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mini location map2009-09-14
4 by photographer avatarJoelHazelton
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Coal Mine CanyonNortheast, AZ
Northeast, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 14 2009
Hiking1.00 Miles 500 AEG
Hiking1.00 Miles
500 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
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This weekend was originally going to be a Inner Basin Main Cirque trip, but I came down with a nasty cold on Friday and didn't feel up to the trip (I touch numerous computer keyboards at a high school on a daily basis so I'm exposed to quite a bit). Fortunately, Coal Mine Canyon is relatively nearby the peaks so I opted for a more relaxing trip while I recovered from being sick.

Getting there was tricky because when I found the turnoff there were about 20 horses standing in my way on the road. They weren't moving, either. Thinking I may have found the wrong road, I continued down the 264 for a ways and then eventually returned after seeing "The Ghost" towering south of the road down in the canyon. I figured my original turn was probably the right one. Fortunately, there was a more primitive road forking from the main one that went around the stubborn horses so I managed to get to the picnic area.

My immediate feeling when first seeing Coal Mine Canyon wasn't that it was beautiful. It's actually rather ugly... I just thought it was a mess. Just random things sticking up everywhere, mostly a weird off-white color and some random red bands. It reminded me of bad art. However, knowing that once the sun got lower the rock formations would come to life, I threw on some tunes and started wandering. As you walk the ridges and cliffs leading into the canyon it starts to take better form and make more sense. The place quickly grew on me.

At sunset I snapped a few shots and then, after deciding the place would catch better light in the morning, went off to figure out where I would camp. I didn't feel like risking camping on the reservation since I didn't have a camping permit, so I drove back down to Coconino National Forest and turned onto the first forest road off the 89. I managed to get back about 200 yards before it got to rough for my truck. Since I still felt under the weather, I didn't count on having trouble getting to sleep that night. Boy was I wrong...

I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag in the back of my truck until 3:30AM when my alarm went off. Not having slept at all, getting up was an easy task and I hopped in and headed back up to the Rez. Sunrise was a beauty and all the cliffs caught the light exactly how I wanted them to.

Feeling lucky and on a photo-high on the drive back, I conjured up enough energy to climb Sugarloaf Mountain in Lockett Meadow to scout views for fall colors. After scree surfing all the way back down Sugarloaf, I finally got back to my girlfriend's apartment in Flag and slept the rest of the day.
"Arizona is the land of contrast... You can go from Minnesota to California in a matter of minutes, then have Mexican food that night." -Jack Dykinga
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