“Hiking on the path Elisha trod”
No, the title isn’t a mistake. Yesterday (Friday 2/20) small group of CVHC hikers, led by George (no relation to the gent above, although the resemblance is striking) hiked in Reavis Trail Canyon. Many of our trails are named after canyons (Barnhardt Canyon trail, Boulder Canyon trail, Peralta Canyon trail, etc), but in this case the canyon Reavis Trail Canyon is named after a trail, and then of course the trail is named after the canyon, thus Reavis Trail Canyon Trail.
Back in the late 1800’s, a fellow named Elisha Reavis (that’s him above) left a failed marriage in California, wandered into Arizona up around Prescott and the Bradshaw mountains for a while, then squatted on a chunk of land in the Superstitions on the north side of Montana mountain. Here he carved out a farm where he grew apples and vegetables which he carried out of the mountains for sale in Florence, Mesa, and Phoenix. The canyon we hiked was a part of his trail to market, thus the name “Reavis Trail Canyon“.
You can read more about this old hermit at http://thewyants.com/hikes/rogers/reavis.htm
(There’s a separate trail, about 12 miles round trip, out of Rogers Trough trailhead which takes you out to his old farm. Maybe CVHC should consider this as a spring project?)
The trailhead for our hike is located along FR650 (the road up the “back” side of Montana mountain) but there is no parking at that point, so we parked our vehicles about a half mile south of the trailhead, hiked up the road and then down on to the trail. From this point we hiked around 3.5 miles up the canyon and returned.
Parts of the road are also a stream bed!
This trail is a segment of the Arizona Scenic Hiking Trail (AZT) which stretches from Mexico to Utah, and is under the care of the nonprofit Arizona Trail Association. (Shameless plug: If you hike in Arizona you really should consider support with at least a basic membership — their website is at http://www.aztrail.org ).
Characteristic of the AZT routes, this route had generally excellent footing, and was generously cairned at stream crossings and other places where the path might be vague.
While a tad long to be called an “easy” hike, the overall elevation gain was perhaps 300 feet or so, and with nice footing conditions this was not at all difficult.
Much of the trail paralleled a small stream with light water flow. This environment is always interesting for the variety of plant life and animal life. Here a specimen of the species “lonesumus-georgeus mountain hominid” is seen sitting along the stream contemplating it’s next adventure.
The most common flower we encountered were the delicate blue dick. Usually quite solitary, at one point there was a small meadow which must have been “just right”, because there was quite a colony of them there.
A few examples of the Arizona Sycamore grew along the stream. The bark always reminds me of an Army camouflage pattern.
This canyon is an ideal place to graze cattle, with available water and lots of vegetation. (We saw a lot of cow tracks and other “evidence” of current bovine occupation) This old stone corral looks like waaaay too much work to me. Why didn’t they use bobwaar (barbed wire) instead?
It was a nice hike, and the elevation gave us cool temps on a warmish day down in the valley.
ELISHA REAVIS by Daniel K. Statnekov
Near the bottom of a path
In the jagged Superstitions
Is a cairn upon the grave
Of a man known by tradition
It’s set within a tiny plot
A few steps from the trail
Marked by a rough-hewn headstone
Made from the mountain shale
Faintly scratched and barely legible
Onto the piece of slate
The name “Elisha Reavis”
And beneath it was the date
It was in the 1860’s
When Elisha climbed those hills
And found a mountain meadow
That slowed his step to still
So he paced off sixty acres
Filed papers to homestead
He was miles from any neighbor
He was hermited – unwed
But the life he lived fulfilled him
As he set about his task
Fenced and cleared the meadow proper
Saw the deer in sunlight bask
Delighted in the pure, clear stream
That ran across his land
Planted fodder for his cattle
Seldom saw another man
Ponderosa kept him company
Manzanita gave him art
Rarely heard, the cougar’s high-pitched scream
Would penetrate his heart
And one dark winter evening
He turned his thoughts to Spring
Resolved to plant an orchard
Looked toward the blossoming
So when the snow had melted
And the days were warm again
He planted sapling apples
Alongside his staple grain
Then he turned the stream of water
To sustain them through the heat
When the summer sun was burning
And the green was in retreat
He trees survived the seasons
And he saw them rooted well
In the Springtime there were blossoms
In the Fall the apples fell
The seasons passed for Reavis too
And finally he died
While walking upright on the trail
Along the mountainside
And though his grave is in a place
Few men will ever see
Each Spring his apples blossom
To perfume his memory