We have travelled another half mile on the Tonto Trail, to mile point 4.7, getting deeper into Hance Creek Canyon. Turn the panorama to the east, and the high, brightly lit Redwall Limestone cliffs of Ayer Point, which we are circling around on our way to the head of Hance Creek Canyon, loom above. Turn to the west and the just as imposing Redwall cliffs of Horseshoe Mesa form the western wall of the canyon, in the shadows in the late afternoon light. The Sinking Ship continues to grow as we head south deeper into the side canyon, while the view north across the river to the Supergroup formations continues to recede.
What I particularly like about this panorama, though, is the immediate surroundings. It’s pretty green and lush at the moment, in the March desert springtime. It feels like a botanical garden of cacti to me, with specimens of barrel and prickly pear cacti scattered about among the brown slabs of Tapeats Sandstone at your feet.
I was looking around in this panorama the other day and I spotted something I had no idea was there. Look directly across the canyon at the brown Tapeats Sandstone cliffs, and notice that there is a ramp, slanting downward from left to right. Then look closely near the base of the ramp, and you can pick out a trail following the ramp downward. And literally just a few minutes later after I spotted it my friend Michael Taylor called out that trail in a post himself, since he had also happened to have been poking around in this panorama. Mike calls it the mid canyon trail, and it leads you right down to the bottom of the canyon, cutting off a couple miles of hiking if you are coming from the west on the Tonto Trail and the bottom of the canyon is your destination. Next time I’m in the area I’ll give it a try. Anyone else familiar with the mid-canyon trail?