Sunday, May 3, 2009

Up Short Creek without a Camera


One of the headwaters of the Fort Pearce drainage is Short Creek. A true desert spring, it runs through the sandy washes of Hildale and Colorado City, then spills over the Hurricane Fault and into Warner Valley before meandering to its convergence with the mighty Virgin. Most of the year, the washes remain empty from Colorado City and beyond--occasionally filling with the flash flood waters of a desert rain somewhere upstream.

Above Colorado City, Short Creek is alive with water all year long. The creek isn't more than a trickle most of the time. It follows a deep canyon carved into the Navajo sandstone. The head of Short Creek percolates right from the base of a towering amphitheatre at the top of the narrow, winding canyon. Known mostly to the locals, it is an extraordinarily peaceful place, with a deep emerald pool at the foot of the over-arching wall. Protected from wind, the acoustics of the place are that of a great tabernacle, and the choir is a chorus of frogs with a rich variety of voices.

They say it is nearly impossible to get stock up into the amphitheatre at the top of Short Creek. Two walls stand in the way. The first wall is its own small amphitheatre. Some of the local teenagers who wanted to get their own horses up the creek carved a chute into the wall for portage to the next level. The second wall is an angled slab with slanted steps that rises about 20 feet up to the final level.

Yesterday, three of my kids and I got our stock to the main amphitheatre--2 mules and 2 mustangs. The mules did well, but the the mustangs scrambled and fell more than once. I took several photos of my kids working out the difficult spots and some short videos of the animals coming back down the two walls. I even had some video of the frog-chorus inside the amphitheatre which I eagerly anticipated posting on this blog. The video and pictures were proof that we actually did it.

Somewhere on the way back down the canyon, after all the fun parts, the camera bounced out of my pocket and was lost. I rode back and looked, but soon realized the futility of the effort. My kids had stayed on the trail, but I had meandered all over the place--cutting my own trail in and out of the creek in such a way that I could never retrace my steps. My tracks in the sand were indistinguishable from the cattle in the lower canyon where I lost the camera.

So, I'm up the creek with out a camera. And here are some stock photos that kind of match our tale. The amphitheatre of our story looks a lot like Lower Calf Creek Falls--minus the falls. You'll just have to believe we were crazy enough to get where we got without picture proof.


Huck's mama said...

Yeah, I believe you! I do! really...

Cowboy mom said...

Sounds like quite an adventure! At least you had a camera to begin with. I, usually, completely forget the camera on days like that.