I started at the parking area at Grasslands Area. Hiked thru the property, out the other side, and up into some cinder hills. I had been dropped off, was going to walk all the way home. I got pretty tired of all the flat walking, though, so after 13 miles I called for a ride--I was almost home by then. My back was really hurting. (Will be seeing my chiropractor.) Saw 6 antelope--I find them impossible to photograph with the pocket camera, so I didn't bother.
The grasslands have a kind of stark beauty. A good photographer could do wonders with the shadows on the hills at dusk and dawn, sunsets, clouds, etc. The overgrazing is very noticeable, though. Partly this problem is an ongoing thing that was begun in the 1800s when the area was just decimated by cattle. Now that there are controls on grazing, and most ranchers do care about their land, they are still between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand we have herds of over 1,000 elk, which are a non-native species to this area, which come down from the mountains in winter when the snow is deep up there. Unlike deer, which are browsers, elk are like cattle--they are grazers.
The land where I was hiking is mostly owned or leased by two sisters, both hardworking ranchwomen, descendants of pioneers, etc. I admire them both, they are tough and strong women. But I was kind of appalled at the condition of the graze. Not that one of them hadn't already told me herself what to expect. She said between the cows and the elk there is nothing left to eat out there. In some areas, especially, there was mostly dirt and rocks.
I always look for petroglyphs and artifacts and other signs of ancient people when I hike the grasslands. I have found a lot of stuff out there, but I don't bring any of it home! I don't generally tell people where it is, but I did report a small village find to the state museum 3 years ago. It was new to them. Lots of pottery shards at that place.
It is a very good area for mtn. biking as well, since one can ride for miles on two tracks and never see a soul.
It is about 6 miles back home to Eagar. Walking home, I crossed the highway and dropped down to look at the Little Colorado River, which was running at almost flood stage. Saw that big cottonwood the beavers had chewed--amazing! There were a lot of smaller trees the beavers had cut as well. I was on private property where the photo was taken.