To  Cave Creek 
               Canyon  Friends

Our Mission is to inspire appreciation and understanding of the beauty, biodiversity and legacy of Cave Creek Canyon through volunteer work and outreach programs.

 Bobcat                               [By Bob Rodrigues]         

Butterflies of the Chiricahuas
by Lori Conrad 

[White-angled Sulphur and Small Southern Dogface in front ]

We have so much diversity here in our mountains that we should feel really lucky. It's a very special place, as we all know. Many species of birds, insects, plants & of course butterflies call this area home, at least for a portion of each year. Every change of season provides us with an opportunity to experience a completely different set of flora and fauna.
We have a very special set of birds that come here from points south to breed each spring & summer, some of them occurring almost nowhere else in North America. The same thing goes for our butterflies. Many are found only   
here in these mountains and maybe a  couple of the other "Sky Islands" mountain ranges in southeastern AZ.
This spring was a very special one for butterflies in SEAZ. We had several individuals of a tropical species of butterfly called a Creamy Stripestreak show up in our canyons, nectaring mostly on the non-native White Horehound found in Sunny Flat campground & all along the road, mostly near the Visitor Center. It is a type of Hairstreak that is normally found only in Mexico.

Hairstreaks are told by their "tails" which are small extensions off of the hind wings that they will "wave" to attract any predators away from their head. They can afford to lose a bit of tail, but obviously not any of their head! I had actually started looking for this species after a few had been reported in other nearby mountain canyons (i.e Catalinas; Santa Ritas) & found the first one here in Sunny Flat campground on May 15 th . Arizona experienced a bit of an "invasion" of this species this past spring. Based on photos, there were at least 5 different individuals in Sunny Flat campground alone! One or more were seen in the campground for 19 days straight & almost always on the same individual plant! 


Another rare visitor to the states from south of the border is the beautiful Silver-  banded Hairstreak.  This spring I found several different individuals of this stunner, again mostly in Sunny Flat campground and near the Visitor Center, on White Horehound & on the abundant blooming Catclaw Mesquite. It was a good year for them here as well. 

A fairly common butterfly found here is the Gray Hairstreak. It is the mo st  widespread Hairstreak in North America. Commonly found in urban gardens & parks, or anywhere their favorite nectar plants abound (lupines, mallows). Many were found this spring in our garden as well as on the blooming Catclaw  Mesquites along the road & in Sunny Flat campground. 


Yet another Hairstreak found here is the Juniper (Siva) Hairstreak. It is   also very   widespread, with several different looking subspecies. The one found here in the southwest is called Siva.  It is one of the  prettier Hairstreaks. 


This butterfly is a beautiful denizen of our high mountain meadows. 
Appearing in late spring, it's gone by mid-to-late summer. It's called an Arizona Pine Satyr, and it's probably the prettiest butterfly we have in our area. The best spot to find  one of these beauties is at Barfoot Park, along the road where the spring water crosses the road by the meadow. A real beauty! 

Another pretty summer butterfly found in the higher elevations of the Chiricahuas  is the Orange-edged Roadside Skipper. It's a small but stunning member of the skipper family that's only found in the mountains of southeastern AZ & in a small area of the southwestern New Mexico mountains. 

Lastly, we always have our annual butterfly count here in the summer, usually the last week of July or the first week in August. There are butterfly counts conducted every year all across the US, some in spring & others in the summer, when butterfly diversity is the highest after the monsoons begin & the flowers are blooming. Information from these counts are very helpful in driving conservation efforts, among other things. This year the Portal area count will be on Sunday, August 2.

We will all socially distance & drive in our own cars, instead of the usual carpooling. Anyone wishing to participate, please contact me at lconrad6853@gmail.com.  Beginners are always welcome! It's a great way to learn your butterflies........that's how we did it!

Hike Report, July 2, 2020         By  Elaine 

We did our part to get the monsoon season started this week with a hike from Onion Saddle along the Jhus Horse Saddle trail, then down the Pinery-Horsefall trail.  Legend has it that every time the group has hiked these trails, it rains:  
we were not disappointed.
[Can you find 5 people in the picture?]

We met our friend from Bisbee, and another hiker that we have mis sed (recovering from a foot injury) joined us for part of the day.   We were also joined by a Covid-refugee botanist for a little while, so we started with seven  appropriatel y-spaced hikers. 
Onion Saddle to Jhus Horse Saddle is rewarding for the views in all directions, especially on a day when thunderstorms were building and the sky was dramatic.  Our descent down to Pinery Canyon was the wet part  of the hike, but it only lasted about half an hour.  The sun came back out, and we had lunch with the butterflies and moths at Iron Spring.
On our drive back up to  Onion Saddle, we met  (along with some birders) a beautiful Black-taile d Rattlesnake, which was escorted off  the road after being photographed - nice way to end the day.

Photos by Elaine
Hike & Trail Maintenance     July 16 by Carol & Rolf

Six hikers met early, at 7:15 am, at the South Fork berm. We headed up the South Fork Trail with trail maintenance tools and hard hats that were provided by the Forest Service. Moving slowly, we lopped branches and other vegetation that hung over the trail, reorganized creek crossings and uprooted large stands of poison ivy/oak (all one species). 

One hiker left before lunch and the others ate lunch just a little past Log Canyon at a creek crossing.  After lunch the group proceeded to the next creek crossing where the water had undermined the trail. A lot of rock was moved to build up a foundation for the trail. With a little luck, it will last the monsoon season! It is very satisfying to walk on the South Fork Trail and to do trail work there. There are numerous sections of "newish" trail that various members of our group helped to build. Those trail sections feel like they were there forever, and make walking in the canyon a whole lot easier.

Two hikers continued on to stay overnight about four miles from the trailhead. (It was a very wet evening and we hope they have dried out by now.) The other three returned to the vehicles as clouds built and rain threatened.
Photos by Rolf, Carol and Elaine

By Fred Espenak of Portal

July 13 - My 9th day of observing Comet NEOWISE.

The most vexing thing about Comet NEOWISE is that morning twilight begins just after the comet rises. So just when the comet gets above the haze and thin cloud hanging around the horizon, the sky starts getting bright and the comet fades into the background glow of dawn. There's only a narrow 10 minute window when the comet is at its best.

So in order to make the most of those precious 10 minutes, I set up four separate cameras at four different locations this morning!  To get all the cameras' built-in interval timers programmed correctly for the right times was a bit complicated. Not to mention they were all pointed at blank parts of the sky where I estimated the comet would be during the optimum viewing window.   I was only operating one of the four cameras manually.

When morning twilight grew too bright to shoot any longer (about 4:15 am), I went to each location to collect my cameras and headed home.  Much to my surprise, everything seemed to work and I recorder comet images in all four cameras.
This image is a close up of Comet NEOWISE, shot with a 300mm lens on a tracking mount. It's a quick edit of a single 20-seconds exposure. This is the first time that I was able to successfully record the faint blue ion tail just to the left of the much brighter dust tail.


Photos from around Portal

Inca Dove [Tony Donaldson]

              Skunk [Cecil Williams]                           Neon Skimmer?  [Debra Davison]

Arizona Woodpecker on Agave [Debra Davison]
            Crissal Thrasher [Bob Rodrigues]               Scaled Quail [Bob Rodrigues]

Rainbow Over Chiricahua Mountains [Debra Davison]


Elegant Trogon Annual Count 
May 31, 2020
[Tony Donaldson]

Chiricahua Mountains (May 31, 2020) 
10 pairs, 6 males, 3 females, 1 unknown= 30 total 
Friends of Cave Creek Visitor Center - 1 pair
Vista Point - 1 male
Sunny Flat to "Trogon Roost" - 1 pair
Box Elder - 1 pair
Snyder cabin - SWRS to John Hands - 1 male
Skull Eyes/Cypress Gate - 1 pair
Big Cypress - 1 male
South Fork Picnic Area - 1 pair, 2 males
South Fork - 2nd to 3rd stream crossings - 1 pair, 1 female
Bathtub - 1 pair
Log Canyon - 1 pairs
Maple Camp - 2 males, 1 female
Twin Canyons - 1 pair
Sentinel Fork - 1 male
Rucker Canyon - 1 males, 1 females, 1 unknown

Stories of the Past 

The Chiricahua Bullsheet, an entertaining and highly opinionated newsletter and journal of local history written by Carson Morrow.

Courtesy of Dick Zweifel, former long time resident of Paradise and Portal.  Dick was very active in the community and a supporter of many local organizations, in addition to being a herpetologist and butterfly expert.  He passed away last year.  Thank you Dick for all you did.   

On December 23, 1957, we published a story in the Bullsheet in which we told all we knew or could find out at the moment about Galeyville, Arizona. We have recently received some additional data which might be of interest. Mr. Thomas M. Galey of Owensboro, Kentucky, read an article in the Saturday Evening Post under date of March 14, 1958, about Mrs. Lillian Riggs of Faraway Ranch, which is located here in the Chiricahuas. So he, in turn, wrote her a letter and submitted photographs of John H. Galey, the founder of Galeyville. She kindly sent it to us. If you are interested in knowing what that illustrious old gent looked like, drop in at the Bull Ranch and we will show your the pictures. 
The caption on the photographs read as follows: "John H. Galey, San Francisco, Cal., in the gold mining days soon after the Civil War. John H. Galey was born in Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, February 4, 1840, and died in Joplin, Missouri, April 12, 1918. He entered the oil business at its inception. The Oil and Gas Journal referred to him as one  of the boldest of the early prospectors. His name is known and honored in every field where oil is produced throughout America. He was a persistent worker, fearless, original, the initiator of many ventures. After 1880, his operations were in association with Col. James M. Guffey, under the firm name of Guffey and Galey." 
One paragraph of Mr. Thomas Galey's letter to Lillian reads as follows: "It was in 1889 (evidently an error in typing, as JNG founded Galeyville in 1879) that Uncle John went to Arizona to pioneer in the mining of silver. I have traveled with him in a number of oil ventures in later years; I was born in Bradford oil field in 1884. In 1911, I was with him in an oil venture in Tampico area of old Mexico. And in 1912 I helped him to drill three wells at Seven Lakes, New Mexico, near Grants". In another paragraph: "He was pretty handy with the ladies and admired beautiful women.  A very prominent lawyer in New York owes his mysterious origin to that admiration".

Visitor Information Center Is Still Closed 
In Response to COVID-19 
It may partly reopen in August

Forest Service established campgrounds were closed on 3/23/20.  
Herb Martyr and Rustler Park Campgrounds are now open.  Sunny Flat, Idlewilde and Stewart Campgrounds remain closed through July, possibly opening in August.

Dispersed camping is allowed.
The forest remains open.
Call (520) 558-2221 or (520) 388-8436 for Information


We do not have any additional information since the last newsletter, except that shortage of staff due their deployment to fight fires may cause a delay in completion 
of the Draft Environmental Assessment

As we told you last month Friends of Cave Creek Canyon has been working with the Forest Service for the past 18 months on a plan to replace the picnic and trailhead area that was removed after the flood of 2014. The Forest Service is currently developing a Draft Environmental Assessment, which will be available for public comment. We were told in 2018 that if we ever wanted a picnic area, restrooms, benches and other trails in South Fork again, we would need to pay for it, as the Forest Service did not have funds for it. 
There are some different opinions within the community as to what should or should not be included in the plan for South Fork. Once we receive the Draft Environmental Assessment everyone will be able to analyze and send comments during the public comment period. 
We still hope that the Draft Environmental Assessment of the project will be released in July.   Depending upon that Assessment and its recommendations,  FOCCC will determine its position on the project.  FOCCC has received too many different opinions to include them all in an email.   In agreement with some of the interested parties, we have decided to put their positions on the FOCCC website for your evaluation.   We will let you know when this will be available.

FOCCC 2020 Officers and Board

Reed Peters         President                            Other Board Members  
Sheri Ashley        Vice President                          Bob Ashley        
Mike Williams      Vice President 
                       Alan Craig        
Rick Beno 
  Rene Donaldson
Pat Parran            Secretary
Kim Vacariu
Cecil Williams 




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


Visit Our Website 


Thanks to our "Sustainer's Circle" and Lifetime Members 
for their generous support:  
Kirby Alguire, Tom Arny, Bob and Bettina Arrigoni, Susan Dalby & Eskild Peterson, Stephen Durkovich, L. Syrene Forsman, Mary George, Bill and Sally Hague, Paul Hirt and Linda Jakse, Fritz and Gayle Jandry, Don Hollister, Claudia Kirscher, Mike  Leuthold,  Barbara Lounsbery,  Patrick McNamara, John and Karin McQuillan, Barbara and Pete Miller, Patricia Parran, Cecilia Raak, Tom Roseman and Paula Baldwin, Delia Scholes and Ed Newbold, John and Linda Sumner, Jeff and Alice Wakefield, 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                             A.S.K. Pest Control
                 Sky Island Rolfing                                           Wynne Brown 
                   Chiricahua Gallery                                      Daussin & Associates
                   Casa Petra Vera                                      Ed Newbold Wildlife Artist    
                     Quailway Cottage                                    Sky Island Lodge
            Sky Island Grill & Grocery                        The George Walker House      
Portal Peak Store and Lodge                            Umphres Propane
                     Gardenwerks                                            Ol' Morani Ranch
Business Memberships start at just $50.00!