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

In the land of Arizona
Through desert heat or snow
Winds a trail for folks to follow
From Utah to Old Mexico

It’s the Arizona Trail
A pathway through the great Southwest
A diverse track through wood and stone
Your spirit it will test

Oh, sure you’ll sweat and blister
You’ll feel the miles every day
You’ll shiver at the loneliness
Your feet and seat will pay

But you’ll see moonlight on the borderlands
You’ll see stars on the Mogollon
You’ll feel the warmth of winter sun
And be thrilled straight through to bone

The aches and pains will fade away
You’ll feel renewed and whole
You’ll never be the same again
With Arizona in your soul

Along the Arizona Trail
A reverence and peace you’ll know
Through deserts, canyons, and mountains
From Utah to Old Mexico

“The Arizona Trail,” Dale R Shewalter

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.)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_5371.jpg
Dwarf mistletoe impacts along the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
Advertisements
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2802.jpg
Dwarf mistletoe impacts to young ponderosa pines along the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2803.jpg
Arizona Trail tracing the Coconino Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2806.jpg
View off the Coconino Rim from the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2810.jpg
View through the pines off the Coconino Rim along the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2813.jpg
View through the pines off the Coconino Rim along the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
Advertisements
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2814.jpg
Arizona Trail through the ponderosa pines on the Coconino Rim
AZT Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2815.jpg
Junipers starting to appear along the Arizona Trail, first sign of another ecosystem shift
AZT, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2818.jpg
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.)
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2820.jpg
Downed trees are a major challenge on the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2822.jpg
Arizona Trail through pinelands, about 9 miles from the Kaibab National Forest border at Moqui Stage Station
AZT, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
Advertisements
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2823.jpg
Unfortunately a photo cannot do enough to communicate the smell of walking through this particular landscape.
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2825.jpg
Gambel oaks in fall foliage
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2827.jpg
Gambel oaks in fall foliage
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2828.jpg
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.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2829.jpg
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.
Advertisements
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2831.jpg
Gambel oaks along the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
7 miles from Moqui Stage Station, 12 from the forest boundary.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2832.jpg
Healthy, well-spaced ponderosas along the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2833.jpg
Healthy, well-spaced ponderosas along the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2835.jpg
First glimpse of the San Francisco Peaks over the pines as the Arizona Trail emerges into rice grass meadows bordering the Coconino Rim
AZT Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2837.jpg
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest

San Francisco Peaks behind over the treeline.
Advertisements
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2838.jpg
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2841.jpg
Pines and junipers among rice grass
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2842.jpg
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
Pines getting more spread out, transitioning to more junipers moving away from the rim.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2845.jpg
Arizona Trail running through junipers among rice grass
AZT Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2848.jpg
Arizona Trail running through junipers among rice grass
AZT Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
Advertisements
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2849.jpg
Arizona Trail, Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2850.jpg
Pinyon pine
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2852.jpg
Ecosystem transition to pinyon-juniper scrubland. San Francisco Peaks on horizon
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2853.jpg
San Francisco Peaks above pinyon-juniper scrubland.
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2854.jpg
Sunset Juniper
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2855.jpg
Remains of Moqui Stage Station
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2856.jpg
Remains of Moqui Stage Station
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2858.jpg
Sunset from Moqui Stage Station
Arizona Trail Passage 36 (Coconino Rim), Moqui Stage Station
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2860.jpg
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)

Advertisements

Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 49: Whiterock Mesa, Part III

Departing Polk Spring, the trail continues to provide magnificent views of the northern Mazatzal Mountains and the neighboring Red Hills as it descends to the East Verde River. The trail will pass through both mountain ranges – first the Red Hills, then the Mazatzals. The origin of the name “Mazatzal” is unclear, though one possible meaning is a Nahuatl term meaning “place of the deer.” The Mazatzal Wilderness, which the trail will remain within now until just shy of Strawberry in the central Mazatzals, is about 390 square miles in size. It was one of the original Wilderness Areas designated upon the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.

Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 48: Whiterock Mesa (P25), Part 2

I got started around 10, heading down Passage 25 toward the East Verde River.
I hike through a gate and enter the Mazatzal Wilderness. Following cairns, the surface alternates between the basalt and more dirt – like walking through a wash. As the trail skirts the rim briefly, a magnificent view of the Mazatzal Mountains and Red Hills opens up to the hiker, then the trail experiences yet another spectacular sunset as it and the backpacker fall off the Mesa to Polk Spring near the East Verde River.

Advertisements
Advertisements
Pink ribbons spread across the bluish/purple sky at sunset

Fossil Springs Wilderness – FR 708

Take a virtual hike through the Fossil Creek Wilderness! Fossil Creek Wilderness is one of the most spectacular areas in Arizona – so much so that permits are required from April 1-October 1. From the Fossil Creek Bridge trailhead, FR 708 begins to climb the wall of Fossil Canyon. A short distance up, the road is gated. Just on the other side is the trailhead for the Waterfall Trail, one of the most popular spots in the wilderness.

Fossil Springs Wilderness – Waterfall Trail

Take a virtual hike through the Fossil Creek Wilderness! Fossil Creek Wilderness is one of the most spectacular areas in Arizona – so much so that permits are required from April 1-October 1. From the Fossil Creek Bridge trailhead, FR 708 begins to climb the wall of Fossil Canyon. A short distance up, the road is gated. Just on the other side is the trailhead for the Waterfall Trail, one of the most popular spots in the wilderness.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Fossil Springs Wilderness – Fossil Springs Trail

Take a virtual hike through the Fossil Creek Wilderness! Fossil Creek Wilderness is one of the most spectacular areas in Arizona – so much so that permits are required from April 1-October 1. The Wilderness has 11,550 acres with 30 species of trees and shrubs and over 100 species of birds. Fossil Creek itself is one of two Wild & Scenic Rivers in Arizona as well, designated by Congress in 2009 after the Fossil Springs Dam was decommissioned by Arizona in 2005. Fossil Springs, the source of the creek, release 30 million gallons of water per day, incredibly prolific for its location in Arizona.

Arizona Trail, Day 46 – Passage 26 (Hardscrabble Mesa)

I finally get off around 11:30 & run into Matt and a female friend near East Tank. I’m glad for the company and we walk together for a while. The road condition is terrible – lots of loose basalt – and the going is slow. I finally reach the split to Strawberry and encounter them again, and their friend who picked them up flags me down and brings me a beer. Some more trail magic! I think my biggest challenges are becoming the pack weight and the solitude. I head for a short side trip to Fossil Creek.

Arizona Trail, Day 45 – Passage 25 (Whiterock Mesa)

The trail first rolls through the pines and passes Pine Creek (dry) and Bradshaw Tank on its way to the top of Hardscrabble Mesa, which provides an excellent overlook of Oak Spring Canyon, the highlight of the passage, before dropping to the bottom. Like on the Highline, foliage still lingers in the warmer Canyon. I also spot some cool geology in what appears to be dikes in some of the rocks.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Arizona Trail, Day 43, Part III – Passage 27 (Highline)

The Arizona Trail following the Highline continues its route around Milk Ranch Point, passing some artifacts – perhaps ranching or mining related, as many seem to be in Arizona. Magnificent views to the south are common, with the Mazatzal Mountains an ever-increasing sight to the southeast.

Arizona Trail, Day 43, Part II – Passage 27 (Highline)

Having filled up on water and eaten lunch, the trail ascends from Webber Creek and the Geronimo Trailhead toward Milk Ranch Point, jutting out from the Mogollon Rim. This is a much more consistently wooded & shaded stretch that appears to have been spared by the Dude Fire of 1990 and February Fire (2006). It also seems to be wetter here – there are still touches of green in the ferns as the trail ascends. Gamble oaks, maple and ponderosa dominate the trail through this stretch, and the light filtering through the canopy and the leaves is magical.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Arizona Trail, Day 42-43, Part I – Passage 27 (Highline)

The trail continues to roll across the eroded foothills of the Mogollon Rim, the impressive and distinctive southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau, where the elevation jumps around 4000 ft in elevation. The Highline continues to define itself as a diverse landscape where the species of the desert below and the pine forests above mingle.

The Mazatzal Mountains – the next major hurdle once I make it to Pine – loom in the distance as well, and ironwood line the more open stretches of path across the Highline, where the Dude Fire burned the forest in 1990,

Arizona Trail, Day 41 – Passage 27 (Highline), Part 3

The Arizona Trail continues west toward Pine, curving around parts of the Mogollon Rim that reach out, and segments that sit farther back, rolling across the eroded foothills beneath the parapets that’s tower overhead. The diverse plants continue to amaze. How often do you find blue spruce growing next to agave cactus!

Arizona Trail, Day 41 – Passage 27 (Highline), Part 2

Arizona Trail, Day 41 – Passage 27 (Highline), Part 2

Magnificent views of the Mogollon Rim and one of the most ecologically diverse stretches of trail to date, this entry covers from the Washington Park Trailhead across the Highline National Recreation Trail.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Arizona Trail, Day 41 – Passage 27 (Highline)

It’s another chilly morning, camped directly on the Mogollon Rim. I’ll be dropping several thousand feet today to the base of the Rim, completing the long traverse of the Coconino National Forest and entering the Tonto National Forest with views that are nothing short of spectacular.

Arizona Trail, Day 40 – Passage 28 (Blue Ridge)

Managed to push through the entire Blue Ridge Passage today, one of my best days on the trail. I left the Blue Ridge Ranger Station this morning and headed south for the Rim. Saw a herd of elk near the Blue Ridge Campground and Elk Tank while climbing Blue Ridge itself. The trail also passed through an active prescribed burn, though it was low intensity so probably not considered a public hazard at this point. I’m familiar with them anyway, having worked as a PIO (public informations officer) on one over the summer at Grand Canyon. The trail crossed Blue Ridge and dipped across the steep valley of East Clear Creek, dry at the crossing.

Arizona Trail, Day 39 – Passage 28 (Blue Ridge), Part 2

The trail crossed Blue Ridge and dipped across the steep valley of East Clear Creek, dry at the crossing. I was told that there may be water in one direction near the crossing but didn’t need it and therefore didn’t check. Climbing out the other side, the northern aspect of the slope is apparent – while ponderosas covered the southern slope opposite, the northern one featured Douglas fir and blue spruce. Obviously the different sides show different microclimates depending on the sun aspect, the temperature and moisture levels on each side given the orientation and angle of the slope. The trail rises back to the ponderosa forests on the Mogollon Plateau and traverses them, the site of my first human sighting in 3 days, then reaches General Springs Canyon. Dipping into General Springs Canyon, silence and quiet take hold. I passed a nice campsite near the end of GSC, but the pools nearby were still frozen at the end of the day, suggesting it would get colder in the canyon overnight (and that solar exposure during the day was limited) than on the Rim, so I continued forward to the rim itself. Lights can be seen in the distance, but I’m not sure which town. Likely Pine or Strawberry. Tomorrow begins the descent off the rim at long last.

Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s