I lead a group of beginning and intermediate backpackers into the Bear Wallow wilderness for a one night backpacking trip. We camped before the hike at the gravel pit on FR 25 on the way out to the Reno Trailhead (where we left our shuttle vehicle). It wasn't an ideal spot for a hammocker, but it was great for tents. High and dry - and if you wanted a sky show, it'd be a great spot. Of course, it rained for us, so no show.
The hike was delightful. See photos for more detail, but to sum up, the area is not nearly as devastated as you might think given the severity of last year's Wallow Fire. Though we passed through many bad burn areas, there was lots of new growth, especially ferns, aspens and wildflowers. The Rose Spring and Schell Canyon trails had not been cleared since the burn, but there weren't many downed trees or badly washed out places. The group of beginners was able to keep to the trail and didn't once complain about obstacles (other than being a little sooted up).
There was a maintenance crew on the Bear Wallow trail, and they'd entered on the Reno Trail, so those two routes were in really good shape. The canyon bottom was beautiful, and though there were signs of the fire, overall it was a lush, green wildflower haven. I'd definitely go back in a heart-beat!
My crew was fantastic - they were good-natured, happy and fun. I'd only ever hiked with one of them before, so it could have been much worse! Only one of the group had any trouble at all, and his was more an issue of learning about lighter gear than anything else. I bet that giant sleeping bag has already been replaced!
I was staying with my mom at Hon Dah, so on the way home I took the Three Forks Road. Really nice drive - beautiful scenery and a smooth road. Next time I'll go that way rather than detouring all the way through Springerville!
It's great to be back on the trail!
||Wildflowers Observation Moderate