One of the favorite areas we patrol at Natural Bridges is White Canyon, featuring Sippapu Bridge. To reach the bridge one must climb down a steep mountain trail that also includes three wooden ladders to assist in navigating the most challenging parts.
One morning, after reaching the bottom of the first ladder, we looked in to the dead trees that line the path and saw three large turkey vultures looking majestically sinister as they surveyed the canyon below. On another occasion there was a lone vulture in the same spot, who posed for us with his wings spread.
About half-way down the trail there is a wide ledge where one can view the canyon, bright green trees seen through the rock hole created by Sipapu Bridge.
At the bottom there is a stream, mostly dry but with a few lovely pools, some of them a couple feet deep, up against the cliff walls. Jonathan loves this place, and he has seen several tiger salamanders, a large, colorful amphibian that dwells alongside the leopard frogs there. The tiger salamander is the only salamander found in the park, as the desert is conducive for only the hardiest species. They are elusive and it takes a lot of patience to see them.
I’m sure we will take many more hikes to Sipapu during the next two months. It is a strange but gorgeous spot that I’m sure we’ll always remember.
On our first day at Natural Bridges we were a bit nervous as we didn’t know what to expect. We walked over to the vistor center around 7:45am. Things didn’t get off to the best start when the only pair of park regulation pants I could find were a size 33 men’s waist.
Happily though we found that the staff were very welcoming and eager to train us. We first started off at the visitor center, welcoming guests – answering their questions about our park and the surrounding parks and showing them the lay of the land. We also learned how to run a cash register (my earlier work as a cashier at IGA in my teens came in handy) and how to turn on the informational video. The visitors were generally patient and understanding that we were new volunteers.
For the remainder of the day we went off on patrol in the park. Since I was still sick we decided to take the easiest of the three trails, to Owachamo, the smallest and thinnest and perhaps oldest of the three bridges. Owachomo means “rock mound” in Hopi and is named after the rock formation on top of the east end of the bridge.
It was a brisk but lovely, sunny day. We met some patrons who’d been at the visitor center and gave them more information about the trails and park. Interestingly, about 30% of park visitors are from foreign countries, most commonly Germany, the Czech Republic, France, England, and Poland.
We were pretty tired by the end of the day, but it was nice to come home to our cozy little house. We’re happy to be here. But I shan’t bore you with descriptions of domestic life. Stayed tuned for exciting posts on a variety of topics: Canyons! Prairie dogs! Mountain passes! Salamanders! Goblins! It’s all coming up soon, right here on A Trish Out of Water! Don’t miss a post…subscribe now!!