in Rim Country, White Mountains of Arizona & Beyond...
White Mountain Monsoon Hiking
By Dann Groebner
Finally - it's raining! As much as we enjoy this area with few mosquitoes and ticks (relatively speaking), low humidity and moderate temperatures, it can get old when every summer we are wondering if a fire is going to break out close to town and force evacuation of a White Mountain community. You can't beat the fantastic vistas and miles of a well-maintained and mapped trail system. Add to that the wide diversity of wildlife and unique high elevation flowers and you have hours of enjoyable exercise. But the summer monsoon season is a welcome change, even if storms can rumble through with unexpected schedules and intensities, since the storms wash away most wildfire threats.
However, this area also poses some increased risks during our monsoon season that can turn a relaxing jaunt down a scenic trail into a regrettable nightmare that could have been avoided with a little preparation and common sense. Most people realize that rocks get more slick and can roll when wet, causing sprained or broken ankles and wrists or worse. Fewer folks understand the significance of a cold August rain on a family of hikers clad in thin cotton t-shirts or shorts.
Hypothermia, a potentially fatal drop in your body temperature, usually from getting wet, can happen with air temperatures in the 60s. A simple insulating layer or waterproof rain gear can buy you enough time to get back to the trail-head before you get too chilled. A large garbage bag can be packed as an emergency poncho by tearing a hole in the side of it near the normal bottom for your face when you pull it.. READ MORE...
Safer Hiking With Children
By Dan Groebner
It's hiking season again! The White Mountain area has some great scenery, lots of wildlife and a very well developed trail system thanks to the TRACKS organization (http://www.tracks-pinetop-lakeside.org/) and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (http://www.fs.usda.gov/asnf). Hiking and camping are healthy and inexpensive activities that just have to be the most popular outdoor sports enjoyed by multiple generations at the same time. In other words, what a great way to strengthen family bonds!
Family gatherings usually include young adventurers who aren't afraid of anything. This puts more responsibility on the adults to make sure everybody is prepared, kept
Be Like a River
The Thompson Trail #629
By Anne Groebner
There’s something special about hiking along the banks of a river. The sounds of its water flowing and rushing across boulders is soothing to listen to and it makes me feel calm and relaxed. The Thompson Trail, located off Forest Road 116 behind Big Lake and close to the Thompson Ranch, follows the West Fork of the Black River and is one of my favorite hikes around April and May and then later in the summer after the monsoon season. It is always flowing pretty well and the willows and wildflowers are beginning to bud and bloom in the spring and, later in the summer, you can feast on raspberries and READ MORE...
Best Kept Secret
Ice Cave Trail #608
By Liesl Hall
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Actually, it’s one of Pinetop/Lakeside’s best kept secrets: The Blue Ridge Caves (usually known as the Ice Caves). Although there is usually a steady stream of hikers and explorers taking the trail up to the caves, there are quite a few people who have lived in Pinetop their whole lives and still don’t know what the Ice Caves are. (Me. I am referring to me.) So, to correct this accidental injustice, I recently went with a group of my friends to the Ice Caves to explore and to cross it off of my bucket list. We had a READ MORE...
Lake Mountain Look-Out: Allen Allen
During fire season in the White Mountains, all of our thoughts turn toward keeping the forest from burning down, keeping our beautiful surroundings, as well as our homes, intact. If the past winter has been dry, then we worry even more. We post warnings in every conceivable place so that everyone knows to be careful. Even a spark from the exhaust of a car could result in massive destruction by fire. It’s part of living here. Sometimes the US Forest Service
Woodland Lake Park...
An Island of Wildness
Photos and text By Anne Groebner
There is a peaceful little haven located in the center of the towns of Pinetop and Lakeside called Woodland Lake Park. On any given day, there are walkers or bikers that circle the lake along the cement pathway to get exercise while taking in the views and watching the abundant wildlife such as eagles and osprey as well as the overabundance of the not-so-wild and well-fed ducks. The lake area is great for fishing and walking, but there are many hikers that don't know about the miles of trails that branch off and loops that reach as far as Big Springs.
I was invited to hike these trails not too long ago and at first I wondered how trails in the middle of town could take me away from the hustle and bustle of a community park, not ... READ MORE...
A Walk in the Park
By Liesl Hall
Whether or not you are a local, if you have visited Woodland Lake Park, you will most likely agree that it is one of the most beautiful and well-known parks in the White Mountains. There is hardly anyone who has been to the White Mountains who has NOT heard of, or been to, Woodland Lake Park. Tourists and locals alike love it because it gives all of us a feel of what it really is like to live in the mountains. The lake is settled amid hundreds of pine trees with a radiant sunrise to the east and a brilliant sunset in the west, complete with hot pink and orange clouds streaking against a violet sky. There is no shortage of wildlife at the park either. Fish swim through the cattails and under the bridges and squirrels and birds nest in the branches of the tallest trees so that you can hear them chattering as you pass underneath. Whether you are playing in one of the
The connector trail is 3.5 miles long and is located at the beginning (or end) of both the East and West Trails.
Wildflowers along the Little Colorado River
Crossing a stream on the trail.
Yellow sunflowers (TBD).
We climbed on this look-out rock to see the valley below that divides both the East and West Trails.
Spectacular views from the West Trail. Escudilla Mountain in the distance.
A view of Round Valley and surrounding area.
Escudilla Mountain — one of my favorites.
Kevin Lorge teaches at Peridot and Darren Vogt teaches at East Fork Lutheran School. Both are originally from Wisconsin.
Redberried Elder (-berries)
Redberried Elder (-berries) and these illusive yellow flowers.
Feather on the trail.
Another feather on the trail.
Bear scat on the trail...I t was a good harvest of berries this year.
The monsoon weather in June, July and August brought many mushrooms and fungi.
Large varieties of fungi can be seen along the trail.
Jane Shupack takes in the incredible view.
Big Lake in the distance.
Heading down the East Trail after hiking up the West Trail of Mount Baldy.
This large rock formation on the East Trail looks like a buffalo.
Apache Vista Trail
The trail-head for Apache Vista and the Overland Trails are located on Rt. 261 across from Hay Lake (approx. 7.2 miles from Rt. 260 on the east side). It is a reminder of the destruction wrought by the Wallow Fire in the summer of 2011. Fortunately, not all of the trail was burned and what the fire chose to leave will take your breath away.
Pole Knoll Recreation Area
I have to say that this year was the best I've ever seen the Autumn colors. Walking the trails of Pole Knoll felt like walking on a carpet of color through magical tunnels of gold, orange and red. The day we hiked these trails was a picture perfect day with blue skies and cool temps. I just wish .
Mount Baldy - West
The West Trail of Mount Baldy is much more strenuous than the East Trail. It is a continuous climb, combined with switchbacks that ascend to the 11,200' elevation. Very seldom does it level out (like the East Trail) so we kept a slow and steady pace.
Hiking the Dead Forest
By Anne Groebner
Escudilla Mountain is haunted by its past. I am convinced that when you hike through what’s left of its ancient forest, the spirits of many past injustices impress their anger or sadness to every traveler who will listen… I heard it. It started with an eerie whisper and then a whistle through the trees and finally a roar of high winds creeping up and over the Mountain …and it sounded a lot like a train off in the distance moving closer and closer, as you stop and listen with intrepidity. It is so loud, that even Katie, a canine companion, stopped and turned her head to listen. It is a warning. “Turn back,” it says, “there is danger ahead.” Of course, I listened but I had tried to reach the top earlier this summer and was stopped by a monsoon thunder shower and I was determined to make it this time. I had no idea what I’d find on the trail. A trail that ran through a forest of dead trees. Their silvery, smooth trunks that barely supported empty branches singed with the blackness that fires leave behind.
In the year 2011, one of the largest wildfires in Arizona’s history, The Wallow Fire, burned over 535,000 acres across Apache, Greenlee, Graham and Navajo Counties destroying just about everything in its path. Escudilla Mountain, a giant in the midst of the Apache Forest, fought a brave fight but lost the battle against a fire that took over a month to contain. At the beginning of the trail, we hiked through dense and beautiful tunnels of golden aspens — some I assume are the same trees that lined this trail before the Wallow Fire. It is an area that even the fire must have Read more....
A Visit to Spectacular Antelope Canyon
By Annemarie Eveland
I stood awestruck, as I dug my feet into the sandy floor of the most photographed underground slot canyon in America. Like others of the group visiting Antelope Canyon, just outside Page, Arizona, I gazed upward in mesmerized wonder at the brilliant cascading streams of light and sand that poured down from high cracks of sculpted sandstone walls.
Ancient sand dunes had become twisted into carved formations of sandstone trapped in time. I felt this stunning splendor with a secret thrill and sacred serenity.
The Navajo consider the cathedral-like canyon a sacred and spiritual place. They treat it with reverence and respect, and they instruct visitors to honor and protect the site. One feels the mystical and mysterious there, even amid the large crowds visiting daily. In early times, prong-horned antelope roamed through the canyon to reach the river—hence, its name, “Antelope Canyon.” The Navajo call it “The place where water runs through rocks.”
It is mindboggling to comprehend how this canyon was carved, as a result of millions of READ MORE...
Snowshoeing Country Club Trail
By Anne Groebner
When I ask people to go snowshoeing with me, sometimes, the first thing they say is “I have never done it before!” And I reply, “If you can hike, then you can snowshoe.” You just have to widen your stance a little, keep the tips of your toes up and put one foot in front of the other. It’s pretty easy, but you do have to compensate for a wider and longer foot span and concentrate on not tripping up your step. Once you have accomplished that, you are ready to hike through the deepest snow-covered trail.
After the last storm, we snowshoed a section of the Country Club Trail #631 located off of the Ski Hi Road in the Lakeside Ranger District. We drove to the trail head located on FR 185 and followed the trail northwest toward Pat Mullen Mountain. The scenery was amazing and we hiked through knee-deep snow. The trail is well marked, however, the diamonds that TRACKS posted on the trees are white and blended in pretty good with the snow. The weather this year has provided some pretty incredible outdoor adventures.
Get your winter gear out…there are a couple more storms heading our way.
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