From Flagstaff, we often alternated from treed forest into open grasslands often related to ponds and lakes that dotted this fairly flat landscape.
The San Francisco Peaks were now behind us as we entered into a haven for both numerous elk and prong horned antelope. Herds of both raced all around us making us feel as if we were in the Serengeti of Africa.
Lower Lake Mary was a good reminder that there was nothing to be thirsty about in this region.
The recent down-pouring made the first few days out of Flagstaff a mess. A few inches of mud would build up on our shoes at a time until we were compelled to scrap them off on the next available rocks.
Campgrounds such as Pine Grove were still open that had piped water to fill up our portable coffers.
The trail then merged with an old and extinct railroad grade until we dropped off a ridge to enjoy a good meal at Mormon Lake Lodge where we met Chris from Tacoma once again.
Single track trails alternated with jeep trails taking us deeper into the central part of the state.
The trail was usually fairly well marked, but now and again, certain junction signs were missing making sure that one was busy looking at their maps for what turns may lie waiting ahead.
This year we decided to go paperless and carried our maps as jpeg files on our smartphone. I just love how you can zoom at any point of the map to see the most intimate details in crystal clear clarity.
After East Clear Creek there was actually an overabundance of available water until we descended down from the Mogollon Rim.
This habitat was different but quite similar to the ecosystem that we were acquainted with in Sedona, Arizona.
It was definitely Red Rock Canyon Country with plenty of streams flowing in from the Plateau that we just descended from.
Zane Grey, the western novelist, was known to horseback frequently along the Highline Trail of the Mogollon Rim.
It is certainly a place to revisit and to explore more extensively in the near future.
As we approached Pine, Arizona to eat, rest, and resupply, we were enthusiastically greeted by a trail crew who were brushing, widening, and improving the Arizona Trail for future generations of thru-hikers to come.