Hutch Mountain

 

hutch lo far_IR.jpgHutch Mountain Lookout tower is one of many throughout Arizona.  It is on the National  Historic Lookout Registry.  It was built in 1936, and still serves as a manned major viewpoint for fires in the Flagstaff area.  Located off of FR3 (Lake Mary Road) at Milepost 310, not too far down a couple good dirt roads.

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The day we were there there were 9 fires in the area, all started by dry lightening, including the Tank Fire.  The Tank Fire was in the very same area as the Tinder Fire which devastated our neighborhoods just a month before.  As an eery reminder of those terrifying days, our neighboring subdivisions CCP 1&2 were issued pre-evacuation notices.  Fortunately, the fire was quickly doused and completely contained.

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From the top of the tower you could see the Chinooks flying on the horizon dumping water of the fire.

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The surrounding landscape is full of Ponderosa pine, mixed conifer, elk and deer.

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At 8535 feet elevation the days are cool, and nights brisk.  Climbing the tower offers a vantage point across northern AZ.

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Grand Canyon – South Rim

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We just got back from the Grand Canyon – South Rim hoping to get some great storm cloudy pix.  It’s difficult if not impossible to schedule a trip around a storm, as getting reservations at the Canyon can be it’s own difficult task.  But we managed to get last minute reservations in one of their old ‘rustic’ cabins.

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A storm was predicted for the days we were there… but today’s weather forecasters are often wrong.  Furthermore, it’s hard to say if upon a storm one will get awesome clouds and interesting sky, or complete whiteout and washed out gray skies.

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The afternoon we arrived brought snow almost immediately.  The next day we were socked in and you couldn’t see the Canyon over the edge…. so I was glad I got the shots I did when I did.

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The day it snowed all day, we had hoped to get to see Hermit’s Rest, a Mary Colter building 7 miles off the main Grand Canyon loop.  Unfortunately, the road was closed due to all the snow we were having.  We got about 8″ in the day we were there.

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Going to the Grand Canyon is like touring the world…. people of all nationalities wander with you taking in the magnificent sights of the ‘big ditch’…. even in the snowy winter.

While we were out driving in the snow, we passed no less than 3 tow trucks towing multiple cars that had careened off the ice.  It was like a ice rink with rental cars as bumper cars, skidding into trees and into each other, many of whom had no doubt never before seen snow.  Roads were blocked with tow trucks clearing the way, making it impassable everywhere.

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We found these elk watching the traffic go by… munching the afternoon away after a short clearing.

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Check out my pix … here…. of Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower.

 

 

 

 

Milk Ranch Road

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Just off the Forest Road 300 is an obscure road marked FR 218:  Milk Ranch Road.  Along it are magnificent overlooks of the Mogollon Rim below.  One can find an open spot in the woods or down a long rocky rough road to be rewarded by this great expanse.

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If you’re lucky you’ll be blessed with amazing skies, puffy clouds, and remarkable sunsets and sunrises.  If you’re not, just enjoy the view, a nice picnic and peaceful, relaxing visit.

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For more from this trip and Lessons from a Squirrel check out my post HERE.

Snow Birds

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We recently had a wave of 3 snow storms which all together yielded about 2′ of snow.  The birds huddled under branches to keep out of the intense snow blasting sideways with the strong winds.  You can see more of my Snow Animals on my photo blog…. here.

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The drifts piled high where the winds swept them against trees and boulders.  But it didn’t deter the big animals from trudging through.  We saw more than one limping as a result of tripping over unseen rocks and uneven terrain.

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It amazes me the treks these animals must take on a daily basis going from hither to yon incessantly.  It’s a tough life in these mountains and woods with their treacherous inclines and rough canyons.

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Lockett Meadow

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One of the easiest and most beautiful fall color outings to get to outside of the ‘big city’ is Lockett Meadow.  It’s only 20 minutes from Flagstaff and yields awesome concentrations of full color yellowing aspens.

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The characteristic white trunks and silver dollar yellow leaves make these aspen fields stand out in their stunning beauty.  It’s a great place to go for the day, for a picnic, and just soak in nature at it’s finest.

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It’s been an early fall.  I wrote about it first here.  As such the leaves are already starting to dissipate.  Compounded by our gusty winds, the leaves are definitely falling as we are getting ready for winter.  But for now we are enjoying the last hurrah of what has been a gorgeous Fall here on the mountain.

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Leaf Peeping

forestcolorPSi.JPGFall cometh early to Northern AZ.   I have told anyone that would listen, winter is coming.  It’s getting cold early and fast.  We’ve already had overnight lows below freezing.  So with it, the leaves are popping.  We have been out several times to see them, and plan on several more trips.  I think October 1 is the earliest I have ever seen this abundance of color.  Usually it’s not until at least 2nd or 3rd week of October.  My guess is by then we’ll be taking photos of snow instead of leaves.

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But we’re loving it.  The beauty is incredible.  I don’t know how I every lived in the valley without getting the 4 seasons.  I’m addicted… and love it.

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Talk about photographic fodor.  The color variations and possibilities are stunning.   We packed a lunch and had an amazing view amidst the burst of color we found ourselves in.

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Fantastic!

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The one that got away

Unfortunately, despite our many trips to the Mogollon Rim looking for animals, we just haven’t seen that many.  I don’t know where they are, but they just aren’t here.  It’s rut season here on the mountain, so the bull elk are collecting their harems.  We did just see a small herd of elk the other day.

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We saw a few little babies born this year with fading spots, and few cow elk, along with a young single spike bull.

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But the one I really wanted to get a photo of was the one on the way out and I only got a fleeting view of this big bull.

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Darn.  He was just the one that got away.  It astounds me how these big boys can walk (not to mention run) through our tangled forests with those big racks on their heads.

Maybe next time.