My cousin Steven Chernek and I hiked in and around the Wet Beaver Wilderness in Coconino National Forest on Saturday. There were lots of highlights for the day such as seeing petroglyphs dated between 1150 A.D. and 1400 A.D. and seeing four birds that I have never seen before. It was a beautiful, hot day in the Verde Valley and the landscape of this area was some of my favorite that I’ve seen in Arizona so far.
We saw petroglyphs at two different sites, one was the V-Bar-V Petroglyph site. The petroglyphs were made by the Southern Sinagua, a pre-Columbian cultural group that occupied a large area of central Arizona from 500 A.D. to 1425 A.D. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinagua). The name Sinagua was created by archaeologist Harold Cotton; it is derived from Spanish “without water.” Sinagua was the name originally given to the San Francisco peaks near Flagstaff, AZ by Spanish explorer because there was little to no water in these mountains.
Steven and I were discussing “life-birds” on the rugged dirt road to the first petroglyph site and I was mentioning how many of the birds that I see in Arizona for the first time fit into this category. We had excellent looks at white-throated swifts, lark sparrows, and a common black hawk; all “life birds” for me. We also saw a jay that we couldn’t identify in the field and I’m pretty certain it was a western scrub jay after entering my data into Ebird.
The Verde Valley, where the Beaver Creek Trail is located, is about 43 miles south of Flagstaff, AZ and has an elevation in the 4,000 to 4, 5000 feet above sea level range. It has both red rock (sandstone) and gray rock areas along the trail and is like a lush desert oasis. The trail runs along the “actually flowing with water” Wet Beaver Creek. It has lush green areas along the creek bed, a desert-juniper-scrub-grassland appearance above the creek bed, and is surrounded by various small mountains and canyons dotted with juniper. We questioned what a certain plant that was abundant along the trail was and I’m pretty sure it was either a lotebush (Ziziphus obtusfolia) or allthorn (Koeberina spinosa).
I definitely enjoyed this area very much and would like to explore it more in the future.