Refreshing Mountain Stream!

Oh boy, has it been HOT in Phoenix!


Needing a little get away, Mark Howard and I had been talking about driving up to Payson and the Mogollon Rim, him to do some metal detecting and I to hike. So, on Sunday, July 7, we did set out and drove up into the mountains northeast of Phoenix, about 90 miles away.

After having lunch at my favorite little restaurant in Payson, The Bee Line Cafe, we set out to explore north of town. We had a vague plan (very vague) about following back roads along and up the East Verde River. Once we had exited onto Houston Mesa Road, we drove along and crossed what we think was a branch of the East Verde River. After passing over it, and seeing that some people were down in the river, we abruptly stopped, parked my Santa Fe and took a path that led to an unexpected surprise. There before us rushing through and around large boulders was a pristine stream amid lush vegetation. It did not take us long to start boulder hopping further upstream as around each bend were pools and little waterfalls as the waters flowed and sang its soothing and inviting song. Who could resist the beckoning of the clear, cold waters? We couldn't! 


Stripping down to skivvies, we immersed ourselves into the nearly frigid water. Wow, what a shock - much colder than we might have expected! Yet, ohhhhh so refreshing as it washed away the thoughts of 110° days in Phoenix. We enjoyed the waters, explored a bit more, but then decided to drive further along Houston Mesa Road. 

Further up the road, after crossing THROUGH the stream (concrete roadbed allows safe passage - unless there is high water) and parked at the Park by the stream. Following a path we found ourselves high above the stream at this location, but could see others down below who were enjoying the cool waters in the heat of the day. Having no safe way to descend to the river, we then continued further along the road and then found another park area and went exploring once again. This was even better than before. A few other people were in this area, but being the tail end of the July 4th weekend, we think most of the holiday visitors were already on their ways home.   At this spot the stream had cut deeper into the rock, took a sharp 90°, cascading down 6 feet over huge boulders, then another drop of the same distance, and rushed around and under a house size square rock that had split off of the stream rock face may eons ago. Here we were deeper into a channel and found the pools irresistible. Yep, another strip down and a slow immersion into the chilling water. Slowing making our way over the rocky bottom to another falls, we allowed the rushing waters to flow over us as we gazed up the rock walls, through the tall pines and up into the clear blue sky. Who could NOT relax and let this idyllic spot refresh and restore your mind and body? WE certainly did and lingered afterwards as we draped ourselves on the boulders to soak up the sun and dry out. 

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Once again back on the road, we then found ourselves driving through some little communities and found some homes for sale. Mark and I were both intrigued and started to investigate one home in particular. If a person were looking for a nice, cabin style home, near a stream, in the tall pines, cooler than in Phoenix, and on a half acre (plus being hundreds of feet away from a fire station), then this place would be ideal. It really, really got Mark mesmerized. I, too, could see this as an excellent summer hideaway, but, for me, is not in the cards. 

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In the course of exploring low along or near the river, we ascended, descended and ascended in the pines looking at other homes for sale and just enjoying the scenery, the drive, our company and the adventurous outing. By then we had wandered off the paved Houston Mesa Road and found ourselves on a well packed dirt road, which we continued to follow until we came to Lookout Road and then detoured to an overlook beneath a fire lookout tower. Before us lay the pine cloaked mountainsides and distant, hazy blue mountains. Because the road to the lookout tower was barricaded, we could not go up there to see the view, but I would love to see about that possibility on another visit to the area. 

Eventually we did re-enter paved Hwy. 260, east of Star Valley and Payson. As the afternoon was waning, time had come to leave this adventure and day of exploring for the drive back to Phoenix. Neither Mark nor I fulfilled our first intentions for our day trip, but, in my opinion, the day evolved into one of those unexpected, unplanned, outstanding adventures that we truly savor.

My next adventure (planned) is the trip to Yosemite in August. Backpacking, saddle ride and camping in the High Sierras!

Stayed tuned for THAT chapter. © Donald E. Kline 2012                                         Disqus Comments