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Snow Flat Campground - 1 member in 6 triplogs has rated this an average 4 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jul 22 2019
SkyIslander18
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 Guides 3
 Photos 4,732
 Triplogs 1,678

49 male
 Joined Sep 29 2004
 Small Town USA
Treasure Park from Snow FlatTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 22 2019
SkyIslander18
Hiking5.00 Miles 700 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles
700 ft AEG
 no routes
Partners none no partners
The back trail to Snow Flat, 80% tree kill from the Frye Fire and is not recovering as well as other trails.
Big Creek Falls, beautiful the whole hike down. Low water flow, but full of wildflowers and butterflies and a hell of a lot of fun to climb down. I skipped the falls .... high wind made me decide on another day.
Car camped for a bit at Snow Flat.
Good Day
:D
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Jul 15 2019
SkyIslander18
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 Guides 3
 Photos 4,732
 Triplogs 1,678

49 male
 Joined Sep 29 2004
 Small Town USA
Snow FlatTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 15 2019
SkyIslander18
Hiking2.50 Miles 500 AEG
Hiking2.50 Miles
500 ft AEG
 no routes
Partners none no partners
Snow Flat - Beautiful, trail looked great. Poured rain on me at the end.
Ladybug Peak - Also beautiful, thousands of ladybugs on top.
Got buzzed by my first rattler of the season at the Deadman Curve overlook.
Tons of ferns, flowers & butterflies throughout.
Great Day!
:D
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Oct 22 2017
SkyIslander18
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 Guides 3
 Photos 4,732
 Triplogs 1,678

49 male
 Joined Sep 29 2004
 Small Town USA
Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 22 2017
SkyIslander18
Hiking5.00 Miles 500 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles
500 ft AEG
 no routes
My final trip up to the top of Graham to survey the damage left from the Frye Fire before the November 15th winter closure. I met up with Preston and together we headed up the mountain as we have done so many times before. Plan was to survey as many sites as we could and also get in a hike at the end of the Swift Trail. We drove the entire road to it's end and this is what we saw & know .....

We first stopped on the way up for a quick trek up "secret canyon" for some fall colors, looked good and is only gonna get better. A return trip up will be made soon.
Second stop up was made at Ladybug Saddle to show Preston where & how I dislocated my shoulder last week, I was in need of some sympathy.
Then around to the backside/top and into the burn -

Snow Flat - Road down to the CG hit with med intensity burn, campground unaffected and beautiful.
Treasure Park CG - Road down med burn, meadow and CG mostly unaffected and beautiful, the "back" CG hit hard and now gated with "forest closed" sign.
Cunningham CG - Intact, but high burn all around CG. The trail-head for Grant Creek & Moonshine has "closed forest" sign. We could see golden aspens down in Moonshine and a later overlook view showed that lower Grant Creek from Ft Grant TH was unaffected, the upper trail has burned. At Cunningham we talked with a high up Forest Service employee who gave up permission to hike a bit into Ash Creek for a look a little further up the road.
Soldier Creek CG - One of my favorites and I was very happy to see an intact CG with minimal burn around it. The Grant Goudy Ridge (and Ice Caves) TH is open with the standard "caution burn area" sign.
Deadman-Highline Trail - The feel good story of the day! We drove down Bible Camp road to see if the trail-head sign that Preston made and posted back in 2010 made it through the fire. We hiked a bit up the trail through a hard hit area to find burn all-around the perfectly intact sign! It damn near brought a manly tear to my eye to see Preston's joy that it made it through -
[ photo ]
Columbine Corrals CG - From the happiest part of the day to the saddest. We parked at Columbine visitor center and hiked in across the road to the corrals. This whole area is closed including Webb Peak & Ash Creek due to high intensity burn. As stated earlier we had permission to hike a bit in. We took the trail just to where the switchbacks start down and that's about as far as you can go. Of all my trips up since the re-opening, this one punched me in the chest the hardest. I just could not believe I was looking down Ash Creek Canyon ..... black sticks as far as I could see down and on both sides of the canyon. We were told by Forest Service earlier at Cunningham that a decision was made to close and not work on Ash Creek & Frye Mesa Trail (where the fire started) for at least the next 3 years. Webb Peak is also black sticks, but was told that a loop may be re-opened next year.
Riggs Flat Lake - After Ash Creek we continued down the road through much more burn until finally reaching Riggs where the west end of the fire came to an end. We drove down to the lake that does have some minimal burn down, then through the campgrounds & ended with a nice hike around the lake on the Lakeshore Trail. Riggs Lake area for the most part was unaffected by the fire. Merrill Peak was hit on top and I'm sure the backside was too. There is a "burn" sign posted for the Jesus Babcock Trail behind the campground.
CP Flat - Finally on to the end of the road to hike CP Flat. A very needed break from fire damage with an autumn walk through Letty's Grove. I knew we were late for the golden aspen leaves up high, but just as beautiful hiking on the golden leaf road!
Blair Canyon - On the drive back out we stopped at Chesley Flat to see how Blair Canyon fared and as expected ..... not well. High burn and I'm sure Chesley Flat to Webb Peak looks the same.
Quick last stop at the Shake Trail to show Preston the red slurry covered trees at the start of the trail, this entire trail survived and is one of the very few left unaffected.

Our trip ended on the straightaway where Preston dropped me off at my truck, we said our good-bye's & I drove home still processing what I saw on top.

I have now seen the entire top of Graham and have a good understanding to the condition of the majority of the forest & trails. As stated in other logs - I am still shook, bitter & angry over this fire. The damage is much worse then I ever expected. There is still a lot of green up there and I have found a few places that still holds some un-burned beauty that will keep me looking for more. I have spent my entire life going up that mountain and this will take many years to come to peace with ..... I just hope someday I will get there.
I understand that most don't want to read about others personal hardships as I honestly don't like reading them myself. What has happened has happened and I cannot change it only move on - This will be my last log about the Frye Fire of 2017!

To close I just want to thank Preston for taking me up the mountain to view the destruction with me. Seeing it with a good friend made it more bearable. There will be many more great trips up & around Ole' Graham my friend!!!
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
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Oct 22 2017
PrestonSands
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 Guides 168
 Routes 149
 Photos 5,534
 Triplogs 1,317

42 male
 Joined Apr 12 2004
 Oro Valley, AZ
Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 22 2017
PrestonSands
Hiking5.00 Miles 500 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles
500 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Met up with Chad bright and early after another all-nighter working at the telescope on Mount Graham, and we started up the Swift Trail. The focus of the day was to tour the Pinalenos and see first hand the effects of the Frye Fire of June 2017. Our first stop of the day was at a small canyon that I had passed so many times without ever stopping to explore it. This little hidden gem was loaded with changing maples and flowing water.

As we passed the top end of the Shake Trail, we entered into the main burn area of the Frye Fire. Pitchfork Canyon looked like it had been skewered by the Devil’s flaming pitchfork. A mountain side of black sticks where a lush stand of mature firs had once provided dense shade. The Arrow Tree still stood.

Stop 2 was at Snow Flat. Most of this area had fared well, with the exception being the back road to Treasure Park (Treasure Park via Snow Flat hike is charcoal city). Hospital Flat had some damage but is still beautiful, I think.

Stop 3 was Grant Hill Trailhead. Grant Hill was almost entirely consumed in a crown fire. Hopefully aspens will thrive here in the coming decades, but it looks pretty bad right now, and the trail loops on it are closed for the foreseeable future. We talked with the Squirrel Girl here, and heard the latest Red Squirrel census, which was pretty grim (35 found during the post-fire count, I heard).

The Grant Creek area didn’t look too bad, with only moderate fire damage, as we approached Stop 4: Cunningham Campground, next to the western trailhead of the Cunningham Loop. We talked with some
Forest Service employees briefly, and checked out the the Grant Creek Trailhead before continuing on. The Moonshine Creek area fared well, with fall aspens and ferns adding some color.

The Fort Grant overlook revealed Grant Creek Canyon to have a mosaic burn pattern, with plenty of green forest left intact.

Approaching Columbine through the singed spruce-fir, we turned down Bible Camp Road toward the Deadman-Highline Trailhead. Bible Camp Road had seen mosaic burn, and while there was heavy damage in places, there were some patches of surviving spruce-fir. I knew that much of Deadman had been thoroughly torched, but I had hope that my trail sign might have survived. As we rounded the first corner of Deadman, there was the trail sign I had made in 2010, perfectly undamaged among burned logs. I couldn’t believe it, and it was one of the few sights that day that made me smile. I unbolted my soot-covered creation to bring it home, as Deadman-Highline, my favorite Pinaleno trail, will probably not ever reopen.

The next stop was one Chad and I were both apprehensive over: Columbine Corral/Ash Creek Trailhead. We had heard that Ash Creek and Webb Peak were severely burned and a sea of black sticks. Sadly, that was true. The jewel of the Pinalenos was completely devoid of green, save for some small aspen and raspberry sprouts in places. Heartbreaking. On to the next spot...

Soldier Creek Campground looked great, just like old times.

As we drove toward Chesley Flat across the black skeleton slopes of Webb Peak, we wondered if any of the top was untouched by this mega-fire. Fire damage beyond Chesley Flat was less severe, and finally ceased at the turnoff for Riggs Lake. There is some ground fire evidence on the east side of Riggs, but very minor. We walked around the lake on the Lakeshore Trail, finally able to see a healthy, familiar favorite.

We continued down the last mile plus of the Swift Trail through the unburned forests of old, to the Clark Peak Trailhead, where we started the CP Flat Loop hike. The west end of the Pinalenos was deserted and we enjoyed a great hike through the aspens and mixed conifer woodland.
The rugged cliffs of Grandview Peak above Hell’s Hole looked amazing with a small strip of golden aspens clinging precariously.

Making our way home, I pulled over at Chesley Flat to check out the upper end of the Blair Canyon Trail and the old “spooky woods” area. This area was on the edge of the Webb Peak inferno and sustained heavy but not total damage. Still some survivor trees, including the tumor tree, and the ancient Blair Canyon Trail sign.

We continued back down the mountain, discussing our findings and thoughts on the matter, and made one final stop at the upper Shake Trailhead to see trees caked in red retardant from the fire.

Back on the straightaway at the base of the Pinalenos, Chad headed for home, and I grabbed a sandwich at Mount Graham Market for dinner on the road to home.

A few observations, which are totally my opinion...
Most of the burn area, which includes the majority of the top of the Pinalenos, appeared to me to have about 50% tree mortality. Of that 50%, a large portion of these trees were covered in dead needles with no sign of green (heat scorched trees, rather than burn, maybe?). The most severe burn areas appeared to be Pitchfork Canyon, Grant Hill, Ash Creek, and Webb Peak. The least severe/most green areas appeared to be Snow Flat, the area north of Hospital Flat, and Grant Creek watershed. The top of Graham Ridge between Shannon Campground and the summit of Mount Graham was severely burned, with almost total tree mortality. Severe erosion scarred most of the drainages and creeks on top. I won’t discuss my personal feelings here, other than to say the burn was worse than I had feared. I still love the Pinalenos, and always will, but they sure do look rough right now. I might post a photo set.

Chad, thanks for another great adventure! Much better to see sights like this with a like-minded friend.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
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"I'm going for a coffee, but you never know when a hike might break out." -Jim Gaffigan
Oct 15 2017
SkyIslander18
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 Guides 3
 Photos 4,732
 Triplogs 1,678

49 male
 Joined Sep 29 2004
 Small Town USA
Snow FlatTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 15 2017
SkyIslander18
Hiking6.50 Miles 1,050 AEG
Hiking6.50 Miles
1,050 ft AEG
 no routes
This will be my 2nd to last trip up Graham to survey the Frye Fire damage.
Plan was to check out the Snow Flat area and spend some time down in the campground.

Snow Flat Rd 90% down to the campground Med severity burn. Mostly brown needles with a few black trees.
Snow Flat Campground 98% untouched ..... I couldn't believe it ..... it looked great!
Snow Flat Trail also looked great ..... some flooding and the fire did come down both sides of the canyon right up to the creek in some spots. Mostly brown needles, a few black trees up high.

I then spent a few hours back at the campground. I packed in a grill and cooked pork chops for lunch, practiced a few outdoor skills, wrote a little & just relaxed. I watched 3 deer drink from the pond and listened to turkey gobbles up in the hills (never spotted them).

Treasure Park from Snow Flat - There is now a permanent gate put up with a "forest closed" sign. I hiked just a bit up to the top of the hill to get a better understanding why. 100% black sticks as far as I could see and I'm sure all the way to Treasure Park. The worst hit area I have now seen on top.
After leaving Snow Flat I next hit up the Shake Trail.
There is a fire damage caution sign at the trail head for some reason?
Other than a bit of red slurry on trees the first 100 yards ..... this trail was untouched by the fire. I hiked it just to the "big meadow" a mile down and this area looked great, No Damage!
Back at the TH I crossed the Swift Trail and a bit up Twilight Peak.
Destroyed ..... 50% brown needles/50% black trees ..... I could barely make out the trail.

Was very happy to see Snow Flat & the Shake Trail as I've always seen them.
The back trail to Treasure & Twilight are sad to lose.
This is still very hard for me to deal with, I will actually be glad this year for the Nov 15th winter closure. 1 more trip up and I will be done with the top of the mountain until next April 15th after the winter closure is over.
It's like a big car wreck up there ..... I don't want to look, but I have too.

Wildlife - Another unbelievable day for deer, I counted 22 along the way. Many Abert's, heard gobblers, lots of butterflies & saw deer/turkey/coati/bear tracks at Snow Flat. Several javalina crossing the road lower down and a baby rattlesnake.
:|
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Snow Flat Reservoir 76-100% full 76-100% full
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Jan 04 2017
SkyIslander18
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 Guides 3
 Photos 4,732
 Triplogs 1,678

49 male
 Joined Sep 29 2004
 Small Town USA
Snow FlatTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Snowshoeing avatar Jan 04 2017
SkyIslander18
Snowshoeing4.75 Miles 780 AEG
Snowshoeing4.75 Miles
780 ft AEG
 no routes
Partners none no partners
Headed up Graham for a snowshoe.
Didn't encounter continuous snow until the 8000 foot mark.
I had four options and choose down Snow Flat road to the closed campground.
Beautiful snow covered road down to the very small frozen lake.
Left the snowshoes at the lake and out-n-backed the Snow Flat trail in boots.
Then back up Snow Flat road to the Swift Trail.
I then hit up Ladybug Peak on the drive back down, 50/50 mix of snow on the trail.

Cool beginning before the hike when I met 3 young UofA students on top radio collar tracking a gray fox.
Talked to them a bit about their research and watched as they circled around the antenna listening for the ping.
No ping and we parted ways with them heading to a new location and myself heading down to Snow Flat.
I had no idea gray foxes lived in such high altitude!

I enjoyed my day.
:D

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Snow Flat Reservoir 76-100% full 76-100% full
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