On our way out to the main trail this morning, we pass through the campsite of the guided group that came in yesterday afternoon.  They are breaking camp and getting ready to head over to Cottonwood Creek too.

The guided group breaking camp
4-16-2016 @ 8:33
Our old campsite by the Cottonwood tree
4-16-2016 @ 8:39

     We find a few blooming flowers today and plenty of the usual desert plants.

Princely Daisy
4-16-2016 @ 9:10
Prickly Pear Cactus
4-16-2016 @ 9:15
Barrel Cactus
4-16-2016 @ 9:16
Century Plant
4-16-2016 @ 9:19
Brittle Bush
4-16-2016 @ 9:23
Yucca plant
4-16-2016 @ 10:31

     Looking to the east across Hance Creek we can see Ayer Point, named for Emma Burbank Ayer, the first non-native woman to enter the Canyon in 1885 on the Hance Trail.  We looped around that point yesterday coming from Hance Rapids.  This part of the Tonto Trail is very easy walking and we only have a few drainages to get past.

Ayer Point east across Hance Creek
4-16-2016 @ 9:46
Looking north up the trail
4-16-2016 @ 9:47

     After getting around the northeast arm of Horseshoe Mesa, we turn to the west and come to a drilling stem in a pile of rocks.  It marks the intersection of the Tonto and the north trail coming off Horseshoe Mesa.  After a short break at a small knoll, we continue to the west.  Once past the northwest arm of the Mesa, we turn south and can see the Cottonwood Creek camping area in the distance.

Northeast arm of Horseshoe Mesa
4-16-2016 @ 10:34
Trail intersection marker
4-16-2016 @ 10:51
Looking toward Cottonwood Creek
4-16-2016 @ 11:25

     Cottonwood Creek is barely flowing over this rock ledge as we pull into the campsite area.

  Cottonwood Creek
4-16-2016 @ 11:39

     These signs have seen better days.  They must have been here a long time.

Old trail sign
4-16-2016 @ 11:40
Old trail sign
4-16-2016 @ 11:40

     Angel's Gate is readily visible to the north across the River.  On a hike I did last fall in this area, it was shrouded in a low cloud, making for a very cool sight (click here for a picture).

  Angel's Gate
4-16-2016 @ 12:28

     Keith has camped here many times, so he knows the best places to camp.  We continue to the south and pick out a very nice campsite right next to the creek.  After lunch, we set up our tents and relax the rest of the day.

Keith's tent on Day three
4-16-2016 @ 1:16
The kitchen area
4-16-2016 @ 1:16
Richard's tent on Day three
4-16-2016 @ 1:16

     Cottonwood Creek is flowing much more up here by our campsite than it was at that ledge we crossed earlier.  I understand that it quits flowing above ground the closer you get to summer.

Cottonwood Creek
4-16-2016 @ 1:16
Cottonwood Creek
4-16-2016 @ 1:41

     Several groups come by headed farther south to more of the campsites.  We do not see the guided group this afternoon, so they must have stopped closer to that rock ledge at the northern edge of the camping area.


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