Christopher Creek is experiencing the beginning of the sexually active period for a segment of the local population. That is not to say that other segments are less active ... well, let’s just let it go at that. We celebrated the first day of fall this week and along with that the start of rut, the mating season for our magnificent forest neighbors. We have had a healthy elk population right here in town this year. That was not always the case. Around the turn of the 20th century, Arizona’s elk numbers had been hunted down to near zero. In 1913, 83 head of Yellowstone elk were re-populated into the area around Chevelon Canyon, above the Creek, just 15 miles away.
Our resident bulls have been busy polishing their antlers. This year’s calves are big enough to run with the herd of cows by now. Let the competition begin. From the top of the ridge just before sundown, one can hear the bugle of one bull up behind See Canyon homes. Another will respond from the west side of town near the ponds. They are competing for the attention of the cows and will build a harem of up to 20. Actual combat between bulls, although rare, is a noisy jousting match and may end in injury. For the next five weeks, nighttime hours will be filled with a concert, featuring the “horn” section.
The second indication of fall is the onset of the autumn colors. Dave and Carol reported some of the early reds and yellows along the lower meadow on the creek. With the lack of rain, the apple crop is a bit stunted. You can find one young bull hanging out under the apple tree near the Handy cabin. He’s been nicknamed the Poser.
The smoke from the West Coast wildfires has been noticeable for several weeks — some days worse than others. You can see it up in the canyons and it colors the sunsets. It has been a banner year for smoke here in Rim Country.
On top of that, it has been a noisy week of chain saws and chippers here in the Creek. The tree-trimming crews from APS have been busy cleaning up along their power lines. Every couple of years, we get a trim and a little off the top.
It happened on a trip out to visit the Buchholz’s cabin in Ponderosa Springs. FR 291, better known as Colcord Road, runs east under the Rim from the turnoff from SR 260 at the state maintenance yard. We passed by the 13 Ranch, Elk Haven Cabins and RV Park, Whispering Hope Ranch, a couple of small subdivisions, on by Colcord Estates’ mailboxes. We were off the asphalt and on the gravel, around the curve and over the hill when it was right there in front of me! It was a devilish thing, unfamiliar and completely out of place in the beauty and solitude of the surroundings. It had a big red eye, seemingly staring me right in the face. While sitting there for several minutes, comprehending what it was we had encountered, a man in a helmet approached.
Through the window, he introduced himself as Chance Raser, project engineer for Haydon Building Corporation of Phoenix, Ariz. And he was building a bridge. The foreign-looking stoplight, he explained, was their traffic control for the one-lane bypass around and through the dry Gordon Canyon creek bed. As we waited for the light to change from red to green, he answered all my questions about his project.
The bridge, built in the early 1930s, would soon be two-lane and the length would nearly double to 51 feet. The abutments had been formed and poured, incorporating the original stonework below the expanse. He laid out the timeline for the next 10 days to complete the work. A bonus was riding on an early finish. As we ended the discussion, he got on his cellphone to call some far-away control center to see about the status of the satellite-controlled, solar-powered red, yellow, and green signal. From the other end came the response, “You’re 30 seconds to green.”
We learned that Pam and Mel Milburn have sold their home of nearly 40 years to a young family from Idaho. In November, Pam and Mel will be leaving the Creek to live in the Valley near their daughter. It will be sad to see them leave.
Christopher Creek Homeowners Association officers are working with the folks at Creekside RV Park to come up with an alternative to the hay-wagon ride and children’s Halloween party. Oct. 24 is the date and details are forthcoming.
The first Wildflowers’ luncheon in six months was held last week. It was the first one without Olive. Plans are being formulated to honor her legacy at her beloved Creekside Restaurant at 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24.
Missing: two miles of FR 200, the Chamberlain Trail ... and that’s another week in the Creek.