Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Thanks to the nice forest ranger.
Before my daughter moved to Illinois, I just had to take her and my son to the Tonto Natural Bridge. It’s a place I’ve been to several times over the years. There used to be more water seeping along the walls, and more moss growing there. Because of this, and the fact that the gnome movies by Disney were a big hit during my youth, I used to pretend that the gnomes lived at the bridge among the moss. It was the perfect place for them, if they existed.
Can you see the gnomes?

Looking down into the bridge.
Now it’s owned by the National Forest Service. They’ve done wonders in building paved paths and sprucing up the place, and although there isn’t nearly enough water flowing through it to keep the walls green, it’s still pretty grand.

The walk down into the bridge is new. The old path is in disrepair and closed off. The Ranger said that there is talk of restoring it. I’m not sure why they would though, since the current path, from the opposite side of the bridge is nice.
Third pool under the bridge.
A stream runs through the bridge and collects in three seperate pools. This is the third from the entrance. A friend and I took a dip in it as teens (before it was owned by the NFS), and I assure you that the water is cold enough to stop your heart.

Can you see my kids?
My daughter is near a brass memorial for someone who died at the bridge years ago, I don't remember how. There is a wide cave near the top (nearly a house length above my son). There used to be a log ladder going up to it, that was washed away during a flood. I went up there once and climbing the ladder was very scary! 
Going through the bridge.
I had fun watching my kids climb all over the place like I used to. This time I was happy staying toward the bottom and watching them. To the right is my son and daughter forging the trail along the slick rock to exit the bridge. There is (or used to be) a trail along the creek where you could climb back out. It was an easier path.
Going back up the current trail is a different story. For me, it was horribly reminiscent of walking up and out of the Grand Canyon. My kids, of course nearly ran up. Showoffs. The thing that kept me going is the seventy-year-old forest ranger coming up behind me with relative ease. Nothing makes a person feel as out of shape as having someone close to twenty years their senior accomplish the task easier.

That said, it was a wonderful experience and I would like to go again. The weather was nice and there were even a few fall colors. And, each time I go is a walk down memory lane.

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