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Fall Color Weekend
White Mountains
September 24-26, 2010
by Wendy Rennert
  Escudilla Map 
  KP Trail Map 
by Bill Zimmermann
lunch
Lunch and fellowship in Springerville.
Friday: Rather than meeting in town to caravan to the destination, we started in our own carpools from different parts of the valley and met for lunch at Java Blues in Springerville, Arizona. Amazingly, we all arrived at the lunch spot within minutes of each other, and were pleased with the variety and tasty offerings on the menu.

Definitely a place we’d recommend and return to on future trips!

We then continued on to our cabins in Alpine. Although the cabins won’t win any design awards and were badly in need of cosmetic repair, they were at least spacious and warmer than camping, for sure! After the women wrangled the key from the men for the larger cabin (we did have more women than men, after all!), we got settled in and checked out the trail maps. I recommended we switch the order of our hikes, so we agreed to do the KP Creek trail #70 the first day, followed by the Escudilla National Recreation Trail the second day. Afterwards, we started dragging most of the kitchen contents from the Men’s cabin into the Women’s cabin, so that we could all dine together as a group – dishes, silverware and even the kitchen table and chairs.

We feasted on fabulous enchilada soup, salad, chicken burritos and dessert, and then wrapped up the evening chatting by the campfire, where we were treated to starry skies, nice cool temperatures, and the sounds of Elk bugling in the distance. Bill is getting pretty good at imitating the Elk call now, by the way.

Saturday: After a great group breakfast of eggs, bacon, fruit, oatmeal, etc., we shuttled cars to both ends of the trail, and our 11 trailblazers embarked on a one way hike down trail #70 and up trail #93.

The dewy tall grass made for wet pants and boots, but they quickly dried off after getting past that portion of the trail.

Picture37
Standing: Wayne, Wendy, Donna, Michael, Sally, Sandy, Bill.
Seated: Quy, Alice, Edith, Ajay

Picture40
Quy snaps the perfect picture.
fungus fungus
fungus fungus
Mushroom City…

We were accompanied by the soothing creek sounds for most of the hike. Also with all that moisture brought a plethora of different kinds of mushrooms in all sizes and colors.

Bill
I can find the next waterfall.

We saw a few different types of “leaves of 3”, and tried to identify which ones were really poison ivy, and which ones were imposters. In any event, we steered clear of them as best as we could!

At the junction of the trails we kept going down the 70 for just a bit, in order to find the waterfalls.

Although they were hiding behind some brush, we did manage to find one and stopped there for our lunch break.

Picture119 Picture138
Flowing water refreshes us on the trail.

During lunch, Bill did find a second waterfall, but it proved too difficult for the group to get there, so we settled for Bill’s photo. As we travelled up trail 93, a couple of the hikers with GPS units were tempted to go off trail and try a shorter but much steeper off-trail journey back to the trailhead, but we wisely stayed on the trail and switchbacked our way to the end.

worm
Is that a caterpillar or a shoe shine machine?

Back at the cabins, since it was taking forever to get the charcoals going, we ate dinner in parts, having the cole slaw, salad and potato salad first, followed later by the burgers, which were worth the wait. Desserts galore: apple pie, brownies, chocolate chip squares. This time we stayed indoors for the evening’s activities. We projected the day’s photos on the kitchen wall for all to enjoy, followed by a hilarious board game. I’d tell you about it, but what happens in Alpine stays in Alpine.

red yellow
Even past their peak, their fall colors are still a treat!
Sunday: We were smart and had prepared all of the eggs and bacon for both days on Saturday morning, so all we had to do was quickly heat everything up in the microwave, which allowed us time to pack up our things before departing on our 2nd hike. Oh no! One of the hiker’s vehicles would not start (not used to the crisp mornings, no doubt!), but luckily we were able to jump start it. However, by the time we got to the trailhead, they decided to just head back to the valley and get the car taken care of, and another hiker decided to relax at the trailhead, so we were down to 8 hikers. We started on the Escudilla National Trail at 47 degrees, but quickly warmed up as we got moving. For much of the hike we walked under a canopy of Aspens with green and yellow leaves, which were quaking in the breeze. It was very magical!
hikers
Ajay, Bill, Michael, Quy, Wendy, Edith, Donna, Sandy, Wayne
trees trees
Our colorful canopy of Aspens.
orange red
A dash of fall red color.

Our trail soon emerged from the aspen and pine forest into an open meadow of rolling hills with great views.

We could see the outlines of where one forested area ended and another one began.

view
The edge of the alpine forest.
butterfly
Hey, aren’t you related to the
fuzzy guy from yesterday’s hike?

Then back into the forest we went, and at the end, we were treated to a climb up a forest tower for 360° views.

tower hikers
Talk about a room with a view!
hiker
World’s tallest Trailblazer!
view
Bird’s eye view of two lakes in the distance.

We were glad we brought our sweatshirts, because there was quite a cool wind from up on the fire tower. What a great way to beat the Phoenix heat! Although tempted to take another route on the way down (the Government trail), a local hiker who used to maintain the trail said it has not been maintained in at least 10 years, and that it would be hard to find our way, so he warned against doing so. We took his advice, and gladly headed back the same way that we came. I highly recommend the Escudilla National Trail!

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated May 24, 2020