Gizmo is waking us up again shortly after 5am and by 5:30am we are both up having our first coffee. We quickly discuss what to do at this nice sunny Easter Sunday. We decide to drive north towards Agua Fria National Monument. It’s about half way to Flagstaff just off of Hwy 17 at about 3,000 feet elevation (1’000m), with very nice temperatures to start off: its about 57 Fahrenheit (14 Celsius).
We drive to the end of the road and from there take the Badger Spring Trail down towards the Agua Fria River. It is a nice trail, sometimes we walk in the shallow water and after about 0.7 miles (a bit more than 1km) we reach the river. Upstream we hear some water rafts so we head there first, then cross over and start walking down stream. It is so gorgeous with all the water pools, the big boulders and the green grass and trees – it feels like paradise! There is no trail, we have to find our way over all these boulders and have to cross the river multiple times, some times we get a little break if there is a stretch of sand and grass and then again bolders and rocks.
We are hoping to find the trail that leads up, out of the canyon to the Richinbar Mine (an old gold and silver mine), from where we could walk on flat ground back to the car. But, even after more than 3 hours hiking down steam we don’t see any sign of a trail leading out of the canyon and we decide to turn around. Marco stores the camera in his bag for a while so we can walk a bit faster, but we already feel our legs and Marco his knees. As always we are a bit short on water and have to manage with what we have (at least there is the river next to us, so we know we could jump in there for a refreshment). After just over 6 hours we are glad to see our car again. We only covered about 4.7 miles (7.5km) but as mentioned we had to watch every step.
We are not the only ones enjoying this canyon: soon after leaving the car we see a bright red bird, a Northern Cardinal, further down the river we watch an owl flying by, between some rocks we spot a centipede (Tausendfüssler) which is about 5 inches (15cm) long. Only in one place in the river we see some tadpoles again. There are no fish what so ever. Last but not least there are hundreds of small butterflies along the shores, a lot of them dead though. Humans, we don’t see that many: on the way down we see a tent on the other side of the river and on the way back we meet the 4 women who camped there, but including them we see probably about 12 people all day, which is surprising for such a beautiful place only about an hour from Phoenix.