We have travelled about another 3/4’s of a mile on the Tonto Trail, to mile point 5.5, as we continue to move deeper into Hance Creek Canyon, but we have still only made it about half the distance to the head of the canyon. Up until now, all the panoramas along the Tonto Trail that we have visited since starting at Hance Rapid were photographed in the course of a single day in March, 2010. It was getting to be later in the day by the time I reached Hance Creek Canyon, and with Horseshoe Mesa forming the western wall of the canyon, all of the day’s panoramas had it in the shadows.
I got it in my mind that I wanted to have a panorama with Horseshoe Mesa in the sunlight, so I got up early the next morning from my camping spot at the head of the canyon and hiked back east on the Tonto Trail for a bit to this spot, and did capture some nice early morning light beginning to fall on mesa.
But turn the panorama around to the other direction from Horseshoe Mesa to see what really caught my eye. And, ironically, it is in the shadows, and again it is cactus. Scattered all over the hillside, and really all around us, is a low lying light green cactus bristling with spines, mixed in with blackbrush still dark green with spring leaves.
Before you leave also look up towards the head of Hance Creek Canyon for a view of the first light falling on the Sinking Ship, with a bit of snow on its slopes and the South Rim behind it.