Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Spring in the High Country

The Deer Hill Trail. I think that's O'Leary Peak just right of center. You can see what appear to be thunderstorms in the distance but they never came near.

We have entered one of my favorite times of year. The days are warm but not hot. The grass has greened. The grasshoppers buzz and jump.

Still a little bit of snow visible on the high peaks, but I've heard it's still deep in some of the shady areas on the high trails.

I went for a hike last Saturday on the Deer Hill Trail on the lower slopes of the San Francisco Peaks. The hike went through a burn scar from the Schultz Fire. It's been many years since the fire so despite being called a "scar" the area is beautiful and is being recolonized by pine trees. Since the young trees are still short, you get sweeping views of the inner core of the peaks, as well as views in other directions of the Cinder Hills, the Sunset Crater volcano, Anderson Mesa, and points beyond.

The hike was quiet. I saw a group of three hikers and a single bike-packer. Other than that I saw four pronghorn, the first I've seen in about three years or so, and one snake, which I haven't been able to identify. Nothing will make you watch your step like coming upon a snake sunning itself in the trail.

What snake?

I went with about 2.5 liters of water in my Camelbak, but as I do so often, got carried away and hiked the whole trail - over 11 miles out-and-back. I ran out of water and the last couple of miles were a little bit of a death march. But now I've done it and don't have to do it again. The trail looks like it would be great for mountain biking. It's just my type of trail: smooth and non-technical. Next time I'll bring my bicycle. If I go back to hike, I'd likely not hike the entire thing. I was limping all day Sunday.

I'll have to get in better shape if I want to hit my goal of doing another "big hike" in the Grand Canyon this fall.

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