Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Show Low to The Mogollon Rim


Rainbow Lake, Show Low, AZ


On Memorial Day we drove about 80 miles from Alpine to Show Low, and spent the night at Lakeside Campground, a Forest Service campground right on Hwy 260. And I mean right on the highway. Some of the sites back right up to the road and nearby businesses, and 260 is quite a busy road. Since all the weekenders had gone, we had our pick of sites and were about as far off the road as you could get. Having said that, it was still rather noisy, but there was a laundromat a half mile and a Wal Mart and Home Depot just 3 miles down the road, so we spent the afternoon doing laundry and shopping.


This was another $6 (with the pass) campground, no hookups, but they have a dump and water. The Forest Service charges for the dump even if you stay there, so it cost us another $8 to dump on our way out yesterday.

We took a walk around the area, and although they say the park is on Rainbow Lake, it really isn’t. There is a parking area for fishermen behind the campground, but it appears most of the shoreline is private property with homes and cabins. We wouldn’t want to spend much time at this campground, but would stop here again for a night if passing through. It’s very green around here, with lawns of real grass, something we haven’t seen in a long time.

Rainbow Lake and some residents.



Unusual adornment on a roof.


Just after we dumped and were filling up with water, the water shut off. There was a leak somewhere in the campground, so Debbie was unable to dump her tanks. The camp host directed her to another park just a few miles away, so we went on to try and locate a dispersed campsite.

Yesterday we drove 70 miles to the Rim Lakes Recreation Area, along the Mogollon Rim off Hwy 260 about 30 miles east of Payson, AZ. There is a large parking lot at the Mogollon Rim Visitor Center across from the Rim Road, (Forest Road 300), so we pulled in there and unhooked the car. We first checked out FR 171, and did find a couple spots we could get into, but we really wanted to be closer to the rim (sorry, Boonie). When we got back Debbie had arrived, so we took the Subaru up the Rim Road to FR 9350, where we heard there were nice sites with rim views. There was hardly anyone there, and we found a lovely spot. It’s about 5 miles from the Visitor Center, 3 miles or so on a very bumpy dirt road, but can be driven by any size RV if you don’t mind a bit of jostling and dust. Some of the sites have rocky, rutted driveways to get into, but ours wasn’t too bad.


The Rim is our backyard for a week. There are plenty of hiking trails within walking distance, and it is so peaceful here. If Jim didn’t have an appointment in Phoenix next week, we would definitely stay the 14 day limit.



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Another Mountain Hike


Western Meadowlark


Yesterday the small town of Alpine, AZ (population 145 from the 2010 census) had a “Blast From the Past” car show. Since we had to go through town on our way to the trailhead, we stopped to check it out.


Quite colorful.




Jim found us the perfect vehicle for off roading.


And it was for sale.


Alpine is a cute little town, which consists mostly of vacation cabins and several RV parks. There is one gas station/convenience store, post office, an auto mechanic, a hardware store, and a small grocery/deli/you name it store.


There are also several restaurants, and the other night we had a very good pizza at the recently opened Foxfire. Nice place to eat if you’re in the area.

Now onto the hike.


About 5 miles north of Alpine is a forest service road (8056) that leads to Hulsey Lake. A few miles past the lake is the trailhead for the Escudilla National Recreation Trail. Much of this area was burned in the 2011 fire, which gave some of the trail a surreal feeling.



The last half mile or so was the worst.


But we made it about 3.5 miles to the top of Arizona’s third highest mountain, climbing from 9,500’ at the trailhead. Debbie doesn’t care for hiking as much as we do, but she persevered and hiked the entire trail, mostly due to the cool temperatures at that elevation. We all did have a little trouble breathing on the climb up.

View at the summit, 10,900’. The fire tower is closed.



This trail has a variety of scenery, from aspen groves to meadows, and climbs quite gently most of the way. This was nothing like some of the hikes Box Canyon Mark and Bobbie took us on in Ouray, CO last summer!

At around a mile and a half, the meadow gives way to great views, actually better than at the summit. So for a shorter hike, this is a good place to turn back.



We saw scratch marks on many of the trees. Bear or elk?



The only wildlife we saw were birds and butterflies.


We were tired last night, but it was a good tired, the way I always feel after a long hike. With endless miles of trails and pleasant summer temperatures, we would definitely return to this area. Well, getting down in the 30’s at night is a bit cooler than we care for, but you can’t have everything.

Addendum: Sophie is fine and back to her crazy self, and the campground is very quiet even though it’s a holiday weekend. Life is good.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hikes, Fires, Cats and Ting


Yesterday we planned to take a drive south on 191, the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway, to Hannagan Meadow and hike the loop trail there. When I got up yesterday Sophie was acting strange and did not want to eat. This is a cat that lives for her meals, so I knew something was very wrong. A few minutes later she vomited undigested dry food with some green chunks in it. I had no idea what she may have eaten, but figured she would feel better getting it out. No such luck. She was obviously not feeling well and just wanted us to leave her alone.

While trying to figure out what it was she ate, I realized it had the texture and color of the velux blanket we put up to keep the cold air from the cab out of the living room. When I inspected it I found several spots that had been chewed. Great! We decided to go on our hike and hope she was better when we got back. The nearest vet is 30 miles away in Eager, AZ, and we hoped we didn’t have to make a trip there yesterday afternoon.


She was still not herself when we got home, but she did eat a little canned food last evening. So far so good. I looked up intestinal obstruction in cats and from what I could gather if they could eat and keep it down, that was probably not the issue. She had also been outside the previous day and we wondered if she had eaten something that didn’t agree with her.

This morning she didn’t want breakfast, so I  figured we would be heading to the vet. Then she vomited again, nothing but liquid, and has acted fine since, wanting to go out and looking bright eyed. She finally ate late this morning, and seems to be back to her normal self. Needless to say, the insulating blanket will not get put up again, no matter how cold it gets at night. Why did we ever decide to keep these two?


The scenery on our hike at Hannagan Meadow was a bit disappointing, but it was a nice 5.5 mile trail through a burned pine/aspen forest. Due to the Wallow Fire, started by a couple of careless campers on May 29, 2011, about 538,000 acres of forest had burned before it was completely contained on July 8th. At one point the town of Alpine had to be evacuated, but was saved except for a few vacation homes.

Although a barren looking forest, the ground was covered with wildflowers.


And the two campers who abandoned their fire without completely putting it out, starting the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history, were sentenced to pay $3.7 million in restitution. Wonder how much of that money will actually be repaid.

Burned wood art.


Lichen rock art.


Today we received an email from Ting, our new phone carrier, about a drawing they’re having for an HTC One phone and $150 in Ting credit. We have been Ting customers now since January and have been extremely pleased with the service and cost. We purchased two refurbished smart phones (LG Marquee) from Ting, and although it is technically prepaid service, Jim chose the $0 plan, which means we are only charged for what we use. Our highest monthly bill so far has been $35. That is for both phones, text messaging, and data, which we don’t use much of. That includes the $6 per month/per phone access charge. Jim went into much more detail back in January and if interested you can read his post here.

The reason I am writing about this again is that if you have any interest in signing up, if you go through our link you will receive a $25 credit (either on the purchase of a phone or off of your next bill). And we receive a $25 credit, plus 5 entries into the drawing. No pressure here, we just think Ting is a great company, they have excellent customer service, and even though they use the Sprint network, the roaming (at no extra cost) uses Verizon’s prepaid network. We have had very good coverage even in some really remote areas of New Mexico and AZ.

This is just another option to consider if you want to get away from the high fees of Verizon. Nina at Wheelin’ It recently discussed switching to Straight Talk, and Jim was actually about to sign up with them when he accidentally came across Ting. Check it out and save $25. 

Oh, and by the way, we love our smart phones, although admittedly we are still learning to use them (me more so than Jim!).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Luna Lake Campground, Alpine, AZ



On Monday we made a very scenic 120 mile drive from Silver City, NM to Alpine, AZ in the White Mountains. Luna Lake Campground is in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, just a few miles from Alpine. So far there are only a few other people here, but that will surely change on Friday when the weekenders arrive. We found a double site with few trees so we could get good sun for the solar panels and ourselves. At 8,000’ feet, it’s been in the 30s the past two nights, low 70s during the day, so it’s nice to get some sunshine. Most of the sites are surrounded by tall pines and very shady. Only a few have limited views of the lake through the trees.

Luna Lake


We drove around the area looking for a good spot to boondock for the next week but didn’t find anything suitable that had a Verizon signal. We don’t mind not having an internet connection for a couple days, but a week is bit too long! We are happy with our sites in the campground, though, and for $6/night with the senior pass there is drinking water, vault toilets, and trash dumpsters. No dump station, though.

On the first day we drove into Alpine and found this elk in a yard right in town. Haven’t seen anything around the campground or on the nearby trails.


There’s about 12 miles of hiking and biking trails from the campground, so yesterday we decided to check out the shorter loop. Took a wrong turn, as we so often do, and our 3 mile hike turned into about 5 miles.


We have a huge backyard at our site, so we’ve taken the cats out on their leashes a couple times. They are slowly doing better, but I don’t think they will ever really “go for a walk”.

Here is Sophie giving me the evil eye for going outside without her.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Time To Move On



Privacy fence in Pinos Altos, NM, 6 miles north of Silver City.


Hard to believe our 3 weeks in Silver City are just about over. We keep finding new trails to hike and forest roads to drive on. In fact with the Gila National Forest so close, it would take a long time to exhaust all the hiking opportunities nearby.

Boonie suggested a hike to Cross Mountain the other day. A short 1.5 mile climb up to a cross with views of Pinos Altos, a former gold mining town along the Continental Divide. I think Boonie had an epiphany at the top.


Doing an internet search about the cross, I found several different versions of why it was originally built. This seems to be the most common explanation, but over the years it’s significance became religious. Believe it or not.

“Apache attacks continued to plague the area until 1874, when a deal was struck whereby, as long as a cross remained standing on an adjacent mountain, there would be no fighting. Both sides held to the deal and the cross was upgraded a total of three times, just to be on the safe side.”

This skull was posed on a dead tree trunk near the cross.


Views of Pinos Altos from the cross. We’re really happy with the excellent zoom on our Panasonic Lumix FZ200.





Yesterday we hiked along the Tadpole Ridge trail, about another 7 miles north of Pinos Altos on Hwy 15, which leads to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Most trails in the mountains climb from the start, and this was no exception. After a couple miles it leveled out and went along the ridge.

We were accompanied by Debbie, Boonie and his sweet dog, Coffee Girl.  Good company, lots of wildflowers, scenic vistas and perfect weather made for a great few hours of hiking.

Boonie, Coffee Girl and me. Sorry Debbie’s mom, no pictures of her (again).


Views from the trail.





After we dropped off Boonie and his pup, we took a 3 mile detour down a one lane forest service road to a meadow. It was rough and rocky in places but not too bad until we came to a stream crossing. We were surprised to see water, as dry as it’s been here. We got out to assess the stream, and Jim decided it would be fine to drive through. I stayed out and watched and waited, and he made it without any trouble. This off-road stuff is hard for me to get used to!


Tomorrow we are heading to new territory for us, near Alpine, Arizona, where we hope to find a quiet spot in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to hang out over the Memorial Day weekend. We’ll see how that turns out.

The cats are driving us crazy and Jim thinks we need to find them a real home where they would have more room to run and jump. We love them dearly and it would be hard to give them up, and I ‘m sure we won’t find anyone out there to take them, but I tend to agree with him, they need a bigger place.

Oh, but they can be so sweet sometimes.