Just a few more pics of our backcountry camping trip near the Mt. Baldy wilderness. The following photos were taken during a 4 mile circular hike I took during our 2nd week.
Poor Cricket! During this hike I left her back at camp, and Don called me on the walkie-talkie to tell me she was throwing a fit since she saw me cross the meadow.....without her. After an hour, Don called me again and said she still hadn't settled down and was actually chewing on her cable. I was a good 1.5 miles away from camp, and Don was teasing me that I was inflicting "emotional distress" on HIS dog because I left her behind. LOL! So I gave in and I told him to cut her loose and let her fly.
Now we had been working with her since she was a puppy to track me, by playing little games of hide and seek with her. Since I don't follow established trails, I knew this was going to be a real test of her tracking skills. After 5 minutes, I still hadn't seen her, so I called out several times, hoping she would focus in on my location. Then I spotted her, pronking in the air like an antelope, trying to get a better view of things over the tall grass. She always gets so excited when she finds me! After that, I took a long break and sat down on a log, and shared my jerky with her. We sat there for quite awhile listening to the sounds of the forest and the gentle quaking of the Aspens!
Cricket had been up and down this slope 20 times, as I tried to follow an elk path to the top of the ridge! Come on mom! What's taking you so long to get to the top?!
Absolutely one of the more colorful birds we saw, a Western Tanager! The bright beautiful colors of this bird just blew me away!
The following is a video of Don doing an exploratory hike with little Cricket at his side. He likes to scout out potential campsites during his hikes. We were thinking about moving to another area for a different view during our 2nd week, but decided against it during this trip. So glad we didn't move, because we probably would have missed the antelopes we spotted during week 2!
The following video shows one of several antelopes we spotted during this trip. He was the last one up the hill, and it looks like he stopped to rub his horns on a bush!
One morning I got up kinda early, just before dawn because I wanted to see if any elk were using the small hidden meadow to the north of camp as a place to bed down for the night. I had explored this meadow on previous trips and had found patches of crushed grass, so I knew it was used by the elk in the area.
As I walked along the trail near the top of the ridge, I rounded a rocky outcropping and surprised a small bobcat, who was chewing on what looked to be the remains of a chipmunk. As soon as she spotted me, she took on off up the slope. The whole encounter lasted just a few seconds, but still it was so exciting! I absolutely live for these rare glimpses of wildlife in the wilderness! I went back to the area later in the day when the lighting was better, to see if I could find any tracks the bobcat might have left, but the terrain was too rocky.
The following is a pic of the slope where I interrupted the bobcat having breakfast!
Aspen Creek is such an awesome place to experience nature in its full glory, and its remoteness is what really appeals to me! Its one of those special places that takes your breath away upon discovery! Something about the rugged wildness of the terrain that makes me feel like I have ventured into the lost lands of Middle Earth as depicted in the Lord of the Rings! I am already really looking forward to next year's trip!
Just got back from an awesome camping trip to our favorite backcountry campsite near the Mt. Baldy Wilderness. After spending 2 weeks in paradise it was hard to come back home. We found the secluded little alpine meadow several years ago, and fell in love with the area. Since then we try to make it back every year. This is the one camping trip I really look forward to because there is so much to see and explore!
For those who love to watch for wildlife, you will not find a better place in the White mountains of Arizona. We have spotted large herds of elk, pronghorn antelope, whitetail, coyote, bobcat, foxes, turkey, redtail hawks, great horned owls, and lots of cute little chipmunks. One of the best things about this spot is its remoteness, and the awesome feelings of peace and tranquility one gets from being in total isolation from civilization. Nothing is better for the soul, than exploring the Wilderness!
View from camp overlooking the meadow! Didn't spot a single soul during our stay!
Part of the cliffs just below camp, where we have seen bats emerging from deep cracks between the rocks at dusk.
I love this shot, if only because I waited for the better part of 2 hours for a chipmunk to appear! Unfortunately the chipmunks weren't cooperating at the time. Sometimes you get the shot and sometimes you don't! Got to love it, though! LOL!
Finally! Not a perfect shot, but it will do!
Don was complaining that I don't post enough pics of our dogs, so I will try to do better in the future. Anyway, Breezy and Cricket had just treed a squirrel when these pics were taken. Being schnauzers, they are absolutely obsessed with hunting small rodents, lizards, and just about anything that moves. They would have stayed there all day looking up at that tree if we had let them, so after a couple of minutes, we tied both of them to trees on the opposite side of camp to allow the squirrel a safe escape route! After about 15 minutes of chattering and tail flicking, the little fella climbed down and ran up the hill towards the back of camp!
Beautiful thick grove of Aspens at the back of our camp was a great windbreak! Loved listening to the gentle quaking of the leaves when soft breezes blew through! So magical, almost as if the trees were talking to one another.
I couldn't get over how thick the trunk was on this perfect Aspen specimen, compared to its neighbors!
The following is a short video of small herd of elk we spotted in the early morning hours on day 4 as we were enjoying our first cup of coffee! That's little Breezy barking in the background! Every couple of days, we were lucky enough to spot elk grazing in this pristine meadow! Such an awesome place!
The following video, taken from a couple of years ago will give you an idea of the sheer numbers of elk we have seen in the area.
Another view from the top of the cliffs near camp!
The little stream running below camp was dry when we first arrived, but was running full after a storm blew through on day 3. With the exception of one rather wet 24 hour period, we enjoyed beautiful weather for the remainder of our stay!
The following is a pan from the southern end of the meadow looking north.
It can get a little nippy at night, but you can't beat the sunsets! Will be posting more about this amazing wilderness area in the near future!
Just a few more pics of our backpacking trip at Black Rapids. Even though there was plenty of elk sign in the area, I never did see any. Still in the evenings we did enjoy listening to the bulls bellowing to the females in the vicinity. Such an eerie sound and their calls really echoed loudly off the surrounding hills. It was so cool! For those of you who have never heard the calls of majestic elk in the wilderness, it is an awesome experience you will never forget. Will try to find and link to a descent You Tube video in future posts so you can get an idea of what they sound like, and why its always so exciting to hear these sounds when camping in the wilderness.
Don said he did spot three does disappearing over the top of the hill southwest of camp early in the morning, when he got up to make coffee. Since the surrounding countryside is so dry, I suspect that our little valley with the green marshes drew them in.
Probably one of the more interesting hoodoos I found while exploring the area. Reminded me of a totem pole, and I preferred to think of him as an ancient protective guardian of the forest. Can't help but wonder what the Native American's who inhabited this area thought of these unique rock formations? Was this area sacred or special to them? I also got a kick thinking about how spooked some young city kid might get, after seeing this and hearing the eerie calls of the elk while sitting around the campfire...... :)
Cute little pollywogs that were swimming in the stream near camp.
So excited when I spotted some fresh-looking raccoon tracks just downstream from camp. Probably what our dogs were growling at after we tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags the previous night.....Poor Don, he was just drifting off to sleep, when I woke him up because I was hearing noises just outside the tent. Because the dogs were alert and growling, he got up and peaked outside the tent, but didn't see anything. After finding the tracks, I suspect it may have been a raccoon rummaging around camp the night before.
Camping is always so exciting especially late at night.....
Great area not too far from camp to sit and cool off during the heat of the day. The rock ledges in the stream were quite comfortable to relax on, while allowing the cool and refreshing water to rush over your body!
The following pics are from a short hike I took during our stay. There is no place I would rather be than exploring the wilderness - Life is Good!!
I spent a lot of time focusing in on the sound of this little waterfall trying to find it. I crisscrossed this valley a couple of times before I actually spotted the source of the sound. I have been known to lay down, stretch out with my arms folded behind my head for hours just listening to the soothing sounds of water trickling in a pristine meadow. The peace and serenity one finds in the wilderness is soooo addictive and intoxicating!
Don told me not to push myself because the high altitude was going to kick my but on this trip.....and it did! Being raised in Colorado, the altitude never seems to bother him.
You will rarely find me hiking established trails, as I much prefer the challenge of following game trails. Super fresh elk scat on the left side of the trail indicated that one had climbed this slope fairly recently!
The hike got a lot easier with this real gentle downhill slope back to camp!
On my way back to camp, I spooked a lemming that was out collecting grass, and just barely caught a glimpse of it before it disappeared underground. Then I came across some interesting looking burrows. The heavily flattened grass and fresh scat indicated that this was a favorite place for elk to bed down. I wonder who eventually won this turf battle - the lemmings or the elk?
Despite my first impressions of the area, we had a great time exploring the wilderness in this part of Arizona, especially an area with such extreme variations in terrain (dry hills and green marshy meadows). I'm already looking forward to our next camping adventure!