Sunday, June 24, 2007

delux burger, delux desert: phoenix is a farce

Ed Abbey is full of shit. The desert isn’t beautiful. It’s harsh and hot and prickly with cacti and snake fangs. Perhaps the Gila isn’t desert, but it’s really close. I saw three types of cactus. Lots of Ponderosa pine on the north facing slopes of the mountains. I saw the cliff dwellings and hiked up over the mountain and into “The Meadows” which is about in the middle of the Gila Wilderness on the middle fork of the Gila River. I went to the Gila to fish for the Gila trout, a sub (?) species of rainbow trout native to the mountains of SW New Mexico and SW Arizona. It has been protected for the last 50 years or so. They were only in a few headwater streams and fishing for them was prohibited. But they’ve been nursed back to health and fishing opens for them on July 1st. When I planned this trip the date was still undecided so I thought I might get to fish for them. But I was early. So I fished for rainbows and smallmouth and hoped to see a Mexican wolf. No dice on the wolf. Or bear. Or mountain lion.

I spent six nights in the Gila, four in the back country. Hiked out nine miles on Thursday and drove six and a half hours to Phoenix where I met up with THE MB Pell at his temporary home The Crystal Meth Suites. Phoenix is a strange city. One big strip mall. 111 degrees. The water’s briny and tastes like chlorine. People shouldn’t live here. But they do. A lot of them. But there’s a cool restaurant here called Delux that serves a mean 9$ hamburger and has a good beer selection. I had an Alaskan Amber, New Belgian Wit, Lost Coast Wit, and a Bridgeport IPA. Good stuff. But the service wasn’t so hot.

The Gila Cliff dwellings. Some Mogollon folks lived here in the 1200s. Also kind of looks like a Planet of Apes Mt. Rushmore. Click for bigger.

The only snake I saw was a Sonoron mountain King snake which was cool.

Tha cacti.

The insects.

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There was a nice hatch of these bugs that the trout were feeding on pretty well. I think it's some sort of caddis. Or maybe even a little stone fly? Click for bigger.

A dobson fly. What hellgramites turn into, I think.

The bane of my existence in the Meadows. These things hurt when they bit and they didn't let go when you stamped your foot.

The clouds were nice in the Gila. Click them for bigger.

The feeshes. In all their glory.

I got a huge carp on a Clouser minnow. Click for bigger.

Don't know what this fish is. He was feeding on the surface like a trout. A chubb maybe? Daniel? Maureen?

Some bronzebacks. Caught most of them on Clousers and a brown wooly bugger.

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And last but not least, the trout. I only caught rainbows. There are supposedly browns higher up, which is kind of weird. I also like to think that some of these rainbows were gila hybrids. But they probably weren't.

Click these three for bigger.

Most of the fish were fairly pale. But I hiked up Indian Creek Canyon one day. It was pretty much bone dry. But towards the bottom there were a couple of very stagnant, algae covered pools. And in one of the biggest ones I saw several fish feeding voraciously on the surface. Who knows how long they can live in that? Either way, I thought this was pretty cool. I liked how the fish from the pool is much darker than the others.

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Some cool rocks I saw up Indian Creek. Looks vaguely like Mars eating his children. When I told MB Pell that he said "you spent too much time in the desert".


Anonymous said...

The desert is a strange, exotic and often violent place. It is not my home.
Eric Tohlbert

Catherine said...

i can't believe you just said ed abbey sucks. you suck. (is it possible that the desert ed abbey fell in love with has since been ruined by human encroachment?)

but i like your pictures.

i'm reading barbara kingsolver's newest book about her family's move from AZ to NC and attempt to eat locally grown food. she has interesting things to say about dwelling in the desert. that's all.

marxiano said...

I'm on the desert is beautiful side of the argument. You gotta pick your season to enjoy it properly.

Kingsolver is much better than Abbey.

Seth said...

That's not a carp you have there, it is a white Sucker

Corey said...

The "Carp" is actually a Sonoran Sucker, Catostomus insignis. The other fish is a Headwater Chub, Gila nigra. They both are native species. I'm actually travelling to that exact area from Minnesota to catch those two rare species of fish, plus the Desert Sucker which is also found in that stream.