Monday, April 30, 2007

This weekend we went to Sabino Canyon for the first time since the devastating floods last summer destroyed many of the trails, bridges, and roads. Overall, things didn't look as bad as I had feared. In fact, except for Rattlesnake Creek (a dry wash near the start of the hike), which is now about twice as wide as it used to be, we didn't see much change up until the first couple of bridges. Then we saw that the creek is full of sand, and the sand is preventing the water from running under the bridges, so they are all wet with water running over.

As we got further up, we saw that many of the bridges have been badly damaged. These are structures that have stood through many floods since the 1930's, when they were built. After Stop 4, the damage gets worse. Along the side of the road you can see many places where the cliffs just gave way. The Phone Line trail is supposedly being rebuilt, but there are so many wiped-out places high above the road that it's hard to imagine how they can make a safe trail.

The road was closed for months, and now is open most of the way to the top. There were apparently huge boulders, dead trees, and dead cactus lying on the pavement, which they have somehow managed to clear out. As you get higher up, you can see deep scars in what remains of the pavement from where the boulders lay. In many of those areas the shoulder on the side of the road is gone, along with part of the road. There are lots of places along the road where the cliff walls are close to the walking area and obviously very unstable. I'm assuming they'll have to dynamite some of these (killing more cactus, especially sahuaros) to ever make it safe. Supposedly they are not going to rebuild anything until a thorough geological study has been done of the likelihood of further rock falls.

There are still a lot of beautiful cottonwoods and willows in the creek, and forests of sahuaro on either side all the way up. (We went up to the former Stop 8, which is about a third of a mile before the end of the road.) We met a woman who told us that the beautiful, almost jungly area behind the dam down in lower Sabino has been wiped out and is now just a tangle of broken trees, branches, and roots. Also, many of the picnic tables and stone ovens (also built in the thirties) are gone or buried in sand.

But Sabino is still beautiful. It is still my church.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

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Strong, protective male Gambel's quail, beautiful markings and large topknot, seeks healthy female companion. Object: raising a very large family.

Exceptionally good-looking male Anna's hummingbird, brilliant red gorget, great flying skills, striking singing voice, seeks comely female for SLAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM.