Christopher Creek is showing all of the trappings of spring. The daffodils have bloomed, fruit trees are blossoming, temperatures are in the mid-60s, skies are blue, the turkey buzzards have returned, and the elk are back in town. It is time to think about your Victory garden. Just over 100 years ago, that term was given to World War I efforts to take the burden off of the food supply by planting your own fruits and vegetables. My mini-garden already has some spinach shoots from containers on one of my sun-facing windowsills. Beets and potatoes are sprouting, as well. Remember telling yourself you’re going to put in a garden some year when you have the time? Guess what?
The six inches of heavy snow from two weeks ago is long gone. Left behind is a mess of limbs and branches to clean up. The creek has been flowing strong for a couple of months, but now has settled down somewhat. Mimi’s Crossing is open, but there is a slimy film on the concrete that is very slick.
If you are home schooling, this next part qualifies for a star on your report card in geography, history, and physics. The first point is the reservoir system that holds the Valley’s water supply is at a whopping 97% on Tuesday. Christopher Creek and the waters that flow down the canyons and streams that feed it are all a small part of that water supply. It starts on top of the Mogollon Rim. A good portion of the edge of the Rim is sloped to shed its water down the jagged palisades and steep canyons. Add to it the square miles of watershed below the Rim that feeds named streams such as Sharp, Hunter, Christopher, and more broadly, Horton, Dick Williams, Gordon Canyon, and Haigler. They all join Tonto Creek and all that runoff cascades down through Hells Gate on its way through Tonto Basin finally flowing into Roosevelt Lake.
The 75-mile trip has taken all that water from over 7,900 feet in elevation down to about 2,000 feet at the lake. That is a drop of a little more than a mile in elevation. This helps explain how fast the water roars by the carwash, for instance. A great deal of the water comes down the Salt River from the White Mountains and flows into the other end of the lake. That takes care of your geography and physics lessons.
Sometime before the turn of the last century, prior to 1900, the folks in the sleepy, little town of Phoenix watched as all that water ran down the Salt River every spring. Then by summer, the riverbed was dry. Some of the forward-thinking leaders decided to hike up the riverbed to see if they could find a place to dam up some of that water. They found such a spot and brought in an engineer or two to see if it was feasible. A petition was sent to Washington, D.C. to enlist the federal government to consider such a huge project.
An amazing thing was Arizona was still a territory with a bad reputation. We were too wild and lawless. Washington bought into the idea and in a blink of time construction began in 1905. Even some of our local pioneer family members took the opportunity to make some good money and went down to work on the dam. Construction took six years and Teddy Roosevelt came to the Arizona Territory to preside over the dedication of the dam that bears his name. The trip wasn’t like flying in on Air Force One as you can imagine. You could speculate that he found Arizona not as rowdy as its reputation, for the next year we became a state. That is your history lesson and as boring as it was, you can now commiserate with all the kids being home-schooled by their parents.
If you made it this far, congratulations on earning your three stars.
Back here in the Creek, last Sunday there was a birthday party up in See Canyon for Mike Writt. Don and Kiki Farmer hosted the gathering in front of their cabin. Three Harpers were there, making seven of us. Food was served from the tailgate of a pickup. There was no hand shaking. It was the highlight of my week.
The jackwagons are still coming up here to camp and leaving their piles of garbage. Recently, a big mess was left behind out at Colcord Road and SR 260. One would shudder to think what the See Canyon camping area looks like. The mounting problem seems to have no resolve. Pictures of license tags may help.
My other concern is one of the elk parading down Columbine Road may break a leg in one of the potholes ... and that’s another week in the Creek.