Pinaleno Mountains or...Mt Graham

Discussion in 'Arizona' started by HiFiDave, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. HiFiDave

    HiFiDave Singin round the campfire

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    The wife and I made a spur of the moment decision to take off Thursday afternoon and head out to camp. It had been a long time since we were at the sky island of Mt Graham so we got on line to explore camp sites. Wow! Camp sites galore folks. We thought that maybe Shannon campground would be a winner for us so we headed out.

    Coming off the 191 to Safford you turn on 366 (Swift Trail) Swift Trail is 21 miles of paved road and then 14 miles of graded dirt road. The last 9 miles or so start to get rather rough but not so much that a passenger car can't go if they take it slow. If your camper is over 26 feet they don't recommend you try it.

    Just as you turn onto Swift Trail and you travel .4 miles is your last chance for food and gas at a kewl lil market. Worth stopping in at. I had the nice lady behind the deli counter make me an awesome club sandwich on rye. YUMMOOO
    (See the new blazing, bright white paint job on the ole Dodge Ram? 2 base coats, 3 clear coats. I'll paint the rims, run the pin stripe down it and taadaaa, just like new LOL)

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    The road is rather winding with many switch backs. As you get higher in elevation you will be treated to views that are simply outstanding. This view is looking out towards the old Fort Grant.

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    We kept going and going until we finally got to the Shannon campground towards the end of the paved road. Pulled in there and wouldn't you know it?! On a Thursday night people had already taken up any of the camper style spaces! GRRRRRRR Ok so now we were winging it. Drive on to the dirt road and lets see what shakes out. We pulled in here, we pulled in there hmmmmmm just wasn't what we wanted.

    It was getting late, the dirt road was kicking my butt and we really wanted to call it quits. Finally pulled into a side road that wasn't a listed campground. We drove in, turned left and came to a dead end in a PERFECT dispersed camping area! Who'da thunk it!? WOOOHOOOO no one else there, trees, trees, fields of glistening greens, flowing flowers and even a babbling brook! It could not have been better! We positioned the pup by this lil patch of grass near an existing rock fire pit and set up. Ahhhhh no screamin ankle biters, no yapping dogs, no drunkin fools flapping their jaws, no damn generators...yup, perfect!

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    The weekend was very quiet. A few people came down our road but quickly turned around and left when they saw that we had "the spot"! Sorry folks, I was in your shoes many times.

    We explored our camp area on Friday taking pictures and just enjoying the beauty. Wow, wow, wow! I walked a ways out and ripped off a few rounds at a tin can from my Colt Gold Cup. My wife is a bird nut so she had the long lens out catching that special shot. We booth like to shoot LOL

    Saturday we drove the truck the rest of the way up the dirt road to Riggs Flat lake. Been many years since we had been there and while beautiful, it was painful to see how low the water was. Seems the recent fire and the buckets upon buckets of water which was removed to fight it took a toll. The lake has not recovered and it's more like a pond than a lake. True, it was never very big before but it's just real small now and I'm afraid not long from being gone.

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    There were many fields by the lake though that were just so beautiful.

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    Saturday night, funniest thing happened to us. Ok so, the heritage of the native American there is strong. The evening was just calm, beautiful and the slow transition to dark took a long time. I said to my wife, "hey, let's build a wood fire for a change". We always use the propane fire pit and this might be fun I thought. So...I build this real nice fire and my wife comes up to me and says..."let's dance". In the background playing on the pup stereo we have original native American dance songs going. You know they type as they dance and hoot around the fire? Well, that's what we did LOL And wouldn't you know it...my wife looks to the east and says "don't those clouds look bad"? I thought it was just the night sky and the typical clouds but in another minute...it starts pouring rain! OMG I blamed her for the rain making me dance around a fire to such music. Was it a rain dance? Sure was damn strange I tell ya...we are still laughing about that one!

    Mt. Graham is one of the best and secluded sky islands in southern Arizona with much to do and enjoy. If you can, get all the way up to the Columbine Visitor center and see Jim, great guy and the center has all the awesome history and pictures of this mountain. These pics here are just tablet shots so when my wife sorts through the pics from the DSLR and L glass I'll post some more.

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    lc69hunter likes this.
  2. backyarddad

    backyarddad New Member

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    You just trying to make us jealous? You in AZ, just go where you want.
     
  3. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

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    At Cochise Stronghold I met a guy from Willcox who frequently camps in the Pinaleno Mtns. He strongly suggested that I check them out but I didn't have time on that trip. I'll definitely do it on my next trip. The place you were looks great!
     
  4. HiFiDave

    HiFiDave Singin round the campfire

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    There are tons of awesome places up and down this particular mountain. One of my favorite places to go!

    These white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata), commonly known as the hummingbird moth were everywhere. Hard lil sucka to get the focus on...

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  5. HiFiDave

    HiFiDave Singin round the campfire

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    My wife down the road with the long lens...can't rave enough about this boon-docking site I tell ya.

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  6. HiFiDave

    HiFiDave Singin round the campfire

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    Grant Goudy Ridge Trail follows an old pack trail from Soldier Creek Campground down the southwest slopes of the Pinalenos to historic Fort Grant. As it snakes down the ridge that separates Grant and Goudy Canyons, the trail leads from the cool forests of the mountain ranges highest slopes, through a transition zone of ponderosa pine forests and oak/juniper woodlands, to a desert landscape on the floor of the Sulphur Springs Valley. Because this trail passes through so many different life zones, it is an excellent place to see a variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer, Abert squirrels and black bear among the pines, and mountain lions (if you are very lucky), coatimundi, javelina, skunk and rock squirrels at lower elevations. Another reason to take this trail is to enjoy the overlooks it offers. The Galiuro Mountains to the west, the Winchesters to the southwest, and the Pinalenos, too, have been described as Sky Islands surrounded by a sea of desert. This is a good perspective from which to see why that description fits so well. Fort Grant, which anchors the desert end of the Grant Goudy Ridge Trail, had its heyday during the last few decades of the nineteenth century as an outpost in the wars between the U.S. Army and the Apaches. It was abandoned in 1905 and eventually reopened as an Arizona State Prison Facility, which it remains today. Historically, soldiers used the Grant Goudy Trail to move to cool refuges in the mountains and escape from the intense heat of their remote desert outpost.

    We walked a bit on this trail. Real, real nice!

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  7. Sussya

    Sussya Member

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    Great pictures. I grew up in the Thatcher/Safford area and haven't been back in years. I do miss Mt. Graham. Soldier Creek and Turkey Flat were our favorite places. We seldom made it all the way up to Riggs Lake... to many curves for carsick kids. [LOL] Now I'm dying to go camping there.
     
  8. xshield

    xshield New Member

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    Amazing pictures. I'm so jealous. My places to visit list continues to get longer and longer.
     
  9. HiFiDave

    HiFiDave Singin round the campfire

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    Where are you now in Arizona?
     
  10. Sussya

    Sussya Member

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    We're in Gilbert... so only about 3 hours from Safford, and then an hour or so up the mountain. If the campgrounds on Mt. Graham took advance reservations, we'd be there in a heartbeat. I remember how crowded the mountain can get on the weekends, though. I'm not really anxious to drive that far without a place reserved in advance.
     
  11. HiFiDave

    HiFiDave Singin round the campfire

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    There are loads of campgrounds and dispersed camping up there though. When we were there over the weekend, there was all kinds of places to camp. Holiday weekend? Don't know about that but...I can't imagine on any weekend but maybe a holiday that you wouldn't find a place to camp.
     
  12. lc69hunter

    lc69hunter New Member

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    Last time we camped up there, in one of the "non-developed" sites, we were sitting around the fire after dinner, and a skunk came to visit. He just meandered under chairs, between legs, and we were just holding our breath, trying not to disturb him.
    The funny thing. The SOB stole our bar of soap by the washpan. Just picked it up with his teeth and carried it off.
     

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