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434 triplogs

Oct 11 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 337
 Photos 5,898
 Triplogs 440

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Camping at Nipton, CA 
Camping at Nipton, CA
 
Car Camping avatar Oct 11 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Car Camping
Car Camping1 Day         
 no routes
1st trip
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I was looking for a driving route back to Phoenix after 13 days of car camping in the Eastern Sierras. I get tired of driving the same routes and looked for a different path that would take me through some country I hadn't seen before. The Mojave National Preserve caught my eye on the map. So I picked as a stopping place for the night what appeared to be a town at the edge of that preserve that was exactly half way by road for my drive back to Phoenix. It was Nipton on HW164 (Nipton Rd). A quick google search revealed that it had a hotel, RV and Camping sites, Tipis and Eco cabins for accomodations. Perfect, I decided to go for the hotel since I'd been camping for 13 days and indoor plumbing with a shower was a definite attraction and I had no idea what an "Eco Cabin" was.

My gps route to Nipton led me on a harrowing drive up US15 from Barstow. Who knew it was the major route from the LA area to Las Vegas and it was Friday afternoon? Not this old dude from Oregon. There are some real crazies on that road. Like a squadron of super fast sports cars driven by young maniacs racing each other as they weave in and out of traffic - they went right through a speed trap and the cop sitting in his car never missed a bite of his doughnut. Maybe they had diplomatic immunity. So when I turned off onto HW164, also called Nipton Road, it was an exhilarating relief - two lane blacktop crossing the barren Mojave Desert valley without a car in sight for 20 miles and the only sign of habitation being what appeared to be a small oasis in the distance. My favorite kind of road. I did wonder where this metropolis called Nipton was located - the car gps said it was only 11 miles away but all I could see was a small green dot in the distance.

The small green dot turned out to be the town of Nipton, population maybe 12 people. I walked into the Trading Post and they signed me up for a room in the Hotel California, built in 1905, and a history of being a house of ill-repute at some time in its past, probably pre-1920. Five rooms opening on to a common living room type space, two bathrooms shared by the 5 rooms, no heat and no AC. But with night time lows in the 40s and daytime highs in the low 70s, who needs heat or AC. I had to initial a long list of "Magical Nipton Guest Terms & Conditions". The most notable of which were the acknowledgement that "Nipton is located directly next to a rail line (50 yds from my hotel room), trains can come at any time, and blow their horns loudly at all hours of the day and night. Ear plugs are provided in each room." Also an acknowledgement that "Magical Nipton is located in the Mojave Desert and conditions may be dangerous. Please be aware that there may be snakes, spiders, and scorpions in the area." I was pumped, this is my kind of place.

The hotel room turned out to be small but comfortable and very clean. The trains came by about every 2 hours which coincided with this old guy's normal sleeping schedule. But, that horn was really loud when it's only 50 yds from your window!! The Whistle Stop Cafe & Saloon had good beer on tap, excellent hamburgers and fries. The staff of one managed the cooking, bar tending and waitress duties while still having time for friendly conversation with the old guy sitting at the bar. It's not a place that Mrs OH would like but for me it was a great place to stop on the way back from a hiking trip to the Sierras.
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4 archives
Oct 09 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 337
 Photos 5,898
 Triplogs 440

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Golden Trout Lakes Trail, CA 
Golden Trout Lakes Trail, CA
 
Hiking avatar Oct 09 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking5.20 Miles 2,361 AEG
Hiking5.20 Miles   9 Hrs      0.58 mph
2,361 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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This would be the final day hike of my 13 day car camping trip in the Eastern Sierras of California. I had been here 5 years ago on a similar trip to hike up to Kearsarge Pass and had enjoyed that hike and camping at the scenic little campground in Onion Valley. I chose the hike to Golden Trout Lake for this trip just to try something different. This trail starts from the Kearsarge Pass trailhead and follows that trail for about 0.4 miles before forking off to the right. The morning of the hike was at or below freezing and the wind was blowing hard so I suited up with full winter clothing and gloves including a balaclava face mask topped by a heavy knit cap. I had gone about a mile when I encountered a solo backpacker coming down the trail. He was returning from a one nighter to do some photography at some high lakes on a side canyon off the GTL trail. He admired my balaclava and said he had one just like it. We parted with him warning me that the trail was difficult to follow. I would find that his warning was actually a bit of an understatement. He would be the only other hiker I would see until returning to the trailhead.

After about 0.7 miles the trail starts a steep climb straight up a slope made slippery by loose dirt and rocks. There is no single trail and side trails forked off to who knows where about every 20 feet. The wind was gusting so hard down the slope that I was concerned about getting blown over backwards. So I kept my head down hugging the hillside following what appeared to be the most traveled path. It ended up leading me directly to the base of a cliff high up the slope. Grasping a small ledge in the cliff face to avoid getting blown down the slope, I took a peek at my GPS and determined that I should have taken a sharp left about 2/3 of the way up the slope to reach a cliff top which spanned the canyon. When I got to the location shown by the GPS track there was no sign of a trail so I bushwhacked through some brush for about 50 yards and finally came upon the trail. The reward for my effort was a stunning view of Onion Valley and the mountain peaks to the west of the valley. Trail finding and the wind continued to be a problem throughout the remainder of the hike. It became more of an off-trail experience where you just follow what appears to be a path of least resistance going in the general direction of your destination. Scenery and solitude were rewarding but this was probably my least favorite of the day hikes I had taken on this trip. Gold Trout Lake was more like a glacial cirque surrounded on two sides by steep boulder covered slopes and only a few small wind twisted trees on one side.

The hike back to camp went quickly being all downhill with no path finding required. Reaching the trailhead at 5pm I encountered a PCT through hiker getting ready to head up the Kearsarge Pass Trail to continue on towards Mexico. He had started from Canada in June. The wind was still blowing hard and it was getting cold but the young man seemed enthusiastically oblivious wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He ended up camping in the site next to me planning to leave early the next morning. We swapped stories of our backpacking experience and I charged up his smartphone on my car booster battery. He stocked up on some trail food from abandoned food caches left by other PCTers in the bear boxes in the parking lot. You'd think he discovered gold. :y: It ended up being one of the coldest nights of the trip. When I got up before sunrise to make some breakfast and start packing for the trip home I discovered the 4 inches of water left in my 6 gallon water jug had frozen solid. I got the spare jug out of my car to pour some water for coffee and spilled some on the table top. The water ran only 8 inches across the sloping table top before freezing solid. Hot coffee and a hot breakfast eaten directly out of the frying pan with it still sitting on the stove burner got me going and I was soon on my way.
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Oct 06 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 337
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Bishop Pass Trail - South LakeSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Oct 06 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking8.30 Miles 1,824 AEG
Hiking8.30 Miles   8 Hrs   32 Mns   0.97 mph
1,824 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
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This was my fifth day hike on a 13 day car camping trip traveling south on HW395 in the Eastern Sierras of California. I drove up to South Lake the day before my planned hike and setup camp in the Willow Campground about 2 miles from the South Lake trailhead. This is a small tents only camp ground nestled in the aspens along Bishop Creek. Despite the designation of tents only, a pickup truck with a large camper parked in the campsite next to me after knocking a couple limbs off the surrounding aspens. Most of the campsites are not level with the picnic tables sloping at odd angles. But that was OK, I used the top of the Bear Box, which was level, for a cooking and eating surface.

The next morning I arrived at the trailhead at 7:30am. After an unplanned detour down a fishermen's trail to the lakes edge I got back on trail and was on my way. I had planned on only hiking on trails that I had not hiked on my previous trips to the Eastern Sierras. But my memories of the exceptional beauty of this trail convinced me to repeat this one. I was not disappointed. It was by far the most beautiful hike of the six major hikes I would take on this trip due to both the scenery and the excellent weather with clear blue sky dotted with white clouds. I encountered several backpackers headed down to the trailhead throughout the morning and then several headed back up the trail on my way out. Everyone encountered on the trail were in high spirits due to the awesome beauty of the Sierras and the good weather. I decided to turn around at Bishop Lakes and not wear myself out going up that last 700 ft elevation gain to the 12k high pass. I'd been there 5 years ago and recalled that the views were not worth the pain. I relaxed in the warm sun and had a snack on a small hill overlooking Bishop Lakes after snooping around a Snow Survey Shelter cabin before starting the return hike.

The return hike went quickly being all down hill but there were several delays to talk to other hikers along the way. The most memorable encounter was a gentleman about 8 years older than me and his wife who were relaxing just off trail near the north end of Long Lake. After we'd talked for a while swapping stories he asked if I'd like to join him for a smoke. Thinking he meant tobacco, I declined saying I didn't smoke. His wife was sitting with her back to me but I could tell that she was cringing at his offer. It was then that I realized he was offering to smoke pot. :doh: Tempting, but I still declined. He said he'd been a recreational pot smoker for 50 years and now that it was legal in CA he felt comfortable smoking it in public places like along the trail. I'm still chuckling about that encounter.

The next morning while packing up to leave camp I had an encounter of a different kind. I went out in front of my car to talk to a fellow camper leaving the bear box door open with my cooler in it. 15 minutes later when I went back to get the cooler it had fresh black paw prints on the lid. The black stuff on the critter's paws was probably from pawing through the charcoal in my fire pit where I had dumped greasy water from my frying pan. Fortunately nothing had been taken. I'm not sure what kind of critter but it was a very sneaky one. Maybe a raccoon because there was a stream nearby. A bear would have ripped open the ice chest lid, grabbed some food, and been gone in a flash.
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
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Oct 05 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 337
 Photos 5,898
 Triplogs 440

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Tamarack Lakes Trail to Francis Lake, CA 
Tamarack Lakes Trail to Francis Lake, CA
 
Hiking avatar Oct 05 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking5.60 Miles 1,337 AEG
Hiking5.60 Miles   6 Hrs   19 Mns   0.89 mph
1,337 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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The trailhead for the Tamarack Lakes Trail is in a parking lot at the entrance to the Rock Creek Lake Campground which was a short distance up Rock Creek Road from where I was car camped at the Upper Pine Grove Campground. My plan was to follow the trail towards Tamarack Lakes as far as time permitted before turning around which meant with my late morning start that I wouldn't be making it to the lakes. The road into the Rock Creek CG from the main road follows the north shore of Rock Creek Lake and provides great views across the lake towards Little Lakes Valley. At the parking lot for hikers I couldn't find the trailhead so asked some hiker types where it was. It was about 50 feet away hidden behind a monstrous black SUV parked in front of the sign.

The trail starts out with a short steep climb up to an intersection with an old road bed where it makes a 90 deg turn to the left to follow the old road for about 0.7 miles. I would find out later that this old road was the original road into Little Lakes Valley before the John Muir Wilderness was established and continued all the way up that valley, over Morgan Pass and down the other side to access tungsten mines along Morgan Creek. That old road which starts in Sand Canyon and stays just outside the wilderness boundary is now the Sand Canyon Mountain Bike Trail. A local recommended bikers should ride it one way starting at its intersection with Rock Creek Road and ending in Sand Canyon due to the difficulty of riding a bike up hill in the sand in Sand Canyon.

I stopped at Kenneth Lake to take some photos and started talking to an older (my generation) hiker who had lived in the area since the early 1970s. During our conversation a small group of hikers came up the trail and joined us. I recognized them as my camping neighbors at the Upper Pine Grove Campground. One thing led to another and they invited me to join them at their campfire that evening. The local hiker recommended taking the side trail to Francis Lake which he thought was the most scenic of the lakes and was much closer than going to the Tamarack Lakes. Myself and two from the group of my camping neighbors took his advice and went to Francis Lake while the other 4 of their group went to Dorothy Lake. Francis Lake was a beauty with its emerald green crystal clear water. Back at camp that night I enjoyed a couple hours around the campfire with my neighbors drinking wine and swapping stories of our experiences in the outdoors. The end of another great day in the Eastern Sierras.
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
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Oct 04 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 337
 Photos 5,898
 Triplogs 440

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Mono Pass from Mosquito Flat TH, CA 
Mono Pass from Mosquito Flat TH, CA
 
Hiking avatar Oct 04 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking7.40 Miles 2,169 AEG
Hiking7.40 Miles   8 Hrs   50 Mns   0.84 mph
2,169 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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This was my third day hike on a 13 day car camping trip traveling south on HW395 in the Eastern Sierras of California. The hike starts out on the Little Lakes Valley Trail from the Mosquito Flats Trailhead at the end of Rock Creek Road. There are several campgrounds along Rock Creek Road, I chose the upper Pine Grove Campground.

I arrived at the TH at 7:30am motivated to get an early start before the parking lot filled up. While getting out my gear I got in a conversation with a young man about our plans for the day. There appeared to be nobody else in the parking lot but our loud enthusiastic voices evidently woke up two young women backpackers sleeping in their small SUV crossover. They spilled out of their car along with their packs. I apologized for waking them up, but hey, it was time for them to get on the trail anyway. :)

The trail to Mono Pass forks off the Little Lakes Valley Trail to the right about a half mile from the TH and is marked with a sign. The trail to Mono Pass started out with a fairly gentle uphill grade but with the starting elevation at 10K and Mono Pass at 12k, I was slowed down by the lack of oxygen. There were great views of the Little Lakes Valley and Ruby Lake as the trail climbed up to the pass. After the pass, the trail goes to the small Summit Lake nestled in a shallow valley. I made Summit Lake my turn around point. I was exhausted from the high altitude so took shelter from the howling wind behind a large boulder, had a snack, and took a short nap. After waking from the nap I noticed 3 people hiking near the top of the low ridge to the west. Later I encountered these people on the trail and found out that taking a route from Mono Pass along the top of that ridge provided amazing views of the Trail Lakes and many Sierra peaks to the west. Based on that information, I would recommend taking that route from the pass instead of the trail leading directly to Summit Lake. For a relatively short hike, this one left me exhausted because of my problem with handling altitudes above 10K. However it didn't seem to be bothering the 10 people, some as old as me, that passed me on the trail. This was definitely a worth while hike because of the great views climbing out of the valley and would be even greater taking the route I recommended above (but didn't take). Little Lakes Valley is a better alternative for the first time in this area but I had done that trail exactly 5 years ago on Oct 4, 2014. [ photoset ]
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Oct 02 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
McGee Creek Trail to Steelhead Lake, CA 
McGee Creek Trail to Steelhead Lake, CA
 
Hiking avatar Oct 02 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking11.90 Miles 2,577 AEG
Hiking11.90 Miles   9 Hrs   40 Mns   1.23 mph
2,577 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This was my second day hike on a 13 day car camping trip traveling south on HW395 in the Eastern Sierras of California. The trailhead is reached by driving up McGee Creek Road from HW395 about 9 miles south of the main turnoff to Mammoth Lakes. I car camped at the McGee Creek Campground which is the only CG on this road. The day I arrived the TH parking lot was nearly full in the early afternoon but the next day when I went hiking there were only a few cars and I only encountered 5 people all day on the trail.

The trail follows McGee Creek up the canyon with a gentle uphill grade. I was somewhat confused after hiking on a well worn trail on an old roadbed for about 0.8 miles when I saw two hikers passing me on another parallel trail about 25 yards uphill from me. They were nice enough to enlighten me that I was on an old road, not the official McGee Creek Trail. The trail starts following the roadbed about 0.3 miles further up canyon. They also informed me that the old road had led to a campground about 3 miles up canyon from the current trailhead. The road and campground were closed when the John Muir Wilderness was established in 1964. The trail was in good condition and easy to follow except at the first crossing of McGee Creek about 3 miles from the TH. The trail here splits into two trails for a short distance, one trail for horses to wade across the creek, and the other going upstream to an old foot bridge for people. I had read that this bridge was washed out. This "people" trail to the old bridge is not marked and I probably would not have seen it if I didn't have a gps track. I didn't want to wade across the creek at the horse crossing so started searching upstream for a dry crossing. Several small logs clumped together spanned a narrow section of the creek providing a dry crossing but probably wouldn't be usable during times of high water. The old "washed out" bridge further upstream became visible after I crossed the creek. It was a huge and very long log which had the top side sawn off flat. It had broken in several places and collapsed into the creek bed. It was still usable with the current low water level and I used it on the return. During periods of high water this creek crossing would probably be a forced turn around point for most hikers.

Continuing upstream the trail crosses back over the creek a couple of times but well placed rocks and a foot bridge provide dry crossings. The turnoff from the McGee Creek Trail to the Steelhead Lake Trail is marked with a sign. At this point the trail switchbacks through a thick forest up the east side of the canyon to reach the lake. There is a side trail leading to Grass Lake about a half mile up the Steelhead Lk Trail. I thought about taking a side trip to look at it but decided to save my energy for the main hike. It was a good decision. The views of Grass Lake from the trail as it continued to climb up the canyon side are as good or better than would be found by hiking in to that lake. Steelhead Lake is a real beauty and well worth the hike. After walking part way around the lake to a point with good lake views I found a sunny spot to take a break, have some lunch and take a short nap. It was such a pleasantly warm scenic location that I was reluctant to leave but knew it would get below freezing cold very quickly after the sun ducked below the mountain peaks. The return hike was all downhill and went quickly.
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
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1 archive
Sep 30 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 337
 Photos 5,898
 Triplogs 440

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Green Creek Trail to East Lake, CA 
Green Creek Trail to East Lake, CA
 
Hiking avatar Sep 30 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking9.70 Miles 1,744 AEG
Hiking9.70 Miles   7 Hrs      1.39 mph
1,744 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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This was my first day hike of a 13 day car camping trip traveling south on HW395 in the Easter Sierras of California. The plan was to go on a day hike up one of the many glacier carved canyons deep into the Easter Sierras every other day then drive to the next hiking destination the following day, set up camp, and do it again. The trailhead is reached by driving up Green Creek Road from its intersection with HW395 about 4.5 road miles south of Bridgeport. It's an easy drive on a well maintained gravel road. The Toiyabe National Forest campground at the trailhead was shutdown for the season on the day I arrived but this was no problem. There are approved dispersed camping areas along the road and I found a spot in a beautiful setting by the creek in the state Green Creek Wildlife Area. I was surprised that camping was allowed at a designated state Wildlife Area and I was happy to find that the privilege to camp here had not been abused. The camping area was exceptionally clean - no plastic bottle caps or bottles, no toilet paper scattered about the woods, and no blue Bud Light beer cans with or without bullet holes.

That night the temperatures got well below freezing but this was not unexpected for this time of year and I was well prepared with cold weather gear from 16 years of living in Oregon. I will confess to using the car heater to warm up the inside of the car where I sleep before crawling out of my sleeping bag in the morning. : rambo : At the trailhead that morning I was joined by a fisherman on his way to Green Lake but didn't see anyone else all day until the last mile hiking out in the afternoon. The fisherman was from San Diego and frequently comes to the Eastern Sierras - he stated that Green Lake was one of his favorites places to fish in the Fall. After about a mile he charged on to the lake while I stopped frequently to take photos. The trail is well maintained but there can be some path finding confusion at Green Lake where the many intersecting fishermen trails can lead you astray when continuing to East Lake. Having a gps track to follow helped avoid any delays. Both Green Lake and East Lake are excellent examples of the many beautiful alpine lakes of the Eastern Sierras. This is the third year I have spent two weeks exploring the Eastern Sierras on day hikes never repeating a hike (except one later in this trip) and I will never tire of the beauty of this area.
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
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Sep 24 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 337
 Photos 5,898
 Triplogs 440

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Car Camping at Big Lake, OR 
Car Camping at Big Lake, OR
 
Car Camping avatar Sep 24 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Car Camping
Car Camping
 no routes
1st trip
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This was the second annual reunion at Big Lake - Oregon for 8 friends from Oregon and Washington who had gone on a rafting trip together on the Owyhee River in south eastern Oregon in May 2017. [ photoset ] I got notification of the planned reunion in August and it conflicted with my planned 2 week visit to the Eastern Sierras. So I just tacked on an extra week to allow time to drive up to Oregon, camp with my friends for 2 days and then visit my Grandson in Sparks, NV, for 2 days before starting my 2 week tour of the Eastern Sierras. Our reunion was in the large Willamette Forest Big Lake campground on the north shore of the lake. Many of the campsites have great views of Mt Washington across the lake. I arrived 2 days before the others to stake out the same sites we had used last year. [ photoset ] While waiting for the others to show up I went on a hike to the nearby Patjens Lakes. [ photoset ]

The 2 day reunion was a success with beautiful clear weather. We had the entire campground to ourselves which was a good thing. We didn't have any problems with this rowdy group of ex-Oregon State Univ football players from the late 1960s disturbing other campers. I'm the only non-football veteran, non-OSU graduate of the group but am well tolerated having been friends with 4 members of the group for over 20 years. After 2 days of enjoying the comradery of this group I started on the drive to Sparks, NV, stopping one night to enjoy the peaceful quiet of the Willow Creek Campground [41.012503 -120.830185] on HW139 in northern CA.
Named place
Named place
Big Lake
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3 archives
Sep 23 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
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 Photos 5,898
 Triplogs 440

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Patjens Lake Trail #3395North Central, OR
North Central, OR
Hiking avatar Sep 23 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking8.60 Miles 885 AEG
Hiking8.60 Miles   4 Hrs   52 Mns   1.77 mph
885 ft AEG
 
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This was a pleasant loop hike on a packed earth trail that was easy on the feet. My hiking distance was about 2 miles longer than the official distance because I started from my camp in the Big Lake Campground. Much of the trail passes through a burned area with tree skeletons dominating the views. The forest floor has recovered from the burn with a lush growth of bear grass and a variety of bushes which probably includes huckleberry. Small new growth fir trees dot the burned areas. About half way around the loop the trail passes through an unburned area of old growth conifers with moss draping off the limbs. The small Patjens Lakes are quite scenic with the shores largely untouched by the burn. Part of the loop follows the southwest shore of Big Lake and provides good views of that lake as well as the flat topped Hayrick Butte and Hoodoo Butte to the north, and Mt Washington to the southeast.

The sign board at the trailhead has a place to sign up for Mt. Washington wilderness permits with no fees. I usually ignore these self registration stations but luckily on this day I signed up and stuck the permit in my pocket. Towards the end of the hike, going counterclockwise around the loop, the trail passes along the south west shore of Big Lake where I stopped to take some photos. I saw a ranger about a quarter mile away dispersing rocks from a fire ring that was too close to the lake shore. She saw me taking photos and a few minutes after I had continued back on the trail she caught up with me (she must have ran). After some polite conversation in which I unwittingly revealed that I was just finishing up the loop which goes through the wilderness, she asked for my wilderness permit. I didn't ask what the consequences were if I didn't have the permit but it's possible there is a ticket and $$fine involved. While fumbling through my pockets looking for the permit I asked her if I was even in the wilderness. She changed the subject without answering and closely scrutinized my permit. Now, after looking at the map on HAZ, I realize that I was not in the wilderness when she asked for the permit. What a tricky (but very cute) young lady.
Flora
Flora
Lodgepole Pine
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Aug 31 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Bear Canyon Loop - Mogollon Rim, AZ 
Bear Canyon Loop - Mogollon Rim, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 31 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking4.70 Miles 507 AEG
Hiking4.70 Miles   5 Hrs   20 Mns   0.88 mph
507 ft AEG
 
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This hike follows the bottom of Bear Canyon from the dam downstream for about 2 miles then loops back on an unnumbered Forest road along the east side of the canyon to return to my camp near the dam. Note that there is more than one Bear Canyon on the Mogollon Rim - this is the one with the lake. The stream below the dam had water in it for about a mile. There wasn't water flowing from the dam outlet so this was probably just underground seepage from the lake. There didn't appear to be any massive rock formations and cliffs along the canyon walls like in many of the Mogollon Rim Canyons. Then I took a closer look through the thick forest on the canyon sides and noticed that they were there, just hidden by the trees. The bottom of the canyon had few obstructions that couldn't be easily bypassed on the elk trails. So this was not a challenging hike but notable for the heavily forested canyon sides and lush vegetation along the creek banks.
Named place
Named place
Bear Canyon Bear Canyon Dam
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Aug 30 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Bear Canyon Lake Alternate Loop, AZ 
Bear Canyon Lake Alternate Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 30 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking4.20 Miles 406 AEG
Hiking4.20 Miles   3 Hrs   13 Mns   1.31 mph
406 ft AEG
 
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This hike started from the FR208 Trailhead at the south end of Bear Canyon Lake and followed the Bear Canyon Lake trail north around the west side of the lake but used a forest road as an alternate return route going around the east side of the lake on the return. I wanted to check out car camping sites along this road which does not have a Forest Road number on the HAZ FS2016 map. According to the Apache Sitgreaves NF website, motor vehicles may only use roads that have numbers posted. However I would find during the several days I stayed in this area that this "rule" is ignored, not enforced or maybe has a special variance in the area around Bear Canyon Lake.

The hike started with views of early morning fog rising off the surface of the lake and the sunlight just starting to light up the trees along the shoreline. This was the forth time I'd been to the shoreline around the south end of the lake in the last four days but I just never got tired of its scenic beauty. After crossing the dam at the north end of the lake I hiked up the hillside to the road I would be taking on the return route. This road leads from the closed dam access road to FR84. There were a number of camp sites along this road which is approved for dispersed camping up to 300 feet off the road. Only three of the campsites were occupied. After noting that they all seemed to be quiet campers and seeing the availability of several campsites, I picked up my pace for the return to my camp so I could pack up and move to one of these sites. The hike along the road was not as scenic as the rough trail along the east shore of the lake but enabled a faster hiking pace. The off-trail shortcut from the road back down to the south end of the lake where I was camped required some careful switch backing down a steep hillside taking advantage of animal trails. Back at the end of FR208 I noted that even more people had showed up in the short time I had been gone and all the campsites were occupied. Note to self: Never go camping anywhere near a lake in AZ on a weekend and especially not on a three day holiday.
Named place
Named place
Bear Canyon Dam Bear Canyon Lake
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Aug 29 2019
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Upper Bear Canyon Lake Meander, AZ 
Upper Bear Canyon Lake Meander, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 29 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking4.10 Miles 323 AEG
Hiking4.10 Miles   4 Hrs      1.03 mph
323 ft AEG
 
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This was a short day hike out of my camp off of FR208 at the south end of Bear Canyon Lake. I crossed the road from camp and headed west in to the forest where I came upon a long abandoned logging road that followed the top of the ridge above upper Bear Canyon. This old road made a great hiking trail through the forest going southwest paralleling FR208 towards the Rim Road. The elk had been using it as a highway and one of the critters ran ahead of me down the old road before disappearing into thick timber.

As the abandoned road neared the Rim Road I made a loop out of the hike by returning towards the lake along the bottom of the upper end of Bear Canyon. The bottom of the canyon had a few dead falls which required finding a bypass but elk trails led the way making it easy. At the lake I stopped to chat with an elderly couple (my generation) fishing off the point that juts out into the south end of the lake - a very scenic spot to enjoy the view while waiting for the fish to bite. The wife had caught 3 trout which she had on a stringer in the water at the edge of the lake. She had to constantly move the fish to keep them away from a large crawdad. Then a small snake came swimming along and for some odd reason decided to bite and hold on to the tail of one of the fish while the lady tried to shake him off. I had the telephoto lens on my camera so got some close up shots of the action. I could have hung out for a while with these folks to swap old fishing stories but it started to rain so we headed up the trail towards our camps near the FR208 trailhead.

When I started the hike that morning the cluster of dispersed camp sites around the end of FR208 were all vacant. I was surprised to see that a small city of tents, travel trailers and even one tepee had materialized in the 4 hours I was gone. A large group had arrived and one of the fellows gleefully told me there would be at least 20 more people joining them later in the day. They even had brought their own portable outhouse (a good thing). Back in camp I was entertained by the constant din of 3 dirt bikes brainlessly zooming back and forth on FR208 past my campsite while the powerful stereo in their camp pounded out a heavy base beat to unintelligible musical vocals. It was Thursday. I couldn't imagine what this place was going to be like by the weekend. I ended up moving to a less busy location at the north end of the lake after returning from a morning hike the next day.
Fauna
Fauna
Crayfish
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Aug 28 2019
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Bear Canyon Lake Trail #112Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 28 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking4.10 Miles 335 AEG
Hiking4.10 Miles   3 Hrs   40 Mns   1.12 mph
335 ft AEG
 
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The plan was to camp with my daughter and her family at Bear Canyon Lake over the Labor Day Weekend. I drove up the Monday before the weekend to find a suitable campsite for her family with their huge family tent. After checking a bunch of likely sites and moving camp once, I finally picked a somewhat secluded well shaded spot off of FR208 only a half mile walk from the south end of the lake. There was no one else in any of the numerous dispersed camping sites on FR208 but I had some trepidation about the prospect of the holiday weekend hordes descending on this beautiful area. Much of Tuesday was spent cleaning up all the garbage left in and around camp by previous occupants. Signs posted on the road warned that bears were active in the area. No wonder, people had been burying their garbage in plastic bags instead of packing it out. Some didn't even bother to bury it. The bears were digging it up. By the end of the week after walking through many vacant dispersed campsites and hiking the trail around the lake I came to the conclusion that the preferred beer of litter bugs is Bud Lite in blue cans.

Wednesday I took the day off from campground litter cleanup and hiked the trail that loops around the shore of the lake. The south end of the lake where I started is the most scenic with meadows down to the water's edge and Aspens lining the shore in a cove where the upper Bear Canyon drainage enters the lake. I only encountered 6 other people on the entire trail, all were fishing. Several were having success catching planted rainbows about 8 to 10 inches long. It was a pleasant hike with great views of this scenic lake and I enjoyed some conversation with the fishermen. The trail along the west side is fairly well defined and easy to follow with blue diamond shaped markers on trees showing the way. On the east side there are no blue markers and the trail at best is just a faint path hugging the shore and worn into the steep hillside by fishermen and elk. Some moderate scrambling over rock outcroppings and traversing steep slopes is required. Approaching the south end of the lake the trail becomes more well defined as it passes around a drainage entering the lake from the east. A dead elk was bloated and floating in the drainage and as I feared, when passing down wind the stench was horrific. Despite the stinky ending the hike was a pleasant scenic respite from the overheated valley desert but best done during the week to avoid the weekend hordes.
Culture
Culture
Campsite
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Jul 23 2019
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Moody Point Trail Meander - Sierra Ancha, AZ 
Moody Point Trail Meander - Sierra Ancha, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jul 23 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking3.30 Miles 714 AEG
Hiking3.30 Miles   5 Hrs      0.66 mph
714 ft AEG
 
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It was the last hiking day of a 7 day camping trip to the Sierra Ancha with Grasshopper. GH wanted to spend the day in camp starting his long process of packing for the return drive the next day. I decided to explore the top of a bench protruding from the hillside sloping down from FR487 on the north side of the Moody Point Trail. On my previous hike down Moody Point Trail I had seen the bench top and noticed that it was mostly clear of the dreaded thickets of New Mexico Locust. My old Garmin Southwest topo map showed an old abandoned trail or road going across this bench which piqued my curiosity and it also looked like it would have been a good place for ancient habitation.

I started out down Moody Point Trail looking for a thorn free route up to the top of the bench. Along the way I explored some small clearings on the south side of the trail - surprised a Coues deer and saw more than a few fresh bear tracks. We had discovered on our hike the previous day on the Reynolds Creek Trail #150 that there are a lot of critters that you never see hiding in the dense thickets of brush on this hillside. Returning on that trail in the afternoon we noticed that our footprints left in a stretch of soft dirt four hours earlier had been completely covered with many different critter tracks - mostly smaller animals and deer.

After descending the trail for about 1.3 miles I found a clearing in the brush going up the hill side to the top of the bench. Huge slaps of red sandstone dotted the bench top. Much of the bench top had been burned off by the wildfire turned into a controlled burn in 2016. I followed the bench for about a half mile zig-zagging back and forth looking for signs of ancient habitation with none found. I also didn't find any sign of the trail/road shown on my Garmin map. A herd of elk was lounging in the shade of some tall pines but quickly vanished into the brush at the edge of the bench. By noon it was starting to get a little too warm for hiking so I decided to lounge in the shade of the pine trees vacated by the elk and cool off before starting the hike back up the hill. Ended up staying there for 1.5 hours playing with my two cameras and my smartphone and enjoying the views. On the way back I had to push my way through about 10 yds of New Mexico Locust to reconnect with the trail. : rambo : Even the new shoots have half inch thorns. Although the hike had not produced any new finds it was a relaxing way to end the week.
Flora
Flora
New Mexico Locust
Fauna
Fauna
Acorn Woodpecker
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Jul 22 2019
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Reynolds Creek Loop, AZ 
Reynolds Creek Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jul 22 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking5.70 Miles 1,380 AEG
Hiking5.70 Miles   6 Hrs   48 Mns   0.84 mph
1,380 ft AEG
 
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This was a new hike for me but not for GH. He did this loop hike back in May, 2010, with GPS Joe. [ photoset ] But GH was anxious to do it again after all those years. I talked him into shortening it a little by not including a hike down to the Reynold Creek TH which put it into a more doable range for a day hike now that he(we) are 9 years older.

The trail starts out from the Murphy Ranch TH in thick forest and doesn't open up to grand views until taking the abandoned trail section over the top of a ridge. We went off trail in this section along the spine of the ridge to get some fantastic views. The abandoned trail is very faint in sections and a gps track helps to find the way. But even with the gps track to follow GH wandered off trail down the west side of the ridge before I could get him back on track. This isn't the first time we've had a disagreement on following our gps tracks. :) He always says I'm off track because my old Garmin Oregon 450 doesn't include tracking data from the Russian GPS Satellites that are included on his newer GPS. But I think this time the Russians were leading him astray. :scared:

We stopped for lunch at what GH calls the Pueblo Canyon Bluff View Point. The views here were exceptional. Unfortunately there is also cell phone reception there and I got an urgent text from my wife that she was having computer problems at home. I wasted about 20 minutes composing a detailed text explaining how to fix the problem only to find out later that she had gotten a friend to fix it.

The return hike up Reynolds Creek Trail #150 goes through thick forest as it approaches Knowles Hole. There appeared to be a string of springs along the creek in this section and there were many pools of water along the creek bed. I've always been curious about the origin of the name "Knowles Hole". I found an account of the 1890 murder of Edward Baker that said his nearest neighbor was a Robert S Knowles who's homestead was a mile away. Checking the map it turns out that Knowles Hole is a mile north of where Edward was killed. It appears that Knowles didn't hang around to prove up on his homestead and by the 1900 census he was living on the San Carlos Indian Reservation. Perhaps the murder of his neighbor scared him away. Could there be the remains of his homestead cabin hidden somewhere in the thick growth of brush and forest at Knowles Hole?

This was a most enjoyable hike with amazing views of the upper end of Pueblo Canyon, deep forest solitude, and some history to contemplate along the way.
Named place
Named place
Murphy Ranch Pueblo Canyon
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Jul 21 2019
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Murphy Peak - Sierra Ancha, AZ 
Murphy Peak - Sierra Ancha, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jul 21 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking4.00 Miles 530 AEG
Hiking4.00 Miles   6 Hrs      0.67 mph
530 ft AEG
 
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nonot
This started out as a hike to the top of Murphy Peak following a ridge north from where we parked GH's 4-Runner on the road to the Aztec Peak lookout. This is a pleasant hike with very little AEG across a mostly open ridge top. GH and I spent a lot of time taking photos along the eastern edge of the ridge so NoNot reached the top of Murphy Peak long before we did and had to come back looking for us. :)

There are great views of the Murphy Ranch and apple orchard from the top of the ridge. I have done some research on the ranch early history and all I can find is a Homestead land patent to Walter G Murphy for 40+ acres at that location dated Mar 14, 1921. Some other info lists him as having a 40 acre apple orchard near Young, AZ from 1918 to 1941 and dying on Jul 8, 1941. The dates for the land patent and the period when he owned the apple orchard indicate that he was resident there during the same time period as the Peterson's at their nearby ranch. He was married but census info indicates they had no children.

After spending some time on Murphy Peak GH and NoNot headed back for the car to return to camp and I descended Murphy Peak on the northeast side following a ridge that led me to an old abandoned logging road marked Tr #151 on my old Garmin Southwest topo map. I followed that old road down hill towards FR487 then crossed over to another old road that led me to the Peterson Ranch Site. I visited the old orchard (lots of apples coming on), the location of the Peterson Cabin, and spent some time looking for two old waypoints I found on one of my gps tracks from a few years ago. One was for the Carolyn H Cole memorial plaque and the other was the site of Edward Baker's murder on July 12, 1890. Supposedly he is buried at that location. I didn't find evidence of either at these waypoints and I'm not sure where I got them. After more snooping around I took an off trail route south east towards our camp. GH had expected me to return on FR487 and was a little spooked when he heard me crashing through some brush as I entered the campsite through the back door.
Culture
Culture
Risky
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Jul 20 2019
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 Guides 8
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Moody Point Hike - Sierra Ancha, AZ 
Moody Point Hike - Sierra Ancha, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jul 20 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking6.40 Miles 1,200 AEG
Hiking6.40 Miles   6 Hrs   31 Mns   0.98 mph
1,200 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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Our second day for hiking out of Camp Grasshopper - FR487 near Aztec Peak in the Sierra Ancha. NoNot had joined us the night before and went off to hike the Rim Trail #139. Grasshopper decided to hang out in camp so I opted to hike down the Moody Point Trail #140 then go off trail to the south edge of Devils Chasm for some views.

The Moody Point trail between FR487 and its intersection with the Rim Trail has some sections that are getting over grown with New Mexican Locust. Fortunately I was wearing leather work gloves so had no problems pushing the thorny branches out of the way. The trail was not overgrown after leaving its intersection with the Rim Trail and I was able to make good time (for me). There are some great views along this section of trail following the top of the ridge. I had a planning track for the off-trail to the edge of the Chasm but found it was completely choked with manzanita when I got there so went down the trail a little further scouting for an opening in the brush and had success. The off-trail turned out to be a piece of cake.

My plan was to hike northeast on the spine of a ridge that sticks out from Moody Point - perhaps this is the real Moody Point. There was a great view of the Devils Chasm Ruin. The ridge spine ended in a steep descent down to a very rugged rocky outcropping. I turned around part way down the steep descent - it was getting hot and I would have to take my time going back to avoid overheating. My Frog Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel wrapped around my head, lots of drinking water and electrolyte pills saved the day. I got back to camp by 4:00pm to join NoNot in enjoying GH's spread of delicious hors d'oeuvres. Alway nice to have your camping trip catered. :DANCE:
Flora
Flora
New Mexico Locust
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Jul 19 2019
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Sierra Ancha Exploring, AZ 
Sierra Ancha Exploring, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jul 19 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking3.00 Miles
Hiking3.00 Miles
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Grasshopper
Grasshopper and I were in the Sierra Ancha for a week of car camping and hiking to escape the Phoenix Heat. We established our base camp near Aztec Peak the day before and headed out to do some off-trail exploratory hiking on the second day. Hiking up a heavily forested hillside we came across a nice small compound style Indian ruin on a bench sticking out from the hillside. This was a new find for us. There were only about 6 rooms but the external wall was still standing where two sections met at a 90 deg angle and were up to about 5 feet high at the highest point. GH found a couple of nice sized pottery sherds sticking out of the dirt near one of the walls. We searched the remainder of the bench for more ruins with no luck and then drove to another location in the SA to do some more exploring.
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Jul 19 2019
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 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Camp Grasshopper - Sierra Ancha - FR487Globe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 19 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking1.20 Miles 103 AEG
Hiking1.20 Miles
103 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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GH and I got back to camp mid-afternoon after a couple of short day hikes in another area of the Sierra Ancha. While GH hung out in camp I went for a short off-trail hike to explore around a mixed forest and meadow area on the south side of FR487 a short distance from camp. The late rain and snowfall in the SA this winter has led to the most lush plant growth I've ever seen in this area. Ferns seem to be crowding out the grass in the meadow areas and much of my short hike required pushing through thick growths of knee height up to eye height ferns.

Just out of sight from the road was a 2-3 acre area enclosed by an 8 foot high woven wire fence. Near the northeast end of this rectangular enclosure was what appeared to be a weather station inside a smaller fenced enclosure. A sign on the weather station indicated that the larger enclosure and weather station were part of a Forestry Study Area. My thought is that they are studying the growth of vegetation with respect to weather conditions inside the larger fenced in area where it is not impacted by humans or large herbivores.

The mixed forest and meadow area I was exploring lies on the south side of FR487 extending about 0.15 miles to where it begins to slope down towards the Rim Trail #139 another 0.4 miles away. I had hoped to get some good distant views to the south from the south edge of the meadow but was confronted with an almost impenetrable 10 foot high wall of thorn covered New Mexican Locust that covers most of the slope all the way down to the Rim Trail. So instead I wandered around a grassy area of the meadow before heading back to camp.
Flora
Flora
Bracken Fern
Named place
Named place
Aztec Peak Fire Lookout
Meteorology
Meteorology
Forecast
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Jul 19 2019
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73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Billy Lawrence TH Views - Sierra Ancha, AZ 
Billy Lawrence TH Views - Sierra Ancha, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jul 19 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking1.00 Miles
Hiking1.00 Miles
 
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Grasshopper
GH and I drove over to the Billy Lawrence Trailhead to check out the views at one of our favorite places to camp in the SA. We took a short hike along the rim above Cherry Creek Canyon remembering our adventures here in past years.
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average hiking speed 1.01 mph
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