My potential new roommate, her brother, and I went spur-of-the-moment to Fossil Creek yesterday.
Fossil Creek is amazing. I don’t know how I’ve lived in Arizona the past eight years and not experienced it. It’s near Strawberry and Payson, and you drive on this dirt road and park up at the top of this desert/forest mountain to start. I’m not used to that; I usually hike up to a destination and down, exhausted, to the car. Fossil Creek tricks you.
It took about an hour and fifteen to get down the mountain, poor Kira running from one shady spot to another. The trail comes down to an oasis, where a couple people stop and just play in the creek there.
Don’t just stop and play in the creek there.
It gets so much better! We walked another fifteen minutes or so and came to a waterfall, where other twenty-somethings were throwing themselves over into the churning water beneath and then floating to a boulder. I carried Kira to the other side since the current was too strong, and oohed and ahhed at the waterfall.
The Potential New Roommate and her brother were at the top of the fall getting ready to jump in. I’d already pardoned myself for not jumping; I hadn’t brought a swim suit, I wanted to stay with Kira, blah blah blah. However, watching the PNR and her brother up there, encouraging her to jump, wasting my camera battery keeping it poised for the moment of truth…I knew I had to do it.
Its not that I feel like I have something to prove, or I want to be a badass and jump off waterfalls. I just need to do these things, for me.
When I was a little kid we went to a beach in California where elephant seals migrated to every year. They beached themselves on the shore to have their babies, fight each other, and mate. No particular order. The first time we discovered this, my family did the whole “no trespassing sign? What no trespassing sign?” thing and hung out on the beach, feet away from these massive animals. My dad even got my brothers to sneak up and touch the things. He tried to get me to do it, but I was, like, six, (and wise!) and wouldn’t do it. We left that afternoon and I remember feeling sick to my stomach with regret; I should’ve touched one of the seal’s tails. My dad would’ve protected me! I would’ve been fine! My four-year-old baby brother did it! I burst into tears and begged to go back, but we were too far. And the rest of migration season we couldn’t make it back.
Finally, the next year, we made the drive and I determined to touch a flipping elephant seal.
Do you know what’s coming? Are you already disappointed? Ugh, I am just telling you about it. We arrived at the beach and, lo and behold, there was a fence and a park ranger patrolling that fence. There was no way to get around him and his khaki shorts. Every year thereafter there were khakis and that damned fence, and I will probably never get another opportunity to touch an elephant seal.
All this to say, I found a stranger to hold Kira’s collar and I propelled myself off the waterfall. Twice.
It was terrifying standing up there! It was exhilarating to free-fall. It was fulfilling to float with the current to the boulder everyone was chilling on.
I was congratulated and then shown this massive cave in the water, with another cave under the water in the big cave. We’re planning on returning with goggles and more snacks (adrenaline apparently makes you hungry like the wolf), and a completely charged camera battery.
You need to check this place out! Fossil Creek is amazing, a little known heaven away from the crowds of easier-to-get to play areas. As PNR’s brother observed, there were no whiny kids running around* or jerks leaving their garbage everywhere.
We even found a tarantula on the way out. For the win!
*Um, when I bring my children here they won’t be whiny. Pinky-promise.