By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/25/2020
Posted: 1/4/2007
Topics/Keywords: #Arizona #Hiking #ApacheTrail Page Views: 4257
I take some kids up on the Apache Trail.

We celebrated New Years' Day by going on a short hike. Not only was the hike short, but also most of the hikers. Present were Zachary, my grandson, his friends Lane, Brittany, Ashley and Billy, and me. The youngest was Ashley (6); the oldest was her brother, Billy (11). I decided to head out along the Apache Trail into the Superstition mountains, which begins not far from our house.

The Apache Trail itself, is actually a road, albeit an unpaved road for most of its length. We made two stops along the way. The first was just past where the pavement ends, a small rest area/scenic viewpoint with a couple of pit toilets. With so many youngsters, I thought it would be prudent to make a pit stop before heading off road.

Zachary and Brittany about to disappear over a ridge.

The rest area is located just above Fish Creek Canyon, a thousand feet or so above the canyon floor. So you get quite a view. The ground surface is mostly bare rock, so it's safe (both ecologically and personally) to stray from the paved nature walk and explore. Although I was huffing and puffing, the kids enjoyed climbing small outcroppings and jumping off of them.

All at once, Zachary starting yelling for me. I ran, afraid someone had fallen into the canyon. However, the excitement was due to a wild animal spotting. A pair of big-horned sheep were grazing on a ledge below us.

Big-horned sheep are cool. They are smart enough to know that we clumsy humans pose no threat even when we're fairly close, as long as uneven rocks and vertical distances separate us. I tried to get a picture with my cell phone camera (with which I took the above photo) but they were a little too far away to make out.

from left-to-right: Ashely, Billy, Brittany, Zach, Lane

Next we got back in the SUV and drove to the bottom of Fish Creek Hill, where a cave is located. It's a big cave, open like a garage so there's no crawling or bats or anything like that. It's just a cool area to visit, with lots of safe climbing for the kids. The last time Zachary and I were there (with Lane), Zach and Lane climbed all over it—even places where I could have sworn there were no toeholds. But this time, Zach wanted to hike down to the dry creek bed. I was trailing the pack since Zach knew the way (and I love that he's a seven-year-old I can trust to find and follow a trail). Ahead of me, thanks to the amplifying effects of the cave, I could hear Ashley worrying: "I'm a little scared," she said. "I don't know if I can make this…that boulder's so high…we're so far up!" Finally, faced with following the others down to the creek bed, she said, "That's too far down. I don't think it's safe."

"Of course it is," Zachary retorted. "It's perfectly safe."

"Perfectly?" Ashley repeated. "Are you sure it's perfectly safe?"

"Well," Zachary admitted, "Maybe just sitting on a rock is safer. But then you won't be able to see the creek."

I suspect Zach may become a lawyer. Or, if he's really clever, a computer programmer!

And Ashley swallowed her fear—without pressure from anyone—and climbed down to the creek bed without incident.

Until we took him, Lane had never in his life been in a rural setting. Until this trip, neither had Brittany. It's essential we bring our young ones up feeling that nature is a friend rather than a foe to be challenged. Only then is there hope that they will make an effort to protect it, as far too many adults of today do not.