After having resupplied and had a long meal in Pine, Arizona, we ventured off towards the Mazatzal Wilderness.
We saw huge flocks of doves foraging in the tree canopies.
However, first we had to descend into the East Verde River Drainage. Stacey met her first road runner of the trip.
We played hide and seek with the trail fairly often until we got closer to the bottom of the canyon. One's instincts are sharpened by living in a state of perpetual awareness. Clues are everywhere in many forms which included cut logs and occasional rock cairns.
We were grateful to drink straight from Polk Spring next to Rock Creek instead having to drink from the muddy cow infiltrated waters of the East Verde River.
Flowers continued in their abundance in the wake of monsoon season ending.
Rattlesnakes made their presence known.
We could see the Sedona Region way off in the distance.
In the hollow of a live oak tree we came across an active beehive.
And of course, we found Chris again.
High Chaparral is some of my favorite desert habitat.
Water seeps were flowing everywhere in the Mazatzal Wilderness.
One early morning on the trail we start running into hiker gear and an assortment of garbage.
Someone even left their sleeping bag laying across the trail in what seemed like an act of desperation. It appears that someone was lightening their load and trying to send out an S.O.S. I wonder if they ever made it back to civilization?
Near Mazatzal Peak, at 7,800 feet, one could see hints of the greater Phoenix area to the southwest.
Areas of the Mazatzal Wilderness were brushy...especially where there had been fires over the last decade or so...where shrubs grew fast to reclaim new territory.