By now, most everyone has heard about the flood through Cave Creek Canyon and Portal from Hurricane Odile. I was working on a couple of posts about how beautiful it is in the Chiricahuas in September, when the flood came and we got distracted, so I'll be posting a few entries at one time this week. Happily no one was injured or killed in the flood. A few homes had some water damage, but all in all everyone came out okay. Our house and the cabin both came through with no water reaching the structures. The canyon itself suffered the most damage and will be closed by the Forest Service for an undetermined time to assess and repair the damage.
The road through Cave Creek Canyon was washed away in several places and undermined in others, so it will take a while to get it fixed.
South Fork Road was damaged some going to the bridge. The bridge had no damage and the cabins had no damage, but beyond the cabins to the picnic area, the creek took over the road and washed it out completely. No dirt left, just boulders and trees. It will be a costly repair to get that road back in shape. The good news is that Mother Nature has a way of coming back from disasters in her own time in her own way. The Chiricahuas have rebounded after the fires in 2011 and will rebound again after this. I have no doubt.
Just before Odile paid us a visit we walked a bit of the Nature Trail that was still able to be found after the flash floods of earlier in the Monsoon. Butterflies and caterpillars were busy doing their things, eater or mating or defending territory. Such a life. Even after Odile, the caterpillars and butterflies were abundant.
September in the Chiricahuas is beautiful! We drove through Cave Creek Canyon and up the mountain to Rustler Park which just opened up for camping last week. It has been closed since the Horseshoe fires in 2011. Clouds hung low over the mountain tops and as we approached Rustler, it was an eerie scene. The fog made it dark for mid-morning, and the outside temperature was a cool 54 degrees. We decided to walk the forest road to Long's Park. Just 2 miles, but we had never done that trail, so it was new territory. The 4-wheel drive road is not very steep and follows the contours of the mountain, so it was a pleasant hike. We saw lots of wildflowers. Some I'd never seen before and I still haven't identified. We saw ravens, 3 red-tailed hawks, what I believe was a zone tailed hawk (definitely not a vulture) and one other hawk that may have been a short-tailed, but I can't say for sure. It was soaring over Long Park Road and looked kind of like a Swainson's. Also one that appeared to be a falcon, but we didn't get a good look. All these raptors were in the same drainage along Long Park road riding updrafts. Possibly a migration route over the mountain to get to the Sulphur Springs Valley. In addition to those, we identified mexican chickadees, pygmy & white breasted nuthatches, bridled titmouse, yellow-eyed juncos, townsends warbler, stellers jays, hairy woodpeckers, american robins, a hermit thrush, ruby crowned kinglet and acorn woodpeckers and some unidentified LBBs.
We forgot to take down the bird seed feeder when we left Portal last week and the Black Bear took full advantage of our error. He/she knocked down the feeder and proceeded to have a feast of sunflower seeds. Halfway through the pile, she/he stopped to get a drink and then mosied out of camera range to take a humongous dump before returning to finish the seeds. In addition to the seed feeder, the Bear destroyed one of the apple trees eating all the little green apples and leaving broken branches in his/her wake.
It's been a lovely week in Portal. Cool days and pleasant nights. The monsoon appears to have ended and we cut all the 2 foot high grass in the yard. What a chore! The primary sound in the neighborhood this week was weed eaters and lawn mowers. The seasonal home-owners return in September to mow their grass!
We're seeing lots of young Black-headed Grosbeaks, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Mexican Jays, Blue Throat Hummingbirds, Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Rufous & Mags, Acorn Woodpeckers, Butterflies and assorted insects, but, the birders have flown the coop and it's very quiet and peaceful.
Our yard camera has captured the Striped Skunk on a regular basis. There are three Coues White Tail Bucks that frequent the water feature and the Bear has been back on & off. Nectar feeding Bats are back emptying the Hummingbird feeders at night. They are fascinating to watch.
We are pleased with the tile job we had done in the house. It really feels like home now. The dogs are still a bit confused about where "home" is. Matty seems to prefer Tucson. Brown likes it here where he can chase squirrels. Bud & I prefer it here, so Matty is outvoted.
Bud & I bought our dream house in Portal in December 2013 and find ourselves in a heaven on earth in this beautiful friendly community.