May Ranch Retreat – White Mountain Hike

Saturday morning dawned brightly, and very early.  We were on the road by 6am to head up to the White Mountains to explore a new trail.  Since we grabbed breakfast at the corner convenience store in St. Johns before hitting the road, by the time we reached the mountains we were ready for a stop at the rest area with the pretty view.  We were shocked by frigid gusts when we tumbled out of the van (driving Minty, obviously, as we couldn’t possibly trust Jimminy on the road).  So unaccustomed are we to the temperatures at that elevation, only one of us had a jacket along!  I shiveringly took some shivery pics of shivering kids in front of the lovely morning vista before we raced back into the warmth and shelter of the van to continue our drive up the mountain.  Along the way, I spotted a cow elk with her calf grazing in the field out the side window, and Paul turned us around so we could see if she would stand still for a picture.  She did not, but I managed to catch a few glimpses as the two of them trotted off into the trees on the other side of the road.

We reached our destination and were pleased to be the only vehicle parked by the Indian Spring trailhead.  One of the first things we deduced upon disembarking was that in the woods, there are mosquitoes.  We have become so completely spoiled by desert life that this was unexpected, and we were unprepared, having never even considered picking up bug spray.  There was much spastic flailing as we trudged up the trail, until we reached higher heights and they thinned out a bit.

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May 2013 Ranch II

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Walking through the forest was a glorious experience in every other way — the mixture of scents of pungent pine and old aspen leaves upon the forest floor; the rushing roar of wind through the treetops; the echo of our voices through the ranks of timber columns; the blessed refreshment of the cool temperatures after the warmth of the valley; the sunshine streaming dramatically through openings in the leaves; the blinding nuclear green of fresh new leaves and ferns shooting up anew.  So much beauty!!

May 2013 Ranch III

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When we finally reached the last stretch of the trail leading to the Big Lake Lookout, I found that I had come to the end of my endurance and could not climb another steep 200 or more feet and then up the steps of the lookout tower, so I sent the camera with Paul and the girls (last 7 pics below).  They caught a pic of me on their way back down, which delights me to no end because it proves that, while not making it quite to the tip top, I still managed to climb very high on that mountain, and I feel it was a grand achievement for a sedentary lump such as myself.

May 2013 Ranch IV

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