Arizona Trail, Day 16 – Passage 37, Grand Canyon South Rim to Passage 36, Coconino Rim (Trans-Arizona/Utah Day 22)

Slow start this morning due to the temperature. Still in the Kaibab National Forest. It was pretty chilly last night but having the tent helped keep the temperature up. Packing up, it’s about 3 miles to the Grandview lookout tower. I climb the tower for a nice view of Grand Canyon and the Coconino Plateau. Continuing, the trail passes under a ceremonial archway and do an interpretive trail regarding dwarf mistletoe on the east side of the lookout tower. Dwarf mistletoe is a parasitic plant that impacts Southwest conifer forests. Dwarf mistletoes are dioecious (individual male/female) plants. It shoots sticky seeds up to 60 mph for distances of 15-40 ft. Most seeds fail to land on suitable hosts, but those that do stick to and implant themselves beneath the bark of the host and begin living off of it, growing “roots” into the host to extract nutrients and water. Southwest dwarf mistletoe make up the particular species in the Kaibab National Forest. Mistletoe spreads throughout the tree, taking more and more nutrients, leading to portions of the tree starting to die. The tree often starts to die from the top. When there are not enough live branches remaining, the whole tree dies, often as the result of outside attack (such an insects) on the tree already stressed by the mistletoe.

Witches’ brooms are a common result of dwarf mistletoe infestations; the more that form on a given tree, the worse the infestation on the tree, but they also provide habitat for other animals. Trimming such branches can help control the spread and reduce the degradation of a given tree, but it is also expensive and typically only conducted in areas close to commonly-traveled areas like campgrounds.

Longtime fire suppression tactics, which have since been changed but the effects of which take time to change themselves, contributed to artificially high densities of trees in ponderosa forests; natural wildfire and thinning help manage dwarf mistletoe. And it becomes clear, walking through the forest, that the areas where the spacing between trees is greater, due to natural fires and prescribed burns, the forest is healthier. But the walk through the pines is magnificent regardless.

The trail approaches and begins to trace the Coconino Rim to tonight’s campsite. The end of the day brings some particularly spectacular views of the eastern portion of Grand Canyon, including Cape Royal and Cape Final on the North Rim as well as Moran Point, Lipan Point, and Desert View on the South Rim. The Navajo Nation can also be seen in the distance, and the distinct landscape change that accompanies the elevation drop from the Coconino Plateau to the Nation. While it is a challenge, I do find healthy ponderosas along the way too. I find a campsite relatively close to the rim beneath a ponderosa near the trail, and crash for the night.

The Arizona Trail winds toward the Grandview Lookout, through ponderosa groves in the Kaibab National Forest
The Arizona Trail winds toward the Grandview Lookout, through ponderosa groves in the Kaibab National Forest, past ridges of Kaibab limestone
Arizona Trail winds along Kaibab limestone ridges, Kaibab National Forest
Gambel oaks along the Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37)
Groves of Gambel oaks along the Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37)
Groves of Gambel oaks along the Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37)
Arizona Trail in Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37)
Wildfire reminders, Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37)
Arizona Trail through ponderosa forest, Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37)
Wildfire reminders along the Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest
Gambel oak grove among ponderosa pines, Arizona Trail, Kaibab Nation Forest (AZT Passage 37 – Grand Canyon South Rim)
Arizona Trail Grandview Trailhead, lookout tower behind, Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37 – Grand Canyon South Rim)
Arizona Trail Grandview Trailhead, lookout tower behind, Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37 – Grand Canyon South Rim)
Grand Canyon from the Grandview Lookout on the Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37 – Grand Canyon South Rim)
Grand Canyon from the Grandview Lookout on the Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37 – Grand Canyon South Rim)
Northeast view from Grandview Lookout tower on the Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest. Grand Canyon at left. (AZT Passage 37 – Grand Canyon South Rim)
East view off Coconino Rim from Grandview Lookout, Kaibab National Forest. (AZT Passage 37 – Grand Canyon South Rim)
San Francisco Volcanic Field, including San Francisco Peaks (left), viewed from Grandview Lookout in the Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37 – Grand Canyon South Rim)
Buttes rise out of the Coconino Plateau, viewed from the Grandview Lookout on the Arizona Trail in the Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 37 – Grand Canyon South Rim)
Heading onto Arizona Trail Passage 36 – the Coconino Rim
The Arizona Trail continues south from Grandview onto Passage 36 – the Coconino Rim
Dwarf Mistletoe growing on ponderosa pines in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf mistletoe impacts to ponderosa pines in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Young impacted ponderosa pines in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf-mistletoe impacted ponderosa pines in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf-mistletoe impacted ponderosa pines in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf-mistletoe impacted ponderosa pines in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Southbound on the Arizona Trail toward Russell Tank in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Southbound on the Arizona Trail toward Russell Tank in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim). 676 miles to Mexico.
Southbound through impacted ponderosas in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino National Forest)
Gambel oak along Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Ponderosa pines killed by dwarf mistletoe, Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Ponderosa pines killed by dwarf mistletoe, Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Cape Royal on the North Rim of Grand Canyon from the Arizona Trail along the Coconino Rim in the Kaibab National Forest (AZT Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Cape Royal and Cape Final on the North Rim of Grand Canyon from the Arizona Trail on the Coconino Rim, Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
East view off the Coconino Plateau in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
View toward the Navajo Nation from the Coconino Rim, Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf mistletoe impacts in ponderosa forests on the Coconino Plateau in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf mistletoe impacts in ponderosa forests on the Coconino Plateau in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf mistletoe impacts in ponderosa forests on the Coconino Plateau in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf mistletoe impacts in ponderosa forests on the Coconino Plateau in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf mistletoe impacts in ponderosa forests on the Coconino Plateau in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Dwarf mistletoe impacts in ponderosa forests on the Coconino Plateau in the Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)
Healthy, young ponderosas on the Coconino Plateau, Kaibab National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 36 – Coconino Rim)

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