Arizona Trail, Day 22: Flagstaff, Part 2 (Trans-Arizona/Utah Hike Day 28)

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Welcome back to Aspen’s Tracks, thruhiking the Arizona Trail from Utah to Mexico. I want to note that this hike was completed before the coronavirus pandemic arrived, but it has left me with quite a bit of time in quarantine to write up my experiences on the trail.

The trail continues through forest that opens up as it heads south. The forest here looks younger, possibly impacted by fires more recently. Indeed, a fire – possibly the one I saw yesterday, or a different one – appears to be burning to the southwest, possibly in the Bradshaw Mountains. Flagstaff can be seen in the immediate foreground; the fire is on the horizon across a mountain ridgeline. Appears to possibly be in the general direction of Prescott. Again, could be a prescribed burn given the showers and virga that passed through recently.

Hiking out the west side of Schultz Pass, the trail enters and wraps around the west and south sides of the Dry Lake Hills, and immense burn piles appear beside the trail, obvious preparations for future prescribed burns that add to the more open views and young trees to project a general impression of a more fire-impacted landscape. There was a large fire in this general vicinity this summer, the Museum Fire, but it’s unclear if this was an area impacted by that. It’s quite possible, however. The gambel oaks are glorious with the light passing through the leaves, and the views of Elden Mountain – the other side of which was “apocalyptically burned” in the 1970s Radio Fire, according to my AZT guidebook – are spectacular. Mule deer graze among the rice grass and trees. The gambel oaks continue to look incredible. It’s amazing how as I progress south I seem to be seeing the progression of the foliage across different tree species as well as within the species. Makes for an ever changing and spectacular color display.

Gambel oaks and ponderosa in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Gambel oaks and ponderosa in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Gambel oaks and ponderosa in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Gambel oaks and ponderosa in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Flagstaff with a fire burning on the horizon, viewed from the Dry Lake Hills on the Arizona Trail in Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Burn piles stacked to dry for use in prescribed burns in the future. One of the largest I’ve ever seen! Arizona Trail, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff).
The Arizona Trail through gambel oaks in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff)
Gambel oaks in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Gambel oaks in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
The Arizona Trail passes through gambel oaks and ponderosa in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Gambel oaks and ponderosa in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Gambel oaks and ponderosa in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Gambel oaks and ponderosa in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Gambel oaks and ponderosa in the rocky Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Elden Mountain from the Dry Lake Hills in Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Gambel oaks and ponderosa in the Dry Lake Hills, Coconino National Forest. Arizona Trail, Passage 33 (Flagstaff).
Juniper, gambel oaks, and ponderosa on the Dry Lake Hills in Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff). Elden Mountain above, mule deer grazing below.
Mule deer graze on the Dry Lake Hills beneath Elden Mountain. Arizona Trail, Coconino National Forest (Passage 33, Flagstaff).

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