A large Fremont’s Cottonwood Offers shade and protection along the Pima Canyon Trail.
In the shade, a grapevine, offers a vain promise of grapes.
The cottonwood’s deep roots draw water from a mountain stream.
Native Americans in the Western United States and Mexico used parts of Frémont’s cottonwood variously for a medicine, in basket weaving, for tool making, and for musical instruments. The inner bark of Frémont’s cottonwood contains vitamin C and was chewed as an antiscorbutic – treatment for vitamin C deficiency. The bark and leaves could be used to make poultices to reduce inflammation or to treat wounds.
The Pima people of southern Arizona and northern Mexico lived along Sonoran Desert watercourses and used twigs from the tree in the fine and intricate baskets they wove. The Cahuilla people of southern California used the tree’s wood for tool making, the Pueblo peoples for drums, and the Lower Colorado River Quechan people in ritual cremations. The Hopi of Northeastern Arizona carve the root of the cottonwood to create kachina dolls.
The canyon below 110 foot Reavis Falls is a wild place of transcendent beauty.
With the afternoon in front of me, the trip back to camp was a slow pleasure. On the way in, I noted several stopping points to capture photographs. Here a natural rock sluice offers a foot tall waterfall, mirroring Reavis Falls, bracketed by white igneous stone.
This same stone offers a screen, the bright spring sun throwing the sparse leaves into sharp relief.
Reaching Reavis Falls, once you find the canyon mouth, is three-fourths of a mile of boulder hopping and bushwacking over and around landslides, deep pools and fallen trees. Odds are you will be the only person in the canyon for weeks, if not months. Expect to be surprised. In this chapter you will (finally) visit the falls themselves.
A Camp in the Canyon
Click me for the chapter about the environment around the mouth of Reavis Canyon below the falls.
The Last Mile
Here is an overview of the last third mile of Reavis Canyon. You can see the wall of the falls nestled in the folds of ridges towards the top, just off center.
On the lower right is a large landslide and, below there, it is complete chaos.
The vegetation grows shoulder to shoulder with interleaved branches. You will not get through there. The solution is to find a way around, usually over and around house-sized boulders.
After almost two hours of picking my way, there was a flicker of light. The fall waters were sparkling in the sunlight high above the cottonwood trees, in full Mach bloom, and the still leafless Arizona Sycamores.
This was my view of Reavis Falls from the canyon on a March day before the Arizona Sycamores have leaved. The falls are the tiny patch of white to the left of midline where the earth meets the sky. Jumbles of infallen boulders and thick growth of sycamores, oaks and fully leaved cottonwoods cloak the falls.
Another 30 minutes of canyoneering brought me to the foot of the falls.
At the Foot of Reavis Falls
Looking up at Reavis Falls from a 20 foot tall mound of talus.
These are boulders washed down at flood time.
The rock wall is thick with microorganisms, fungi and mosses.
After clambering around the talus pile I found this angle….
An Arizona Sycamore, before the spring leafing, at the Foot of Reavis Falls
Talus at the Foot of Reavis Falls
The Reavis Falls talus is large boulders carried down Reavis Creek and washed over the falls at flood time as well as blocks fractured from the cliff face. You can see the base of the Sycamore from the previous photograph.
The falls are formed where Reavis Creek flows over a solid mass of rock. The talus is composed mostly of this red rock. From the edge of this cliff to the base, where the falls hit the canyon floor, is all of 140 feet. This is a far as you can proceed into the canyon without some serious climbing skills.
It is possible to climb around the canyon by climbing up the ridge from which I captured the Cedar Basin Hoodoos. See my posts below for this location (you need to work it our for yourself).
This is NOT the last post of the series. From here I will focus on the beauty of Reavis Falls and the canyon that holds them.
It was a four-day expedition so there are a few chapters covering the approach to the Falls:
The Superstition Wilderness was born from volcanic eruption and in some places (Peters Mesa) the earth still rumbles.
Here in Reavis Canyon it is the huge spring runoff that builds the environment, grinding and scouring the canyon. In my chapter The Mouth of Reavis Canyon is the story of this aspect of the canyon.
The history of this spot is written on these volcanic and igneous rocks and boulders, the uprooted tree roots and fresh water.
A Canyon of Wonder and Beauty
In this chapter I present, in the header, the lovely dawn sky of that day, and a tiny corner of a rock jumble in Reavis Creek. There is a large format version of the sky in my previous post, “The Mouth of Reavis Canyon.”
Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Here is the same view, in daylight. As I hiked toward the canyon mouth below Reavis Falls, looking up I saw this prominant cliff against the sky.
Here is the path I took toward the falls. The campsite is to the lower right, the falls are toward the center and left. My approach to the camp is on the right, moving toward the top. For another view of this location see Reavis Canyon Camp.
The mouth of Reavis Canyon below the falls is choked with vegetation and infallen rocks and boulders. The far slopes are thick with the poles of young saguaros. There are hoodoos, as well. In the photograph, below, one hoodoo is catching morning light. See the chapters Hoodoos on the Descent to Reavis Falls and Cedar Basin Hoodoos for more views of the hoodoos around Reavis Falls.
Flood damage in Reavis Canyon below the falls. Note the scouring at the base of these trees and the broken limbs. This is NOT a place to be in spring thaw.
There is beauty to be found, as well. Freshly fallen rough rocks contrast with water smoothed boulders and the water surface.
Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
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