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Lookout Connector - WMTS
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2022-05-25  
mini location map2022-05-25
19 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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Lookout Connector - WMTSPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking10.08 Miles 1,314 AEG
Hiking10.08 Miles   3 Hrs   49 Mns   2.64 mph
1,314 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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As I discovered hiking the WMTS the last two years, Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside get pretty toasty mid-day in June. Hoping for somewhat more moderate temperatures, I moved my annual visit up two weeks.

I was at first confused by the blazes, thinking “LC” was Lookout Connector, which is actually blazed “LK”. The black-on-white, reflective, diamond-shaped blazes are posted roughly every ¼ mile, counting down to the summit of Juniper Ridge. There are also simple “White Mountain Trail System” blazes, and some no-OHV markers. I often found them having fallen on the ground.

Flower coverage was light. The highlight was spotting what I thought were several dozen scattered Gunnison’s Mariposa Lily. (The only other one I’d seen was, ironically, on Juniper Flat in the Sierra Ancha, 50 miles southwest.) Instead, they were doubting mariposa lily.

Manzanita need fire to germinate. And germinate they have since the Rodeo-Chediski Fire! Though there are spot manzanita earlier on Lookout Connector Trail, the FR 9807K spur and the final ¾ mile climb up Juniper Ridge are particularly thick with them.

Earlier on Lookout Connector, most of the burnt trees had fallen. Heading up Juniper Ridge, the dead still stand: their blackened branches vainly beseeching the heavens. I call it the "Ghost Forest".

I’m not real comfortable meeting new people, so I never ask a fire lookout if I can come up for a visit. I’m sure since the Corona 🍻, and now the Monkey Pox, the Forest Service might not even allow stranger visits. Finding a fence around the Juniper Ridge fire lookout made it easy to avoid being asked. Even on the ground, there are great views from northeast to southwest.

Other than swapping water bottles, and photographing a few late blooming flowers, I can’t recall stopping on the return trip.

On way back up FR 136 to AZ-260, we passed ASNF Engine 372. I asked the captain if they had smoke, and he replied just a snag. Whew. Last thing the area needs is another blowup!

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/714928126
 Meteorology
 Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Fire Burn Area & Recovery
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Fair number of alpine false spring parsley along Los Caballos Trail #638 and spreading fleabane along Lookout Connector Trail. New Mexico thistle near summit of Juniper Ridge. Scattered clusters of doubting mariposa lily in middle section. Also, ceanothus(?), toadflax penstemon, baby aster / rose heath, silvery lupine, New Mexico groundsel, slender phlox.
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