Camping at the Black River

September 02, 2021  •  1 Comment

Hello Readers!  It has been a little while since I've posted a blog and so thought I would add some new content and a new adventure story.  Thank you for being patient.

Just got back from a 3-day camping and hiking trip up to my favorite place in Arizona... the White Mountains.  My Brother and I decided to head up to a favorite primitive campsite near the confluence of the east fork and the west fork of the Black River.  This is up near Alpine and Hannagan Meadow in eastern Arizona near the New Mexico border.  Despite it being a repeat trip and a repeat blog entry, it was an absolute new experience.  Arizona has had a record monsoon season and tons of rain had fallen in the month of August.  We knew it would be nice and lush up here at 8,000+ feet in elevation, but nothing prepared us for what we saw.  For a nature lover, it was pure eye candy!

As soon as I got out of Phoenix on this 5-hour drive, the mountains greened up and I ran into rain.  You could just tell it was going to be something special.  I met my Brother in Pinetop and we took the road to Big Lake and then beyond.  Shortly after passing the turnoff to Big Lake, we hung a right and got on a dirt road that we'd never been on before... unimpressively named FR-24E.  After driving for 6 or 7 miles, we came upon a glorious vista of forest, meadows, slopes and wildflowers as far as the eye could see.  Here's a great picture, but I should have taken a panoramic shot.

Beautiful VistaBeautiful Vista

Next we arrived at our campsite.  There are several primitive campsites right near the dirt road, but nobody was around.  The spot we wanted was a half mile down a rutted, rugged, muddy "road" if it could be called that.  The last two tenths of a mile required low range 4-wheel drive and a locked rear differential just to be safe, inching along and over moderately-sized boulders so as not to bash a vital part of the engine or frame, or crunch a body panel!  Thankfully, we arrived without incident and got our site set up.  Once we got settled, we looked around and here's what we saw...

Campsite in the eveningCampsite in the evening Sunset at the campsiteSunset at the campsite

Throughout the course of the three days, I hiked each morning and evening.  This spot was amazing...  it was so green from the recent rains.  There were wildflowers everywhere.  The river was swollen and moving at a pace that I had never seen before.  On previous trips up here, we would plop our chairs in the river...  NO WAY would we dare do that this time!  It would result in getting swept down the river and probably certain death.

There was also a very special place called Horse Creek that we hiked to.  On previous trips up here, Horse Creek was bone dry.  This time it was running strong.  I found an idyllic spot to take a picture of Horse Creek... truly calendar-worthy.  There were wildflowers of every color and the greenest green I had ever seen.  So amazing that this is in Arizona, which most people think of as a desert.

Horse CreekHorse Creek Horse CreekHorse Creek
North a little ways from the above spot, the forest opened up into a meadow, where I saw a doe and a fawn getting drink of water out of the creek.  My Brother saw a red fox.  Here's a photo of the meadow...

Meadow near Horse CreekMeadow near Horse Creek

All the hiking and stunning scenery of course made us hungry.  We ate some wonderful meals including chilidogs, steaks, smoked salmon pasta salad, bacon and eggs, bratwursts, asparagus, veggies, and cheeseburgers.  All the food tastes so much better when you enjoy it out in the wilderness cooked over a fire or a propane grill.

All I can say is...  WOW!  What a great trip and I can't wait to go back.  If I do, I will definitely share it with you, my loyal readers.  Thanks for being a fan and for reading about my latest adventure.  Get outside!


Comments

Zdenek(non-registered)
Hey Scott,
I am jealous what ypu have seen and enjoyed! It is hard to believe those pictures were taken in AZ - I would count myself
to those who says AZ = desert.
You are right when you say that food tastes much better when you eat it out - last time I verified this was ~ a month ago when I took my children out for one day trip. We cooked 'soup' and I could not believe our two children ate it almost all, what was meant to be for four people. :-)
I hope one day I will be able to get to White Mountains... I will now remember it. Hopefully 5 hours drive will be accomodable ;-)
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