I’m back. We had a great trip, spending 3 nights in
About a month ago, when I was going on about Little Creek Mountain, I mentioned how the place was so interesting that it deserved a blog of its own. I feel the same way about Twin Corral. This area- the various side canyons of the Dirty Devil- is an area we know well. Since 1999 we’ve done 7 trips to this area, and explored every canyon between Robber’s Roost and
This isn’t a canyon country blog, but I’ll mention just a few of the amazing highlights of this canyon before zeroing in on a couple- one today, one tomorrow:
About 2/3 of the way up Twin Corral, is the biggest, lushest
Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremonti, is common to pretty much every wet
Tangent: If you listen to the rustle of Fremont Cottonwood leaves in the wind, and compare that sound with the rustle of Aspen leaves in the wind, you’ll notice that it’s the same sound, only the
Further up the canyon, way, way up, almost at the end, is a side canyon filled almost exclusively with Box Elder, the only such canyon I’ve ever come across (and one of the few times I’ve encountered this tree in the desert.)
At the very end of the canyon is the highest, deepest alcove I know of anywhere; a place always shaded and cool and damp.
I don’t think I’ve ever been on a trip that’s been busier with rattlesnakes; I had 2 encounters that qualify as close calls- one snuggled in between my pack and a tree in the evening (pic left), and another warning me off from under a rock only 18” from where I’d stepped (pic right).
Strangely, bats appeared in the canyon shortly after the sun disappeared behind the walls, but well before real dusk, giving us a great opportunity to observe them flying and hunting in the light. They zipped and dipped and dove back and forth around us, close enough for us to hear the faint soft clicking of their wings flapping. This video is sketchy, but it gives you the idea…
The bottoms of these canyons almost always contain pools of water, and in the spring the water is teeming with life- frogs, tadpoles, and water bugs of all types: water bugs that scoot along the surface held up by teeny oil pads on the bottoms of their feet, big oval beetles that dive deep over and over again, and further up-canyon, strange critters that look just like little ½” pieces of broken-up twigs, till you realized that the have little legs and are crawling all over the place. (I have a great video of this- but took too long to upload, and honestly, it was kind of a sleeper...)
At night, the frogs begin their courting song- a loud ruckus that keeps you up the first night, and lullabies you to sleep by the third. Here’s a great night-video capturing both the calls, and the freaky throat expansion that produces it.
I’ve done a bunch of these trips, and they’re all great. But it’s unusual that I return to the exact same place after several- specifically 7- years. And I noticed 2 significant changes.
In 2001, at the junction of the main
The second, more sinister change is worth mentioning because it’s an appropriate coda to Weed Week, and that’s Tamarisk, or specifically, the penetration up-canyon of Tamarisk.
Tamarisk (genus = Tamarix) is a group of a couple dozen species of brushy, feathery-leaved flowering shrubs native to the Middle East, Southeastern Europe and parts of South-Central Asia (I keep telling you, ALL the bad stuff comes from Asia). During the past ~180 years, several species have been introduced to
Tamarisk survives drought better than Cottonwoods or Willows. But on the other hand, it also survives inundation of its roots for longer periods than either of its canyon country competitors. And it blows them away when it comes to seed production: a mature Tamarisk produces 250 million wind-blown seeds per year, each of which can germinate within 24 hours of landing on wet sand.
Tamarisk has long lined all the major waterways of
The lesson for me in these changes is the perspective of intermediate time. We’re all used to short-term month-to-month changes. We’re also fairly accustomed to long-term decades long changes: we see an old college roommate after 20 years; we visit the house where we grew up in the 1970’s; we return to a