The San Francisco Peaks

Just caught my first glimpse of Flagstaff – the 12000+ foot San Francisco Peaks – 175 miles away

The fire damage here is extensive but oddly beautiful

The trail is very rocky here – lots of rock slides

Slow upload so I’ll save some photos for tomorrow.

Wondering about the role/necessity of forest fires,

J

Mazatzal Wilderness

Here I sit on the north side of the wilderness – devastated by the lightning-caused Willow Fire of 2004 – all those grey sticks are dead trees

It’s still beautiful and small trees are coming back.

I’m surrounded by migrating birds.

The elevation here is over 7000 feet – I got caught in a hail/rain storm last night and got very wet and very cold.

Here’s my hastily pitched tentsite – you can see the frost on my warmest piece of clothing – which got wet due to poor planning in my part.

Still some snow up here

Other than that, pretty much perfect

The storm that got me

I’ll be ready next time!!!

A few more

Oh and by the way, 400 down and 400 to go.

Half way,

Junco

The Tonto National Forest

After rising to nearly 6000 feet elevation yesterday in the Four Peaks Wilderness of the Tonto National Forest, the trail changes to a wide forest service road over rolling hills for about 10 miles.

Then,mercifully returned to narrow single track, which I love.

Here’s a shot from two days ago with Paula at Roosevelt Lake

And a look back at the four peaks wilderness with snow on the peaks

And a few more from a long 23 mile day

Hoping for more single track today,

J

Roosevelt dam, Lake, and cemetery

The Roosevelt dam was constructed in the early 1900s to help manage the flow of the salt river. It protected the people in Phoenix from periodic flooding. It was an engineering marvel of its time. Arizona was still a territory and hadn’t achieved statehood.

The water that backed up behind the dam flooded the area of the salt River Valley and also Tonto creek. This created a water supply for the local communities and the city of Phoenix as well as the recreational lake in the desert.

The building of the dam was dangerous work. I wandered through the local cemetery. It is estimated that 75 people died in construction injuries.

The grave yard

When I was visiting the Roosevelt Lake, it was nearly 90°. After climbing 3000 feet into the Mazatzal mountains, it was lightly snowing – a bit of a cold night last night

More from today and yesterday

And a few flowers, of course…

And some strange wood

y

Not sure if I’d rather be too warm or too cool,

Junco

Distinguished Guests

I was joined yesterday by my wife, Paula, and good friend Elizabeth Harding. They drove down from Flagstaff and met me. We camped out at a campground on Roosevelt lake. Then today we did a nice hike up the Arizona Trail on section known as the Vineyard Trail.

Elizabeth was pleased to walk up on this fella

We hiked through some remarkably tall grass

And saw some Arizona beauty

And landscapes

Here’s the Roosevelt dam on the salt river as we climbed up the Vineyard Trail

It was so great to be joined by Paula and Elizabeth – and be spoiled by their trail magic!!

A really lucky guy,

Junco

Rolling in to Roosevelt Lake

Long hot day today in the Superstition Mountain Wilderness. This part of the AZT is uncharacteristically steep and rocky and dry.

I bypassed a few stock ponds before I found some water that didn’t scare me

Saw some interesting wood

A huge (and living) alligator juniper

A pinkish white version of my favorite flower

Some great cacti

And some beautiful scenery

I see one or two rattlesnakes almost every day around 4 pm.

This guy was not too active but completely blocked the trail

350 miles into this thing,

Junco

I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.

A line from Bob Dylan’s My Back Pages, and a tribute to these guys:

First Bilbo, who is a meteorologist/climatologist from the DC area.

He’s 75 and has hiked very long trails all over the world

Secondly, to “Yeah, but” (husband and hiking partner of “No butt”) who has thru hiked the AZ Trail 4 times and is now 80!!!

Finally a huge shout out to my great friend Mike who drove a long way on a difficult road to find me this AM, deliver some delicious trail magic, and hike with me for 7 miles.

How great is that???

I’ll leave you with this

Be vigilant!!!

Junco

Back with the gang

Kim and Maureen joined me for a 40 mile section from Kearny to Superior. They set a blistering pace and I’m still recovering

And a Native American relic

Heading to Roosevelt Lake to see Paula and Elizabeth

Another Bonus

Got a big surprise from this trail partner yesterday

A Gila monster!!!

Hiked into the town of Kearny and had pizza with cohikers Gnat and Twiggs

First blooming cactus of the trip!!!

And other notable moments

Ended the day at the Gila River – next to Kearny

Today, I’m on the hunt for a desert tortoise!!

Cheers,

Junco

Some excitement

Moments after I replied to my friend Sally that I hadn’t seen any snakes yet, I had this incredible encounter

The sequence of events is not all recorded in the video. As I was walking along the western diamondback rattlesnake was on the right side of the trail and started rattling. He/she was coiled and looked agitated.

I backed up and she moved away to the right and I started following. The she turned toward me again and I backed away and she slowly slithered across the trail in front of me – that’s what I videoed.

I can not tell you how exhilarating that was. That’s a beautiful creature.

Count it!!

Junco