Monday, July 15, 2013

Back In Action: Overnight on the Mogollon Rim

After a hectic couple of months, I've finally made it back to the woods. I was invited by friends to help scout a possible location for an Elk hunt at the end of the year. The spot they were looking at was none other than The Highline Trail below the Mogollon Rim. We made a weekend out of it, camping on top of the rim near Woods Canyon Lake. The entire area was overrun by people, and it took over an hour to find a spot. We didn't set-up camp until 1am, and since we were so excited with anticipation for Saturday's scout, we decided to build a fire despite the late hour, and stayed up talking politics and quantum mechanics. By the time I crawled into my tent it was 3:30am. 

We awoke at 5:30am to a bugling elk somewhere near our camp, and after a quick breakfast and a cup of coffee, we drove down to the Geronimo trail-head for our scout. This area of The Highline Trail is also part of The Arizona Trail, making it the most heavily marked trail I've ever been on. Between the white-diamond blazes of The Highline, the frequent Arizona Trail signposts, and the fact that the Mogollon Rim is always visible to the north, it would be extremely difficult for anyone to get lost here.

Arizona Trail
Arizona Trail signpost

The trail was a lot of up and down, but other than the heat, it was pretty easy going. Unlike further south, the Arizona rim country has tons of trees, and of an impressive variety. We saw big ponderosa pine, alligator juniper, and the alien-like manzanita, which I found to be really cool looking with the twisting red and white bark.

Manzanita
Manzanita

Since the goal of this hike was to scout terrain for a hunt, there was a lot of map reading, and looking through binoculars. I was definitely interested in the insights my friends were sharing about the area, and about elk behavior. The most knowledgeable woodsmen I have ever known have been hunters, and I am always eager to soak up any information they are willing to share. In fact, it made me want to take up the bow and give hunting a go. I like the idea of finding a good hide, and just waiting and watching. As a backpacker, it seems like I'm always on the go. Especially hiking in groups, I find that people tend to hike too fast, and rarely just stop and soak in the surroundings. I think that's why hunters can be so knowledgeable, because they are watching and studying their environment, instead of just hurrying through like hikers do. 


Adam scoping out the area.

After returning to camp, the rain set in. I honestly didn't mind, especially after the hell-like weather Phoenix has been having. It rained all night, and we got to witness a spectacular lightning storm overhead. The next morning we fished Woods Canyon Lake. Other then a crayfish, I didn't catch anything. This was the second time I fished on Woods Canyon Lake, and although beautiful, its overcrowded and littered with trash. I don't think I'll be returning. 

Overall it was a fun trip. The boys have invited me to any future scouts, and even the hunt itself in November. I am really excited for next week because I'll be driving to Spokane and spending 4 days camping in Farragut State Park for my family reunion, which is always an awesome time. Well, thanks for reading.

The Highline Trail
The Highline Trail heading west.