Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tonto State Park, a local treasure. April 21

April 21---we took the day off on a beautiful Sunday. We had our token week of winter last week, and yesterday, as I descended from the mountains, I noticed the breezes getting much warmer. Temps were in the 70's today, without a cloud. We took the Jeep about ten miles out of town to Tonto State Park. It was relatively busy, and we were the only out of state plates that I noticed. This park is home to the largest Travertine natural bridge in the world. The second largest is in Virginia. Travertine sounds like it is a complicated geological process involving lava flow, sediment caused by being under sea water, erosion, and ongoing calcium carbonate depositing. The bridge is still growing, and the new formations look just like stalagmites in a cavern. The place is huge! It has a creek running through the tunnel, and a waterfall flowing from the top, delivering a cool mist on to your head, as you walk through the tunnel.
We had to drive down a 14% grade for a mile just to get to the parking lot. Rv's and trailers couldn't get in or out with the steep drive. There was a series of overlooks, and trails, one of which went down, steeply into the creek bed, where you could actually climb through the tunnel formed by the natural bridge. Pam and I had a blast rock climbing around the area and admiring the beauty over our heads, and under our feet. Pam wore her backpack and camelback, that she will wear into the Grand Canyon, to give them a test run.
After spending most of the day at the park, we pulled over in a neat little area near a creek coming out of the mountains, where people were fishing, swimming, and picnicking. We hiked a little, and soaked our tired legs in cold river water, and soaked up some sunshine. I had my legs in an area with rushing water coming through a pipe, and a trout came washing through, hit my feet, and bounced out of the water onto dry land right next to me. He was just a little guy, and he was gone in a heartbeat, but it was pretty cool. The day ended with a trip to Pizza Hut, and I devoured some carbs that I had depleted over the last two days. He was begging for Pizza Hut all day, so I had to give in!!!

At the parking lot of Tonto State Park, our Jeep found it's long lost cousin!!

Pam hiking across the bridge to get to the natural bridge/cave.  Yeah, the yellow dot with the hat is her!

Looking up at the waterfall coming over the natural bridge.

There is the cavern ahead (and Pam)


Yep!  We are going in there!

Looking up at the waterfall.  


Rock formations in the cavern


Pam working her way across the rocks - that is a small stream that she is getting ready to cross.

Looking out from inside the cavern

Getting in deeper....

Looking out the other side

Yes, we are going to climb that!


Pam is so glad she taught rock climbing in school!!!

Mike working his way up!

Leaving the cavern

Looking back in - it was one of the coolest things we have done so far!!!


Hiking back up the trail, we made a friend!

Then we hiked down the Pine Creek trail and Mike took a small break by the creek!

Still having fun!

This was hiking back up the Pine Creek trail!  Gotta get ready to do  Bright Angel trail out of the Grand Canyon!!!

Later when we found the nice creek to cool off our feet.  By the way, the hairy legs are NOT Pam's!

Doesn't that look refreshing on a hot day?!

More of the creek that the local go to - note the sandy beach in the lower right corner.


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