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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

West Fork of the Black River Trail

On Monday, birds awoke at 4:17am and an hour later Chipmunks began their chatter. A resident family of chipmunks lived in the trees around my site and were busy chasing each other around in the early morning.

I was up by 7am, driving down to the Bait and Tackle shop to photograph the fishermen, only to realize that I left my camera in the tent. While there I bought a cup of coffee for $1. It did not taste fresh. There were a lot of fishermen already on the lake getting ready for a day’s angling. A 4-man motorboat rents for $95 a day. The fishing, I am told by my hike mates, isn’t even that good.

Monday’s hike was supposed to be the East Baldy trail, but the FR to the trailhead is still closed due to snow on the road. Steve chose instead a shorter hike, the West Fork trail, that was a lovely short hike down to the Black River that ends where the Thompson Trail starts. The views reminded me of hikes along the Mogollon Rim. It was mostly downhill on the 3-mile course, and when the rushing water was within ear sight the dogs picked up the pace.

What a gorgeous little area it was to take a break. I took my boots off and put on my Keens and forded the creek. I was surprised at how easy I made it across: It was not very deep, not too cold and the rocks weren’t too slick. If the dogs followed me I agreed to hike the other side of the creek with Brenda and Gordon along the Thompson Trail, the same hike everyone else did Saturday when I was still looking for Kevin. It, too was a lovely hike along the creek and the dogs had a blast. I never put my boots back on and hiked in my sandals, taking a break from the wet socks and heavy boots. Brenda did that trail on her mountain bike, having carried her bike over many felled trees getting down to the river. She followed us along the higher ridge where mountain bikers were allowed.

I saw two garter snakes drop into the swift river but there was no other wildlife closeby. That was fine with us. The Thompson Trail is marked as “Hikers and Mountain bikers only” but there clearly was horseshit on the trail. It was a lovely hike along the creek, with lush green grass, aspens and pines all around us. Too bad Kevin couldn’t enjoy it, he would also love the cool forests.

Susan and Pete picked us three up with our vehicles, and I was thankful that I got to hike the trail and not have to do it alone on Wednesday when everyone else is packing up and leaving.

The afternoon today was much like yesterday: the dogs napped in the van—Sara even snored—and I finished my Arizona Journey book, now enticed to visit Greer to see what all the fuss is about that mountain village in the Whites. Brenda and Gordon told me there were more great trails there and that I should try the South Fork trail, which starts at the Little Colorado Trail.

Again there was a campfire at Site #141, again it was a lively discussion about gas hikes, vegetables, homes for sale in the area, potential hikes to do. This time more people joined the conversation, as Bill sat back enjoying his Scotch buzz. The consensus now among us eleven is that we are all worried about the rising costs of energy, and that that could directly impact where we plan future get-togethers. Staying closer to home is one of the options, but we have all hiked the closer trails.

He was the first to leave for the night at 8:40pm and soon the rest of us followed. Tomorrow’s hike is Escudilla Peak, Arizona’s third-highest peak at over 11400’.

All day NPR news talked about the severe rains and floods in theMidwest.29 counties in Indiana have been declared an emergency zone, 29 more counties in Wisconsin AND a tornado struck down south of Chicago. And I have no means of calling the family to make sure everything is OK.

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