placed on the antlers. A backpack should have all the necessary items for field dressing the animal, including a sharp knife, ropes, and game bags for keeping the meat clean. Of course, you also need simple provisions for a lengthy day in the field. In this day and age, you can get cell phones with service almost everywhere. A quick call to a couple of friends can make the pack out a lot less work. Good luck on your upcoming hunts if you have a permit, and if you don’t, then join in with someone else who needs an extra set of eyes looking into that next canyon. Hunting big game in the Rim Country has been an important part of Payson’s heritage for well over a hundred years.
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Perfect day — the friends of fall BY ALEXIS BECHMAN ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Here’s what I learned: A good friend will willingly rearrange everything to help you photograph fall color. And a good boyfriend will come along to play model. I know I shouldn’t admit to it: But my perfect fall day doesn’t depend on marveling at the color of the leaves, the crisp air in my hair, the sprig of fresh, wild mint. Nope: it’s spending the day with people who will do what I want. The assignment to write an account of my “perfect fall day” initially stumped me, since the remodeling of the Strawberry Lodge in Strawberry had left me no place to get a perfect piece of caramel apple pie. Then a friend asked me to help her on a maternity photography shoot by East Verde Estates. For several hours, I ran back and forth with outfit changes for the client, fashioned hangers from twigs and held up a large, silver disc to bounce the days fading light on the client’s glowing face. I charged nothing — happy to help a friend and accumulate friendship credits. Days later I cashed my credits. She had one condition: I would have to make my yet-to-be-famous Bloody Marys afterward. The model this time wasn’t an expectant mother, but my boyfriend and our dog, frequent muses for newspaper photographs. We set out searching for that iconic shot of man and dog on a leisurely stroll. My photographer friend strapped her baby to her back and followed us everywhere, camera in hand. After 1.5 hours, we had traveled no more than a quar-
Bessie Watson and budding photographer Thorleigh spend the afternoon photographing fall color by the East Verde.
ter of a mile, but felt like we’d covered 30, capturing every angle and stumbling over every wobbly rock. But the best was yet to come. Back at home, I stirred up Bloody Marys, topped with crispy bacon, locally made cheddar cheese, mini gherkin, olives and celery. My photographer friend Instagramed her followers: Best Bloody Mary ever. Best ever indeed: A day spent among supportive friends counts as one of the best fall days I’ve ever had.
Photo by Bessie Watson
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Bigfoot and the wolf
BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Bounding across the frozen meadow, Lobo rose up out of the white depths with each lunge, spattering snow on all sides, then plunged back into the snow to his chin. I stood easily atop the snow, thanks to my bigbrained cleverness and my brand new, Paysonbought snowshoes, as he plowed through the drifts with a brute force undulation. I savored my temporary sense of superiority. You must understand this about Lobo: He’s solid muscle, but graceful as a ballet dancer. He can match paces with a greyhound, he can skip lightly over six-foot block walls. He makes me look like an animated sack of wheat. I’m jealous and pudgy and in my little wizened heart, not a generous person. So I will admit this right up front: For the ﬁrst time in our relationship he looked like the clumsy blunderer — and I had the undisputed advantage. Lord: I love snowshoes. I’d picked up my ﬁrst-ever pair at Big 5. Then I packed Lobo in the Jeep for a jaunt to the Rim, ﬁguring I’d ﬁnally give him a workout. On foot, I have to hike myself to death to make him break a sweat — except, of course, dogs don’t sweat. But I ﬁnally had the advantage. Of course, this seemed not to bother Lobo a whit. He went bounding this way and that as I slogged along. He found the snow a source of endless discovery and fascination. For he had access to the secret world of snow, lost to me in my nifty snowshoes, with my dull ears and my useless nose — good only for dripping in the 15-degree cold. In truth, a whole world scurries and squirms beneath the snow — which insulates everything beneath its shroud from the bitterness of wind. Snow remains mostly air, which hoards the heat in a lattice of ice crystals. A whole ecosystem thrives beneath that insulated layer. Specialized algae, bacteria and fungi go about their secret business in the snow — which breathes in and out — a constant process of vapor exchange. These organisms hum along all winter, decomposing buried plant matter and sustaining an ecosystem of mites and spiders and species of insects blessed with natural antifreeze. Those fungi, algae, insulated plants and insects in their turn sustain mice and shrews and squirrels, which live in burrows and tunnels along the underside of downed logs. And those squirrels and mice in their turn sustain foxes and coyotes and other eager
creatures that pad through the snow — stopping to sniff and listen for the furtive signs of life beneath the surface. Wolves have long hunted happily in the snow, taking advantage of the distress of deer and elk. One study I read found that the deeper the snow, the better the hunting for wolves that live on deer. The wolves bound through the snow more readily than the ﬂeet footed, sharp-hooved deer. Recalling that conclusion, I stopped to watch Lobo cock his head alertly, then bury his cold, pointy nose in a snowdrift. He burrowed in, rooted about, but came up empty — his face frosted. He has a twolayer coat, which leaves drifts of hairballs in my living room twice a year — but that serves him well in the snow. Lobo looked back, grinning ear to pointed ear, before bounding on ahead. He stopped at the base of a huge, old-growth ponderosa — its red, vanillascented bark deeply plated and vivid against the pure white of the snow. Lobo dug experimentally, then again buried his head. He emerged in triumph a moment later. I shufﬂed forward to look. Lobo had a mouth full of coyote scat. “Good, grief, Lobo. Drop it,” I hollered. He dropped it, not a bit abashed. “What is it with you and coyote do-do?” I said. He just grinned. We mushed on for a couple of hours — all the way to a snatch-your-breath view from the edge of the Mogollon Rim, a perfect day in the unbroken snow. I stood in the buzzing silence, in the company of the dog that had followed me and my kind the 100,000 years since Homo sapiens departed Africa and set out to claim the world. Then we turned and headed back to the car, Lobo as eager as ever, me growing tired. I crunched through the snow, my smug sense of superiority waning. “No telling what you’d do with snowshoes,” I said as he came up behind. Just then, he stepped deftly on the back of my snowshoe. I pitched head ﬁrst into the snow. I came up a sputtering, put my arm out to rise — and sank in to my armpit. Floundering like a drowning man with brain damage, I struggled to get my oversized feet under me. I got one foot half placed, but the edge of the snowshoe slid into the snow, pitching me sideways into a snowdrift. Rolling over on my back like a beached whale, I stared a moment
Rim Country communities offer the perfect base for winter activities like snowshoeing. A $100 pair of snowshoes from local retailers like Big 5 opens up all of the snowbound Mogollon Rim, just 30 minutes north of Payson.
at the startling blue sky, without a hint of upward leverage before ﬂopping over onto my stomach. Trying to rise from a crouch, I did another faceplant. Lobo must have ﬁgured I was looking for shrews. Finally, somehow, I rose by sheer force of will and accumulated humiliation then ﬂoundered a couple of steps through the drift, ﬂailing for my balance. Lobo sat at a distance with his head cocked, trying to make sense of the game. I gathered up my frozen dignity. “What are you looking at?” I demanded. He grinned, but said nothing. “Oh, yeah?” I said. “Well. I’m not the one eating coyote crap,” I added haughtily. He grinned, turned and bounded off through the snow, the world made new — and delightfully full of scat.
Tips from the pro Michele Nelson/Roundup
Arizona Highways photographer Nick Berezenko offered tips on photographing fall colors, including taking advantage of a cloudy day and avoiding the mid-day sun. BY MICHELE NELSON ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Nick Berezenko unassumingly pulled out his Nikon with telephoto lens and snapped a shot of the troupe of teenage girls from the Maya Joy Dancers playing in the chill of a fall afternoon — then turned his attention to a lone maple covered in scarlet leaves. “The midday light is harsh,” he said, “It’s too blue.” Berezenko has shot pictures for Arizona Highways for years. He lives in Pine with his partner, Su Von Mazo. The two recently put on a dance show at Dimi Espresso. To celebrate, they took the families of the dancers to the Rim on a social photo safari to capture fall colors. The group started out at a reasonable 11 a.m. on a Sunday, although the mid-day light overwhelms the camera lens. “It’s all about the light,” said Berezenko. He explained that the human eye easily handles the bright light because
the brain filters and interprets light, whereas the camera lens does not have that ability. As a result, people can look at the red maple tree and see the individual tones and details of backlit leaves. The eyes create shadows to see graduations of color on the trunk. The camera, on the other hand, does not have that filtering ability. In bright harsh light, Berezenko said the camera turns shaded areas into black. The contrast in colors disappears. Leaves in sunlight “blow out” when the camera grabs the images. In essence, what the camera sees, it takes versus what the eye and brain sees and interprets. “The best weather to take fall colors is cloud cover,” he said. The soft diffused light, often favored for portrait pictures, allows the fall colors to pop, angles to soften, and details emerge. Almost every one of the dozen members of this photo safari had some sort of camera.
The girls, who had spent months learning the dances for the show, kicked back and took goofy pictures of each other while parents chatted and enjoyed the fall show of colors on the Rim eating lunch and snapping pictures. But Berezenko had secret stashes of fall color to show off. “OK, let’s pack up and move onto the aspen grove,” he said. He and Von Mazo led the caravan of five vehicles to a barren spot of land created by the Dude Fire. Walking over a hill, a wide bowl emerged in which aspens covered the sides and made rooms with whitebarked, yellow-leaved walls. It was breathtaking, but again the light was a challenge. “Why don’t you take the tree with the leaves back lit,” he suggested. The challenge came from the sun peeking through the leaves. “Change the setting to aperture and turn up the F-stop as high as it goes,” he suggested, “The sun will turn into a
star burst.” It worked. The camera has three settings to play with, shutter speed, the aperture and ISO. The shutter speed controls how quickly the lens of the camera opens and shuts. The F-stop, or aperture, controls how far open the lens will open. The ISO determines how much light will be gathered into the picture. It really is, all about light. Wandering through the cathedral of aspens, the girls found an open field and lay down to enjoy the view. The parents wandered around chatting and snapping photos. When asked how she captured a stand of aspens with a perspective that showed off the height, bright white bark and brilliant yellow leaves, Susan Walker said, “I don’t know, I just thought it looked pretty.” And that, said Berezenko, is what makes a great photo — the photographer’s emotional response to the subject.
The rustle of blessings Fall colors highlight our debt to leaves BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Every year, Fall compels me to count my blessings. Especially the leaves. Lying here amidst the rustle and the splendor, with winter already closing in and summer but a dappled memory, the world seems so simultaneously simple and intricate that it seems miraculous at every scale. Consider the leaf, in all its misleading simplicity. In a few hundred million years, leaves have made the planet’s great diversity of living things possible, for leaves have dramatically increased the ability of plants to make energy from sunlight — which fuels the whole three-ringed circus of life. You can search the planet and not find a more diverse and absorbing illustration of the miracle of leaves than Payson — perched on an ecological boundary. Here, the cottonwoods and sycamores along the East Verde River go lurid every fall, dropping the leaves of summer in an act of shrewd extravagance. But growing right alongside them the patient junipers and pines hold onto their evergreen leaves all through winter’s hardships. So I let the leaves half bury me, gulping the gift of their oxygen and marveling at the ingenuity of their trade-offs. For leaves have taken us all on a long, strange trip. The first land-based plants emerged from the great nursery of ocean some 1.2 billion years ago, but they amounted to variations on pond scum. The first true land-dwelling plants didn’t creep ashore until about 500 million years ago, having already mastered the art of photosynthesis. Green chlorophyll allows plants to use the energy of sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into sugars and a little gasp of oxygen, which the plant sheds as waste to the great delight of air-breathers everywhere. But here’s a mystery: Early plants hit upon roots, stems, trunks, veins, photosynthesis and many other hallmarks of plantiness a full 50 million years before they came up with leaves. That long wait has perplexed botanists, given the huge advantages plants gain from leaves. If leaves dramatically increase growth, why did plants wait so long to invent them? One set of researchers who published their speculations in the journal Nature suggested vascular plants had to wait until they had significantly reduced the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and thereby cooled the planet before they could evolve leaves. That’s because leaves may produce energy, but they also lose a lot of water from evaporation and soak up a lot of extra heat. The researchers suggested that in the hot, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere 500 million years ago, leaves would all shrivel. Others dispute that theory, pointing out that those early plants lived in swamps where they had plenty of water, which means they could use extravagant levels of evaporation to keep cool.
Fall has already spent itself on the East Verde. The leaves of deciduous trees not only generate energy, but drive the pumping system for water from the roots.
Instead, some botanists look to the root of the problem — arguing that plants didn’t need leaves until the roots became efficient enough to make use of the energy the leaves could produce. And that, in turn, may date to the start of an ancient partnership between plant roots and fungi growing in the soil. Most plants now depend on a whole little world of bacteria and fungi growing on their roots to dramatically increase their uptake of water and nutrients from the soil. In return, the fungi and bacteria essentially feed on the roots. For instance, at least 78 different species of bacteria grow on the roots of a cottonwood, according to a study by researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratory. Seeking ways to make plants like cottonwoods and aspen grow faster, the researchers isolated these different bacteria then grew seedlings with different combinations. They discovered certain bacteria increase the plant’s growth rate by 50 per-
cent. So one theory on the origins of leaves suggests that once plant roots found their key partners in the soil, they could finally take advantage of the energy boost offered by the evolution of leaves. Now, consider a remarkable feedback effect once plants hit on leaves. Leaves provide a second great benefit to plants, based on what looks at first glance to pose a disadvantage — evaporation. A cottonwood every day loses huge quantities of water through its leaves. But those sun-baked leaves are connected directly to the roots through the vascular system of the plant. As a result, the pressure created by the evaporation from the leaf’s surface, effectively pumps water and nutrients up from the roots. This again dramatically increases the growth rate of the tree. So plants could never have escaped the swamp nor grown more than a few feet tall until they invented leaves, which became the foundation of the explosion of diversity in life on this planet. A leaf lands on my forehead. I watched it all the way down, fascinated by the spiraling flutter. At the last moment, it veered to crash land on my noggin. I am startled — but grateful. I think all the world rustles now in the branches of my cottonwood — and the maples and sycamores and aspen that flare for their own tremble of glory in the stately progression of fall. They have nourished us, made up our beds, pulled the comforter snug against our chins. I can’t say that we’ve expressed our gratitude very well. We’ve laid waste to the riparian areas once dominated by cottonwoods and sycamores and the other giants of fall. By some estimates, these cottonwood-willow ecosystems sustain a greater mass and diversity of life than any place outside the rain forest. But we’ve destroyed or degraded 90 percent of those areas in the past century. Mercifully, the cottonwood that shelters me now does not appear to hold it against me. The great poplar gently rains its blessings down upon me. It soothes my soul. It sings with the wind. It pays its debts — exchanging my exhaled carbon dioxide for its oxygen — conferring the gifts of a star on the waiting earth through the miracle of a leaf.
The Haunted Restaurant If you’re yearning to extend that Halloween feeling — you might consider dinner at a haunted restaurant. Leastwise, the ghostbusters say there’s something going on at The Journigan House restaurant in Payson, besides the live music. So as part of our seasonal offering, we thought we’d revisit a recent night we spent after-hours in The Journigan House with a team of supernatural investigators from Phoenix. As the midnight witching hour approached, the team sat expectantly around the glass-topped, redtable-clothed table intently watching a small flashlight with a twist on-off switch — that investigator Ron Holcomb had twisted almost — but not quite — on. Restaurant owner Jimmy Johnson looked on — already a believer. “If you’re there,” said Holcomb, “please turn on the light.” The flashlight flickered on, flared, steadied and shone steadily in the darkness. “Good. Thank you,” said Ron calmly, a computer tech for the state whose hobby involves leading this group of skeptical true believers from one haunted house to another. On the table sat two twist-top flashlights, a temperature and electromagnetic field detector, a beach ball and two little toy cars sitting expectantly on a dusting of powder. “We don’t want to hurt you,” added Rick Cercone, a retired Army helicopter pilot and high school teacher working on his Ph.D. in paranormal science who brings a methodical persistence to the group. “We’re parents. We just want to communicate.” The pause filled up the poignant darkness of the home-turned-restaurant, built in the 1920s, with its long accumulation of dark tales and historic events. Johnson had primed the amateur team with tales of the strange sounds, shadowy figures, whispered voices and chilling touches that have unnerved cooks, waiters and managers. Now, the nine-person team from Phoenix Scientific Paranormal Investigations (PHXSPI.com) hoped to make contact here, as they feel they’ve done at supernatural hot spots throughout the state. On a crisp autumn night as snow drifted down outside, they had set up eight infrared cameras and sound recorders to keep sleepless vigil over every room in the place from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. It will take a month to review all the recordings for telltale blobs of light or whispered voices. But in the meantime, the ghost hunters wandered from room to room, attempting to make direct contact. “To show us that you’re still here, we now want you to turn off the flashlight,” said Ron. The silence stretched taunt. “Please, just turn off the light,” said Rick. The light flickered. Fades. Brightened. Faded to black.
GHOSTBUSTERS: A member of a Phoenix-based team that investigates haunted houses sets up a flashlight in hopes of communicating with ghosts in The Journigan House in Payson.
BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
“Good. That’s good,” said Rick. Now the pair worked to coax information out of the assumed specter — not at all discouraged by the lack of a response from the motion sensors to detect electromagnetic fields, motion and temperature changes. Rick also had nothing showing on his motion picture camera, although it recorded both infrared and ultraviolet emissions. “Are you a man?” asked Ron, wondering whether it might be “Mel,” who Jimmy said was a former owner who had died alone in a little room upstairs. Reportedly, witnesses sometimes still see him on a midnight stroll down Main Street. No response. “Are you a woman?” asked Ron, wondering whether it might be the mysteriously missing wife of a former resident who Jimmy swore was likely buried in a mysterious block of concrete poured for no evident reason in the water-heater storage area. No response. “Are you a child?” asked Ron, wondering whether it might be the child several employees have reported seeing or hearing — and who Jimmy swears is the unnamed girl on one of the historic pictures that lines the wall. No response. “Are you neither man, woman or child?” asked Rick, perplexed. The flashlight flickered back on. Ron and Rick exchanged startled looks in the glow of the flashlight. “Now turn the flashlight off again,” said Ron. After a minute, the flashlight flickered off. Well, that’s how it goes in the ghost hunting business: Never quite know what to expect — even in a hot spot like The Journigan House, whose employees wear T-shirts with a ghost and the logo “Got Spirits?” “I know they’re here — and they’re not mean,” said Johnson. “But they throw stuff.” Just about every employee it seems can recount some sort of experience: Pans flying off the shelf; shadowy figures leaning against the bar; odd sounds in empty rooms, sudden chills in the air; footsteps in the night; lights that turn on and switch off when you yell at them; voices from nowhere; a child’s handprint in the morning on the mirror cleaned at night in the women’s bathroom. Manager Kevin Mystrom said one night after he closed up he saw the shadowy figure of a man in a cowboy hat leaning against the bar, which vanished when he turned his head. He’s heard footsteps in the empty restaurant, seen pans fly across the kitchen and received messages on his cell phone with his “ghost detector” app. One of the ghosts is an old man who loves hot chocolate — another is a child who loves cranberry juice, he said. “I can’t wrap my mind around it ... I was a skeptic
when I started, but I’m a firm believer now.” So the PHXSPI team members had high hopes after the restaurant closed last Saturday night and started setting up their gear. The long evening yielded unsettling, but vague evidence of something strange in the haunted restaurant. During the almost six-hour investigation, team members managed three extended flashlight-mediated conversations. However, at least initially, the motion, infrared and electromagnetic detectors found nothing. Nor did they notice movements of the beach balls or other “trigger objects” they arranged in key locations — although someone has to watch all of the video to make sure. They did find a smudge in one of the tabletop dustings of flour that looked a lot like a child’s fingertip — but odd markings in the smudge made them wonder whether perhaps it was actually the wheel of one of their toy car “trigger objects.” They thought they heard footsteps. They also thought maybe they heard voices in a device that turns radio waves into static, which some investigators maintain ghosts can manipulate. The peak moment came when the whole team drifted into the command center in front of the big fireplace off the bar to compare notes — and stare at the nine camera feeds on a huge computer screen. Suddenly, everyone heard a muffled, metallic thump — maybe coming from the kitchen — like a giant mixing bowl being rocked on a hard floor. Ron headed into the kitchen with his infrared camera, but found nothing amiss. Everyone gathered again, trying to agree on the sound — and the source. About 10 minutes later, they all heard it again. Shortly after that, two flashlights sitting on a table near the computer monitor turned on. That triggered an interrogation by Rick and Dave, with muddled results. The flashlights went on and off — more or less on command — for about 10 minutes. Still, the team has hours of sound and video recording to review — looking for that smudge of light, the whispered voice, and the restless beach ball. “We’ve got a lot of data,” said Rick happily. “A lot of times we don’t hear anything while we’re sitting there,” said Dave, with a full set of paramedic shifts in the Valley ahead. “It’s only when we analyze the video that we find something.” As for night manager Kevin Mystrom, who shuts the place down and opens back up all alone, he has all the evidence he needs. “I made a deal with them,” he said seriously of his heart-to-heart talk with the spooks. “During the night, please don’t grab me. And so far, they’re sticking by it.”
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Mountain Biking in any season
BY ALEXIS BECHMAN ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Serious mountain bikers mostly agree Rim Country’s best trails lie atop the Mogollon Rim or drop down off that line of cliffs — including the Highline or Carr Lake trails. During the winter months, however, you’d need a bike with skies for tires to access most of those trails (or maybe a nice pair of snowshoes or cross country skis.) But don’t give up on mountain biking in winter: Rim Country also has lots of good trails at lower elevations threading through trees and granite boulders. Some are single track and others, arguably, more rutted road. This guide will run through some of the better trails to hit and most are accessible all year.
Crackerjack Mine The views along Crackerjack Mine Road are fantastic and the road passes by several old mine shafts and mine tailings (the shafts have been covered up though, so not much left to see). Pick up this long, sometimes-rough dirt road just outside of Payson as you head toward Pine. It’s the first dirt road turnoff to the south dignified by a stop sign. The road leads through the woods down to the East Verde River, crosses the river, then climbs up onto a high plateau. From there, it’s mostly a glorious downhill to another crossing of the Verde River at Doll Baby Ranch. Most riders don’t head all the way to Doll Baby Ranch Road, preferring instead to turn around at East Verde Estates to return to their vehicles parked just off the highway. It’s treacherously muddy in the spring or after a big rain — so don’t go near it when it’s wet. Otherwise, it provides a scenic, relatively unvisited backroad adventure, with access to water at several points. Boulders Loop If you are looking for short, fun rides, then check out these trails, which are part of the Payson Area Trails System (PATS). Located on the outskirts of Payson,
Photos by Keith Morris, Pete Aleshire
the trails are easy to find and almost always accessible. Pick up the Boulders Loop trail roughly 4 miles down Granite Dells Road, which initially is paved and then becomes a dirt road. A Forest Service trailhead sign provides general trail information, including a map. It is a good idea to study the map or print a version online since there are a series of connecting trails in the area that can prove confusing. The trail is extremely popular with mountain bikers due to challenging hills, rocks and washes and gets its name because of the spectacular boulders that are scattered around the hills. Rock-climbing and bouldering is also popular in the area. The cypress trail is accessible from the Boulders Loop and is a good way to extend your ride. Also just off Granite Dells Road lies the Monument Peak Loop. The 3-mile loop trail is very popular with quads, but is a good option if you have already
hit the Boulders Loop. The loop circles the base of Monument Peak, passing through juniper, meadows and a seasonal stream.
Houston Mesa Trail Also part of PATS, the Houston Mesa Trail is popular with mountain bikers because of the areas challenging terrain, including hills and rocks, which offer the opportunity for riders to pick up speed. From Payson, head north and turn right on Houston Mesa Road. The trailhead is on the right less than a mile later. The trail is roughly 4 miles. Round Valley Trail This is another PATS trail and can be ridden in either direction at 4.5 miles. Heading north though, from the Payson Sonic to Phoenix Street is downhill and thereby much easier. The trail offers fantastic views of the Mazatzal Mountains and Granite Dells, as well as the Mogollon Rim. From
When snow blankets the 7,000-foot elevation Mogollon Rim (top), well-known mountain bike routes like the Rim View Trail (left) shut down for the winter. However, a host of other trails at the base of the Rim at elevations from 5,000 to 6,000 feet remain open and snow-free for much of the winter. That includes the Boulder Loop trail (above).
Payson, head south to the Mazatzal Casino light and turn into the casino. Turn right, passing in front of the gas station and Sonic. Take the dirt road just south of Sonic. These can either be ridden as a back and out or someone could meet you on Phoenix Street in the undeveloped subdivision.
No name trail Although not part of PATS, this trail lies just outside of town like most PATS hikes. The trail passes through huge boulders and pine groves and offers plenty of mountain views. A group of local mountain bikers craving solid singletrack reportedly created the trail several years ago. The roughly 3.5-mile loop offers technical sections that have been known to throw riders. Head east on Phoenix Street and the trail is just off an undeveloped cul-desac.
Squishy shoes and a perfect day for a hike The alluring charms of the Boulders Trail persist, even if you can’t say ‘I told you so’ BY KEITH MORRIS ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Being new to Payson, I decided a hike offered the perfect introduction. Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Cameron Davis promptly recommended the Boulders Trail for the scenery. My sister, Debbie, was in town visiting from New Mexico. She’s a nature photographer and an avid hiker, so I convinced her to tag along. I grabbed my walking stick and my Canon 7D and she packed up her Canon 5D Mark II (I’m so jealous) and off we went in search of the trail. You can park off of Phoenix Street and walk a mile on the “moderate difﬁculty” Cypress Trail to reach the 2.7-mile Boulders Loop, also rated as moderate. But we cleverly ﬁgured we could ﬁnd a shortcut. So we took Granite Dells Road off of Highway 260 east of Safeway and drove 3.8 miles to the road closure a few hundred yards from the trailhead. The sign indicated we could take the 1.7-mile Boulders South Trail to our left or the 1-mile Boulders North Trail to our right. We headed down the south trail, intending to walk both — or so we thought. But the longer we walked the more it seemed that the left-hand fork we’d taken didn’t lead to the Boulders South Trail at all. The route remained absent of trail markers — although it did sport several signs proclaiming: “No Trespassing.” At ﬁrst those signs appeared to the left of our spiffy, six-foot-wide trail. But later on in our walk, the signs migrated to our right. Coming to a break in the fence, I checked the other side of the sign: Yep. That also said “No Trespassing.” We were plumb bafﬂed. “Let’s go back: We must have missed a sign,” I said, ever cautious. “This must be the trail,” Deb insisted. Well: “a” trail, no doubt. But “the” trail? Still, no point in arguing with your sister — believe me. The landscape was amazing — with sculpted granite boulders heaped on every side. We meandered along, stopping often to peer through our viewﬁnders, until we came to a small stream with no good options for crossing.
The Boulders Trail is part of the 30-mile-long network of routes in the Payson Area Trails System. The trails connect with hundreds of miles of Forest Service trails. The network offers scenic hiking trails year-round.
“That’s it. Let’s turn around,” I said. Debbie shook her head stubbornly. “We can cross. Let’s just go up to the top of this hill and take a look.” I eyed the little stream dubiously. “Let’s go,” she said. I sighed. So she squeezed in between two trees and hopped onto a foot-sized rock in mid-stream. One problem: it was the only rock. She could have used another one. She really could have used another one. Of course, she lost her balance and wound up with both feet in the water. And the mud. The red mud. “Oh, this is going to leave a stain,” she sighed looking down at her new hiking shoes. She sloshed across to the other side, frowning and trying to wash off as much mud off as possible. I didn’t say, “I told you so.” In fact, I said nothing. I really wasn’t happy she got wet. Really, I wasn’t. I can tell you this, though, I was glad I hadn’t. I waited without saying “I told you so” very quietly while she scouted the top of the hill. “Hopefully you won’t get shot,” I said helpfully.
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She didn’t and announced the “trail” continued. Nonetheless, the prospect of experiencing the red mud like my sister was enough for me to say, “That’s enough.” So Debbie returned. On the recrossing, she placed another rock alongside her stepping stone and crossed back over without incident. After another mile, she stopped making that squishing, sucking sound that comes with walking in soggy footwear. They’re just red now. We retraced our steps on the Boulders South Trail, if that’s actually what it was. All in all, a good day — even if it wasn’t South Boulders. Lots of scenery, crisp, clear air and miles of trails still to explore. Maybe next trip out, I’ll join the group slated to hike the 2.2-mile Boulders Trail at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 — or maybe the American Gulch Trail group on Dec. 21. In the meantime, never underestimate the charms of a day when you could have said to your sister, “I told you so,” even if you didn’t say it.
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Tracks in snow: Mogollon Monster watch BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Finally. Winter. Mogollon Monster trackway season. That’s right: You heard me. Rim Country’s own Bigfoot leaves distinctive trackways in the snow, all winter long. And you’ll find a surprising number of skilled outdoorsmen who say they’ve seen the tracks crossing snow-sided roads atop the Mogollon Rim — and sometimes after a big snow close to Payson. So when you drive through Rim Country after a winter storm — keep a lookout for the distinctive tracks — humanlike in their alignment, but too big for size 10s and too small for snowshoes. The long-whispered traces of a shaggy, overgrown high country hominid broke out into the open last year when Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” filmed a segment in Payson that invited area residents to share their stories. Surprisingly, 19 somber people detailed their encounters with the legendary creature as the TV cameras rolled during a session in the Oxbow Saloon. As it happens, the historic saloon also reportedly has a full complement of ghosts — including a AfricanAmerican cowboy lynched nearby. The cameras rolled for two hours as the people who claimed actual sightings told their tales. Another 20 people raised their hands at the outset when asked whether they’d heard the cry of the Mogollon Monster. An additional 30 people raised their hands when asked if someone they knew personally had described a sighting. The genial hosts talked each witness through their sighting, keeping the show moving and the mood light. The show hosts included Moneymaker, biologist Ranae Holland and “Bobo” James Faye. Tyler Peters led off with the sighting of a gigantic creature in the forest near Oxbow Estates, where he and his friend were setting off firecrackers. They heard screams off in the woods and set out to investigate early in February when they spotted a tall, black figure he estimated at 7 to 8 feet tall about 100 yards from the nearest house. “I thought it was a Bigfoot right away,” said Peters. Kevin Brownwell said he saw the creature 25 years ago while hunting elk near Pine. He spotted the creature following him at a distance of about 200 yards. “I would have paid more attention, but I was freaking out at the time. I’ve hunted bear and it was like nothing I’ve ever seen.” Then nine months ago he went back roading up Four Peaks in the snow. He was actually looking for his cell phone, which he lost when he’d gotten stuck. He told friends about the tracks. “Everyone was saying, ‘maybe Bigfoot will call you on your phone.’” So he took the doubters back up the mountain and photographed the tracks in the snow. He said he wears a size 12 boot, but these tracks where nearly 12 inches longer and four inches wider than his own. Mickey Decker said he spotted a huge creature near his house in Christopher Creek in June of 2000. He said the motion sensor light of his neighbor often came on when deer, elk and other creatures moved past the house. He liked to sneak up on animals that had activated the light to enjoy the wildlife. One night he crept up the slope behind his house when that light went on, only to confront a “giant man, very hairy,” at a distance of about 50 feet.
Todd Gilchrist, Shawn Makil and Kristine Kitchens brought an enormous plaster cast of a footprint they found on the road to Young to a Payson session for people who believe they’ve seen the Mogollon Monster.
Startled, the creature roared. “It was a scream, a growl, a howl. I turned and ran as fast as I could.” William Newell and his 6-year-old son Remington, who live in Tonto Basin, got the biggest applause of the night — thanks to Remington’s commentary perched safely in his father’s arms. Newell said he had crossed Apache Lake on a hunting trip and followed three coatimundi up a hill with his son tagging along behind, when he spotted a frightening figure on a ridgeline 250 yards away. “This thing started screaming and shaking this mesquite tree. It definitely wasn’t a bear. Then it just walked off,” said Newell. Chirping up from his daddy’s arms, Remington explained. “It was this big thing. It looked like a Bigfoot. That’s why I ran back to the boat so I could get back to my truck.” The crowd laughed and clapped. So Remington cupped his hands to his mouth and imitated the howl of the Mogollon Monster. More applause. John Hughes, a Lower Round Valley teenager, said he had his encounter playing basketball at night under the lights in his back yard. The ball rolled down the driveway and when he went to retrieve it, he found himself staring into yellow eyes set in the wrinkled face of a cinnamon-brown creature that towered over his 6-foot fence. “I ran back to the house as fast as I could,” said Hughes. “Have you seen anything since that night?” asked Holland.
“No. We moved,” said Hughes, getting another big laugh from the audience. Todd Gilchrist, Shawn Makil and Kristine Kitchens showed up with the enormous plaster cast of a footprint they found on the road to Young, after they rounded a corner on the dirt road in the darkness and saw a towering figure standing some 20 feet off the road, illuminated by the headlights. “I was scared to death,” said Kitchens. “This thing was humongous. I never, ever thought I would see such a thing.” Steve Vallie said he had two sightings staying at a campsite near Knoll Lake where several friends had also reported encounters. He went equipped with a night vision scope and “sound traps” to record calls of the creature. In one case, he glimpsed the creature running between a gap in the trees near the campsite. In the second case, he and his nephew used “tree knocks” and calls to try to find one of the creatures. At one point, they got an answering whoop. They shifted through the forest trying to get a glimpse of the creature, which trailed them back to camp. “We started hearing this very, very light footprint — like a ninja,” said Vallie. They finally turned in time to see the creature step behind a tree, leaving only its hand visible. They stood and stared at that hand through their night vision scope for about three minutes, before the creature slipped away. Vallie said the spot on the trunk where the creature rested its hand was 69 inches above the ground. David Bingle of Pinetop, a linguist and former Naval Intelligence officer, said he was driving at about 45 miles an hour along Highway 260 and mile marker 301 when he saw something running at terrific speed alongside the road. The creature then went down on all fours as though it were bending to pick up something as he flashed past in the car. He had a second encounter in May of last year when he heard a scream in the forest. “I heard something that sounded like it had (linguistic) structure,” said Bingle. “Then it stopped.” But the sighting that came closest to home came from Benny Rodriguez and Josh Higgens, who said they live near Home Depot. They then spotted a creature standing 8 to 9 feet tall, with black hair and black eyes and a gray, wrinkled face. “It was doing something with the tree,” said Rodriguez. “It kind of freaked us out. It started really coming closer, so we went faster the other way. “Do you have anything to add?” Moneymaker asked Higgens. “He pretty much covered it.” “It was definitely Bigfoot,” said Rodriguez. “A bigfoot,” corrected Moneymaker. The one skeptical note of the evening was sounded by Margarette Young, an East Verde Estates writer of children’s books, who opened with “I am a fairy.” She said “I live by a river. Sometimes I walk in the moonlight. I’ve seen fairies and magic fireflies. I believe I’ve seen what you’re all talking about. You’ll never find it. You’ll never see a video. You’ll never collect hair. You’re all describing a hobgoblin. I believe it’s a spirit.” “But we do have a video,” said Bobo patiently. “But it’s a hobgoblin,” said Young. “Then we have a video of a hobgoblin,” quipped Bobo. Big laugh. And a good time had by all.
FALL/WINTER 2013 BY ALEXIS BECHMAN ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
With several inches of fresh snow on the Mogollon Rim beckoning, I ďŹ nally agreed to go snow camping. For years, my partner had talked how the snow absorbs sound â€” creating a stillness unlike any other. With most critters decamped or dug in, the only sound is the occasional crack from a twig giving way from the weight of a million snowďŹ‚akes. Sounded terrifying; nothing to distract me from the clatter of my thoughts. And not to mention how cold it would be sleeping on the icy ground. Still, we loaded up the car and headed out. We were quickly defeated though when we realized the Arizona Department of Transportation snowplows generally leave nowhere to park. After a frustrating search, we gave up â€” ďŹ nding no where to park near the Rim. This year, the solution plopped me on the head like a pile of wet snow: my editor can just drop us off near the turnoff for Forest Road 300 (Rim Road). Our favorite camping area in the summer, in winter the Rim lies buried under several feet of snow. But thatâ€™s nothing a pair of snowshoes wonâ€™t ďŹ x. So as soon as the snow piles up, we are piling out. Fortunately, Rim Country also offers lots of lower-elevation camping spots â€” suddenly peaceful with the waning of the summer crowds.
Cold Weather Camping
Houston Mesa Located just north of Payson, the campground will stay open all fall and winter. At an elevation of 5,200 feet, the campground lies on the north side of Forest Road 199. The Houston Mesa Horse Camp is south of the road. Both sides are developed and equipped with coin-operated shower facilities, grills, rest rooms and a dump station for recreational vehicles. The campground has a half-mile self-guided nature trail. Fees total $20 a night. The horse camp features a water trough, pens and hitching rail. Verde Glen Less than a mile off Forest Road 199, on the Control Road, is the Verde Glen
campsite. All the Verde River sites are open into the winter and sometimes year-round, depending on snowfall.
Campgrounds on the Rim Most campgrounds atop the Rim close in the winter, starting when snowfall closes Forest Road 300. The most popular campgrounds during the fall months are Crook and Sinkhole, just off Forest Road 300. Tonto Basin campgrounds Heading south, several campgrounds near Roosevelt Lake, central Arizonaâ€™s largest lake, are open all year and stay relativity warm since they are in the lower elevations. The Cholla recreation site near the lake is the largest all-solar-powered
campground in the United States, according to the Forest Service. It is the place you can truly set up camp and stay all winter. The views include the Four Peaks Sierra Anchas and the lake. Fishing for largemouth pass, sunďŹ sh and ďŹ‚athead catďŹ sh continues year-round. Heading east from Cholla is the Windy Hill recreation site. Nearly 350 campsites along paved loops, most with shade ramadas, ďŹ re rings, picnic tables and potable water hydrants. Toilets and showers are also located throughout the loops. The site includes an amphitheater, playgrounds and a picnic area. Also near Roosevelt is the Schoolhouse recreation site, which sits east of the other campgrounds. There are 211 campsites, some tent-only, and most have a ďŹ re ring and picnic tables. The site is also a popular river access point to the Upper Salt River.
Options and information Information about campsites in the Tonto National Forest is available online at http://www.fs.usda.gov and by calling the Payson Ranger Station at (928) 474-7900; Apache-Sitgreaves Forest Heber Ranger Station at (928) 5355200; and Tonto Basin Ranger District at (928) 467-3200. Visit www.paysonrimcountry.com for a complete list of campgrounds in the area.
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Through the Arizo na Ta x Credit Program to help the Wo rking Poor, you ca n give up to $400 and receive a dollar-for-d ollar tax credit on your state ta xes.
514 W. Main St.
Your gift supports RIM COUNTRY SENIORS and DISABLED Payson Senior Center utilizes tax credit donations to support our Meals-On-Wheels and Dial-A-Ride Programs for our seniors and disabled. Also, you can claim the Working Poor Tax Credit in addition to tax credits to public school programs and private school tuition. For more information you can visit: State of Arizona Department of Revenue Charitable Tax Credit or contact the Payson Senior Center at 928-474-4876
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Forest Road 300: A bumpy time machine
Historic route offers scenic drive, but closes with first snowfall I fingered the long-healed scar hacked into the vanilla-scented bark of a tall, yellow-red ponderosa pine — left to mark a dangerous wagon road through one of the most tragically thrilling periods of American history. Turning, I walked 100 yards through a logged-over, second-growth forest of spindly pines and so came suddenly to the edge of the world — the dizzying uplift of the Mogollon Rim. I had come to the General Crook Trail — to gain some sense of a conflict that played out along this road. The road closes down for cars as soon as snow blankets the Rim at 7,000 feet. Several snows have already hit the area. At press time, the road remained open — so you might have time for a drive along one of Arizona’s most historic roads. Otherwise, snowshoes, cross country skis and snowmobiles can all provide a winter adventure with a historical twist. Just outside of Payson where Highway 260 tops out on the Mogollon Rim, you can connect with the 250-mile-long General Crook Trail, which links Fort Apache in the White Mountains with Camp Verde in the Verde Valley and Fort Whipple near Prescott. Forest Road 300, a well-graded dirt road that hugs the Mogollon Rim, covers a roughly 70-mile, dirt-road chunk of the wagon road General George Crook used to connect the chain of military posts from which he conducted a war of attrition against the Apaches in the 1870s and 1880s — including famous Apache leaders like Cochise and
Geronimo. The road threads through the heart of a terrain that the Apache defended against all odds for three centuries before falling to Crook’s war of attrition in the 1870s. The Apache fought the Spanish and the Mexicans to a standstill, partly because they could always retreat into the wilderness of presentday Arizona and New Mexico. But the arrival of the Americans in the 1840s and 1850s forced the Apache into a hopeless, two-front war. Ironically, Crook respected and admired the Apache more than any other commander — which made the bearded, unconventional, fearless Crook their most effective enemy. He relied heavily on Apache scouts, the only ones who could hold onto the faint trail of a band of fleeing warriors. The Crook Trail played a crucial strategic role by supplying the network of forts that allowed Crook to keep patrols of soldiers and Indian scouts on patrol for months at a time. The constant hunt kept the Apache from accumulating the supplies they needed to survive. This war of attrition eventually broke their resistance, thanks largely to the logistics of the Crook Trail. Captain John Bourke left a fascinating account of the 1871 campaign in his 1891 “On the Border with Crook.” Ironically, Crook’s victory cleared the way for the loggers whose impact Bourke later lamented. “What was then the ‘forest primeval’ on the Mogollon has since been raided by the rapacious forces of commerce ... equipped
BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
with every modern appliance for the destruction of the old giants whose heads had nodded in the breezes of centuries. Man’s inhumanity to man is an awful thing. His inhumanity to God’s beautiful trees is scarcely inferior to it. Trees are nearly human; they used to console man with their oracles, and I must confess my regret that the Christian dispensation has so changed the opinions of the world that the soughing of the evening wind through their branches is no longer a message of hope or a solace to sorrow.” Meandering along the Rim-hugging road, I tried to imagine Crook and Bourke here. One vivid encounter took place right in this stretch as they rode in the lead of a detachment of soldiers. Several arrows flashed suddenly past, launched by about 15 warriors, who immediately took flight. The soldiers spurred their horses and cut off two of the warriors, forcing them to take shelter behind several boulders. “There they stood; almost entirely concealed behind great boulders on the very edge of the precipice, their bows drawn to a semi-circle, eyes gleaming with a snaky black fire, long unkempt hair flowing down over their shoulders, bodies almost completely naked, faces streaked with the juice of the baked mescal and the blood of the deer or antelope ... with not the slightest suggestion of cowardice,” Bourke wrote. “They seemed to know their doom, but not to fear it.” Seeing the soldiers closing on them, the warriors fired a final volley of ar-
rows and then seemingly jumped from the cliff. “We were all so horrified at the sight, that for a moment or more it did not occur to anyone to look over the crest, but when we did it was seen that the two savages were rapidly following down the merest thread of a trail outlined in the vertical face of the basalt, and jumping from rock to rock like mountain sheep. General Crook drew bead, aimed quickly and fired; the arm of one of the fugitives hung limp by his side, and the red stream gushing out showed that he had been badly hurt; but he did not relax his speed a particle.” Bourke and Crook rode for hundreds of miles through those ancient forests, usually sitting atop his “faithful mule” Malaria, a beast he described with the blend of humor and animosity. “Malaria had been born a firstclass mule, but a fairy god mother, or some other mysterious cause, had carried the good mule away, and left in its place a lop-eared, mangy specimen, which enjoyed the proud distinction of being considered, without dissent, the meanest mule in the whole Department of Arizona.” Wandering FR 300, I almost expected Bourke to come wandering out from among the trees, cursing his mule and casting a long look over his shoulder. As I stood on the Rim, the snap of a twig prompted me to spin around in sudden alarm. But I could see nothing save dreaming trees, dim memories and old crimes.
These are a few of my favorite things . .
Tonto Creek From Payson, head east up Highway 260 through Star Valley toward the Mogollon Rim. In about 18 miles, you’ll come to Tonto Creek. If you turn north off the highway, you’ll follow a dirt road up and along the trout-stocked creek. Eventually, you’ll hit the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery, which produces the ﬁsh that stock all of the Rim Country streams. You can take a tour of the hatchery. You can ﬁnd places to park all along that road leading up to the hatchery and head down to the creek. The creek gets heavy use during summer weekends, but even then you can hike up and down the creek and ﬁnd your own little swimming hole. Alternatively, you can turn off Highway 260 before you get to the hatchery road and make your way down the narrow dirt road to Bear Flat, where you can evade some of the crowds on prime weekends.
BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
This is tough. I’m sitting on a giant boulder off Crackerjack Mine Road, the East Verde River gurgling past my feet. Maybe 800 years ago, women grinding corn and beans with smoothed river cobbles wore into the surface of the slab of granite four grinding holes. Here, they could prepare the corn and beans and watch the kids splash about in the stream — as the cottonwood leaves rustled overhead. This bend of the stream that has sustained and soothed human beings for at least 1,000 years remains one of my favorite places in Rim Country. But assigned to offer up my favorite places for the delight of visitors, I’m in a quandary (in a canyon). How to pick the best spot that has given me refuge — and has replaced bumper-to-bumper commutes with after-work ﬁshing.
So, I thought I would share the blessing a little — and offer you a list of a few of my favorite places in Rim Country, whether you’re a lucky resident or an inquisitive visitor.
East Verde River An all-but-unknown treasure, not counting the locals who live along its banks. The river gushes from a spring up above Washington Park, runs for 15 miles along Houston Mesa Road, crosses the highway at Flowing Springs Road, ﬂows past East Verde Estates and on down through miles of wilderness canyon far from the road. You can ﬁsh and hike, splash about at several sites along Houston Mesa and Flowing Springs roads, just outside of Payson. The Salt River Project is now releasing 40 cubic feet per second into the stream at Washington Park, which has dramatically increased its ﬂows and left the water clear and clean and cold. It’s a treasure: please protect it.
Crackerjack Mine Road Pick up this long, sometimes rough dirt road just outside of Payson as you head toward Pine. It’s the only dirt road turnoff from the highway digniﬁed by a stop sign. The road leads through the woods down to the East Verde River, crosses the river, then continues along the high plateau as it winds down toward another crossing of the Verde River at Doll Baby Ranch. The road demands a high clearance vehicle — preferably with four-wheel drive. It’s treacherously muddy in the spring or after a big rain — don’t go near it when it’s wet. But otherwise, it provides a scenic, relatively unvisited backroad adventure, with access to water at several points. There are many ways to enjoy Rim Country lakes from canoeing to ﬁshing to camping. The key is to come early and ﬁnd a spot you can enjoy. Horton Springs Trail The popular, but intermittently strenuous hike along Horton Creek offers one of the best hikes in Rim Country. You start at Horton Campground alongside Tonto Creek, hike up to the gushing spring that feeds Horton Creek, then return to Horton Creek Campground on the longer, drier Derrick Trail. All told, that loop covers almost 10 miles and should take all day to accomplish. Along the way, you’ll gain and lose about 1,000 feet in elevation.
Payson Area Trails System: Adventure close to home When winter snows close trails atop the Mogollon Rim, Payson’s rich network of trails close to town offer easy access to scenic hikes that remain snow-free almost all winter long. Payson’s network of trails that extends more than 30 miles started with then-Payson Town Council member Andy Romance’s brainstorm. Why not use the ring of cleared firebreaks around the town as the link between in-town trails and hundreds of miles of Forest Service trails in the surrounding forest? That insight combined with thousands of hours of volunteer effort to improve, connect and expand the existing trails has so far created about 35 miles of the 50-mile master plan. To view a color map of the trail system, visit Payson’s Web site at www.ci. payson.az.us/pats.html. Ultimately, outdoor advocates hope to fill in gaps to provide Payson with one of the state’s best collection of intown trails, capitalizing on the town’s reputation as an outdoor recreation Mecca. The Payson Area Trails System (PATS) caters to joggers, riders, bikers, birders, hikers, tourists and town residents who need a lungful of air and the sound of birds to remember why they live here.
Romance said the trails system will generate new “mojo” for Payson, if it’s complete and built to a clear standard. Payson and the Forest Service actually laid the groundwork for a comprehensive trails system nearly a decade ago, but work lapsed and the plan lay dormant for years before Romance revived the idea with questions about the firebreaks. Now a squad of about 50 volunteers
has donated thousands of dollars worth of time to build new trail sections and put signs up on existing, poorly marked Forest Service trails, to create the backbone of what will one day become one of the state’s most comprehensive trail systems. Not only will broad trails of bonded compressed granite run through every area of town, but the trails will connect newly marked and refurbished Forest Service trails winding through the woods and major regional trails such as the Arizona and Highline trails. Volunteer crews have already finished putting up signs and making improvements to the 5.6 miles of trail that include the Peach Orchard Trail and a loop to the rodeo grounds. The trail offers views of the town and the Mazatzal Mountains, as well as a stretch along a shaded stream. The system includes a planned 20 miles worth of urban trails, which cost about $10,000 per quarter-mile to lay down an 8-by-12-foot-wide path of compressed, decomposed granite treated with an emulsifier to make it more like soft pavement, than loose sand. Perhaps half of the final trail system will run along paved streets, offering joggers, bikers, dog walkers and people out for a twilight stroll, a safe place
to amble. The rest of the trail system will meander through the woods, looping past archaeological sites, lakes, streams, deep forests and scenic overlooks. Ultimately, the trail system should dovetail with the town’s effort to serve residents and promote Payson as a town with an outdoor lifestyle. The town’s recently unveiled Web site redesign and marketing plan promotes Payson as a mountain community with a Western heritage that serves as the gateway to mountain adventures. The completed trails system will give the town bragging rights when it comes to outdoor recreation, but it will still be only a shadow of the extensive trails system that Flagstaff has created as a major selling point for visitors and residents. However, the system will be much more extensive than almost any other town in the region. Moreover, establishing the trail routes now will ensure that any new development approved along the proposed routes of any of the trails will contribute a new link to the system, say city officials. Anyone who wishes to volunteer check the Town of Payson Web site for maps, photos, directions and contact information.
Some unique places to stay BY TERESA MCQUERREY ROUNDUP STAFF REPORTER
Visitors to Rim Country have a variety of places to stay — there are basic, economic motels to name brands with pools (some indoor); camping sites; and recreational vehicle rental parks. For a different perspective on the area, consider a stay at a bed and breakfast. There are not too many, but they give guests a chance to meet and visit at length with residents, learn about their favorite sites to see, and enjoy a nice, unhurried breakfast.
FALCON CREST BED & BREAKFAST 1105 N. Falconcrest Dr., Payson, AZ 85541, (928) 474-5259 Owned and operated by Linda and Allan Pelletier, the cottage at Falcon Crest offers a cozy, intimate setting overlooking the town of Payson. It is perched on a mountainside. Sit back and relax on the spacious decks and enjoy the fantastic views of the Granite Dells, the Mazatzals and the Mogollon Rim by day, and a sea of twinkling lights by night. The rental cottage features more than 980 square feet of living space. There are two bedrooms and two
baths. The master has a king size bed and the second bedroom is outﬁtted with twin beds. Bath amenities and complimentary robes are provided for guests’ convenience. Decorated in a pastel palette of color and a touch of French country decor. The cottage is completely private and separate from the Pelletiers, who live on the property. The cottage has a fully equipped kitchen including pots and pans, dishes, utensils, stove, refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker. Coffee, tea, sugar, ﬂour, salt and pepper are provided. Laundry facilities are available in the cabin as well. The living room features a stone gas-burning ﬁreplace and satellite TV. Upon request, guests can play a game of billiards or watch a movie in the home theater located in the host’s main residence. Rates include a full gourmet breakfast.
UP THE CREEK BED & BREAKFAST 10491 W. Fossil Creek Rd., Strawberry, AZ 85544, (928) 476-6571 Sue Roberts along with Michael and Karen Muench host guests at Up The Creek Bed & Breakfast because of a love affair with the Strawberry area.
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If we’d had room, we would have also highlighted Cabins on Strawberry Hill (above), Majestic Mountain Inn in Payson, Kohl’s Ranch Lodge on East Highway 260, and The Rock House Bed & Breakfast overlooking the East Verde.
The property was speciﬁcally constructed to become a bed and breakfast. Guests are welcomed to stay and enjoy the beauty of the Rim Country in the quiet elegance of a contemporary farmhouse. Situated on ﬁve acres adjacent to the Tonto National Forest, the location offers easy access to Fossil Springs Trailhead. Guests can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, ﬁshing, boating and kayaking, hunting, abundant wildlife and bird watching. The Gathering Room is a cozy spot for relaxing, good conversation, reading, listening to music, or napping. The Sun Room offers a sunny space to relax and enjoy the view of the sur-
rounding national forest. The Sunny Cottage is a cheerful country garden-themed room with bay windows and north-facing views. The Sunset Glow room lets guests enjoy the soft glow of sunsets ﬁltering through the French doors of a private balcony. The Misty Morn Suite has a sense of romance and peaceful calm. All rooms have a private bath and comfortable pillow-top mattress. There are no televisions, telephones or computer hook-ups in the guest rooms. Cell phones probably will not get reception either. Whole house rental is available and will sleep 12 people.
RIM COUNTRY LANES 1109 N. Beeline Highway
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Sunday - Buy one game/Get one free - ALL DAY Open Mondays 10am-3:30pm in g n i r Early Bird Special Available from 10-Noon B d Early Bird Specials Wed/Fri - 12-2pm this a $6.00 for 2 hours including shoes for a Thursday - Quartermania!! 7-9pm FREE !! $5 per person and 25¢ games and shoes ! Friday & Saturday - Laser Bowling 8-11pm GAME $10.95 per person for unlimited bowling and shoes Saturdays 10am-Noon - Youth Laser Bowling 2 Hours of Black Lights, Music & Fun!!! 15yrs- $8.95 / 15yrs+ $10.95
STRIKER’S BAR Now open on Mondays until 10pm
THE GRID Quarterly Football Specials It’s for College and NFL Games!!!
Hours of operation vary - Please call for details (928) 474-9589
The miracle of ice Standing in the snow on the banks of the frozen East Verde River, water gleams in all its forms about me — still flowing in the stream, gathered in vapor on my breath, crystallized into snow on every hand, frozen into ice underfoot. I kneel at the edge of the stream and study the ice, perhaps the most unlikely of water’s forms, appreciating the lovely moderation of ice in Rim Country. Here at 5,000 feet we have all four seasons — but they’re not fanatic about it. We get snow — storms that stick half a dozen times between November and February — but hardly enough to shovel. And still sections of the river will freeze at night — and thaw in the sunlight — just enough to make you appreciate the crystalline gleam. Here’s a nugget to suck on: Chill any other liquid and the jittery molecules will slow down — bouncing about less as the temperature drops. Eventually, the liquid will settle into a stable crystal lattice — which takes up less space than the liquid did. That’s why all other liquids most sensibly condense when they freeze. But not water, thank the Lord. Water’s made of one molecule of hydrogen linked to two molecules of oxygen. These amiable molecular companions actually share electrons to keep everyone happy. Moreover, a water molecule has a slight positive electrical charge at one end and a faint negative electrical charge at the other end. This accounts for the nearly miraculous chemistry of water — on which life on the planet utterly depends. For starters, as water cools below 32 degrees F the molecules slip into a strange and counter-intuitive crystalline lattice. Once they click into place, they actually take up about 9 percent more space than they did as a warm liquid. Now, that won’t work out so well for folks in Rim Country who left the water on in empty houses during the hard freezes, when expanding ice in the neglected pipes can split open even copper or steel. But water’s demented determination to expand when it ought to contract makes life on the planet possible. If water contracted as it froze, then sea ice would form at the surface every winter and sink to the bottom. Over time, the oceans would freeze solid — and we could not be here. We could go on and on about the fortunate strangeness of water. For instance, the positive and negative ends of water molecules account for surface tension — so useful to water skiers, stone-skippers and water bugs. But it also explains what’s called “capillary action,” which causes water to seep from wet areas to dry areas as when it soaks into a sponge or spreads out in a dry paper towel. More importantly,
During cold snaps the East Verde River freezes at the surface. If water didn’t expand when it freezes, such streams would freeze solid.
capillary action also allows water to creep up through the roots of plants in defiance of gravity — once more making life possible with a bit of chemical weirdness. But for the moment, I’m focused on water’s frozen state — the ice and snow that have transformed Rim Country. Kneeling in the snow, studying the translucent dreamscape of ice, I peer at a frond-like tracery of ice — a giant, white crystal shaped like a lacy fern, brilliant against the dark brooding of the clear ice on which it rests. Frozen water from the sky comes in a bewilderment of forms. Hailstones form when some speck of dust triggers the formation of an ice crystal, which then gets bounced around in a chilled storm cloud. The growing hailstone picks up fresh layers of ice as it rises to the top of the cloud and more yet when it hits an updraft and rises again. Eventually, it grows heavy enough to ignore the updraft and falls to earth — with record hailstones weighing as much as a pound. Tiny ice pellets — like the ones that dusted my driveway last night — form when snowflakes drifting down from high in a freezing cloud fall through a
BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
warmer layer at an elevation between 5,000 and 10,000 feet, which causes them to start to melt. But as their fall continues, they hit another layer of freezing air closer to the ground and refreeze — becoming ice pellets as round as a hailstone but nearly light as a snowflake. But most often, frozen water falls as snow —water molecules that crystallize around some nucleus — like a speck of dust. The water molecules crystallize as they freeze, with the structure depending on the temperature and the moisture content. Some assume exquisite six-sided shapes, some triangles, most with breathtaking symmetry. A single snowflake contains about 3 x 10 to the 13th water molecules — don’t ask me how much that is, except that it dwarfs a thousand trillion. That’s why no two snowflakes are ever exactly alike. The world’s largest measured snowflake was reportedly 15 inches across and fell in Montana in 1887. The intricate crystal on the stream ice at my feet suggests that it formed at between 0 and 10 degrees, which promotes the growth of these bizarre shapes. Cautiously, I rise from my cold, wet knees and step out onto the ice, which is dangerously slick. Scientists used to assert ice is slippery because stepping on the ice instantly melts a microscopic layer. Subsequent experiments demolished the theory, proving how little we know about even the simplest of things. Instead, the leading theory now suggests that the top layer of ice molecules doesn’t get locked securely into the ice lattice, since it has only fickle air to bond to on the top side. So a layer of molecules almost too thin to measure slides easily about, sending we clumsy monsters crashing to earth. I stand, unsteadily, on the ice, to admire the gleam and the sparkle. Underneath, the stream still trickles, making its stealthy way to the sea — which covers 70 percent of the planet, just as water comprises 70 percent of my substance. I can see the water moving beneath the blurred patterns of the ice, which did not sink and murder the stream because it expanded when it froze. The sky is highlighted with high white clouds the color of snow, which is the color of my breath. My heart pumps blood made mostly of water and the naked trees also made mostly of water lean in toward the stream, waiting patiently for the capillary action of spring. I do not know the proper prayers to thank whatever Providence arranged for water to expand when it freezes, creep upward in roots and make the world such a happy place for stone-skippers. But I give thanks, nonetheless — every moist breath a puff of steam.
Tonto National Monument: Clues to a mystery BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
Researchers sorting through ancient ruins scattered across Rim Country and throughout the Southwest continue to come up with intriguing new theories on the intricate life and mysterious disappearance of people who lived here 1,000 years ago. The cliff dwellings preserved by Tonto National Monument overlooking Roosevelt Lake remain the best known set of ruins in the region, but the remains of villages and dwellings abound in hidden canyons and sweeping hilltops throughout the area. That includes the Shooﬂy Ruins just outside of Payson alongside Houston Mesa Road. Several recent published research reports have examined the surprising possible role of women who lived here 700 years ago in the face of generations of warfare. Two recent studies examined the role of women in the Southwest in the 1200s and 1300s — with key elements of the studies centered on the Salado people who lived in Rim Country and left the ruins preserved at Tonto National Monument. One study focuses on the long-debated implications of the spread of the distinctive Salado pottery style through the Southwest, perhaps with its origins among the peaceful farmers who lived along the Salt River. Most of their densely settled cities and irrigation works now lie beneath the waters of Roosevelt Lake. That pottery style with motifs emphasizing fertility and cooperation spread to many different groups and shows up in the burials of both ordinary people and the elites, according to a study by University of Missouri researcher Todd VanPool published in Archaeology magazine. The second study provided a disquieting echo of those ﬁndings. That study of burials in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona concluded that cultures throughout the Southwest often mounted raids on one another and frequently kidnapped the women from neighboring groups. The study was published in Current Archaeology by Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler and U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Kathryn Kramer Turner The researchers in that second study examined more than 1,300 human remains, mostly from burials in Mesa Verde in Colorado and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. The researchers found many injuries suggesting violent death and widespread warfare in the 1200s. They discovered that the Mesa Verde burials had far fewer women than they should have and the Chaco Canyon burials had more women than
Studies of people who lived in cliff dwellings shed startling light on role of women in troubled times they should have, given a normal 50/50 sex ratio. Moreover, they found that many of the women in Chaco Canyon were buried carelessly and showed signs of abuse. Two new studies suggest the Salado people who built the ruins at Tonto National Monument may have started a religion of peacemakers that spread throughout the Southwest. The researchers said the burials suggested that the powerful, highly centralized groups at Chaco Canyon and Aztec mounted frequent raids on Mesa Verde and other areas, often bringing back kidnapped women as prizes. The seemingly high death rate among young adults — especially men of ﬁghting age — supported the idea that the imbalanced sex ratios arose as a result of warfare rather than migration.
If so, that period of raiding and warfare might have led naturally to the woman-dominated religion suggested by the study of the spread of Salado pottery. Archaeologists have pondered the “Salado Problem” ever since they began to unearth the curiously widespread, beautifully decorated pottery starting in the 1930s — with the early discoveries of the pottery centered on the Tonto Basin. The pottery showed up in a place of honor among the Hohokam, the Mogollon and the Ancestral Puebloan (or Anasazi) — the three major cultures in the Southwest between about 1100 and the mid-1400s. The Ancestral Puebloan built the great cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde and other sites throughout northern Arizona and Colorado. The Hohokam
built great irrigation works and great cities in Phoenix and Tucson. The Mogollon occupied Rim Country along the great crossroads of the trade routes from California to New Mexico. Based on patterns among Native American groups like the Hopi, archaeologists have long believed that women in the ancient Southwest were the potters. Moreover, many Native American cultures like the Hopi, Navajo and Apache are matrilineal, which means that property and status were generally inherited through the female line. Therefore, VanPool speculates that the spread of the Salado pottery to diverse cultures reﬂects the expansion of a set of ideals and religious beliefs espoused by women. That conclusion was buttressed by the frequent use of themes and images that seemed to stress cooperation, farming and fertility — rather than hunting and warfare, which were traditionally male spheres. VanPool speculates that the spread of this cooperative, female-dominated religion associated with the Salado pottery came in response to nearly two centuries of escalating warfare in the region — the period that produced the violent deaths and unusual sex ratios documented in the earlier study of Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. The evidence for warfare, raiding and even cannibalism emerging from the study of burials throughout the region hints at a period of strife and conﬂict, which likely spawned the movement of refugees from one area to another. That could also account for some of the odd mixtures of social and religious traditions in that period. That mixture has long been particularly striking among the Mogollon who occupied Rim Country and the Payson area, since they lived on the borders between other, major cultures — like the Hohokam and the Ancestral Puebloan. All of that underscores the perhaps crucial role played by the Salado, who built the great cliff houses of Tonto National Monument. Several years ago when the Bureau of Reclamation lowered Roosevelt Lake while it worked to raise the height of Roosevelt Dam, archaeologists from Arizona State University undertook a major excavation of ruins on the shores of the lake. They found a dense network of huge villages, each with miles of irrigation canals to divert water from the ﬁtful, ﬂood-prone Salt River. Those ruins had a fascinating mix of inﬂuences, including the great platform mounds, ball courts, temples aligned with the sun and turquoise, copper bells, shell jewelry and parrot feathers attesting to intimate connections with cultures throughout the western U.S. and down into Mexico.
Apache Trail: Back door to Rim Country The 44-mile-long Apache Trail climbs through splendor, hairpins through history and descends to sparkling relief, along the way revealing the damp secret to millenniums of Sonoran survival. During the cool fall and winter months, it offers the perfect approach to Rim Country — or a great day trip for Rim residents escaping the snow. Patient drivers with no fear of heights are rewarded with three spectacular desert lakes and the solution to the riddle of thousands of years of human adaptation to a volcanic landscape of drought, shard and thorn. The road, built in 1906 along the previous Tonto Trail to aid in the construction of Roosevelt Dam, offers adventurers a fascinating route up the jagged course of the Salt River. The river first nourished a thousand years of Hohokam civilization, with the gathered waters of the White Mountains and the Mogollon Rim country. Faced with the floods and droughts that had doomed the Hohokam, early Phoenix farmers pressed the federal government to build the dam that launched the replumbing of the west. So the Apache Trail offers vivid scenery, refreshing lakes and the key to the settlement of the west. From the Valley, the journey starts on Highway 60 in Apache Junction at the Apache Trail turnoff (State Route 88 — Idaho Road). Route 88 hurries through the outskirts of Apache Junction and on into the Superstition Mountains, the haunt of Jacob Waltz, the original “Lost Dutchman.” A shrewd, avaricious, extravagant drunk, miner and opportunist, Waltz emerged repeatedly from the Superstitions with gold nuggets — either from a secret gold mine or ore he stole when he worked at the Vulture Mine near Wickenburg. Many followed him into the mountains seeking his treasure — not all made it back out. He supposedly left a deathbed map suggesting the mine lay
in the shadow of Weaver’s Needle, the soaring core of an ancient volcano in the heart of the Superstitions. This inspired generations of treasure hunters and assorted murders and rumors. The Apache Trail leads on into the mountains past Canyon Lake, which offers first-rate fishing, mostly for bass and catfish. The upper stretches offer a scatter of camping spots and lovely, cliff-sided inlets. Just past Canyon Lake the trail runs past Tortilla Flats, once a town of 120 when crews were building Roosevelt Dam. Now it offers a campground, restaurant and a small store — a tourist pit stop with an official population of six. The road climbs up onto a high, canyon-edged plateau, graced by yucca, ocotillo and saguaro. On the griddle of a Sonoran summer, it’s a harsh and hostile place. But in the clear-aired, winter, the burgeoning of spring or any day at sunset — it seems magical. As the pavement ends and the well-maintained and graded dirt road asserts itself, vistas open up across the corrugated canyons and lush Sonoran Desert vegetation. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for the rest of the drive, but most high-clearance vehicles can easily make it. The road makes a steep descent down Fish Creek Hill, dropping 1,500 feet in just three miles, with choke points barely wide enough for two cars to squeeze past one another. The dizzying descent provides thrills and views for the stout of heart. The rest can just sit on the side away from the edge and close their eyes. Apache Lake soon comes into view from a striking vista point. Protected by the harrowing drive and the minimal facilities, Apache Lake offers excellent fishing and some of the best lakeside camping opportunities in Central Arizona. It does have a marina complete with boat rentals, a restau-
rant, fishing shop and motel rooms — but remains much less developed or visited than Canyon Lake. When full, Apache stretches for 17 miles and stands 266 feet deep, although drought has lately lowered lake levels. Isolated stands of cottonwoods along the shoreline, easily accessible only by boat, provide good camping spots. Beyond Apache Lake, the road hugs the river, backed up by the dam into the narrow canyon. Tributary washes cut into the river all along the way, providing ideal, isolated camp spots for the boatless. Finally, the road leads to Roosevelt Dam, the reason for its existence. After a succession of floods, a coalition of politicians, farmers and real estate speculators convinced the federal government to build a massive dam on the Salt River to control floods, store water and generate power. Made entirely of mortared blocks of stone and brick, Roosevelt Dam created what was then the world’s largest artificial lake — Roosevelt Lake with a millionacre-feet capacity, a depth of up to 190 feet and 89 miles of shoreline. Difficulties in diverting the water and building the dam ballooned the cost from the originally bid $1.1 million to $10 million. Tragically, 42 men died during construction. Wrestling the 344,000 cubic yards of masonry into place in the remote, flood-prone canyon proved
BY PETE ALESHIRE ROUNDUP EDITOR
unexpectedly dangerous. Construction relied on an innovative 1,200-footlong cable line with iron scoops that could hold 10 tons of rock and mortar. Decades later, an analysis of the growth rings on ancient trees in cliff dwellings scattered throughout the Salt River watershed proved the river could generate much larger floods than the dam engineers had estimated. The discovery triggered a $430 million upgrade of the dam, boosting its height 77 feet to 357 feet. The work included a $21 million bridge that now stands as the longest, two-lane, singlespan, steel-arch bridge in America. The work on the dam had one unintended fringe benefit. Engineers significantly lowered the level of Roosevelt Lake during the project and Arizona State University archaeologists conducted a series of archaeological digs around the lake. The project revealed a complex civilization, with the beginnings of class divisions. All of which, perfectly rounds out a fascinating drive that twists, turns, hairpins and switchbacks through the history, ecology and scenery of the Sonoran Desert and a parade of survivors and dreamers. They all learned that surviving in the desert requires just the right combination of wonder, water and pluck — all on display on the Apache Trail.
Rim Country lineup of fall/winter events November PAYSON RIMSTONES ROCK CLUB ANNUAL GEM & MINERAL SHOW
The Payson Rimstones Rock Club hosts its annual Gem & Mineral Show at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino Event Center Saturday, Nov. 16 and Sunday, Nov. 17. Vendors will have fossils, slabs, lapidary equipment, jewelry, findings, mineral specimens and much more. There will also be an education area with fluorescent minerals, sandstone painting, beading, and a “Spinning Wheel” where everyone is a winner of a beautiful rock. Admission is $2 for adults and children 12 and under are free. All proceeds are for scholarships. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS CRAFT FAIR The Pine Strawberry Business Community presents its fifth annual Festival of Lights Craft Fair from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30 at the Pine Community Center. The Christmas tree lighting starts at dusk on Saturday along with Christmas carols, the Jingle Bell Parade, photos with Santa, music and refreshments. The fun continues Sunday, Dec. 1 with the Kids Kraft Korner and Craft Festival.
December PAYSON ELECTRIC LIGHT PARADE Come join the fun and excitement in Payson — Arizona’s Cool Mountain Town. Over the years, Payson has offered Valley residents the opportunity to leave the bright lights of the big city and participate in a small hometown holiday experience at the annual Electric Light Parade. This year the event, held on Historic Main Street in Payson is on Saturday, Dec. 7.
SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS The eighth annual Spirit of Christmas program is at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8 at the Payson High School Auditorium. Admission is free and donations for area food banks will be accepted as long as they are non-perishable. Presented by the Payson Ministerial Fellowship the program features flamenco guitarist Eric Miller and vocalist Shelby Garrett, along with dramatic performances and additional music by members of the community.
PAYSON CHORAL SOCIETY CHRISTMAS CONCERT Join the members of the Payson Choral Society as they present the 2013 edition of their annual Christmas Concert at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Payson High School Auditorium. The theme this year is, “Come On, It’s Christmas” and admission is $8 in advance and $10 at the door.
TURKEY TROT 5K The Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department is sponsoring its annual Turkey Trot 5K Saturday, Nov. 23 at Green Valley Park. Bring your craziest pair of socks and come out at 8 a.m. to register. The fee is $40 and the race starts at 9 a.m. Register in advance at the Payson parks Web site for a long-sleeve sweatshirt (adult sizes only; day-of registration has no shirt guarantee).
24TH ANNUAL TAMALES FOR TOYS Bring toys or cash and have some of the Rim Country’s best tamales from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23 at Gerardo’s Firewood Café, 512 N. Beeline Highway in Payson. The event benefits Payson Community Kids and is presented by the partnership of the Payson Fire Department, Mazatzal Optimists Club, Gerardo’s Firewood Café, Northern Gila County Firefighters Local 4135 and the generous residents of the Rim Country. Eat-in for $7 or an unwrapped new toy and enjoy two tamales, beans, chips and salsa or get a dozen tamales for $18 preordered or $20 the day of the event. To place an order and for additional details, call (928) 978-3256 or (928) 9513653.
TELLABRATION Plan to visit Pine the evening of Saturday, Nov. 23 for the annual Tellabration event. A fund-raising dinner and show, tickets are $25 per person and must be purchased by Nov. 16, they are available at the Pine Senior Thrift Shop at the Community Center on North Highway 87. A meet-and-greet the storytellers will be at 5 p.m., with dinner served by 5:30 p.m. in the Senior Dining Room. The show is at 7 p.m. and show-only tickets, available at the door, are $5 per person. Refreshments will be available at the show, which will be in the Cultural Hall at the Community Center.
PAYSON ELKS COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING DINNER
January BLACK & WHITE BALL The Mogollon Health Alliance of volunteers in the Rim Country medical community will have its annual Black & White Ball Saturday, Jan. 18. Call the MHA at (928) 472-2588 for details.
Join the Payson Elks for a free Community Thanksgiving Dinner Thursday, Nov. 28 at the Payson Elks Lodge, 1206 N. Beeline Highway. There are three seatings: noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., and volunteers are needed to set up, serve and clean up. Call the Elks at (928) 474-2572 for details.
SWISS VILLAGE LIGHTING Come out to the Swiss Village in Payson Friday, Nov. 29 for the annual Swiss Village Lighting program.
March TASTE OF RIM COUNTRY The Friends of the Payson Library will have the annual Taste of Rim Country celebration Saturday, March 8. Call the library at (928) 474-9290 for details.
April BEELINE CRUISE-IN The Rim Country Classic Auto Club will once again present its popular Beeline Cruise-In Car Show Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26 at Green Valley Park in Payson.
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