West Fork Surprise Oct 14

With damage to the trail from the Slide fire and being premature for the peak of fall color, we did not have high expectations for this year's iconic hike
PA230001   WEST FORK SURPRISE PA230002 PA230004   Crossing the orchard at Call of the Canyon Ranch PA230006
PA230009 PA230010 PA230011 PA230014
PA230015 PA230018   We make our way along the public trail PA230019 PA230021
PA230022 PA230024 PA230025   The water seems to be lower than expected, especially given the rainy year PA230026
PA230027 PA230028   PLenty of other hikers on the trail this time of year PA230029   Ferns are the first to brown off with frost PA230030   The Arizona bigtoooth maple gives us most of the reds.
PA230031 PA230032 PA230033   We encounter small spot burns that came from embers dropped from the big fire above PA230034
PA230037 PA230038 PA230039 PA230040
PA230042   This big PA230043 PA230044 PA230045
PA230046 PA230047 PA230048 PA230049
PA230051 PA230052 PA230053 PA230054
PA230055 PA230056 PA230057   There are thirteen water crossings on the public part of the trail PA230058
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PA230063 PA230064 PA230065 PA230066
PA230068 PA230069 PA230070 PA230071   The color may not be as spectacular as in other years, but it's nice enough
PA230072 PA230074 PA230076 PA230077   The "Indian Head" formation
PA230078 PA230079 PA230080 PA230081
PA230082 PA230083 PA230084   Anopther huge rock fallen from the walls PA230085
PA230086 PA230087 PA230088 PA230089
PA230090 PA230091 PA230092   The rainy summer has produced moss PA230093
PA230095   "Are we all together?" PA230096 PA230097   The largest single fallen rock, a venerable giant PA230098
PA230101 PA230102 PA230103 PA230104
PA230105 PA230106   This high ledge is a favorite break spot... PA230107   ...But this time, we find a way to the bottom PA230109
PA230110   The ledge from the other side of the Fork PA230111   The undercut wall on the other side, a seldom-visited place PA230113   We document graffiti and report it to the Forest Service PA230114
PA230115   Equisetum, or horsetail PA230116 PA230117 PA230118
PA230119 PA230120 PA230121 PA230123
PA230124 PA230125 PA230126 PA230127   A pause for reflection
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PA230132 PA230133 PA230134 PA230135   Now it gets rougher
PA230137 PA230138 PA230139   In a sheltered location, an unfrosted fern PA230141
PA230142 PA230143 PA230144 PA230145
PA230146 PA230148   This rounded rock must have been rolled some distance by floods PA230149 PA230150
PA230151 PA230152 PA230153 PA230154
PA230156 PA230157 PA230158 PA230160
PA230164 PA230165   The end of the public trail, and we find... PA230166   ...That the water is two feet below normal, allowing us to go further! PA230168
PA230169   This section of the Fork normally has to be waded PA230170 PA230171 PA230172
PA230174   A rippled sandy bottom PA230175   The narrow canyon at this point usually means fast, deep water PA230176   Today everyone is taking advantage of the iunexpected dry land PA230177
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PA230184 PA230185 PA230186 PA230187
PA230189   Bracket fungus PA230190 PA230192   We come to "The Beach" PA230193
PA230194 PA230195 PA230197   These small pits are caused by wind erosion of certain special types of sandstone PA230200
PA230201 PA230202 PA230204   The canyon is passable still farther up, but this is as far as we have time for PA230207
PA230208 PA230209   So we have lunch at the end of the beach. Normally, reaching this point requires hours of wading. PA230215 PA230216
PA230219 PA230220 PA230221   We start back along the upper canyon PA230222
PA230224 PA230225 PA230227 PA230229
PA230232 PA230233 PA230234 PA230235
PA230236 PA230237   Pooling water means more reflections PA230238 PA230239
PA230240 PA230241 PA230242 PA230243
PA230244 PA230246 PA230247 PA230250
PA230251   The public trail starts just ahead PA230252 PA230253 PA230254
PA230255 PA230257 PA230258 PA230259
PA230260 PA230263 PA230264   Sharing a snack PA230265
PA230267   Nature recycles a dead tree PA230268 PA230270 PA230271
PA230272 PA230273 PA230275 PA230277
PA230278 PA230279 PA230280 PA230281
PA230282 PA230283 PA230284 PA230285   Back at the Mayhew ranch. This was originally a chicken coop...
PA230286   ...and root cellar.