The map said 15.8, but my foot said 19. I don’t think my foot was lying…
Left Flagstaff with Devon at 6AM, and drove out to the trailhead off Highway 87 which is about a mile west of the Blue Ridge Ranger Station. Got on the trail at 8AM. Both wearing gloves, and hats, and fleeces. The day was incredibly windy, with storms predicted for early in the evening and we packed accordingly, which meant big packs for a day hike but I think we both wanted to be prepared for the possibility of an overnight, or some other sort of emergency.
The day had quite a bit of up and down, and we were forever taking off the layers then putting them back on. Heading up from the bottom of East Clear Creek we stopped for some foot repair, and while stopped saw a cow elk with her calf. They could smell but not see us, and we got to watch them through the trees for a good 5 minutes or so.
There was also a lot of animal prints and scat on the trail, and Devon and I got to play the ‘name that animal’ game throughout the day. We guessed fox, coyote, bobcat, elk, deer, and mountain lion during the day. Also fun to hike with someone that has studied geology. I could point out a certain rock, and say something eloquent like “oooh, pretty,” and Devon could tell me what it actually was.
There was one section of the trail that was marked badly enough that we missed a turn and had to back track ~ ¼ mile. Not sure why that is always so hard, the going back…
The last 2 miles were long, and lovely. I’d really like to see this area during monsoon season when the ferns are green and the water is flowing. Dad met us, and after looking at our faces didn’t want to say how much of a hike we had left. But we did make it, eventually. Nice cabin of historic significance at the end.
After the 18 dirt road miles back to my truck (thanks, Dad!), Devon and I headed to Mormon Lake Lodge for beer and cheesy potatoes (which may or may not be the best meal I have had in my entire life). The drive back in to Flagstaff after dinner was interesting, because the storm finally hit and it hit hard. Tons of lightning, rain, sleet, snow, and more rain.