Thursday, July 28, 2011

The other Arizona

This past weekend Dawn had an all-day class in Flagstaff, so I (Steven) took the opportunity to go hiking in the area.

The Flagstaff area is a very different from the rest of Arizona, for starters its elevation is nearly 7,000 feet; therefore the temperature is at least 20 degrees less than that of the Phoenix area. With these lower temperatures, the area is very green with lots of trees.

After dropping Dawn off for her class, I went up to the Arizona Snowbowl. The Snowbowl is the main ski resort located on US Forestry Service land. The main parking lot also serves as the parking lot for the trailhead of Mount Humphreys.  The mountain is part of the San Francisco Peaks and is an extinct volcano.  The peak is also the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet and the trail to the top traverses an alpine tundra.

The trailhead was just at just over 9,000 feet of elevation and when I started out on the hike, it was 58 degrees. The area was very green as you will see in the pictures below and some of the fauna was very beautiful.

The hike to the top was strenuous at the high altitude once I cleared the tree line. One of the things that makes this mountain so interesting is that there are a number of false peaks on the way to the top, you keep thinking you are about to the top and then you find out that you are not there yet. At the top, they have piled rocks up to form protective wind barriers because it is very windy and cold at the top.  From the top I was able to see two wildfires, including the Bolt Fire that is 100% contained but still burning south of Flagstaff.

When I got back to the trailhead in the late afternoon, it was still only 74 degrees. This is the other Arizona.

This was the highest peak I have ever climbed. Back in 1988 I had climb Baldy Peak in New Mexico that tops off at 12, 352 feet. So now that I have climbed the highest peak in Arizona, I need to start looking to some of the peaks in California, Utah, and Colorado.

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