In the dark of night I lay out my equipment on my bed for today’s adventure to Tonto Natural Bridge just outside of Payson, Arizona. Believed to be one of the world’s largest natural travertine bridges, I look forward to the possibility of seeing wild javelina, scenic Arizona beauty, and a caving adventure in the high country.
I arrive in the early morning with only a few other people already here. A large group of javelina’s are grazing in the green grassy area just to the left of the Ranger’s station. I keep my distance as I enjoy seeing the wild and ugly beasts having their meal.
I see that their are several different routes one can take to the bridge, from overhanging viewpoints to trails that take you down varying degrees into the canyon. I opt to take the trail that is farthest to the right of the parking lot and have unknowingly chosen the way that will require some bouldering and fighting of overgrown brush, but it is ultimately the best way to see the bridge.
Water cascades down from the lip of the canyon onto those of us brave souls at the bottom. The water pools and follows gravity as it turns into a flowing river to sustain the life down here.
The start of the mighty bridge comes into view, and I momentarily forget to breathe.
The Spring runoff makes the boulders slippery and treacherous. I decide that sliding on my bottom is the best course of action to get across these immense boulders. I come to the center of the bridge, and look to my East and to my West to see the towering entrances from both sides.
Humbled I am by the power of Mother Nature, and put into my place in the Universe by Tonto Natural Bridge.
I stay for a while, then start my ascent back up, cleansed and renewed.