It started in Houston - Buffalo Bayou made the perfect nursing grounds to cultivate my love of streams. I would walk down to the end of our street, and hike along the trails and muddy channels of that glorious bayou system.
Then it continued in Virginia. I remember at a fairly young age finding the USGS 7.5-minute topo map of the quadrant in which our house was located. What did I look for? The lowest points on that map. I found every stream within biking distance from our house and was determined to boulder-hop my way all the way to the Potomac on that stream.
Once, I went on a solo hike on Christmas Day down 'Bull Run' near our house. Bull Run was one of the more difficult stream hikes I had encountered because it turned into a fairly narrow canyon with deep pools that I had never made it past. I hiked it that December 25th all the way to the Potomac with the help of some new waterproof pants I had gotten as a gift that morning.
More recently, while living in Alaska and hiking in the Gates of the Arctic, people who hiked with me would commonly get annoyed. I would ascend quickly, leaving hiking companions behind in the dust, and then after summiting and descending, they would find me dragging behind on the way back to the car... slowly meandering back and forth over the boulders of the cool Arctic streams, enjoying myself and the moment.
I tell you this to tell you that I may have found my outdoor calling out here in the canyons of the west. Canyoneering is an entire sport devoted to exploring western streams and the canyons they carve - beautiful remnants of flash floods past.
Last weekend, Ky, Kate, Angela, and I explored the West Fort of Oak Creek Canyon. This canyon drops off the Mogollon Rim from just outside of Flagstaff and ends in Sedona's famous Oak Creek (the same one referenced many of my posts starting with riding across the country and cliff jumping into the Oak Creek in Sedona - one of the reasons I came back here!).
Of course, starting in Flagstaff, we were surrounded by white-shaded Kaibab Limestone and Coconino Sandstone walls. The Flagstaff climate also allows for more trees than does the Sedona landscape on the bottom of the Mogollon Rim, further down in the desert. The fall is upon us here in Flagstaff and the colors are beautiful!
This particular canyon was very mild and did not require any rappels... but it did require a LOT of wading.