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White Mountains Car Camping with Family, AZ
mini location map2016-09-02
15 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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White Mountains Car Camping with Family, AZ 
White Mountains Car Camping with Family, AZ
 
Car Camping avatar Sep 02 2016
Oregon_Hiker
Car Camping
Car Camping
 no routes
1st trip
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This was a family camping trip with my daughter and her family over Labor Day Weekend. My son-in-law's two sisters from New Mexico joined us with their children to make it a mini-family reunion. In total there were 5 adults and 6 children aged 4 to 11. We chose an area in the White Mountains because it was halfway between my daughter's home in Phoenix and one of the sister's home in Albuquerque. The other selection criteria was that the camp had to be located in a green landscape away from the desert and at a high enough elevation for cooler temperatures. I enlisted the help of Chumley to locate a good campsite. He came up with 7 alternative sites that met our requirements. I drove up on Wednesday to pick one of the sites and stake it out for the busy 3 day weekend. The rest of the pack would show up on Friday and Saturday.

This area of the White Mountains can best be described as a high plateau prairie at 9000+ ft elevation dotted with forest covered knolls up to 10000 ft in elevation called tree islands. At this time of year the prairie is covered with lush bunch grass and scattered wild flowers. The knolls are thickly forested with spruce, douglas fir, aspen and pine. My first choice of a campsite from Chumley's list was the location of the HAZ 2014 Memorial Weekend Camp but it was already occupied by 3 RV campers. After checking out 4 other sites on his list I found the perfect one for our needs. The site was secluded in a grassy cove on the north east side of a modest sized tree island a short distance southwest of Greens Peak. It was a half mile off busy FR61 on a seldom used 4x4 track and required opening and closing a barbed wire gate for access. The barbed wire gate kept out the ATV and dirt bike traffic. The nearest occupied camp site was a half mile away. So, the six kids could roam freely and make as much noise as they wanted with out disturbing anyone. Only one vehicle, an ATV, ventured down the 4x4 track past our camp over the seven days I stayed there.

I staked out the campsite Wednesday afternoon by setting up my kids mammoth family tent and a tarp to protect the two-table kitchen area from the thunderstorms which were forecast to roll through this area. At sunrise the next morning a howling chorus was started by Mexican gray wolves which then incited bird hunting dogs in a camp a mile away, and a few yapping coyotes. This din continued for about an hour. Not loud enough to be disturbing because of their distance and fun to hear. I relaxed for two solo days hiking to the top of the 9910 ft high peak of our tree island, gathering up firewood, and reading a book in the warmth of the afternoon sun.

The rest of the crew started showing up early Friday evening. I had a fire going so the kids could roast hot dogs and marshmallows. It was the beginning of a weekend of cousin mania. There's something about cousins. They can be separated by long periods of time but when they get together they're like best friends who have never been apart. The six kids played continuously every day exploring the edge of the forest, swinging in the three hammocks, and constructing animal traps and secret forts. They often broke up into pairs by age to go off and do their own thing.

The three day weekend went by way too fast. The cousins were all sad to be separated Monday morning when it was time for them to leave. It was unanimously agreed that we must do this again. I stayed for another day to avoid Labor Day Weekend traffic and perhaps to do some hiking. I normally enjoy solo camping and hiking. But after such a great weekend with family it seemed too solemn and I couldn't get enthused about taking a hike. So after a short exploration to find all the kids secret "forts" and check out some rock formations in the prairie that looked like Indian ruins (not), I settled down in a camp chair in the warm sun to read a book.
Culture
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Campsite Hammock
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