Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Grand Enchantment Trail ~ Part 10

Leaving the Old Safford Morenci Trail, we flew into the Eagle Creek Drainage.

Sheer and uniquely formed sandstone cliffs lined our route as we waded up stream.

Our running shoes and feet were to be wet and yet clean for an odoriferous change.

Numerous fords drove us forward into a Sunday Drive sort of day.

An old ranch haunted this remote paradise.

However, the desert gold poppies exercised the Homestead's past to uncover the beauty of that which has always been here Now.

Curious and not so wild horses followed us to rustle up some salty licks.

The ground turned muddy very quickly behooving us to make ground towards Clifton, Arizona south of the Morenci Mine to resupply.

We strung up an easy hitch out of a bear bow hunter to get a ride into Clifton on highway 191.

We found luck in returning to the trail within minutes of sticking our thumbs out with fresh supplies and a full stomach in tow even though the highway number used to be branded 666.


Tap Here for Part 11


The Grand Enchantment Trail ~ Part 9

While in Safford, we packed up two food boxes and sent them ahead of us to Gila Hot Springs and Winston, New Mexico.

We also made sure to fuel up at an all you can eat pizza buffet.  Its an interesting thing to be able to continuously eat and drink for several hours without wavering.

Maneuvering our way through agricultural fields, we soon headed out into the desert where life was bursting from its seams.

Plants of all kinds were creating new lines and forms to color and paint themselves into.

Finding ourselves satisfactorily in the middle of nowhere, we soon registered that we were on The Old Safford Morenci Trail.

This trail was built in 1874 to haul goods and supplies to the booming mining operations in this region.

Water along this canyon filled route was equally as precious to us as gold, silver, and copper was to the miners.

Walking cross country through uniquely formed canyons was the norm.

Old homesteads and prehistoric granaries hid themselves in plain site along Bonita Creek where beavers... yes... beavers in the desert.... had current plans to develop their own homes and to store their own sense of valuable resources.

Signs of flashfloods were everywhere.  Sometimes water is an all or nothing affair.

It's especially nice when a trail knows how to maintain its self by purging obstructions on a seasonal basis.

As low as 3,700 feet and climbing as high as 6,200 feet, we ventured to see the extremes and everything in between. 

Stacey and I even came across a desert hare whose head had just been eaten off presumably by a bobcat.

Thunderstorms threatened us, but we didn't believe in their anger issues.

The Grand Enchantment Trail ~ Part 8

To avoid private property in the Black Rock Area, we bushwhacked up yet another Canyon to tie into a trail that would take us up higher into the mountains. 

We found the trail easy enough, but I wasn't exactly sure where I thought I was when we were making our own route. Good thing our smartphone verified that we were truly on track by using its GPS feature.

Climbing into forest service land, pinyon pines and juniper became the dominant trees. In an old fire area, brush such as manzanita was overgrowing and obscuring the trail. 

We also saw our first bear scat of the trip. The higher we went the more the trail disappeared. 

Thank God for the blue flagging that we attentively followed. 

The highlight of the section was Holdout Overlook where we could closely see the route we had taken just the day before far below us. 

Harmonizing with Nature makes you look and feel good.  This is an extreme human makeover allowing for Nature to allow us to naturally blush our skin.

To our surprise, the trail down the mountain was maintained and recently brushed. 

On Klondyke Road, we did a double take when a Tom Tom car with video capabilities like Google has stopped to see if we needed any water.

Our approach to the Pinaleno Mountains took us to a cross country bush whack up a ridge line where we improvised a camp to the setting sun.

A packrat who was strapped of salt decided to eat my straps on my pack during the night. They certainly do have razor sharp teeth.

Descending from the Mount Graham area, we encountered some of our first extensive snow in a north facing forest for a few miles.  

It was extremely windy as we descended down Ash Creek, and so we walked into the evening till we got out of the canyon and away from a Howling good time of an evening.  Instead of listening to the wind roar through us, we instead enjoyed listening to coyotes howl at the moonshine.

UP and over the Sky Island we went until we descended into the Town of Safford for two days off at a local motel.  It was time to recharge our batteries in more ways than one.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Grand Enchantment Trail ~ Part 7

Aravaipa Canyon was loaded with water and grand stands of sycamore, cottonwood, and ash trees. But it was with a return to the higher country in forest service land where we released the setting sun and found actual crystals on top of our campsite. Stacey had fun finding crystals with a headlamp.

Ascending a primitive trail up Laurel Canyon, we entered into pinyon pine habitat with many manzanita's blooming and where we followed many oaks to the flowing Holdout Creek. 

The panorama was stunning.

We were in the midst of a Wonderland of Rocks in the Santa Teresa Wilderness. 

It's as if a giant child had played with pebbles and deposited them all into neat little piles.

This wilderness is a hidden gem which could easily become a national monument.  Shhhhh...don't tell anybody. Good thing nobody reads this blog.

The trail in this out of the way canyon soon turned vague and we were happy to follow blue tape tied to vegetation as well as cairns to show us the way to Black Rock Creek. 

We apparently were catnip to the cats claw that was having fun scratching up our legs. 

Blood was all too common of a sight on this Friday the 13th.

However, we were refreshed to take the plunge into a cold pool of water to reduce our core temperature. 

The abundant late winter water eroded what tension we were hoarding in our bodies...sculpting us gently so we could flow gradually home to our inner inland sea.

Bushwhacking up Fisher Canyon, we soon navigated around Black Rock in the company of a thunderstorm.