Friday, May 13, 2011

Three Mountains, Two Days: Day 1

Our first anniversary is just days away. We've been putting a lot of money into the house lately and decided we needed a budget friendly outing to celebrate. So we decided to pack up Elly and Rommel and head out for a short camping trip. It would only be appropriate to have an adventure - gotta keep up the tradition we started with our honeymoon to Moab. We left Bear with Stephanie and her "kids" for the weekend because he just getting too old for the stresses of traveling.

We drove through surprisingly scenic southern Arizona (Miami, Globe) out to Mount Graham, an Island in the Sky. It was evident why they call the isolated mountains in Arizona 'Islands in the Sky'. They are their very own ecosystems, very different than the desert valleys. We started our assent up the mountain twisties.

We climbed and climbed and climbed. We spotted a small pull off where there was a stream. Of course, the dogs needed to get out at this point to stretch and play in the water. The temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than the valley, bringing it into the mid 70's. It was quite beautiful and worth the stop.
 As Mike would put it: Its like trying to herd cats. One between the legs and the other looking like a goof ball.

We continued our assent towards Riggs Lake. Yes, there is a lake at the top of the mountain. This is what 8000 feet looks like:
And 8000 feet in May feels about 55 degrees in the sun. It was forecast to be 88 in Casa Grande. Up and onward, off pavement, through random fields, and to a lake at 9000 feet.

Riggs Lake was beautiful. It was 45 degrees. We were freezing. The lake was so tiny that it only took us 15 minutes to hike around it: an oasis in the sky. It's stocked with small fish, and is quite shallow, but still beautiful. I miss trees and foliage and such. The sun was starting its decent westward so we hopped back in the truck in search of a camp site at lower altitudes.

We stopped at one and the camp host immediately came up to us and accosted us about the dogs. "They need to be leashed, and you need to pay NOW". Ok - Bye. You'd think a host would be, well, more host-ier and welcoming. Bite me buddy, leash your rat dog and I'll leash mine. So off we went to an undeveloped camp site. So what there were no bathrooms; there also wasn't a rude camp host to contend with. 

At 5700 feet, it was still in the 40's and the sun was setting fast. We scrambled to get our tent up and get the steak cooked. Of course we weren't allowed a fire, but our camp grill got the steaks cooked in no time. Steak, beer, bread and bed. Mike and I curled up in the sleeping bags with a dog at each side. I had been up for almost 24 hours and was needing to sleep off my headache. But "Bear Warning" signs had me so paranoid, I woke up every hour thinking we would be eaten.

Morning came in the Coronado National Forest without incident.

 Elly watched as Mike made us breakfast; Rommel was off chasing his ball.

We packed up our small camp site and decided to move onto the next mountain on our list: The Chiricahua's.

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