Monday, September 1, 2014

Day 34: Up the Mogollon Rim!

May 16: I got an early start to the day's hike and was hoofing it over the terrain by 5:30 in the morning. Within a couple of hours, the Arizona Trail veered off from the Highline Trail and finally ascended to the very top of the Mogollon Rim. It was a big milestone for me. The elevation at the top hovered at around 7,000 feet above sea level which left me with very comfortable temperatures. It also left me in a climate that provided plenty of trees for shade. And the trail became exceedingly flat--for the rest of the day, nearly 20 miles later, the elevation had climbed a mere 400 feet higher.

I made good time over this terrain. The main thing slowing me down was the weight of my pack--still packed with 8 days of food and a boat-load of water. Although temperatures were cooler, water sources were still relatively scarce. The longest stretch without water was nearly 15 miles. I'd need a few liters of water for that distance! Not as much as when I carried 10 liters through a hot desert for 25 miles, but even the 5 liters I carried was more weight than I would have preferred!

Just at the top of the rim, the trail crossed a gravel road where there was a monument for the Battle of Big Dry Wash--a battle I'd never heard of. They were thoughtful enough to provide a quick summary of the battle, which is probably a good idea since I bet most people have never heard of it. It read:
Seven miles north of this point, a band of Apache Indians were defeated by United States troops on July 17, 1882. A group of tribesmen from the San Carlos Apache Reservation had attacked some ranches in the vicinity killing several settlers. Cavalry and Indian scouts were immediately sent into the field in search of the hostiles. Five troops of cavalry and one troop of Indian scouts converged on the Apaches. Surrounding them at the Big Dry Wash, the resistance of the Indians was broken after four hours of stubborn fighting. The casualties numbered two soldiers and more than twenty Apaches.
Well, how 'bout them apples. But I was left wondering.... if the battle actually took place seven miles north of here, why was the monument here and not seven miles to the north?

The monument commemorating the Battle of Big Dry Wash.
I ran into two backpackers late in the morning. They looked like they were still breaking down camp when I arrived and I stopped to chat--I couldn't remember the last time I had seen a backpacker on the trail. The first guy introduced himself as Ethan, and I immediately hoped the other guy was named Allen--how cool would that be? But no, the second guy's name was Matt. Ethan Matt just doesn't have that same ring to it as Ethan Allen, does it?

Late in the afternoon, I was crossing a gravel road when, up ahead, I saw what looked like a horse gallop across the trail. A horse?! Horses were allowed on the trail, but I didn't notice anyone riding this one. And anyhow, the horse was running perpendicular to the trail, not along it. Not to mention that most people who take horses on the trail aren't running them. Did they have wild horses out here? I wasn't sure....

Then two more of the beasts ran across the trail, and since I was already looking up ahead after hearing the first one, I got a better look at these next two and... they didn't really look like horses anymore. They looked more like deer. Absolutely gigantic deer! At which point I realized they were elk. I had learned earlier on the trail that the elk in Arizona were considered the biggest in the world. Nearly half of the largest elk ever hunted have come from Arizona. These must have been some of the gigantic elk--I've seen elk before, but the sheer size of these things threw me off. They looked like horses!

I cursed the fact that they had run off before I could get a photo of them. Maybe I'd get lucky and see some more later in the hike.

Near the end of the day, the trail passed through the Blue Ridge Campground where I could use the outhouses, throw out trash and pick up good, clean water from a faucet. I talked with the campground host for the better part of an hour about the trail before imminent sunset had me pushing on to find a place to camp before dark. I suppose I could have camped at the campground, but there were too many people around. The individual sites didn't provide a lot of privacy and the place was noisy with people and cars driving through. No, I wanted to camp somewhere else.

I set up camp in the woods, just off the side of the trail where there was nobody else. Life was good!

It's an aqueduct, coming down from the top of the Mogollon Rim
to the bottom.
Someone took some effort to build this little "fort" in the wild!
Approaching the top of the Mogollon Rim did provide some pretty nice
views--minus the powerlines, of course. =)
General Spring Cabin was built in 1918 as a fire guard station.
This was one of the more unusual fences I'd seen on the trail.
A creek--or at this point, pools of water--followed along much of
General Springs Canyon.

I kind of wonder what happened to this tree.
The water at the top of the Mogollon Rim didn't really improve much
from that you find at the bottom of the rim!
It was near here where I caught sight of the biggest elk I had ever laid eyes on!
The Blue Ridge Campground--a nice place to stop!
I wasn't sure why people had built all of these "forts" out of the
logs that were scattered around. What are they for?! (Seriously, I don't know!)
I'd add a label for what this flower is, but I don' t know it! =)


Apple girl said...

It looks like a wild iris. In northern New York we would call it a blue flag. It blooms in pastures in early spring. I am really enjoying reading about your trip.

Happy Trails, Apple girl

Anonymous said...

Maybe built for paintball?

Gen Is Lucky said...

The log piles...I have seen similar in Rocky Mtn NP. They were piled to buy during winter/wet weather to reduce wild fire fuel buildup.

Gene Is Lucky said...

Logs piled to BURN. Sorry.