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Mezcal on Mingus Day Hike
September 12, 2020
by Mark Purcell
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Trailblazers at the start of the hike. [photo by Li]
Michael, Kevin, Lin, Tamar, Victoria, Li, Tom, Neil, Mark, Billie, Julie, David

During the hot summer months, frenzied weekend escape from lower elevations such as Phoenix and the Verde Valley towards higher and cooler locales is omnipresent. Flagstaff is by far the most common destination, but at a similar elevation Mingus Mountain, just south of Cottonwood and Jerome can offer similar climatological relief. Numerous trails and campsites are available, and crowds and traffic are considerably less. Even with those advantages, there are trails within this area of the Prescott National Forest that offer forest, views, and wildlife and are known to and trekked by only a handful of enthusiasts daily.

In these times with COVID19-related hiking roster limits, the Club has recently expanded their policies and guidelines to remind those who sign up for an event that commitment and communication is expected. With appreciation, all eleven individuals who quickly filled the roster appeared on time and ready to go!

From the parking area three miles past the Mingus Summit towards Jerome on 89A, we began our journey that would encompass the entirety of several trails starting with 548 which was chosen first as it was less shaded and was an ascent.

We’re off! [photo by Mark]
Kevin has a fine lookout. [photo by Mark]
Billie and Neil enjoy the view. [photo by Li]
Mark gives instructions. [photo by Mark]
No transportation. [photo by Mark]
Li at the trail sign. [photo by Victoria]
Climbing the trail. [photo by Victoria]
It’s a big climb. [photo by Li]

Although rarely aggressive, black bears have been seen on this section, but none were encountered today. At the intersection of 550, we took a sharp left and navigated another brief but steep climb that eventually took us to a meet with 53A, a newly constructed trail that leads to the Mingus Summit rest area, where we had lunch.

Picnic lunch on top of the world. [photo by Li]
The view from Mingus Mountain. [photo by Victoria]
Lin takes it all in stride. [photo by Victoria]
The trails are well marked. [photo by Victoria]
Standing on one leg is more comfortable. [photo by Li]

For our return, after reversing the order of the arrival by going 530, 550, we were back at 548. Turning left, with a few steps we found ourselves on 547, which, after a short misdirect towards the terminus, returned us to the trailhead. We met only two other hikers during the day.

Trooping the trail. [photo by Victoria]
We’re not out of the woods yet. [photo by Victoria]

One curiosity we encountered on 547 was a skunk (well, the back half) lying in the middle of the trail. For reasons of sensibility an image will not be offered in this report, but its cleaving was so clean you could fantastically speculate some alien force surgically removed the front half to perhaps study the olfactory defense strategy of the species. Even more intriguing is that even with the rear of the animal present, no residual odor was detected. With humor and a dash of sarcasm, I commented to the group that unintentionally the most memorable aspect of this pleasant hike might be this bizarre apparition of a native critter.

It’s this direction. [photo by Li]
Traversing the tunnel. [photo by Li]
yellow yellow
Sunflowers brighten our passage. [photos by Li]

At the trailhead, as we said our goodbyes, some of the group elected to meet for lunch at Grapes in Jerome. However, due to scarce available parking there on a Saturday, a couple vehicles elected to move on, so five of us eventually dined.

Several participants commented post-hike how much they enjoyed the Mingus Mountain setting, so this leader will explore other options of similar distance (around 7 miles) in this area for a future date.

→   More pictures, by Victoria
→   More pictures, by Li
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated September 22, 2020