To Friends Of
Cave Creek Canyon

                           Solar Pillar By Steve Wolf                                         
First "anvil" clouds, and now a "solar pillar"...Your intrepid correspondent didn't recognize it for what it was, so here's a bit of Wikipedia info -- It's "an atmospheric optical phenomenon in the form of a vertical column of light which appears to extend above and/or below a light source". The overall term is "light pillar"; if it's from the sun, then it's a "sun" or "solar" pillar. It's created by the reflection of light from numerous tiny ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere or clouds. This was seen before and during the sunrise of October 11, Portal, looking east to the Peloncillos. 

Once again, as with the anvil clouds, look up at the sky, along with down on the ground, when you're in the Chiricahuas -- because you never know what you might miss.

 From Friends Of Cave Creek Facebook page. There are lots of great local pictures and information.   You can "like" us by going    here

Looks what's here!
      Bake Sale            Rummage Sale               Silent Auction
                    Great Lunch                   Special Vendors

Check out The Friends Of Cave Creek Canyon Booth
Shirts, Totes, Hats, and the 
Cave Creek Canyon Book!

Willow Tank Sightings
Many birders consider the Chiricahuas the premier birding location in all of North America. And not only do many unique bird species call the Chiricahuas and the immediate surrounding areas "home" for at least part of the year, there are those rarities that drop by for a visit mostly during migration, then leave as mysteriously as they arrived. Recently this beautiful Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was at Willow Tank, probably the most important pond on the entire east flank of the Chiricahuas.
[Taken from the FOCCC Facebook pages]

[Images taken by Steve Wolf]

A Dickcissel at Willow Tank? No Way?
by Steve Wolfe 

A friend who wanted to see the "STFL" [Scissor Tail Flycatcher], while waiting, said "what's that small bird on the wire?" I took about 10 shots, zoomed in on it --and couldn't tell what the heck it was. Sparrow sized, yellow breast, markings below the eye, a yellow streak above, and a large bill. I sent a few of the photos to my friends Lori and Mark Conrad, veteran birders also from the South Bay of LA who also bought a house here once they retired, and they made the call of it being a Dickcissel, a bird usually seen only east of the Rockies. But Lori and Mark had seen one at Willow Tank at least 10 years ago, and Rick Taylor here reported another one being seen in October 2003.
Willow Tank is what is called a vagrant trap -- birds fly in the wrong direction for whatever reason during migration, and as Willow Tank is the only large pond on the east side of the Chiricahuas, they spy the water (when it has water) and stay there awhile.

Are you interested in supporting the refurbishing of Willow Tank?  We are having a fundraising drive and your contribution will be greatly appreciated.  Please make your check payable to Friends Of Cave Creek Canyon and mail to PO Box 16126, Portal, AZ  85632.



Event Center       (Rte. 80, New Mexico)
3:30 PM   [AZ] 

Short business meeting
Refreshments Will Be Served
Silent Auction

This is one of the auction items.

"From The Shadows" by
Crystal Forman Brown 
Retail Value $1,400

[thanks, FOCCC member Crystal for the donation.]  

Do Your holiday Shopping
[Sales Tax Free!] 

Cave C reek Canyon-Revealing the Heart of the Arizona Chiricahua Mountains

       FOCCC T-shirts,            Hats & Totes! 

Election of
Rolf Koford to the Board

Remaining Board Officers were elected to the board last year for a 2-year term

Desperation Ranch Update
by Rene Donaldson

What began as a straightforward excavation led by Drs. Jesse Ballenger and Jonathan Mabry under the direction of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society (AAHS, Tucson)-in partnership with Friends of Cave Creek Canyon, the University of Arizona, Argonaut Archaeological Fund, and archaeologists from the Coronado National Forest-has turned out to be a lot more complex than originally thought and has posed more questions than answers.
      The goal of the four-weekend excavation that ran from September 2014 to March 2015 on the late Kim Murphy property in Portal was to reopen Ted Sayles and Ernst Antevs 1936 dig in order to redate it using radiocarbon dating which was not available then. Though poorly understood, this site was used as the type site for the Chiricahua stage of the Cochise culture in the American Southwest.
      On the first weekend, the small all-volunteer team discovered bison bones and would go on to find more in addition to stone tools among hundreds of cobblestones. On the last weekend this year they excavated a pit feature that included a fractured bison limb bone, a large flaked stone knife, and charcoal. This leg bone was the only one found from a bison that had been killed while alive.
What do the archaeologists know for sure?  

* Charcoal was discovered directly beneath the bison bones and the date for that came back at 11,200 BP (before present) while the highest bison bones date between AD 1300-1450. The charcoal in the pit came back squarely in the middle (3000 BP) of the Middle Archaic, sweet for this namesake type site.

* They know that there are most likely from 5-7 individual bison skeletons represented at the site but none were complete and al l were disarticulated. They were not killed there. Of the hundreds of groundstone artifacts and cobblestones found among the bones, only one may have been used to process hides.

* The bison, Bison bison, at the site were much smaller than the typical plains species, and perhaps they were a subspecies that roamed the desert southwest including Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas, and Mexico? Whatever they are, it was a surprise for Dr. Ballenger, an expert on Montana bison, to find so many bones in southern Arizona. He excitedly said, "I never expected to find bison bones while looking for maize in southern Arizona!" [One of the project's original goals was to look for evidence of maize.]

     What is going on here? Were the bison dragged to the site and cobbles thrown in to provide a dry processing place in the wet cienega soils? Or did the bison become stuck in the mud? Or is it a midden site?

Answers to these questions await macrobotanical analyses, the project's final report, and obviously further study. Clearly, this is a site with long-term research potential extending beyond a four-weekend excavation. Thanks to the hard work of FOCCC board member Helen Snyder and Andy Laurenzi of Archeology Southwest, the property is now under an archaeological easement managed by Archeology Southwest.

(Rene and Tony Donaldson, FOCCC members and Portal residents, have recently received a 2015 Appreciation Award from AAHS for their commitment to the Desperation Ranch project)



[By Tony Donaldson] 

[By Rick Beno]

[B Fred  Espenak]

Recent Fun Activities
All in 10 Days!!

Irish Music Festival - great music and a fun time
Spirit of 1945 Convoy - hundreds turned out to watch


        Cottonwood Trail Hike October 1, 2015

Looking across Shake Gulch at Swede Peak (left) and the low saddle the Cottonwood Trail eventually crosses beyond where we hiked. Photo by Jonathan.


The Horned-lizard was not hiking with the group.

 September Butterfly Pictures from Bretina Arrigoni

Bordered Patch

               Common Bucke y e                
                 California Sister                                       Pipevine Swallowtail             




Friends Of Cave Creek Canyon
PO Box 16126
Portal, Arizona 85632


Visit Our Website 

Thanks to our "Sustainer's Circle" members 
for their generous support:  

Bob and Bettina Arrigoni, Nancy and Thomas Denney, Bud and Kate Fackelman, Mary George, Paul Hirt and Linda Jakse, Pi Irwin, Leuthold Family Foundation,  Barbara Lounsbery,  Patrick McNamara, Barb and Pete Miller, Richard and Patricia Parran, Tom Roseman and Paula Baldwin, Sarah and Keith Thomson, Mike and Cecil Williams and Bob and Sherry Zoellick.

Please support our Business Members  who  have given generously to Friends Of Cave Creek Canyon.  Without their assistance, we would be hard pressed to accomplish our goals. Click on their names to check out their websites.    
                 Cave Creek Ranch                              Chiricahua Desert Museum
             Naturalist Journeys, LLC                                   Orchid Davis   

                 Sky Island Rolfing                                      Wynne Brown LLC

                  Chiricahua Gallery             Everett Jones Realestate (Helen Snyder)

            Pi Irwin & Zsombor Zoltan                            Ed Newbold Wildlife Artist

                   Rodeo Tavern                                     Portal Peak Lodge & Cafe                  The George Walker House 


Business Memberships start at just $50.00!