Pictures of the Week – Friday, March 23rd

Since we left our HelpX home in Gila National Forest last Friday morning, there are no baby goat pictures this week (Edie is truly heartbroken). But never fear – we found plenty of sights worthy of stopping the truck for a picture or two.

We drove out of Gila and into the beauty of Apache National Forest, where a fire had devastated countless trees and other plants. We saw a huge open pit mining operation near Clifton, AZ, as we wound our way to Tucson. We drove through a blizzard (seriously, it was falling at the rate of 3 inches per hour supposedly!!) on our way to Flagstaff. And we finally found our way to another HelpX stay in southwestern Colorado. Busy week, huh?

From A Little Spark…

The poet Robert Herrick said, “A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.” Residents of New Mexico and Arizona learned this first hand beginning in late May of 2011 when the Wallow Fire raged through Apache, Navajo, Graham and Greenlee counties in Arizona and Catron County in New Mexico. Over 500,000 acres of land were affected by the blaze, which was the largest wildfire on record in Arizona history. Because of the danger of the blaze, US 191 (the Coronado Trail) from Alpine to Clifton was closed. When we left Gila and headed to Tucson, we drove this route and got to see the tremendous effects of the wildfire.

Less than a year after the blaze, the roads were open and the fire wasn’t burning, but the forest was still in a state of recovery. Big patches of completely burned trees cut across the landscape. Some trees were only burned on one side or on the bottom and had green leaves or pine needles across their tops. Many of the burned trees were just black sticks poking up from the ground and refusing to fall.

Scenic View?

We continued along US 191 after leaving Apache National Forest. The landscape changed from dense forest to scrubby desert plants and finally to the barren view of a mining operation. We saw a sign that said “Scenic View” and decided to pull in for lunch. This is the supposedly “scenic view” that we found.

Don’t get us wrong…in some ways, this is a beautiful picture. All of the varied colors found in the dirt, the sky and the distant mountains is quite breathtaking. But in the end, what would have been quite a scenic view of a busy springtime desert mountain with tons of plants and animals, is now just a big pit with all of the natural flora and fauna removed. These are the kinds of operations that are typically kept out of public view, but our back road travels keep turning them up.

Wow!

After driving through a blizzard getting into Flagstaff, we were pretty sure our plans to see the Grand Canyon were crushed for this trip. But when we got up Tuesday morning, the roads were clear, the sun was out, and we didn’t have to be in Colorado until late. A quick trip to the Grand Canyon would only take maybe an additional 2 hours. So of course we decided to go!

Wow is the best thing you can say. With snow covering the ground & trees at the rim and the sun shining brightly on the walls & floor of the canyon, it was a breathtaking sight. It only reaffirmed our desire to come back for a longer visit and hike down into the canyon to see just how much more beautiful it can be.