Soggy bottom boy Sunday checking out a hilltop ruin hunch during a day of never over bearing but consistent precipitation during the entire hike.
Never seen so much flashy fuel growth out here in Central AZ, some truly impressive wildflowers and grass over three feet high in most of the area from this summer’s monsoons.
Ruins are indeed confirmed where I expected but they involve a nice little fun class 3 scramble to reach and with steady rain and a puppy in the mix it wasn’t in the cards to reach the summit.
Plenty of pottery and worked stone along the way and in the flats just like with most of this area, just a big ancient special canyon to say the least.
Some afternoon Willow Valley wandering along the rim of the canyon.
Bumped a half dozen coues deer doe’s right off the bat and soon after ran into a good sized sow with her two cubs.
No elk visible until back on the highway, plenty of hunters out and about but other than that just a nice quiet evening in some special big country.
Nice little after work stroll down a trail I’ve always been curious about.
Not a lick of water down in this section of the reservoir/creek just pleasant fields of green grass and wildflowers.
Found a decomposing cow elk down in the bottom stinking up the place but other than that no more Wapiti until the drive home.
Always a blessing to be outside now more than ever.
A fun little workout hike push up one of my favorite trails on this sacred mountain.
Smoke from the Slate Fire could be seen looking out towards the White Hills, classic strong southwest winds were whipping it up and made for a scenic hazy sunset.
Mellow’s first time on this mountain made for a memorable time, besides the lone Muley no another wildlife besides whatever caught the pups nose and attention at the top of the Abineau basin.
Great evening in mountains that I’ll always call home.
Powered up the CDT, grazed across some fresh rim road gravel and then disappeared into the fun stuff.
A remarkable and enjoyable day under perfect conditions in a very special place to me.
Pretty cool experience to spend the day with my dog Mellow walking along the very same path of my beloved Payton who will forever live and roam in those heavenly high country canyons.
Made it back home before supper and brought home some satisfied boots and chalky antlers.
Traded in the high tech hiking pants for some trusty Levi Jeans and it all started coming together.
Always a humbling, tiring and truly satisfying feeling walking amongst the animals and extra special to find some of their forgotten treasures.
Good encounters with big bulls, herds of whitetail, cow elk, mule deer and one really memorable gekkering red fox that my pup tried to chase and play with.
Tonto Toughness made one steep mile at a time.
Fun little dip into the bowl.
Took the trail for awhile and then did some wandering.
If I had the time I could set up a second life at Taylor Cabin and spend some years exploring the wonders of this vast, mighty and immaculate wilderness.
Spent the day taking a very special person up to one of my backyard favorites for her first “real” hike, she not only did amazing but thoroughly enjoyed it and is eager to see more wilderness!
After spending the past week monitoring, living in and hiking around the leftover storm snowpack the day could have not have been more ideal with the mountain properly thawed and a Easter egg blue sky with calm conditions.
Ol’ @jonnybackpack made the hearty trek to the lower RC falls earlier in the week and we saw some of his “Mazatzal Monster” footprints in the faded melted snow but after that it was nothing but breaking through 8”-10” of consistent snowpack with drifts of 1 to 3 feet in some spots along the switchbacks segments that climb up the two main cliff bands.
RC Falls was looking better than ever but I think that was mainly due to my wonderful company who I was very proud of for making the trek, the puppy included.
Always nice to head down this trail and really enjoy the expansive hard earned views looking at not only the great beyond but it’s one of those trails where you can see your vehicle down below the majority of the time giving one a good sense of wilderness distance perspective.
Quite possibly one of the most memorable days outside I’ve ever had and one I’ll never forget.
After driving past this TH for years it always sparked my interest from the epic Bartels thumbnail scene on the description and this day it fit the bill perfect for a little late afternoon stroll.
Lugged up the camera gear just in case but the fire scar is pretty severe, not much left to photograph besides the occasional patches of healthy desert life here and there.
Can’t complain on the views though, between a snow capped Four Peaks and eagle eye views of the lakes I was digging it.
Turned around at Vineyard Mountain and made it back just after sunset with enjoyable temps and a quiet desert.
I didn’t use the nearby trail at all rather just bailed off down into the goodness, driving past this area for half a decade en route to other nearby hiking destinations it was satisfying to park and hit up some of this “drive by land”.
Tank top weather walking through the near shade less rugged land skirting around the canyons edge.
I could wander around the mighty canyon of the WCC Wilderness and its perimeter endlessly and will most likely spend a big chunk of my life doing just that.
First time hitting up this section of the AZT and it was delightful little segment for the small portions of it I used as an expressway to the surrounding land.
We bumped some bulls and Mellow pursued in chase but eventually came back, young guy and I need to work on some self control discipline when it comes to animal encounters as they will be plentiful throughout his lifetime.
Weather was eerily warm and wonderful, no snow on the ground besides in the deep shaded bottom of ECC.
All in all a great day in some slightly newish country.
Central Arizona ground and pound action with a healthy foot and a new pup has me back out in the woods nearly everyday lately.
We’ve hit a lot of classic and rugged northern Tonto country, a day up in the snow further north up on the coke and some high desert trekking on the AZT in between.
At first I wasn’t sure if 10 month old Mellow was cut out for the mountain life as I could tell he wasn’t having it our first few hikes but he quickly proved me wrong and has already transformed from a terrain timid puppy into a formidable backcountry dog.
I’ve never seen home and the surrounding area so dry, tanks, “perennial water holes” and other riparian areas are truly in worse shape than I’ve ever seen in many years.
As much as I love the eerily warm and comfortable winter hiking weather here in Rim Country we certainly need some storm action and snowpack to fill some of the usual favorites.
Finally made it out to this truly incredible ranch and hunk of land!
It was an absolute honor to be led by the legendary Brantley Baird around his property listening to his stories and wisdom.
The petroglyphs in this segment of Chevelon are truly by far the most elaborate and incredible display I have and probably will ever witness in my life.
It’s stimulation overload!
I spent a considerable amount of time admiring and enjoying them but there is still so many markings to see, older, newer, overlapped and underneath one another, they are truly everywhere along those sacred walls.
I already want to return to the general area as the archeological significance around there is truly special and still would love to walk, float and swim the entirety of Clear Creek and Chevelon down to the desert region terminus.
Some creek and riverside action along some staple Mogollon Rim water sources, lots of nice hotspots to be found in the middle elevations quickly making the color changing transition to the desert riparian areas.
Not much to do with a broken foot so I made the trip to visit some old reliable favorites and bust the dust off the camera gear.
Seems to be a great year for quality Autumn foliage with abnormally warm day time temps and no storms in sights should make for some lasting color to be found.
More people than I’ve ever seen in my life this year at spots that used to be somewhat less traveled is a bit unsettling and all the more reason to heal up so I can get back out to the deep backcountry far away from the hoopla.
Autumn Foliage ObservationSubstantial Lots of color to be found but still plenty more to come!
More obscure seldom traveled steep new country of the mighty Tonto focusing around the northeastern portion of the forest.
Gridding slopes, crashing through thickets and constantly chasing the next wilderness treasure.
Always something to learn and experience while spending more time in the woods like this, further enhancing situational awareness and detailed observations of the forest.
Hot, dry and rugged has been the theme of the year for these neck of the woods.
I had to say goodbye to my best friend Payton in late April which has taken me awhile to write this.
The most loyal, loving and goofy buddy that ventured with me all over the state from the forest to the desert and everything in between.
She loved it all but one place that we both seemed to enjoy the most is the vast network of intermingling high country canyons on top of the Mogollon Rim.
We spent some solid years, days, nights and had many memorable moments up there together from enduring raging monsoon storms, countless close up epic wildlife encounters, witnessing the marvels of nature and so many other things I’ll never forget.
Over the rare days off I’ve had in the past few months, I go revisit these special places and bring her ashes back with me every time, she will forever roam, run and relax in her favorite spots and I know she will always be with me.
I love and miss you Payton and I’m very grateful and blessed to have the time we had together.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.