West End Aravaipa Canyon

April 15-17, 2019

Over the last 17 years, I've backpacked into Aravaipa Canyon more than 20 times, but this was truly the best trip ever, thanks to stellar company, perfect weather and the support of the group that allowed us to venture high into some spectacular side canyons.

I lead two trips a year into the west end of the canyon for work, so it was very liberating to be able to just hike and enjoy the view without being responsible for a large group.
The "super bloom" continues as spring fades into summer, and Rogil counted more than 30 different types of wildflowers.
We were pretty focused on covering ground the first day out, but some of the natural jacuzzis were too good to pass up!
After our historic winter rains, the canyon was impossibly lush and green.
The sloping canyon walls were completely covered in blossoming brittlebush.
Rogil can always find a way through that involves the most climbing possible!
Curtiss and Dennis negotiating a rocky section.
A great blue heron guided us into the canyon.
A gossamer hummingbird nest balancing on a slender branch.
We think this is a canyon tree frog, but it should be called a canyon rock frog, since that's the only place we've even seen them!
With 70% chance of rain in the forecast, we were delighted to find a perfectly sheltered campsite under a large rock overhang.
Curtiss hanging out under the overhang.
David shows off a ram's horns that we found buried in the sand.
Side Canyon #1 starts off choked with house-sized boulders, but then opens up into a broad, white-walled amphitheater.
The canyon floor is pocked with jade green pools.
One of the pools has a velvety black surface and is rumored to be at least 30 feet deep.
A reflective moment.
Scrambling higher into the canyon, we encountered a mysterious grotto with a small waterfall on one end.
While the other four continued up canyon, I took a nap and enjoyed a bullfrog serenade.
Starting back down.
Side Canyon #2 seemed impossible at first, but it too eventually opened up into an expanse of sculpted Hell Hole conglomerate, with a series of crystal clear pools and small waterfalls.
One of the pools was quite large with dazzling emerald green water.
There was intermittent rain all night, and morning dawned cool enough that we were happy to be up and moving.
Curtiss located a palm tree growing out of an Arizona sycamore. How did it get here?
Dennis and David with ALMOST matching cameras.
Bands of quartz in the ruddy conglomerate.
On our way out we came upon a tom turkey intent on pursuing his lady love who put on quite a show.
And there she is, the object of his affections, and no wonder, she's a babe!