Skunk Creek starts well North of Phoenix, somewhere Northeast of Black Canyon and then carves its way through Glendale, Peoria and South to Phoenix, joining other dry riverbeds along the way. These riverbeds show up as blue rivers on maps, but when you go there, they are dry. Arroyos. They can fill fast, even on a sunny day. If it’s raining upstream, the water will come.
This is the time of year I love to hike along arroyos. They hold interesting wildlife (including rattlesnakes, road runners, red tail hawks, and the super-cute
Gambel’s Quail (with the little bobbing feather on their heads). Starting around the end of the calendar year, some trees start to bloom.
You also see some things that make you wonder.
We tie down our river rocks. When an arroyo fills up, the water rushes at amazing speeds.
The round river rocks begin to roll, and pile up, creating water crests, street blocks (streets here run through arroyos), and rock damage. A fast-moving flood that rolls rocks can divert part of a river into a neighborhood.
Wire mesh holds the rocks in place, sometimes for long stretches. It helps the water run in an even stream and directs it into the center of the arroyo, to keep it from crawling up the side and eroding sidewalks and roads.
Most of the big arroyos have packed dirt or sidewalks. This section has sidewalks, and they divide them for walking and biking. The sun breaks down the striping, and for all the world it looks like someone is trying to erase it.
All I needed was a huge Sharpie to practice handwriting along the lines and guidelines.
You never know what you’ll find along the creek beds, and walking at this time of year is what we go through July and August for!
--Quinn McDonald lives in Valley of the Sun. She’s a naturalist and an art journaler who brings creative thinking into businesses.