Saturday, February 21, 2015

Arizona National Scenic Trail ~ Part 4 ~ The South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the San Francisco Peaks and Flagstaff, Arizona

From the South Rim of the Grand Canyon we hiked our way out of the Park and into the enclave of Tusayan. To our pleasant surprise we met another thru-hiker named Chris from Tacoma, WA. We found a great all you can eat breakfast at a Mexican Restaurant in town.  We must have eaten about four full plates of food each. 

From Tusayan, the Grandview Lookout was the next great attraction.

Subtle views of the Grand Canyon to the north can be seen as well as our route towards the San Francisco Peaks to the south of us.

A cabin at the Grandview Lookout provided potable water for Arizona Trail hikers out of large blue jugs located on their front porch. We didn't have to drink any cattle tank water at all in this approximately 100 mile segment to Flagstaff, Arizona. 

Elk bugeled in the evening hours which essentially serenaded us to sleep.

Elk bow hunters were common along this section of trail.  One story relayed to us was of a mythical thru hiker with white hair and a long beard wearing a skirt.  Apparently, this wayward traveler came over the ridge about a week ago to a water tank and spooked off some elk who were being eyed upon by a hunter. The other hunters likened this sighting in comparison to seeing Bigfoot and dismissed the elaborate event as being a fanciful tale.

Ponderosa pines transitioned into a pinyon pine - juniper forest which in turn transitioned into relatively open cattle ranch land.

In Babbitt Ranch we met the local land managers on the road who kindly offered us extra bottled water for our journey.

They were preparing the route with signs for a 100 mile special event from the San Francisco Peaks to the Grand Canyon as a fundraiser for the Arizona Trail Association.  

We also crossed paths with mountain bikers out for the day. Janet invited us to stay with her in Flagstaff once we reached town to rest and resupply.

The San Francisco Peaks were truly magical with spectacular sunset and sunrise views. Different sections of the Peaks also lit up golden with many patches of aspens changing colors for the autumn season.

The landscape was always changing and morphing into something new to digest.

It was as if we saw a new kind of flower blooming each and every day.

We topped off with water from the clear Alfa Fia tank near the Snow Bowl Ski Area... but ended up not having to drink any of it since we pushed our way into town before a huge storm hit the region that very night.

Janet, who was our host in Flagstaff, had hiked the Appalachian Trail, and now wanted to pay the generosity forward that she personally received in relationship to those hiking the Arizona Trail

We serendipitously dodged the extreme weather for two nights as we enjoyed the local flavors of a university town. Prairie dogs came out to wave and wish us luck as we now had our sights on Mormon Lake Lodge some 45 miles to the south of us.

We whole-heartedly and excitedly left civilization behind to once again immerse ourselves in our own True Wild Nature.

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