Red Mountain, in the Blue Hills

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October 13, 2020, Dewey, AZ-

There are two Red Mountains, within a day’s driving distance of Prescott. One of these lies just south of this little ranching and farming community, southeast of Prescott. The Blue Hills, in which this Red Mountain may be found, are a rugged subrange of foothills to the larger Bradshaw Mountain chain, which stretches from Prescott’s southern edge to Black Canyon City and Crown King, at the southern tip of Yavapai County.

I’ve hiked a fair amount in the Bradshaws, over the past nine years. The hike today was my first visit to the Blue Hills region. I got there a little past 11:30, finding only two other visitors in the parking area. They were on their way out, so I had the trail to myself. Off it was, to Red Mountain of the Blue Hills.

The trail was introduced recently by the estimable Phoenix hiking trails writer, Mare Czinar. I found the trail exactly as she described it-beginning on a stony Forest Service road, then entering a forest of Gambel’s Oak and Alligator Juniper. After about 1.5 miles, the trail loses the forest, entering into a sparsely-vegetated area of scattered lone juniper trees and prickly pear cacti.

Switchbacks and mildly steep inclines take up the final mile or so, landing one very close to the summit of Red Mountain, with a Forest Service gate, that begins a trail to Lynx Lake, some five miles westward. I will check out Prospectors Trail, from the Salida Gulch area, later this Fall. For now, here are some of the views I encountered.

This message has wider implications for all of us.

Blue Hills Trail System joint-use guide
Red Mountain, from the Trailhead
Sandstone Outcropping, near Trailhead
Sandstone and Juniper mix
The trail passes alongside Green Gulch, for about .9 mile. Green Gulch, Red Mountain, Blue Hills-wonder where indigo and violet come in.
Year ago, there were miners panning for gold, in Green Gulch and in Salida Gulch, further southwest. This foundation is what’s left of one such mining claim.
Smidgens of Fall colours could be glimpsed, here and there.
This gate took m eout of BLM land and onto Prescott National Forest.
This is close to the end of the thick forest and start of high desert scrub.
The climb out of Green Gulch, and up onto the ridges of Red Mountain, begins here.
This large sandstone outcropping lies slightly to the east of the final ridge of Red Mountain.
Here is the reddish sandstone that gives the peak its name.
Once through this gate, one goes down into Salida Gulch, and on to Lynx Lake and Highlands Nature Center- five miles, one way.
This is one of several heart-shaped rocks, which always affirm my journey.

Starting at Home

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January 27, 2019- 

One of  my mother’s favourite sayings, “Charity begins at home”, was made a basis for many of my actions, as a child and as a teen.  Nothing was made, or done, that wasn’t shared with family, on some level.

So it is, also, with conservation- as the late John McCain was also fond of saying.  A few weeks ago, during the height of the ill-fated shutdown, I went up to Sunset Crater National Monument, to see if I might help with a clean-up.  It turned out not to be necessary, though there was a mess, on Federal land, some twenty miles west.  Others took care of that clean-up.

With the shutdown over, however temporarily, I decided to take some time, after a study session this afternoon, and check a popular local trail, Lynx Lake, for residual clean-up that might be needed.  I was thanked by a few other hikers, especially accepting three pooper bags in my larger trash bag.  It was rather cute, that a lone duck followed me in the water, as I walked along the north shore, collecting a few plastic bottles.  It was almost as if it knew that the toxic items were being removed.  Long story short, I put a half-filled trash bag in the dumpster of the  south beach.

It was a minor effort, in the scheme of millions of acres of Federal land needing attention, after the lengthy hiatus.  I can only hope that there were thousands of others stepping up and doing their part, with there being way too much to be done, as it is, by those returning to work.  I think of the first National Historic Site I ever visited:  Saugus Ironworks, of the most extensive I’ve ever seen:  Grand Canyon and of the park I visited most recently for the first time:  Valley Forge.  Then, there is Arlington National Cemetery; today would have been the 95th birthday of my father-in-law, who is interred there, along with his wife.

I can only hope there are no more shutdowns of government, but if there are, I know to be ready to help, as a citizen.

Back to The (Changeable) Future

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August 19, 2018, Prescott-

“You’ve lost your shimmer!”- So I was told, this morning.

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Before sitting down for the last four posts of “The 2018 Road”, let me indulge with some reflections on yesterday.  August 18 has been an auspicious day, since 1984, when my then best friend passed on, suddenly, in the midst of getting his truck unstuck-of all things.

I joined a newly welcomed friend, on a hike around Lynx Lake.  We walked at a leisurely pace, from the north trailhead to the south side of the lake.  As it was rather sunny when we got to the small south side beach, I suggested that we continue, counterclockwise, along the more rocky eastern shore.

In all my circumference hikes along the lake, the last being in 2016, the trail has been dry as a bone.  It was not so, today, with three water crossings along the east side-hardly surprising in a monsoon that has been second to none, as Lynx Creek and Salida Creek flow into the lake, from the east and the dam’s spillway has a few inches of water flowing.

So, we each had a new experience, she with the lake itself and I with the different dynamics of the trail, in wet conditions. Then, there was a spot where the trail was washed out and I had to follow a bushwhacked area, much to the chagrin of the five people who were “depending on (my) knowledge of the trail.”  All made it back to the north side safely, though.

In the course of this hike, a long conversation ensued, about who I was and where I was headed in life, as well as the same, to a lesser extent, with respect to my hiking partner.  Most of this is confidential, but I will share a couple of insights she had about me, which explains the remark at the head of this post.

The things I can share are: 1.  I would do well to get out more, socially.  2.  I need to be open to possible sudden, drastic, very specific life changes.  These remarks, she said just by looking at me.  The second has occurred to me recently, given the precarious state of my MIL’s health, and despite her (MIL’s) occasional insistence that she will make it to the age of 100, (she is 92), and to my son and his fiance talking of marriage, within the next ten months (No further specifics yet, so please don’t ask).  As for the former, I am getting out more, socially.   Intuition is a marvelous thing, though, as I’ve found out, some of it puts one at risk of, “Well, duh!”, in response.  No one really likes to be  second-guessed.