David and I celebrated Labor Day Weekend with a return trip to Sycamore Canyon off Ruby Road on the Mexican border. The Border Ranges have received unusually heavy rains in the last few weeks and we were anxious to see the results.
The main pool seems to remain at a constant depth of 10-12 feet, but in every other way the canyon was completely transformed.
There was water over the road near the parking lot and pools all along the upper part of the canyon, which is normally dry as bone. Waist-high grass obscured much of the trail, and under the grass was a carpet of summer wildflowers.
The smell and sights and sounds in the canyon were from a tropical rainforest, not a desert. There was squishy mud underfoot and lizards darting everywhere. I saw many more exotic moths and butterflies and caterpillars than I could begin to name.
The balmy weather also brought out a few water sprites ...
We even found dippable pools in the side canyon that drops steeply from the mesa. Here's a shoot-out pitting David's A40 on the left against Marion's G2 on the right (sorry, Dave, no contest ...)
A fringe benefit of desert dipping -- assuming you high-tail it out of the canyon by noon or so -- is having a ring-side seat for the afternoon storm.
Clouds boil up over the ridge and take on hues of aluminum, mauve and slate. The air fills with electricity -- even the cicadas are holding their breath in anticipation.
The summer rains have turned the dusty border ranges into a lush forest of pinon, juniper and luxuriant ocotillo.
Atacosa Lookout (of Edward Abbey fame) perches on the ridge behind David. This is the prettiest part of Ruby Road, which might be the most beautiful drive in all of Arizona.