Very cute video of an elk calf playing in a puddle! Enjoy!
A couple of years ago while exploring the Mogollon Rim in Arizona, Don and I followed a forgotten logging road several miles into the back country of the Apache-Sitgeaves National Forest near Pinetop. If you are wanting to get away from the summer crowds & Heat, it doesn't get much more isolated than this. I can count on one hand, the number of people we have seen in the area over the past 3 years. We love the area because of the variety of Wildlife we have seen during our camping trips - Elk, Pronghorns, & lots of Bears!
The following video is a pan of the area where we set up our camp.
This is just a short video I shot of some Elk we spotted just after dawn on the Rim! A small heard of 7 cows. The video is a little shaky because I was sitting in the Blue Goose at the time, with the window down, trying to film the elk with one hand while hanging onto Breezy with the other. She got so excited when she saw them and was very determined to jump out the window to give chase!
Cricket, her sister, loves to explore the Rocky hills around camp! This is the hill where she accidentally flushed a newborn fawn on our first visit which is why we named the area Bambi Ridge. She spotted the fawn just on the other side of the hill, and I think it scared her more than she scared the fawn because she ran back to me almost immediately. Personality wise, Cricket is the polar opposite of Breezy, who probably would have chased the fawn as it scampered down the hill. Breezy is a total airhead which is one the the reasons I rarely take her with me when I'm hiking. Cricket is such a scaredy cat that I can trust her to stick real close which is what makes her such a great trail dog!
She really is beginning to look like a little raggamuffin in this shot! Time for a haircut!
Cricket may be my trail dog, but she has always been Don's lap dog! She has a habit of jumping up into his lap the second we get back to camp!
Bambi Ridge also has a healthy population of Barred Tiger Salamanders, and we usually find these guys underneath our tent or the tarp we use to cover our firewood with during the monsoons. This species of Salamander is rather large, and can grow to over 1 foot long!
Little Breezy trying to catch some morning sun! Unfortunately because she is such a problem child, we very rarely let her off leash even around camp.
If you want to beat the summer heat of Arizona, you will find it 10-15 degrees cooler up on the rim! Great place to camp! Love this statue we always passed when running to town for supplies!
One of our favorite places to camp when visiting Colorado, lies within the Pike National Forest along the South Platte River, just east of the Lost Creek Wilderness area. The area is dominated by majestic granite mountains, covered with sweet smelling pines. There is a little traveled side trail off the Colorado Trail (Seg. 2) that zig zags up to our campsite on Scraggly Peak. I would rate the trail at moderately difficult just because it is so steep in some places and virtually disappears the closer you get to camp.
We like the area because it is relatively isolated, and you don't see a lot of campers or hikers. During our stay we only spotted one group of trail riders along the Colorado Trail. It took more than 4 hours to reach camp with frequent breaks, and our main obstacle just trying to cross the river. Since I didn't want to get my hiking boots wet, I changed them out with a pair of neoprene water shoes to cross the South Platte. The water was cool and came just up to our knees as we made our way across.
Our first challenge was just trying to find a shallow spot to cross the South Platte River!
Just before crossing the river, I spotted a cute little pincushion cactus in full bloom on an out cropping of red granite.
This is the type of terrain we encountered on this hike, moderately difficult in some areas and very steep.
About half way up, we decided to stop for a picnic and rest in the shade, by this old stump. We ate 1/2 of our chicken subs, and snacked on teriyaki jerky & tropical trail mix to keep our energy levels up!
The trail peters out and turns into nothing more than a game trail 1/8 mile from camp. Apparently I didn't crouch low enough and my backpack got caught on this low hanging branch. Don had to walk back to free me before we could continue up the trail.
Lower saddle on Scaggly Peak, where we set up camp.
We reached camp about 3:00 pm in the afternoon, and had everything pretty much set up by 5. I didn't really feel like cooking that first night so we just finished off our subway sandwiches. The rest of our day was spent relaxing while enjoying the view from camp, and watching red tail hawks as they soared over the mountains!
The following pics are of a young buck we spotted grazing on grass near the back of our tent. He was within 30 feet of our tent when these pics were taken. So exciting! We spotted him a couple of different times during our stay grazing on the western slope of the peak.
In addition to deer, we also spotted a coyote making his way down the mountain one morning! We had heard a couple of them howling the previous night, so I'm sure he must have had a mate somewhere in the area. We lucked in with the weather during our stay, and only had a spattering of light rain on our 3rd day. All in all, we had a real good time exploring the area and watching for wildlife!
View from our campsite on Scraggly Peak.
The following is just a short video I shot at Aspen Creek of 3 bulls (F301 herd) that I spotted just before dawn. I was just getting ready to head out to a small blind I had set up on the ridge just west of camp overlooking the marshy area where we had seen Elk before. I had overslept, and was running a good 90 minutes late as I like to take cover in the blind while its still dark so as not to spook any animals away.
These Bulls had formed a small bachelor group during the summer. We would occasionally see them with smaller herds of 5-10 cows, but mostly they seemed to hang together by themselves. Most of the time when I am shooting video it is just for identification purposes, so I can go back and review the film and ID specific individuals at a later time.
These bulls were actually members of the Aspen Ridge Group we had been studying in the White Mountains of AZ. The following is a video of the Aspen Ridge and Baldy herds which combined to form a superherd during the fall rut.
We have a very healthy population of deer that forages in our corn fields, especially after harvest. I had been tracking this little buck for several weeks, and knew the exact routes he took through the woods, and across our property, I set myself up a stool with a good vantage point of the spot where he always reentered the woods.
These are just the highlights of an encounter that lasted 20 + minutes. I live for such rare moments, and not being a hunter, I have never shot an animal with anything other than my camera!