August with Emma – At the Ranch (2)

Bright and beautiful was the dawn on Saturday morn, day two of showing Emily the ranch. We discussed many options for our sojourn, and decided the coolest and prettiest option was to head up to the White Mountains and see the trees and lakes. Our first stop, outside of Springerville, was one I have awaited all year long. There is a particular wildflower that grows plentifully along the roads up north, my absolute favorite, and August is peak season! It is the Helianthus Annus, a tall, spindly wild sunflower with a smaller head than the variety grown in places like Kansas and North Dakota for their edible seeds and oil, but nonetheless, an extremely pretty and happy flower. It grows profusely in the Becker Wildlife Area, along the River Walk that moseys along beside the Little Colorado River. The river was higher than normal after plentiful rains, and was nearly overflowing the path in places. It was only after we had walked along for a ways, gradually getting squashed between the tall marshy growth on one side and the river on the other that we realized – this wasn’t really the walking path. Oops! Had to turn around and make our way back to where the real trail had gone in the other direction. 🙂 Anyway, although the sun was surprisingly hot that early in the morning, I managed to get my fill of foliage photos before we headed up to our next stop, further up and further in.

We took a little breather up at Poll Knoll, where Paul and Megan took a quick hike up the trail while the rest of us dawdled in the picnic area by van. When the hikers got back, we finished our mountain trek with a visit to Sunrise Lake. We arrived to find it completely deserted, and furthermore, at a point when the wind was absolutely still. The lake surface was like glass, and I was delighted to grab some shots of the lovely cloud reflections. There was a blue heron sitting on the shore, and Paul was able to get close enough to capture it as it flew across the lake. The real reason we went to that particular location (rather than any of the other beautiful trails up there) was that Geneva had been gasping to show the place to Emma because of the Middle-Earthiness of the lakeside forest, so into the woods we went. I couldn’t go far because it was a steep climb upwards and inwards, but I agreed with her assessment from what I could see near the edges.

Finally we returned home to the ranch and had a little late-afternoon shooting fun. We’d been debating whether to go home early or not, and decided that since the cabin was so hot at night, we might as well drive home and sleep in our comfy, air conditioned house. I think we managed to fill the time we had very well with drives and hikes that showed Emma why we love our ranch home-away-from-home. 🙂 Now my prayer is that one of these days I can get her whole family up there for a visit!



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