Arizona Trail, Day 17: Passage 36, Coconino Rim (Trans-Arizona/Utah Hike Day 23)

Today began with a continuation of the southward trek along the Coconino Rim. The rolling hike along the rim of the Coconino Plateau passes through a combination of ponderosas and, through the trees, views off the plateau toward the Navajo Nation. As the trail rises slowly back to the top of the rim and heads back across the Plateau, the ecosystem starts to shift. Junipers start to appear. The trail passes Russell Tank, one of the many wildlife tanks maintained by the state to provide water to wildlife. It’s the first time on the hike that I’ve had to filter water out of a tank, and the tank is low after the dry summer, but there is enough to pull but the water is decent quality, so I set up my Sawyer and get a few liters to get me to the Babbitt Ranch passage. One disturbing thing happens, though. As I step in the mud on the edge of the tank to suck some water into my filter bag, I feel a tug on the sole of my right hiking boot. Looking down, I see the sole of my boot start to separate from the body.

It’s going to be a race to Flagstaff now. Hopefully I can get there and get a new pair before my sole comes off.

After filtering the water of organisms and sediment (this IS Arizona, after all, one can’t be picky, but the Sawyer works great for filtering all that out), I’m heading south again. The ecotone is definitely getting into gear now. The pines start to thin out; more rice grass appears between them. Pinyon pines appear, joining the juniper that had appeared earlier. Moving farther from the rim, the ecosystem change is finalized. The ponderosas disappear completely, becoming replaced by pinyon pines and juniper spaced by rice grass meadows. Humphreys Peak and the San Francisco Peaks appear above the treeline. In a few days, I will be at their foot.

The day ends at the ruins of Moqui Stage Station, one of the stops on the original stagecoach route that took early tourists from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon. Stone ruins and an interpretive sign mark the site today – the main one being what could have been perhaps a water tank for horses at one point.

Setting up camp, I get a spectacular view of the full moon rising through the umbra (the shadow of the Earth) and the Belt of Venus. Just gorgeous to sit and watch that happen…with no one for miles around.

(Post will be updated with my Relieve video for today.)

Dwarf mistletoe impacts along the Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest
Dwarf mistletoe impacts to young ponderosa pines along the Arizona Trail in the Kaibab National Forest
Arizona Trail tracing the Coconino Rim, Kaibab National Forest
View off the Coconino Rim in the Kaibab National Forest, Arizona
View through the pines off the Coconino Rim along the Arizona Trail in the Kaibab National Forest
View through the pines off the Coconino Rim along the Arizona Trail in the Kaibab National Forest
Arizona Trail through the ponderosa pines on the Coconino Rim, Kaibab National Forest
Junipers starting to appear along the Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest, first sign of another ecosystem shift
Juniper berries, Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest
(Note: Juniper “berries” are not true berries, but rather a type of cone with merged, fleshy scales, making it appear like a berry.)
Downed trees are a major challenge on the Arizona Trail
Arizona Trail through pinelands, about 9 miles from the Kaibab National Forest border at Moqui Stage Station
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest . Unfortunately a photo cannot do enough to communicate the smell of walking through this particular landscape.
Gambel oaks in fall foliage, Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest.
Gambel oaks in fall foliage, Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest.
Russell Tank
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest. One of the first water sources along the trail that actually had water. Filled up here for the trek south.
Russell Tank
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest. One of the first water sources along the trail that actually had water. Filled up here for the trek south.
Gambel oaks along the Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest. 7 miles from Moqui Stage Station, 12 from the forest boundary.
Healthy, well-spaced ponderosas along the Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest.
Healthy, well-spaced ponderosas along the Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest.
First glimpse of the San Francisco Peaks over the pines as the Arizona Trail emerges into rice grass meadows bordering the Coconino Rim, Kaibab National Forest
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest. San Francisco Peaks behind over the treeline.
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest
Pines and junipers among rice grass, Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest. Pines getting more spread out, transitioning to more junipers moving away from the rim.
Arizona Trail running through junipers among rice grass, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest
Arizona Trail running through pines & junipers among rice grass, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest
Pinyon pine, Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Kaibab National Forest
Ecosystem transition to pinyon-juniper scrubland. San Francisco Peaks on skyline.
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station, Kaibab National Forest
San Francisco Peaks above pinyon-juniper scrubland.
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station, Kaibab National Forest
Sunset Juniper
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station, Kaibab National Forest
Remains of Moqui Stage Station
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station, Kaibab National Forest
Remains of Moqui Stage Station
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station, Kaibab National Forest
Sunset from Moqui Stage Station
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station, Kaibab National Forest
Full moon rising through the shadow of the earth (blue) and into the Belt of Venus (pink) above the pinyons and junipers of the Kaibab National Forest
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)

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