May 28, 2012

Spring in the Aspen-Mixed Conifer Meadows of the San Francisco Peaks

This Memorial Day Weekend, the weather was absolutely stunning. With temperatures in the mid-70's, we headed up onto the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks to check out the aspens leafing out and what wildflowers may be showing up in the meadows.

The view of Mount Humphrey's (12,637 feet) from Aspen Corner (8,900 feet)

May and June are the driest time of the year. It is the period before the summer monsoons arrive in July and August, and thus it is the time when fire danger is the highest and the large man-made catastrophic are most likely to occur. Thus, all campfires are banned in forest areas across Arizona. What this means is that the mountain meadows of the peaks are also very dry and the wildflowers will not come out until the monsoons arrive.

But, there were a number of flowers in the meadows, including irises and old man's beard. The aspens were leafed out at 9,000 feet, but were still emerging on the higher slopes around 10,000 feet.

We hiked along the Arizona Trail. This trail is 800 miles long, heading from Utah to Mexico. We have hiked a number of sections of this trail, including at Coronado National Monument on the Mexican border (when I "illegally" crossed into Mexico). This is certainly one of the nicest sections. You can even see the Rim of the Grand Canyon far off in the distance.

Well, we'll be heading off back up to Washington for the summer in a couple of weeks. We'll spend a couple of weeks traveling north via the La Sal Mountains, Dinosaur National Monument, Uinta Mountains, Montana, and through the North Cascades.

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