Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 37: Mormon Lake and the Railroads

Following the gravel road east on the detour towards Lake Mormon.
May 19: The only challenge for today--if you can even call it a challenge--was getting around the trail closure that closed a mile or two of the Arizona Trail due to logging operations. It wasn't much of a challenge to get around, though, because right at the trailhead where the closure started was a map with the recommended reroute. Not to mention the fact that I already knew about the reroute before I even reached this point since it was listed on the Arizona Trail Association's website and I copied the directions around the closure to the the maps I carried.

I followed the dirt road eastward passing a few car campers who had also camped along the road. None of them were moving about, but it was pretty early in the morning. Barely 6:00. They probably weren't even awake yet. The trail continued to descend in elevation towards the shores of Mormon Lake.

Then the trail reached a paved road--Highway 90. Also known as Mormon Lake Road. This is the part I liked the least because it had fast moving cars and no shoulders to walk on, but being so early in the morning probably worked to my advantage since few cars passed during the brief time I walked on it.

Interestingly, my maps showed the road more-or-less following the shoreline of Mormon Lake, a large body of water that appeared to be at least a couple of miles across, but I only saw the tiniest sliver of water far in the distance. It looked more like Mormon Meadow! I assume the lake levels must have been very low--perhaps due to the drought I'd been hearing about--but it definitely wasn't the shoreline views I had been expecting.

This was the least pleasant section of the detour--following
Highway 90 around the edges of Mormon Lake.
After a mile or so of walking on the paved road, I turned off again onto another gravel road, this time headed west back to the trail. It eventually intersected the Arizona Trail at another 'Trail Closed' sign (for southbound hikers) and I was back on the trail proper about an hour after I left it. The detour was a lot faster to cover than I expected and not nearly as steep as it seemed it would be leaving the 'shoreline' to go back up into the mountains.

Shortly after getting back on the trail, the trail led to Double Springs Campground where I could throw out my ZipLock of trash, get clean water, use the pit toilets and even rinse my socks in the faucets.

The only other noteworthy mention for the day is that for several miles, the trail followed alongside an old railroad bed that included historical markers to know what all I was looking at. =) I just love when they include historical markers right on the trail so I don't need guidebooks to know what I'm looking at!

And I'll post one of them so you know what you're looking at in the photos below:
As you hike from Lake Mary towards Mormon Lake and south to Allan Lake on the Arizona Trail [editor's note: I was hiking north, not south], you will pass and even follow the grades of many old logging railroads. The Flagstaff Lumber Company extended their logging railroad from Lake Mary toward Mormon Lake and Mormon Mountain beginning in 1923. The railroad was constructed primarily to haul logs cuts from the forest to sawmills in Flagstaff, Williams and other areas. On weekends, the railroad would carry as many as 300 passengers to the Mormon Lake area.
The Flagstaff Lumber Company's railroad ceased operation in 1927 due to a slump in timber prices and the high cost of operating a railroad up the seven-mile grade to Mormon Mountain. Other logging railroads continued to operate in Northern Arizona until 1966. Today, these railroad grade provide a unique opportunity for the hiker to travel these traditional routes--under their own power rather than under steam power.
So there you have it--they built the railroad bed I would follow starting in 1923 and ceased operations in 1927--just four years later.

I see a sliver of water waaaay out there, which would be Mormon Lake.
But it seems to me that Mormon Meadow would have been a better name!
More of "Mormon Meadow."
Thank goodness--getting off the paved road and back onto gravel!
This makes it sound like timber just randomly falls, but I'm thinking
it probably had some help!
Another trail closure?! No... it's just the end of the current trail closure.
This is for the benefit of people hiking in the other direction! (Including
a map with the route around the closed section of the trail.)
If you ever wondered where Bambi lived, now you know.
That little animal writes graffiti on rocks in the Mormon Lake area!
Entering the Double Spring Campground.
Trash, restrooms, and even water (not pictured) at the Double Springs CG.

I'm not really sure what this is, but I'm sure one of you can tell me!
Bzzz! Bzzz!
Interestingly, when this tree fell across the trail, instead of cutting it
out like most people would do, they added more logs and branches
by it to create steps over the "fallen timber." Seems like it
would have been less work just to cut out the tree, though!

This line of rocks is the old railroad bed the trail followed. Through this
lower area, the tracks were raised on the rock "trestle" (for lack of a better word).

Where cans to go die. I'd never seen so many old cans discarded in one place!
It's like a garbage dump that only cans are allowed to be in!
The San Francisco Peaks are getting closer--I can even see snow
at the tops of them!
You know the saying about "water under the bridge"?

There really was water under this bridge! =)

Crossing Highway 3.
It was a largely flat day of walking....
This stock tank was one of the muddier ones, so I skipped it!
(Anyhow, I grabbed one of those bottles of water under the bridge
and didn't need anymore!)

Sunset--let's call it a day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a Cicada shell. Some seasons we have so many here in Vegas, when they buzz in the trees it's almost deafening. Carefully remove the shell and stick it to your shirt for a fashionable brooch lol.