Exploring Second Left Hand Canyon

Second Left Hand Canyon had been on my list of places to explore for quite some time. I had made an effort to drive up the road previously but the water crossing near the mouth of the canyon had been too deep at the time for my old Honda Civic so I turned back. Even though we brought the high clearance SUV this time the speed of the water was ever-so-questionable for a non-4wd vehicle – so we parked and walked in.

Though the canyon is separated from First Left Hand Canyon by less than a mile, the vegetation here was noticeably different. Both canyons contain red sandstone hoodoos, volcanic tuff conglomerate, and some limestone but this canyon transitioned suddenly from juniper and small pinyon pines to larger Scotch pine, ponderosas, and even some firs. I’m no tree expert but basically, this canyon has big trees. And I love big trees.

A little more than a mile from the water crossing we could see clusters of taller conifers lining the roadways which got me excited but in an attempt to find a better angle to view/photograph some hodoos we ascended a hill which gave us a clear view of a route that we could follow to easily ascend the 700 feet to the ridge. So we took a side trip, trudging about three quarters of a mile up the sandstone and chert hill to the ridge. Here we found ourselves in dense juniper that obstructed our view – of anything – so we continued another half or three quarters of a mile along the gentle gradient of the ridge in hopes of finding a break in the trees. We didn’t exactly find what we were hoping for but we did get some vistas, not to mention that it was a very pleasant jaunt.

After descending back to the canyon floor we continued up the road another couple miles into the sun, taking a couple sidetrips to walk near the stream and investigate some nice looking dispersed campsites, until Tom spotted an appealing wash with nice tall firs and pines he expressed interest in walking into. That was all the encouragement I needed, particularly since the wash quickly morphed into a proper canyon – and a beautiful one at that. It was a good call. We picked our way up through the boulders for quite awhile, thoroughly enjoying the towering pines and the sun streaming through the trees and reflecting off the pale sandstone. After awhile we decided to head back, congratulating ourselves on a very successful exploration – and planning our return.