Arizona Trail is an 800 mile hiking, biking and horseback riding trail in Arizona that extends from Mexico to Utah. I wasn’t ready to embark upon a single journey of that length, so I concentrated my efforts on the middle section, which the ATA calls Passages 19-22, which are northeast of Phoenix. Passage 19: Superstition Wilderness
I visited the south portion of the passage
last spring. This time I visited the north portion and was surprised to see how different they are from each other.
It is true that much of Arizona is desert, but wherever there is water, you can count on seeing dark green vegetation, even including trees. This would make a nice camping spot.
Large trees are a genuine rarity around here. But sitting next to this raging stream, it’s easy to see how they can survive.
In many portions of the Arizona Trail, the “trail” is really a road, as it is here.
White trees. But they’re not birch trees; they’re sycamores. While they seem to have no bark, they actually have a thick bark, but little pieces flake off. These trees are rather young. Wait ’til you see the stately older trees in the upcoming passages.
A strange composite rock. A shovel fully of rock and gravel from here would look the same. Buy how did this material become glued together to form a rock?
It’s easy to see this as a high desert landscape, but I also see a difficult road for me to descend.
A burned out area. Not beautiful, but ghostly and still. You can’t spend much time outdoors without running into burned out areas. Fire is part of nature. The results of a single fire will be visible for many years and even decades.
The afternoon sun brings out some of the color that was supressed when the clouds were in command.
Descending into cactus country
A nice view of Lake Roosevelt and the surrounding country Passage 20: Four Peaks Wilderness
I liked this passage so much that I declared it to be my favorite place in Arizona outside the Grand Canyon.
A promising day begins at my campsite on Lake Roosevelt
The eastern portion of Roosevelt Lake
Can you figure out why this area is called the Four Peaks Wilderness?
My first gila monster sighting. This one was about 14 inches long. In case you don’t know, they can deliver a nasty, venomous bite, about which a 19th century doctor had this to say, “I have never been called to attend a case of Gila monster bite, and I don’t want to be. I think a man who is fool enough to get bitten by a Gila monster ought to die. The creature is so sluggish and slow of movement that the victim of its bite is compelled to help largely in order to get bitten.” While I wouldn’t say this one was speedy, I wouldn’t call it slow either.
This cactus in bloom adds bright color to a subdued color environment
Bushes dot the landscape like spots on a leopard.
This section of the Salt River is called Apache Lake. And the two-lane gravel road next to it is called the Apache Trail. Both are many miles longer than you see here.
I like the white grass here. It contrasts nicely with the green cacti, the red rock and the blue sky.
Passage 21: Pine Mountain and
Passage 22: Saddle Mountain
What stood out most about these passages, for me, was the sycamore trees.
Soft morning light highlights the trees along Sycamore Creek
Sycamore Creek. For Arizona, that’s a lot of water.
Medium size sycamore trees
A large sycamore tree
It’s too bad you can’t see this for your own eyes. Right here in this small space, the rocks under your feet burst forth in an array of color.
This closeup gives you a better view. I wish I knew what was going on here.
Now, those are some big sycamore trees.
You can find my routes here for passages
19, 20, 21 and 22.
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